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Revisiting Shop Talk: Meet Julie Ann Art

24 Jul

I haven’t done anything with my Shop Talk feature in a while, but I think it’s time to revisit.

To remind you, Shop Talk is where I do a quickie Q&A with a shop I heart. In most cases, these are shops I’ve frequented and can tell you from experience: They rock and are uber deserving of your support and patronage.

One such shop is Julie Ann Art, card-designer extraordinaire. Julie Ann’s cards are simple and quirky with exactly the right sense of humor. Consider this beaut I gave the beau for Valentine’s day:

He guffawed and asked, “How do you find these things? It’s from Etsy, isn’t it?”

Without further ado, I bring you Ms. Julie Ann, of Orange County, Julie Ann Art the shop and Julie Ann Art the blog.

How did you get started as an artist? I developed an interest in art at a very young age. I think my grandma passed the trait on to me. I remember her teaching me fancy coloring techniques — well, as fancy as coloring can be, I guess. My interest in art followed me all the way into my college years, where I graduated with a degree in photojournalism. I now work in the photography field full-time while also dabbling in ink illustration for my greeting card line on Etsy.

How did you take that creativity and transfer it into cards? What made cards a product that interested you? I started selling on Etsy in 2008, and my shop has greatly evolved since then. My beginning product was original canvas paintings, and I was quick to learn that original paintings are not, shall we say, the most popular product on Etsy. I started thinking about other ways to expand my creativity in a more rewarding way and painted a few original cards. As demand started to increase, it got harder and harder to keep up with painting each order, so I eventually turned to a pen and paper to establish a more efficient system.

Another Julie Ann Art card I’ve had the pleasure of giving

 There are so many paper products on Etsy. What is one or two things you do that makes Julie Ann Art standout? With Etsy growing at a rapid pace, it is getting harder and harder to stand out in the crowd. Over the years I have worked on developing a distinct style and look for my cards. I think that it’s very important to have your work distinguishable from others, and if someone can pick one of my cards out of the crowd, I know that I did my job right. Apart from that, and just trying to have creative and original ideas, I think a lot of what has helped me stand out is the help of the community I’m involved in. Being a blogger has introduced me to so many people that I have the pleasure of now calling my friends. They have my back and help to support me, as I help to support them. If I didn’t have them, I really believe I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is your best-selling card? Why do you think it’s so popular? It’s hard to say because it varies by season, depending on which holiday is coming up. I have a “naughty” card for Valentine’s day or anniversaries (Snap, Crackle, Pop says: Ahem, see above) and I’d have to guess that it is probably my most popular card of all time. Why is it popular? It’s definitely original, creative, and something you’d never find at Hallmark.

What is your favorite card in your shop? Why? I don’t really have a favorite! Is that weird? To me, they are all little pieces of my self expression. I have enjoyed making all of them and even more so recently, as I’ve really started to understand who I am as an artist. I continue to try to improve, and also challenge myself, and not take the “easy” route and make something just because I know it’s trendy and will definitely sell. More heart goes into my card designs than ever before because I am so passionate about being original and true to myself.

This one, too. I didn’t buy this with anyone in mind and used it for a, “Oh crap, I forgot a birthday. Aaaaand this is perfect.”

What is one movie you can watch over and over and over (and over) again? I am a huge Harry Potter nerd so I will watch those movies (and read the books) for the rest of my life. Other than that, if “A League Of Their Own,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” or “Vanilla Sky” are on TV, I’m sure to put them on, even though I’ve seen them all about 100 times over.

What is one song that you immediately turn off when it comes on the radio? Man, this is tough because I feel like every song becomes this song at some point because everything gets so over-played! I tend to stick to my iPod or Pandora so I can pick whatever I want to listen to and skip commercials. ;]

If you got to have lunch with a literary character, who would you like to dine with? Ron Weasley. I love him. (Snap, Crackle, Pop says: Swoon. Me too. My favorite Potter character, hands down. Though Neville Longbottom is up there, too.)

Mucho thanks to Julie Ann for playing along with Shop Talk. Want to find her in the social media’verse? Check her out on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

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Shop Talk: The Peach Tree

10 Mar

The Peach Tree is one of the very first Etsy shops I remember learning about. The adorable name stuck with me, so I remembered the URL easily. And the photos! Oh, the photos! I don’t know that I’ve seen jewelry photographed more brilliantly. I have no idea what kind of lens you’re using, Amy, but good job, Lady!

I purchased my first pair of earrings from Amy a few weeks ago. Her K2 collection had caught my eye the first time she posted the pieces (I LOVE this necklace), and one pair of earrings in particular poked me and told me they loved me.

See? See how much they love me?

In addition to her lovely photography and memorable shop name, Amy is a joy to work with. She’s friendly and prompt — that latter becomes even more impressive when you see how successful her shop is. When I purchased my earrings, she was hovering over the 3,000-sale threshold. As I type this, The Peach Tree is sitting pretty at 3,047 sales.

Naturally, I wanted to pick Amy’s brain, and she was happy to oblige. For this edition of Shop Talk, I bring you: Amy, of Brooklyn, NY.

First, I have to say: As a fellow jewelry designer on Etsy, your shop is so inspiring. You’ve had such incredible success in a medium that’s oh-so saturated and difficult to get into on Etsy. To what do you attribute your success? Thank you so much. The three-years-ago me that started this little shop wouldn’t believe it had come to this. I am thankful everyday to be able to wake up and do what I love. The main thing I can pinpoint that I believe truly helped me — and helps me to this day — is the community: time with the community, talking with the community, pulling inspiration and knowledge from the community. And on and on and on.

Totally one of my fav pics in The Peach Tree. How adorable is this!

Can you give me an example of that community? Anywhere from helping form teams (I’m no leader, but I love to help bring people together), being a part of different teams, actively meeting and discovering new shops via the Etsy treasury, getting involved in the Etsy Success Challenges (ie: this last winter’s Boot Camp), keeping up-to-the-minute with people on Twitter and Facebook, and the list could go on and on. But really it’s the friendships I’ve formed from doing all of these things that has brought me where I am today.

OK, the goodies in your packages are adorable. Did you make the little button that came with the earrings, too? And that Polaroid’esque print — is that your photo? Or are those things you find off other folks on Etsy? Ahha! This actually ties in perfectly with what I was talking about with the community. One of my favorite things is to be able to support other artists. I arrange swaps with various Etsy shops and include their items in my packages! The Etsy buttons are actually from Esty Labs. The Polaroids usually have a business card attached to the back (I’m at the end of my batch so am out of them right now!) and are made by the lovely JerseyMaids. That way I get to share a little bit more of Etsy with each of my customers.

When you’re not designing jewelry, how do you spend your time? Do you have another job, or is this a full-time gig for you? This is mainly a full-time job for me, which has been a work-in-progress. I’ve definitely come to realize it takes the time of a full-time job whether I have it or not.

Tell me about your favorite item in your shop. I fall in love with new stones and pieces on a daily basis. Which is probably why my collection is so vast! I continuously come back to this necklace (pictured below) though.  I keep one for myself. Something about it seems to ancient and primal.

 

Nunavut Collection - Necklace . Chain . Natural Gemstone . Nugget Drop . Simple Pendant

What is your shop’s best selling item? My dancing pearl earrings do very well. I scour the ends of the beading world, searching out the different colors.

 

These yellow dancing pearls have always been one of my faves.

Where does the title of your shop come from? I wish I had a better answer for this! When I had decided to set up shop, my boyfriend and I sat down and had a little brainstorm session. The first name out of his mouth was thePeachTree … I liked it.

Wherever you are as you type out the answers to this, what are five things you can reach without standing?

 

  1. A cup of Bergamot tea
  2. My notepad (from The Fancy Lamb)
  3. My orange earfrog headphones
  4. A cat (two cats at the moment, actually)
  5. A piece of jewelry waiting to be listed in the shop

 

A vintage book journal by The Fancy Lamb

Have you taken a look through The Peach Tree? What’s your favorite item? Or maybe you have a Peach Tree goodie. Tell me about it!

 

Shop Talk: Amy Walters

3 Mar

I found today’s Shop Talk because we were both featured in a treasury, and I found her little drawn lumberjack with the red beard to be oh-so adorable.

After further browsing her shop, Amy Walters, I was smitten. It’s a relatively young shop — it’s been open for about seven months — but the quality of work and photography makes it seem like Amy is an old hand at Etsy.

She was fabulous enough to answer a few nosy questions by moi, so without further ado, I bring you: Amy Walters, of London!

You have such an adorable illustration style. What is your artistic background? It’s a bit all over the place!  As a kid I would always be drawing. I’d always cart sketch books and mountains of pens with me wherever I went.  My mum has always been crafty, and we’d spend hours together in craft store and making things.  I wasn’t really formally trained at drawing, a few lessons here and there.  I studied photography for a few years after high school, but I decided that doing that commercially would ruin it for me.

Tea - Limited Edition Gocco Print

I love the range of your topics — beards, redheads, pencils, shoes,
teeth. How do you decide what illustrations to include in your pieces? It’s funny — the illustrations that have ended up on pieces in my shop are mostly the ones that I haven’t spent a lot of time pouring over. I do a lot of doodling, so I suppose sometimes a certain drawing will just jump out at me, and I know it needs to be a brooch or something else.  I’m not sure if it comes across, but to me most of my pieces make me laugh, or at least smile. I think if it does that it’s in!

What is your favorite piece in your shop? I think at the moment it’s my “Happy Bearded Chap Brooch.”  His grin just makes me smile every time I see it!

Happy Bearded Chap Hand Painted Brooch

What has been your best-selling item so far? Well, to my surprise it’s been my “I Love You More Than A Giant Burrito” card.  I created it in my mind when I was trying to come up with ideas for a card for my boyfriend. Everyone knows my fondness for burritos and my tendency to get “crazy eyes” when the possibility of eating one arises.  I wanted a silly way to express to him how much he means to me, and this seemed 100 percent me and personal, it wasn’t a sentiment I expected so many people to share!  It was a pretty awesome feeling on Valentine’s Day to know how many people out there where being told someone loves them more than a burrito.

I Love You More Than A Giant Burrito Gocco Card 2nd Edition

Tell me about some of your favorite purchases and shops on Etsy. One of my favourite Etsy purchases was my wallet.  It’s made entirely out of green gaffa tape! (Snap, Crackle, Pop says: I had to look this up. Similar to duct tape.) Unfortunately the seller closed his shop, which I only discovered when I went back to buy another one as a gift! A few of my favourite shops are Hello JenuinePetit PotCordialement BisouMel Stringer and Clam Lab.

Red flags purse by Petit Pot

What was your very favorite movie when you were a kid? I wasn’t into kids’ movies, really.  The Blues Brothers was my dad’s favourite movie, and it’s the only one I can remember watching over and over.  I still quote it all the time!

Thanks so much for playing along, Amy. To readers: What’s your favorite item in Amy’s shop? I have lots, but this bunting necklace is so sweet and bright; I love it!

Hand Made Primary Colours Bunting Necklace - LAST ONE

Shop Talk: BitsandBarley

10 Jan

I first found the subject of this week’s Shop Talk, Bits and Barley, from the front page of Etsy. An item from the shop was featured: some amazing bobby pins made from books. After I started to browse the shop, I quickly fell in love with Bits and Barley’s style and charm. It’s definitely a shop that stands out in terms of color and feel.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Maude, of Tyler, Texas.

Your work has such a pretty, rustic style to it. What is it about the style that appeals to you? I love the natural feel it conveys. I like the simple approachability to it, yet it can be quite pretty and elegant as well.

Tell me about the best-selling item in your shop. The best selling item in my shop is probably the book page bobby pins I make. Like most of everything I make, I originally just made them for myself; they’re my favorite clips in my box.

Book page bobby pins -- $7.50 (Click on the image to see more.)

I adore all those paper book rosettes on your pieces. How did you think of using them in bobby pins or decor? Where does the paper come from? I started playing around with paper flowers a good while ago but just sort of let the idea hang at the back of mind, not ready to take it too seriously, until one day I just really latched on to and ran with the idea. Most of the paper I use is from recycled books and magazines; some of it comes from a specialty paper store here in town.

What are your favorite things you’ve purchased on Etsy? If you’ve not made any purchases, tell me about your favorite shops. I totally adore Sinner Saints and Sweets! Their candy apples are to die for, and their customer service is top notch!! I also really love my prints by Nan Lawson.

Autumn Girl - Pen and Ink Illustration - 5x7 print by Nan Lawson

How did you come up with your shop name? Bits & Barley is named after the two most awesome buddies I’ve ever had in my life: my two dogs, Little Bit and Barley.

Give Maude’s shop a browse. What’s your favorite item?

Rosette brooch by Bits and Barley

Shop Talk: And Paper Hearts

6 Dec

This week’s Shop Talk is with a very new shop, And Paper Hearts. The shop owner, Kate, is a friend of mine from college. I count her a friend, even though she technically started working on the student newspaper, where I spent way too much time, after I graduated. But we had a ton of mutual friends and have formed one of those hard-to-understand but impossible-to-ignore online friendships.

I first learned Kate was crafty when she donated some amazing decoupage bracelets to Joey’s Auction, and now she offers vintage-inspired earrings and necklaces over at her new Etsy shop.

And now, Kate, of And Paper  Hearts!

With all the Joey’s Auction stuff, I seem to remember you pointing out that you were crafty in a variety of different areas. What made you decide to sell jewelry? What other options did you consider? For the record, I wouldn’t say I’m any sort of artistic whiz kid! I just like art and creating, and it’s something that had fallen off my radar for awhile while I was living in D.C. post-college. I’ve always been partial to collaging, particularly from magazines and using 3D elements, making everything from scrapbooks to wall art to stationery to coasters. I went with jewelry because it just seemed fun; I’d tried making scarves and some other things, and the jewelry I created felt the most sellable.

This necklace is one of my favorite goodies in And Paper Hearts' shop. Only $7!

You’re a pretty young shop. What do you think of Etsy so far? Young indeed! My shop hasn’t even been open a month as I write this, but so far, I like it a lot. It still feels amazing that I’m an Etsy seller. I’ve thought about starting a shop for so long but never anticipated the excitement I’d feel at actually doing it! When I get those e-mails saying I’ve sold a piece? It makes my whole day. So far, most of my sales are from people I know, so I’m getting worried; I hope strangers will like my things, too! I guess we’ll see, huh?

What inspires you most? My shop, And Paper Hearts, is named for my high school boyfriend, who wrote a song for and about me titled “Second Thoughts & Paper Hearts.” He was a musician and writer who committed suicide at age 20, nearly six years ago; I remain inspired and encouraged not just by his talent but by my own refusal to give up on myself or my creativity or my life. We were so much alike so long ago — and now we’re not. Now, I find beauty in everyday life, reminding me that I am lucky to be here, lucky to have made it through the life that he could not. THAT keeps me inspired.

What are your goals regarding And Paper Hearts? I just want to have fun. I want to make people happy through art. I want people to love what they buy, to wear it with pride, to tell their friends. And if I never sell another piece again? Well, I like it all, so I guess I’ll just wear it myself! It’s not about the money; it’s about the making.

Tell me about two or three of your favorite items you’ve purchased on Etsy. My favorite thing ever purchased on Etsy is this Ohio necklace from Rusty Chain Jewelry, which I wear all the time out of home state pride.

Sadly, I haven’t purchased anything off of Etsy or any other site for a long time because I’m unemployed and broke right now, but I love to look! Right now, my favorites are:

Take a look through And Paper Heart’s shop. What item is your favorite? Mine are totally these vintage earrings.

Shop Talk: Sweet Harvey

10 Nov

One of the very first shops to catch my eye on Etsy is a shop that is considerably simple. It sells letterpress paper goods and other materials one can print upon. I browsed the shop weekly, planning what I would buy when, one day, I saw something new.

The shop had started to offer screenprinted totes, and I found one in an adorable, candy apple red flapper girl. I ordered the incredibly reasonably priced tote, and I carry it with me often.

My adorable tote. Click on the image to check it out further.

The successful Etsy shop in question is called Sweet Harvey, a name, Sweet Harvey’s blog tells me, that is derived from her grandfather, the sweetest man she knew. The story (and his photo — how cute is he??) made me love the shop even more.

You should love it, too. Meet Brandi Powell, of Des Moines, Iowa.

Tell me about letterpress. Letterpress is an intensive process that requires time, skill and patience. It started as a 15th century relief printing technique achieved by inking a type-high raised surface and pressing that surface image into paper. The amount of impression or debossing that appears is controlled by minor adjustments made by the printer. Each sheet of paper is individually hand-fed through a vintage printing press one color at a time. Letterpress is an intensive process that requires time, skill and patience.

I did an article for the Etsy Storque this spring with all kinds of letterpress information/photos.

This adorable fox is one of the many letterpress options in Sweet Harvey, and it's one of the shop's best selling items. Click on the image to see more.

How did you get involved in letterpress? My drawings start out as very rough sketches, but they all end up in digital form. Letterpress came about in looking for a way to bring my digital illustration work into a more tangible, handmade form. Once I had decided on the medium, the challenge was finding a press and learning how to use it.

How do you come up with your designs? Are they all your own? All of my artwork is my own. I basically think of an idea and start sketching. If it is something that I have never drawn before, I do research on the subject’s anatomy so I have a basis to start my drawing. Although all of my work is more illustrative than realistic, it is always good to have a basis to start from.

What are your favorite items and/or designs in your shop? Right now, I am actually stuck on my screen-printed work, but that is only because I enjoy being able to mix the printing with fabric. And of course being able to wear my own work is super fun.

Want to wear some Sweet Harvey, too? This screenprinted scarf is one of her wearable options and a best-seller. Click on the image to see more.

As far as letterpress goes, my prints are my favorite because they are a bit larger, so I am able to spend more time on the drawings.

Tell me about some of your favorite items you’ve purchased on Etsy. I have purchase many fun things on Etsy! My favorites right now are my flower hair clips from crafteemcgee

A flower hairclip by Craftee McGee. Click on the image for more.

… my owl fridge magnets from mylittlechickadee

 

Owl magnets by My Little Chickadee Creations. Click on the image for more.

… and my apron from sassyapron!

 

An apron from Sassy Apron. Click on the image for more.

What are three pieces of advice you’d give to other sellers?

  1. Work on your photos! I know you hear it all the time but it’s true. I still have a long way to go with mine, but I am getting there. Having better photos has allowed me to be featured many places that I would not have been before.
  2. Marketing. If you really want to make your business profitable you have to be everywhere all the time. The way the world works right now is “out of sight, out of mind.” You have to work at it with social networking, joining groups and communities, and advertising. That is what worked for me.
  3. Have fun. If your art becomes more work than fun, then you best fix that right away! Art is your enjoyment time so be sure to keep it that way!

What’s your favorite item in Sweet  Harvey?

Shop Talk: OnceAgainSam

1 Nov

One of the great things about Etsy sellers is how generous so many of them are. I first heard of OnceAgainSam through a friend’s blog, Homemade by Jen. OnceAgainSam was doing a giveaway through the blog — the winner’s choice of leather earrings.

I couldn’t decide between three, and I turned to Jaclyn1423’s trusty Facebook fans to help. I was leaning toward to particular pairs, and every suggestion was for one of those two pairs. Peer pressure encouraged me to go with my original favorite pair, and I received them in the mail last week. The shipping time, it’s worth noting, was incredibly quick.

 

My new earrings! Want a pair? Click on the image to see them in the Etsy shop OnceAgainSam. Only $8!

 

I wore the earrings to work today, and I absolutely adore them. They’re bigger than I thought they’d be, which is a good thing , and they’re softer than I thought possible, and they hang from sterling earwire.

I’m certainly bookmarking OnceAgainSam for my Christmas gifts; not only are her designs incredible, but her prices are oh-so reasonable.

She agreed to do a Shop Talk with Snap, Crackle, Pop. So meet Sam (the shop owner’s initials) from Greenville, S.C.

How did you get started making jewelry? I got started making jewelery about two years ago because it seemed like the kind of hobby that doesn’t make a huge mess or take up a lot of space. I’m a professionally trained fine artist, but without a studio to work in at the moment, I had to think about what I could make in the space I had (a 30×48-inch drafting table). I got the idea to make leather jewelry, my focus, when I realized how many leather upholstery samples I had accumulated over the years. I’ve been at the right place at the right time on more than one occasion when interior design libraries no longer wanted these samples, so I rescued them from the trash to give them new life once again.

The texture in your pieces is amazing. What inspires you? The texture of the leather jewelry is gorgeous all on its own. I don’t do anything to the material other than cut it and punch holes for hardware. All I have to do is decide if the leather would look best as a pair of earrings, bracelet, ring. I can’t go wrong because the material itself is amazing.

Tell me about the favorite item in your shop. The items I favor most in my shop are the Once Again Sam signature amoeba flower earrings (Snap Crackle Pop says: Those are the ones I got!). Not only is the shape of the earrings the same as my logo, but there are endless color combinations, and they look fun and chunky but they weigh nothing. I love big jewelry but not the feeling of my earlobes being tugged on.

What are some of your favorite things you’ve ever purchased on Etsy? My favorite Etsy purchase (actually my husband purchased it for me — he’s great at picking up hints!) was a necklace with a silver anatomical heart pendant by Blue Bayer Design NYC. It’s so weird and industrial, totally up my alley. Plus, I don’t know how to cast metal, so it’s magical to buy something handmade from someone with a totally different skill set and access to materials than I do.

Anatomical heart pendant by Blue Bayer Design NYC

You’ve seen some incredible success in such a difficult-to-crack Etsy category: jewelry. What are some tips you can offer to other jewelry sellers (like me!)? It sure was tough to get started on Etsy. Believe me, after the first three months and almost no sales, I wanted to close up shop and pout. But I hung in there, and for some reason my sales started picking up. I tried new materials like needle felting to diversify my offerings. I think my prices are appealing, which has probably helped me move up, and I intend to keep it that way. I love a good find, so I want people to have that same rush when they discover a good find at a reasonable price in my shop. Plus, I’d rather make more frequent “smaller” sales than one “big” sale every now and then. I guess my only advice is to just make things you love. Don’t make what you think will sell because if it doesn’t, you’re stuck with it. Make something you wouldn’t mind NOT selling.

Have you looked through OnceAgainSam? What’s your favorite item in her shop? There are a ton of things I like, including this awesome leather and bling ring.