Artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, innovation, and honest sustainability.

The best and brightest artists and thinkers coming together to promote fine crafts, original thought, and honest sustainability.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Zip & Ruth does Leather! (Giveaway too!)

This is a super special post, as it is the first little chunk of a brand new undertaking. As some of you know, I have been working on a line of upcycled leather handbags. Though these are not ready to ship yet, I am giving my lovely readers a sneak peak.... with a bonus....

I am still in the fine-tuning stage, and there will be a small group of other styles on the way as well, but I need your help. I am looking for your input (since obviously you have the best taste out there). So, take a peek at the photos. Leave a comment with one of the following:
- Constructive suggestion for improvement
- Why you love them
- or, What feature(s) is a must-have on any bag you buy

***BONUS: Follow my blog and/or become a Facebook follower as well and I'll add an extra entry for you.

Don't forget to leave your contact info. Next Thursday, I will pick my favorite answer answer(s) and the winner(s) will win their choice of anything from my Etsy jewelry shop. Yes all those (s)'s mean that I may pick more than one. And no, you can't pick one of the bags as your prize, sorry:(. Feel free to enter as many times as you like.

The Basic Pouch 4" x 6"(ish)


Black


Grey


The Everyday Bag 10"wide x 8"tall (ish)



Grey with navy and burgundy zippers






Black with red zippers


Forest green with lime and orange zippers


Mocha brown with navy and purple zippers




Thanks for your input everyone!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biz Tip: Drink your coffee.

Every single morning, I dutifully make a lovely press pot of coffee for my significant other and myself to share. And every morning, like clockwork. I take two sips then start working, forget all about it, and then and hour later, wonder why I have a headache and still feel sleepy.

This article is not really about coffee. It's about doing whatever it is that you need to do to make sure you don't derail yourself by over-working and not taking a minute to {   fill in the blank with whatever lights your fire  }.

As teensy business owners, we are our biggest asset. I mean, you wouldn't leave your computer on 24/7 and never give it a rest, would you? So, why do we work through lunch, fail to take a nap, never drink enough water, and then wonder why we are so tired all the time? Honestly, I have no idea, nor do I have a great solution. Today is just a quick smack upside the head. Go drink a glass of water and take a minute to smell the roses. Off I go to drink my now-cold coffee.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weekly Featured Artist & GIVEAWAY: The Time is Now

Name: Naomi
Business Name: The Time Is Now


Shop: http://etsy.com/shop/thetimeisnow
Blog: http://woodland-papercuts.blogspot.com
The Time Is Now is also featured on LovelyClusters.com, PaperNStitch.com and FeltandWireShop.com

The Basics:
The Time is Now is the creation of Naomi. She's 24 years old and has always had artistic interests. Her path to here was long and twisted. She is a graduate of The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design where she discovered her passion for paper cutting. She now lives in Tel Aviv and is trying to decide how to decorate her apartment. 



1. What five words best describe you?
Kind, perfectionist, quiet, day-dreamer, talented. Or so people keep insisting.

2. What five words best describe your work?
Decorative, detailed, dreamy, intricate, and Are-you-crazy?! The last one is the most common feedback I get.

3. What was the very first art form you fell in love with, and, do you still do it?
I do remember as a kid that I loved animation and wanted to be an animator. That’s all I knew of art, you see, but I never attempted it. I remember I loved the times we had plates printed with our drawings in kindergarden. I seem to have always favored artistic outlets with practical uses. That’s why I fell in love with fashion design. I studied it for years and was all set on becoming a fashion designer, but somewhere along the way I fell in love with graphic design. Somehow I ended up in illustration, and as long as my illustrations get to grace book covers, product packages, and print material, I am hooked. There’s something about holding and feeling your work that never stops thrilling me. I definitely want to try my hand at textile design next.

4. What was your very worst ‘real’ job?
The only job that I really suffered at wasn’t bad at all, really. It’s just that I was drifting, and the hours I worked made it so I never saw the sun. So really I’m lucky, I never had a scarring job. Hope to never have one.

5. Is artwork your full-time life? Or, if not, are you planning to make it that way? If so, what’s your favorite part about being a full-time creative?
If only! I’m too scared to make it my full time job yet. I still need to make myself a nest first, but I do plan to make creating my full-time gig. Work is a distraction from creating, but I can’t say I did much of that the 9 months I was unemployed. I think creating for me is very much an emotional state, and surprisingly I am sketching and cutting more now when I have so little time to do it than I did when I was home all day. I’m happier now, too. I’m regaining confidence in myself in as a contributing member of society, and I am regaining confidence in myself as a creative artist.

6. What do you think is the single most important thing you could tell an artist just starting out?
Mmm, I’m really bad in shelling out advice, probably because still I need them so badly myself.
Confidence, I should say, don’t lose confidence in yourself. And always keep creating, even little things, because I think that’s what keeps the light from dying, it’s so easy to walk away sometimes.
Be organized. Even if my organization skills amount to orderly piles, I know that an orderly work space equals more creativity.

7. What is your favorite way to distribute your work (craft shows, online, galleries, etc…), and why?
I have to say, I don’t like craft shows. They’ve never been a success for me, but that’s probably because I haven’t found the right one yet. I would like to attempt galleries, or rather I’m being highly encouraged to by people, but I feel like I need to expand my portfolio more for it. Right now I’m relying heavily on the internet for all things. It’s a powerful tool, and I seem to know more about what I can do with it than I do offline. It seems scarier, just because it’s not as anonymous.

8. What are your five favorite blogs and/or websites?
I get my daily dose of humor from http://notalwaysright.com and http://overheardinnewyork.com
http://ryantownshop.blogspot.com/
http://pikaland.com
http://www.designspongeonline.com/
http://ohhellofriend.blogspot.com/

9. Favorite artist?
Audrey Kawasaki blows my mind every time.
Rob Ryan
Rifle Design (Anna Bond)
Sam Weber
Jen Corace
Feral Kid (Joao Ruas)

10. Guilty pleasure?
I’ll keep my guilty pleasures to myself. Well, I consider my attempts at embroidery, where I really bite more than I can chew sometimes, a guilty pleasure. I’m just starting on embroidering a gigantic headboard that I’ll probably never finish.


~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~

Naomi has generously offered one winner their choice of either her lovely Wanderlust print (seen here) or a $25 gift certificate towards the item of their choice from her Etsy shop!



TO ENTER:
- Go to Naomi's Etsy page. Find your very favorite item.
- After that, come on back and leave a comment below telling us what your favorite item was and why (the 'why' is the part we really look for when deciding on a winner... so be creative! Tell us how you would use it, why it appeals to you, what you find unique about it....that sort of thing).

You may enter only once (but keep reading for the loophole on that). The contest is open until 4pm Pacific time on the Monday following the original feature (so it's open for about six days). Winners will be posted on Tuesday morning, along with the new featured artist's piece. If you have any questions, please contact me, not the artist.

IMPORTANT: If you want to be contacted (if you are the winner), you need to leave your email address in your comment (I suggest spelling out the @(at) and the .(dot) to avoid spam from internet crawlers, or you may also leave your Etsy screen name, if applicable. If you don't leave either, you need to check back and contact me by the Friday following the contest ending to see of you won, and will need to email me (see Winner's Box in the upper right sidebar).

Bonus Entries- **You can earn an extra entry for each of the following: Follow my blog and/or follow me on Facebook. Both links are on the right-hand sidebar. Just make sure you note that you did these in your comment below (no need to leave multiple comments, you'll get an entry for each thing you do, just put it all into one comment)!**

Please note: The winner is chosen by me and the featured artist based on your responses...so make 'em good! We make no claims that the selection is random:) It is between you and the featured artist to coordinate the getting of your loot. I make no personal guarantees about time-frame for delivery, value, or condition of the winning item.

~~ Last Week's Winners: mFrame! Carol and I wish you health, happiness, and a speedy recovery!  ~~

Monday, July 26, 2010

Think Big! Monday: Banksy.... go forth and make trouble!

For those of you that have live (or live) in cities like San Francisco, New York, or London, you have probably seen some of Banksy's work. For many years, he has peppered the urban landscape with brilliant (and often inflammatory) images of personal struggle, war and peace and the fallibility of humanity. For years, his true identity was unknown; only recently was there a newspaper article published with his actual photo.

I'm hoping this post inspires you to use art to make a little trouble. Raise a little hell, break a few rules and never, never play it safe. For more of Banksy's amazing work (and I HIGHLY reccomend you check this out), go to his website at: http://www.banksy.co.uk/.

Enjoy!











Note the irony of the above work, when viewing the positionioning of the "Sale Ends Tomorrow" ad below his feature in the scan below. Geee, I wonder why he avoids the press.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Biz Tip: Diversify!

Today's tip is all about flexibility. As my readers and friends, you know I am pretty hard core about doing a few things well, not a whole bunch of things marginally okay. But, sometimes doing one thing well locks us into not seeing new opportunities within what we do well. In this economy, we are all looking at new ways to develop revenue. So, I challenge you to think about this; what are you missing that's most likely right under your nose?

For example: Are you a knitter, scrambling to make scarves and hats and mittens as fast as your little fingers can go? Perhaps you are selling a few things, but you could really use a boost. So what are you missing? You know you are more than a knitter, maybe your also a single mom? Why not write a blog about being a creative parent? Or perhaps start a knitting meetup group for other single moms?

So, what are you missing?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tutorial: Recycled tea tin journel

This lovely little book is super easy to make and come to us courtesy of WiseArts. You know you have some nifty old tin lying around, just dying to become a delightful little gift. The full tutorial can be found here: WiseArts








Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekly Featured Artist & GIVEAWAY: The Art of Sean Andrew Murray

And now for something completely different!

For several weeks, I have been featuring some amazing artists that create lovely girly things like handbags and jewelry (and yes, I will be doing more of that). But, every so often, I like to feature someone who has a totally different perspective that is unique, out of my comfort zone, and might bring some unexpected exposure to a great artist. So, channel your inner twelve-year-old boy, and enjoy some super cool surrealist monsters!

Name: Sean A. Murray (a.k.a. Muttonhead)
Business: The Art of Sean Andrew Murray


www.seanandrewmurray.com
www.seanandrewmurray.etsy.com


The Basics?
I am a professional video game concept artist, currently employed at Big Huge Games / 38 Studios in Timonium, Maryland. My personal work straddles the line between fantasy illustration and surrealism, and I am beginning to explore my own visions and unique worlds more intensely. 

I live in Baltimore, I am married to the wonderful Kathleen, and I have a son named Connor.


1. What five words best describe you?
(this is probably too self-indulgent for me to answer… )

2. What five words best describe your work?
dark, humorous, drawing-based, open to interpretation, mysterious

3. What was the very first art form you fell in love with, and, do you still do it?
Drawing. Yes, I love drawing. It is my passion. I always try to have my sketchbook with me in case I have an idea, or if I just want to draw something new and unexpected. I love the discovery of drawing, and the intentional nature of linework.

4. What was your very worst ‘real’ job?
Working for a start-up web-design company of 3 people. It was my first full-time job out of college and it just went horribly wrong. Originally, I was hired to just be the creative designer, while all of the technical aspects of developing web pages was done by a programmer. But then the boss fired the programmer, and asked me to learn how to program in HTML. He also made me do cold sales calls. It was the worst, and a huge learning experience for me. I was glad when he laid me off.

5. Is artwork your full-time life? Or, if not, are you planning to make it that way? If so, what’s your favorite part about being a full-time creative?
Yes, it is my full-time life. I work as the Principal Concept Artist for Big Huge Games, a division of 38 Studios. We are a game-development studio working on a cool fantasy rpg for the Playstation 3, so I get to draw a lot of monsters and cool fantasy settings and environments, it’s a blast. The best part about my job is getting to work with other creative, passionate folks. Even though we may sometimes clash over the details of certain creative decisions, we are all working towards the same goal, which is to make the best looking, and most fun Fantasy RPG on the market. Having other like-minded folks to bounce ideas off of and challenge you is something every artist should experience at least once.

6. What do you think is the single most important thing you could tell an artist just starting out?
Trust your hands and follow your own thoughts. Even in more commercially-based art, personal voice adds the advantage of genuine passion and convincing ideas. When an artist is forced to work on something they do not believe in, I think the results are very evident… and the artist is miserable. That’s not good for anyone.
This goes for fine art too, but is sometimes trickier because you can sometimes fool yourself into thinking that in order to be successful you have to have a look or style that is similar to someone else that is successful. This is a mistake because you may never truly believe in your own work and vision.

7. What is your favorite way to distribute our work (craft shows, online, galleries, etc…), and why?
Right now, most of my work gets into the public eye through various web-sites. I post my work in the forums of sites like CGHUB.com and CONCEPTART.COM, and occasionally participate in competitioins like DOMINANCE WAR. I also have had my work published in annuals like Spectrum: The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art, or Expose’: The Finest in Digital Art, and also magazines like ImagineFX. Also, I have done some freelance work that has been published for companies like Wizards of the Coast (for Dungeons and Dragons), and Privateer Press. I am only just starting out with selling prints of my work, so it is new territory for me.
I like posting my work in forums because you get direct feedback from people all over the world, but there is nothing more thrilling than seeing your work in print too.

8. What are your five favorite blogs and/or websites?
I really like CGHUB.COM right now, they have a really neat interface for showcasing artists and getting people to look at, comment, and rate your work. It's also a great place for people who are into fantasy art and concept art to meet each other, network, find out about jobs, projects, etc., and also participate in challenges.
I also really like checking in with my good friend and an amazingly talented and dedicated artist, Marc Holmes on his blog: http://tarosan.wordpress.com/
Beyond that, I really like conceptart.org, cgtalk.org, and flickr. I go to flickr for visual reference and inspiration a lot.

9. Favorite artist?
As far as living artists, I have to go to Ian Miller. He is without question my biggest artistic influence, and his work is so dark, unique, bizarre and captivating, I just think it is too bad that he is not more well known. He did a lot of illustrations for the Warhammer Universe, which is a series of strategy and role-playing games out of the UK that I played when I was in High School. He has also worked on films like Cool World and even the first Shrek. He works in a variety of methods, but the stuff that really drew me to him are his incredibly detailed rapidograph-pen drawings and mixed-media pieces. He builds up tonal volume with layer upon layer of precisely-drawn grids, yet his work always has such flow and movement to them you can barely believe he used such a technical method to create them. His site is: www.ian-miller.org. A close second is Zdzislaw Beksinski, though he is recently deceased.
In the deceased category, it's a toss-up between Albrecht Durer, Gustav Dore, and Hieronymus Bosch.

10. Guilty pleasure?
Bad hardcore German industrial music….


~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~

Sean has generously offered one winner their choice of any one of his kick-ass prints from his Etsy shop!


TO ENTER:
- Go to Sean's Etsy page. Find your very favorite item.
- After that, come on back and leave a comment below telling us what your favorite item was and why (the 'why' is the part we really look for when deciding on a winner... so be creative! Tell us how you would use it, why it appeals to you, what you find unique about it....that sort of thing).

You may enter only once (but keep reading for the loophole on that). The contest is open until 4pm Pacific time on the Monday following the original feature (so it's open for about six days). Winners will be posted on Tuesday morning, along with the new featured artist's piece. If you have any questions, please contact me, not the artist.

IMPORTANT: If you want to be contacted (if you are the winner), you need to leave your email address in your comment (I suggest spelling out the @(at) and the .(dot) to avoid spam from internet crawlers, or you may also leave your Etsy screen name, if applicable. If you don't leave either, you need to check back and contact me by the Friday following the contest ending to see of you won, and will need to email me (see Winner's Box in the upper right sidebar).

Bonus Entries- **You can earn an extra entry for each of the following: Follow my blog and/or follow me on Facebook. Both links are on the right-hand sidebar. Just make sure you note that you did these in your comment below (no need to leave multiple comments, you'll get an entry for each thing you do, just put it all into one comment)!**

Please note: The winner is chosen by me and the featured artist based on your responses...so make 'em good! We make no claims that the selection is random:) It is between you and the featured artist to coordinate the getting of your loot. I make no personal guarantees about time-frame for delivery, value, or condition of the winning item.

~~ Last Week's Winners: mFrame! Carol and I wish you health, happiness, and a speedy recovery!  ~~

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Custom Wedding Order - Done!

Just finished a custom wedding order for a lovely woman in San Francisco who found me on Etsy! The order was for:

6 matching necklaces for Bride's Maids
2 flower girl necklaces
6 matching earrings for Bride's Maids
1 set long earring for Maid of Honor
1 bracelet for MOH

Check them out! I think they came out great!

- Bride's Maids Necklaces -

- Close-up - 

- Bride's Maids Earrings -

- MOH Earrings -

 - Bride's Maids Sets -

- MOH Bracelet -




- Flower Girls' Necklaces -