Tell us a bit about yourself.
We’re Beth Snyder and Carrie Shryock, and we make up the letterpressing duo 1canoe2. Our shop name comes from our years of dreaming up big ideas around a campfire and floating down a spring-fed Missouri river in a canoe. Two girls, one canoe. And we like how it sounds. We met sometime around the fifth grade, when we were both in the gifted program at our rural school. This mostly involved doing geeky logic problems, eating a two-cookie-per-day ration, and designing sets for creativity competitions. While this sounds incredibly cool, we actually did get to develop some pretty fun skills. We both come from very supportive, hardworking, fun families. Without their encouragement, we would never be where we are today.
Fast forward through high school art classes, college at the University of Missouri, and living 1100 miles away from each other. Years later we put down roots back home where our families live in Missouri, which means lots of corn fields. When our big red barn was built in 1999, we joked about having an art business in the loft on the third floor. We ended up doing just that, even though all those years ago we didn’t know what a letterpress was. We discovered it’s the perfect combination of art and design and getting our hands dirty. Really, really dirty.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Beth: During the day, I’m the art director for a national farming magazine where I do lots of graphic design, photography and layouts. Aside from work, I watch movies with my husband, take walks with our little brown dog, Walter, and usually work some more. We’re expecting our first child in January, so a lot of time will soon be going toward that venture. I also like to cook, eat, and read books.
Carrie: I’m an art teacher to about 650 elementary school kids, which is an adventure, to say the least. I spend my day waist deep in Elmer’s glue, tempera paint and construction paper. I’m inspired every day by their work, and I could fill a book with funny stories from my classroom. Outside of school, I love doing anything outdoors — running and biking on the trails in and around Columbia, where I live. I also love watching Mizzou basketball!
What first made you want to become an artist?
Beth: I remember doing art lessons from a drawing book with my mom when I was really little. My sister and I spent a lot of hours playing in refrigerator boxes, with me laboriously drawing patterned wallpaper and matching furnishings. I’m coming around slowly to accepting the possibility that I could actually be a true artist and support myself and my family.
Carrie: I can’t remember a day when I didn’t love to sit down with some blank paper and some pens. My great-grandpa was a painter and photographer, and my grandma is an artist as well. If you go into any house in the community where I grew up you will probably see one of her paintings or something that she created.
Please describe your creative process.
As a duo, we really play well together. We come up with an idea for a project while running our presses or having a dinner “business meeting.” We go home and sketch for a week or two, then get back together in person to edit the sketches and talk about colors. We use the computer as a layout and planning tool, but it’s very important that our letterpressing is primarily hand-drawn. We think it’s what makes us different.
We get plastic or metal plates made from our drawings, and they look remarkably like our original sketchbook versions. Our plates are made by Boxcar Press, and we can’t speak highly enough of their customer service. When the plates come in, we meet at the barn (usually on a Saturday), which is halfway between our homes, and spend a couple of hours cutting paper, mixing paint colors from our Pantone swatch book, and lining everything up on the press. Each and every print goes into the beast by hand, and is pulled out once for every color, creating a beautiful, handmade product. It’s not always precision-perfect, but we like it that way.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Beth: I have several quilts made by my mom and other family members. For me, it’s really the memory of having my mom and dad making little things for me when I needed them. I always knew they could figure out a solution. I remember my dad meticulously gluing together a huge dollhouse kit, and let’s not forget all 1,000+ wooden recipe card boxes he made for our shop last year! My mom used to sew outfits for me to match my Cabbage Patch doll. That was the best!
Carrie: A couple of years ago my grandma gave me an easel that belonged to her dad, my great-grandpa. He built it himself and would take it out into the pasture or along a creek bank to use when he painted. I haven’t really used it much, but I have it in my studio space. I like that it has paint drips all over it in different colors — remnants of his paintings.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Etsy takes a serious commitment, in terms of interest. It’s hard to keep up with what’s new, what works, and what sells. It’s important to take time to research and snoop around in your favorite shops. You have to list your items at strategic times and do your best to be involved with the community. I personally don’t have tons of time for cruising the Forums, but I do think they can get you some exposure that might lead to being featured in a Treasury or noticed by Etsy. It’s all kind of a snowball effect.
Here’s the inevitable advice to “take good photos,” but it’s also important to make something unique! Take the time to research what the market is missing and then make it! Find outside traffic generators (blogs, etc.) and contact them about featuring you.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love, love, love Favorites and seeing what other artist’s favorites are. I also love the Spotlight features on the Blog.
I’d love to have shipping options for the buyer and the ability to purchase an Etsy-wide gift certificate.
How do you promote your work?
We submit new work to several of our favorite blogs. We’ve been really lucky that several magazines and stores have contacted us out of the blue, just because they’ve seen our work on Etsy. We also use Facebook, Twitter and have our own blog.
In ten years, where would you like to be?
Beth: In a dream world, we’d draw all day in a window-filled studio, and take a company canoe trip every year on one of the beautiful Ozark Scenic Waterways that run through SouthernMissouri.
Carrie: I think we share the same dream of being able to work full-time on 1canoe2. I’d also add that our window-filled studio would have a canoe hanging from the ceiling. I’ve envisioned that from the beginning.