Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Afsaneh Tajvidi and I am 32 years old. I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. I immigrated to Canada in 2006 and now I live in Toronto. I met my husband Suma here at work and we got married two years ago. I have studied computer engineering and I’ve been working as a web designer/programmer since I was 22. A while ago my lower back started hurting in a way that sitting in front of a computer for many hours was very hard for me. I decided to quit my computer job and work at home as an artist and thanks to Etsy now I am doing what I really LOVE to do! I love painting and crafts equally. I also sell the prints of my illustrations in my other Etsy shop, joojoo.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I try to read books every day. I listen to my favorite music and talk to my parents and sister on the phone; I also love to go for a walk with my husband and/or parents if the weather is not so cold. I also cook for the two of us and we watch Korean dramas while eating dinner almost every night! Some Korean dramas are so fun to watch and very entertaining. On weekends we usually visit my family who live very close to us and sometimes we go by the beach or go shopping.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I was raised in a family of artists. My grandfather was a famous musician and his father was a painter (miniaturist) therefore art has always had a special place in our home. When I was very young my mom was always encouraging my sister and I to draw and paint. She used to buy us drawing notebooks to draw with crayons. We still have our childhood drawings and it’s so fun to look at them! I can remember that we also had playing clay and I loved to make cherries and apples with them and stick them to the wall! My mom was a big fan of children’s books and she used to buy many of them for us. I loved their beautiful illustrations even more than the stories and loved looking at them and dreaming. Since those days I’ve never stopped drawing and creating things.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
I believe ideas are floating in the air. When your mind is engaged with anything that you love, you get ideas from the atmosphere. I get inspiration from almost everything, nice colors in a scene of a movie, nature, children’s book illustrations, fashion magazines, blogs or even my dreams!
When an idea comes to my mind I draw it on the piece of paper and I write some notes so that I don’t forget it (I have a folder organizer to keep all of my sketches and ideas). Later I get back to my big folder and go through my sketches and I pick one and make a clay sculpture out of it or use it for an illustration. I have a huge collection of pictures in my computer’s hard drive. Whatever catches my eye I save it in that folder. I go through my treasure folder once in a while to feed my mind with colors, forms, textures or even the materials that I can use… it really helps my creativity.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I cherish all of my handmade possessions. When I think someone has created something with patience and love it becomes so special to me. But recently my grandmother sent me her huge collection of crochet doilies. She cannot crochet anymore because her hands get numb when she does, but she gave all that she had to me, because she knows I don’t know how to crochet and I admire her skills. I cherish each and every one of them.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (It made me cry a lot but it’s deeply humanistic)
Buddha By Osamu Tezuka (I adore Tezuka’s skills, God bless him!)
Journey of Souls by Michael Newton
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Trumpet Voluntary by Jeremy Harmer (A very short story, but I enjoyed it a lot)
Le Huitième Jour – The eighth day (1997)
The Color of Paradise (1999) by Majid Majidi
Cast Away (2000)
Mongol (2007) by Sergei Bodrov
Oliver Shanti and friends (Especially the song “El flamenco del Rumi”, it touches my soul)
Roxette (I loved them so much since I was a teenager)
Shayne Ward (I listen to “No Promises” these days, wonderful song!)
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Learn to take great photos by reading online tutorials. Learn PhotoShop or any other photo editing software to edit your photos. Try your best to create photos that have the closest colors to the color of your items. I’ve seen some sellers have brilliant photos with wonderful colors but when I received their items the colors were not the same as the photos. With photo editing software, you can have a lot of control over your photos and create realistic colors. Other than that try to treat your customers as you enjoy being treated. Be patient and persistent. Don’t limit yourself to a special style. Try different things and enjoy what you’re doing. Otherwise you’ll be confined to a particular style.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
Etsy is a wonderful website and extremely user-friendly. I was a web programmer before and I understand and appreciate the architecture and simplicity of this website and all of its wonderful features. I love Favorites and Treasury. I think the idea of the treasury in Etsy came from a genius!
I would love to see a search feature for my favorite sellers and items, like the one Flickr has for favorites. As a seller I also would love be to able to upload my product photos all at once and when editing the listing. I would like to see the 5 steps of listing on top of the page as links to have the ability to click on each step without having to go through the steps by using “next” and “previous” buttons.
How do you promote your work?
I try my very best to renew a few of my items at least three times a day. I also have a blog, Flickr and twitter account to announce any shop updates. I take part in the “Illustration Friday” challenge occasionally and it brings more people to my Etsy shops.Other than that I was lucky to be featured in some blogs like Decor8, Apartment Therapy and Modish. I am also very thankful to my lovely cyber friends who placed my shop’s link in their blogs.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Healthy and happy and doing all the fun stuff that I’m doing now