The Etsy Blog

Featured Seller: Boardstiff handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Megan Barnes and I am the creative mind behind Boardstiff, as well as a few other shops on Etsy. I was working as a freelance graphic designer specializing in branding and product packaging when I decided to launch my own line of witty stationery and office supplies in July of 2009. In the fall of 2010 I followed my heart and launched Boardstiff.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love spending time with my family. We are huge movie buffs. When I am not creating or working on my business, you can usually find me curled up on the couch with big a cup of tea and a pair of knitting needles watching the latest addition to our movie collection.

What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
I have narrowed it down to two potential titles:

1. Play it Forward. What I do is who I am and what I aspire to be.

2. Road Map to Success. Just as everyone’s journey is different, so is their idea of success.

Where does your inspiration come from?
The raw materials I work with, whether it be a ball of yarn, a roll of vinyl or a big sheet of cardboard. I often find myself staring at them almost like it is a challenge: “What can I make with this?” Sometimes an idea comes right away and other times it can take weeks for the idea to materialize, but then all of a sudden it’s the middle of the night and I have the urge to start working.

What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means irreplaceable. It’s the magic of the human touch, imperfections and all.

Who has been most influential in your craft?
I grew up in a house where creativity was always encouraged. I was free to dream and create anything that I could think of, limited only by my imagination and creativity. So I guess you could say that my folks are the ones to thank for my unlimited number of ideas and the burning desire to test each and every theory.

When did you know you were an artist/maker?
When I was nine years old I used to create elaborate board games and stationery. One particular item that I remember making was a stationery set adorned with hippos. While coloring in the purple hippos, I made sure that they matched; I wanted them to look like they had been professionally printed. When I finished the full set I decided that they needed to look like they came from a store, so I went off to the kitchen to grab some cellophane wrap and a thick piece of cardboard to wrap it up. Even at that age I was passionate about my art.

How would you describe your creative process?
I usually just go for it. If I spend too much time planning, I tend to over-think the problems or obstacles that I may never face. Just because your product or idea isn’t out in the marketplace yet doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
This may sound odd,but I would really love to take a sneak peek into my own studio 10 years from now. I would love to see how my taste has evolved, what items I have chosen to display proudly and which items have stood the test of time.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My wedding ring. It’s a combination of everything that is most important to me: history (the center band is my grandmother’s wedding band), design (my husband, with his amazing eye for style, designed the piece) and love (the ring itself was handcrafted).

How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I definitely have to be in the zone to work on anything creative. Unfortunately, there is no trick or switch that I can flip to put me in that spot, so it’s important that when I’m in that creative mood I make the most of it and focus on my ideas and creativity. A big cup of tea and some music help me stay in my creative headspace. Owning a business where everything is depends upon your creativity, it’s important that you don’t try to force ideas or creations. On the days that I am not feeling super creative, I work on the other aspects of running the business.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would love nothing more then to be in the same place, but with slightly different surroundings and 10 years of additional wisdom.

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