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Artists in Paradise

Feb 15, 2018

by Diana Keeler

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

As I write this, wrapped tightly in a blanket with a cup of hot tea at hand, the wind howls outside as another snowstorm makes its way up the East Coast. Four inches of snow have fallen since dawn, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, since tomorrow will bring temperatures that top out around…20 degrees.

Unless.

Unless you happen to be like one of these Etsy sellers, who prioritized sunny days, sandy beaches, and warm nights over a more conventional kind of life—not only for the weather, but to make their living in a place full of inspiration. If you’ve ever wondered whether it was possible to give it all up and live an artist’s life on a tropical island—or the remote, idyllic locale of your choosing—these four Etsy sellers offer proof that the answer is yes. But is it as good as it sounds? Read on to find out—and remember that maybe, just maybe, paradise is wherever your creative process takes you.

Ana Sofía Castañón

“There is simply magic in this part of the world,” says Cancún, Mexico-based artist Ana Sofía Castañón, who grew up on a ranch near Mexico’s inland city of San Luis Potosí, but has lived in Cancún, on the country’s Caribbean coast, for seven years. “The Riviera Maya is gorgeous: the white beaches, the turquoise waters, the green jungle, and the beauty of the people,” says Ana Sofía, who works primarily in watercolors. “I’m a very nature-loving person—I just need to go out, be in peace, and look around.”

One recent series of Ana Sofía’s illustrations took inspiration from Caribbean coral reefs, while another is based on her own journey to the coast from the farm where she grew up—“covered in mud, surrounded by cows, horses, chickens, geese, peacocks, rabbits, and deer”—in a landscape dotted with cacti and other succulents. Ana Sofía free-dives once or twice a week in the Caribbean to maintain her connection to the sea: “Sometimes I paint something related to the ocean, and sometimes I paint other things,” she says. “What is certain is that going into the water helps my creative process, and that, for sure, makes me a healthier being.”

Nikola Sandals

Niko of Nikola Sandals grew up in Corfu, the sun-drenched, white-walled Greek island of plenty of city dwellers’ collective dreams. “Everything is calmer and simpler here,” says the designer, who studied in the UK for 10 years before returning to his downright heavenly hometown. “The sun, the sea, a relaxed pace, a walk with my dog in the paths near my house, which are lined with olive and cypress trees: It all helps me clear my thoughts and concentrate,” Niko says. “A short drive takes me to beautiful beaches for a swim—and that energizes me.”

Nevertheless, island life is not without its hassles: Twice a year, Niko travels to Athens for supplies, and like many Greeks, he faces the ongoing disruptions of the country’s financial problems. The benefits, though, outweigh the troubles. “Capital controls, bureaucracy, and high taxation can make it difficult to start and operate a small business here,” he says. “But when I make a new design, or go for a walk or swim in the sea, then yes—I call this place paradise.”

Marta Fofi

Marta Fofi lives on the Spanish island of Ibiza, the summer party hub of choice for many Europeans. She grew up elsewhere, though—in Gubbio, a medieval town in central Italy—and went on to study accessory design in Rome at the Academy of Costume and Fashion. Next came freelance work at goldsmithing workshops in Arezzo, an Italian hill town with over 1,000 jewelry firms working in precious metals: gold, silver, and platinum.

Still, something was missing, and Marta ended up in Ibiza: “I found it cosmopolitan and open-minded, with a great sense of freedom—completely different from where I had lived until then,” she says. “It’s a hedonist’s island. When I first arrived, sometimes I left my house without even knowing what time I would come back.” After first courting the island’s self-styled hippie community with her handmade boho bags, Marta began selling embroidery art and illustrations, all brilliantly colorful. “My modern style differs from Ibiza’s bohemian aesthetic, but I think every artist is influenced by the place where she lives. My work is full of merriment, with the sun inside.”

Sunday Owl

Sunday Owl‘s gorgeous, minimalist jewelry reflects its designer’s priorities: aesthetic restraint, material authenticity, and responsible practices. “I think living near a mountain and being surrounded by nature inspires simplicity,” says Lisa, Sunday Owl’s founder and designer, who grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and returned there as an adult after living in New York City. “Everything in my shop is a little rough, mostly naked, and imperfect.” Imperfect isn’t the word we’d use to describe a classic Sunday Owl wedding ring—maybe “substantial but discreet,” or “striking but not ostentatious.” If imperfect, they are imperfect like our favorite people, unique and full of character.

Sourcing supplies, especially the environmentally responsible and recycled materials Lisa prefers, can be tricky—she often has to swallow sky-high shipping rates that can add up to more than the price of the goods themselves. Day-to-day costs can also be higher. “Honolulu is a pretty expensive city to live in, so that can be a challenge,” she says. Despite all of that, she’s happy to be where she is: “I love being near the beach and the sand,” she says. “It reminds me that things should be simple.”

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27 comments

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 242 days ago

    Loved hearing about these shops - so paradise comes with a price, but what a view!! Thanks for the inspiration :)

  • suzannerorick

    Suzanne Rorick from SRorickArt said 242 days ago

    I always enjoy reading about other artists and how their surroundings inspire them and their creations. Thanks for the lovely article!

  • kgarrett1966

    R.M Garrett from ArtisticAcrylics said 242 days ago

    Wow, reading the description of the warm places they now live, makes me realize how much I miss warm weather! And I'm a winter lover!! Reading about their different paths that took them to the places that are not just their physical homes, but the spiritual homes to their creativity, is very inspiring, and a reminder that sometimes you have to listen to what your spirit tells you and go where it tells you to go. Even if it doesn't make sense to anyone but you. This is a great article, and thanks for sharing!

  • mariakampanaraki

    Mary Veneri from Skoulo said 242 days ago

    Undoubtedly the weather is one of the main factors of inspiration, it determines the mood and of course the creativity. I am grateful i live in a sunny country like Sofia , Nikola and Marta!!!

  • PokutniaAnna

    Anna from FairyToysWorld said 242 days ago

    So sunny stories) I want to wear sandals and go to a warm country)

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 241 days ago

    Great stories to get to know these wonderful shops! Thanks for sharing!

  • trendychicposh

    SimplyCuteArt posh from SimplyCuteArt said 241 days ago

    Beautiful stories!! Thanks for sharing!

  • grannypeppa

    Giusy Di Bella from SoulfulCrane said 241 days ago

    How inspiring!! I dream often to leave Italy for somewhere. I stayed in Ibiza for two weeks 13 years ago at my friend's house, and I think it's a lovely place to be, unlike one can imagine, if you're not a "discodance-kind-of-people" you can find also tranquillity in Ibiza. Said this, my place to be could have been the Little House in The Prairie or in Edimburgh, I'm a romantic lady and my paradise would be a quite or a Historical place. It's quite a non-sense being an Italian and say this, but this country isn't very Artist's friendly anymore... and as @Martafofiartworks I have the same feeling that in Italy something get missed.

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    TreasuredMemoryLane from TreasuredMemoryLane said 241 days ago

    So many inspiring stores and creations! Thanks for sharing!

  • ByBonnie

    ByBonnie from IslandArtByBonnie said 241 days ago

    I also have spent most of my life on islands... living in the Philippines, Guam, Saipan, Oahu, and now for the longest on the Big Island of Hawaii... Very nice places to make interesting things... or pick up fun supplies. Thank you for sharing. I have only recently started to put a little more effort into Etsy, despite my chronic health ordeals and other important endeavors!

  • Kashuen

    Kashuen Collectibles from Kashuen said 241 days ago

    I really like Ana Sofía Castañón art. It's very unique.

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 241 days ago

    Absolutely beautiful inside and out ~ Unique art with stories to match ! Cheers to much continued success.

  • sendadove

    Birdagram from Birdagram said 241 days ago

    A lovely story and such a beautiful collection of products. It never ceases to amaze me to see what people are making around the world. Loved reading this while drinking my coffee this morning!

  • brownigirlpie

    Lori Leone said 240 days ago

    Thanks for sharing these inspiring tales of creating in natures paradise.

  • vk9z8sjl

    Marcel Schmitz from ThisIsRealAmber said 240 days ago

    Wooooow.Thanks for all :-)

  • pieceofart

    Gina S. from pieceofART said 240 days ago

    Wishing you all the very best!!! :) <3

  • 24jewels

    Ioannis Kampiotis from 24jewels said 240 days ago

    Congrats Nikola!

  • wandooart

    Hamed And Nafi from WandooArt said 236 days ago

    Since I started my Etsy shop, stories about Etsy creatives become interesting for me! enjoyed to read this one as well. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Anquarius

    Anna Bernfeld from Aquani said 236 days ago

    So inspiring! I grew up in a warm country but now live in a cold one. Thanks for sharing their inspiring stories.

  • rellyh

    Relly from RelsFindsNapaValley said 235 days ago

    I love ALL the shops featured here. The sandals by Nikola Sandals are beautiful, timeless designs.

  • kurkav13

    Katerina from SuperbStuff101 said 235 days ago

    Nature and the Sun especially makes miracles with everyone. I Love the sandals by Nikola!

  • paulajeansgarden

    Paula from paulajeansgarden said 233 days ago

    My Paradise is very cold but lovely:) I do agree that you can have an Etsy shop in out of the way places--as long as there is mail, there can be a shop.

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 232 days ago

    Thanks for your lovely article. Very creative works :)

  • nz7dclpj

    Svetlana from SvetlanaArtGallery said 230 days ago

    Thank you for the interesting article. It's great that these people have found beautiful places for life and inspiration! I wish prosperity to your creative business!

  • MysticalRaindrops

    Jeannie from MysticalRaindrops said 226 days ago

    What beautiful places to live and create.

  • rachbing

    Rachel Bingaman from BingArt said 226 days ago

    I'm in love with those gladiator shoes! :) I also just love reading through these comments to hear about where everyone else is from :)

  • Earmark

    Bridgette & Mike from Earmark said 223 days ago

    Oh paradise! Love this list of great finds!

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