The Etsy Blog

Featured Seller: cartbeforethehorse handmade and vintage goods

Tell us a bit about yourself.

We are Jo James and Dylan Curry, a husband and wife artistic duo living in Oregon. My wife, Jo, is the designer, sculptor, and painter of our creations. I do the sewing, photography, and business end of things. I also make ridiculous videos for youtube featuring our art.

Jo spent her early days wandering the barren desert of Arizona before moving to Orlando, Florida as a teenager. I grew up in Maitland, Florida and met Jo while working at a dollar movie theater with sticky floors and seats filled with talkative winos. Jo worked the concession stand and I ripped tickets, but mostly we just chain smoked with the manager out front. (We’ve since quit – smoking and that job.)

Nineteen years later we find ourselves in Oregon with two incredible teenaged kids, a sheltie, and a homegrown art business. It doesn’t get better than that.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

When Jo isn’t making art to sell, she’s making art to keep. Her days off look suspiciously like her work days. The only difference lies in where the art ends up. On my days off I like to hike, bike, write and record music, or see how much popcorn I can eat in front of a rented movie.

What first made you want to become an artist?

Jo has always been an artist. I think Jo used art as an escape when she was little. Growing up, the world in her sketchbook beat the world around her hands down.

I am a more recent convert. A few years ago I was looking at a broken ukulele hanging on the wall and thought I’d take a stab at creating that basic guitar shape out of wood. I was soon making pint-sized versions of all my favorite guitars and had visions of never punching a time clock again.

Both Jo and I really enjoy working from home on our own schedules. Even though we have to work like mad, it gives us the flexibility to be there for our kids.

Please describe your creative process.

Jo pulls ideas from everywhere: storybooks, conversations, life spent with kids. She’ll usually sketch out the idea on a scrap piece of paper, then make a pattern out of cardstock for me. I’ll trace it onto quilter’s muslin, sew it, stuff it, then hand it over for her to pencil in the lines, paint it, sculpt it, and finish it. Then I photograph it, list it, sell it, pack it, ship it… then we all sit down to dinner and make fun of each other.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

Dylan: I have a 1950 Martin acoustic guitar that was handed down to me from my mom. They’re made by hand, like all good art.

Jo: Art that my kids have made.

Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.

The Naked and the Dead (Norman Mailer)
Alas Babylon (Pat Frank)
Tortilla Flat (John Steinbeck)
Be True to Your School: A Diary of 1964 (Bob Greene)
The Beatles: The Biography (Bob Spitz)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson)
The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell/ Bill Moyers)
Picnic, Lightning (Billy Collins)

Trainspotting (1996)
Dig! (2004)
My Life as a Dog (1985)
Over The Edge (1979)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)

(There are just SO many good movies, who can pick? Well, apparently Dylan can. There are so FEW good TV series though, so I’ll pick those instead.)
Northern Exposure
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Office
Saving Grace

The White Stripes
The Strokes
The Raconteurs
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Cold War Kids

(WAY too much to choose from here, so I’m just gonna list 5 from my most recent playlist.)
“Who’s to Say” by The White Stripes
“Old Ghost” by Paperhand Lincoln
“Superior” by Chickasaw Mudd Puppies
“Feet Asleep” by Thao
“Small Song” by Lhasa

yellena (Sis-in-law)
geographymadefun (Dylan’s mom)

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

Work like the devil’s chasing you. Make art your full time job, even if you have a full time job already. Maybe one day you can pick one over the other.

What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

The Geolocator. It has reinforced our notion of how cool the Portland area is.

What new features would we like to see? Maybe some recommendations based on favorites.

How do you promote your work?

Blogs, videos, word of mouth, mouth of words.

In ten years, where would you like to be?

Dylan: I would like to be The Fonz.

Jo: Well-settled in our very own house.

Featured Seller Archive

  • MollieInk

    MollieInk says:

    You two and so funny. Your work was, is and always will be FANTASTIC! It is wonderful that you are able to work together and create together.....I wish you the best!

    5 years ago

  • TheVintageHeiress

    TheVintageHeiress says:

    You two are a great team! I have loved your art for a long time. I used to see your work on ebay and drool over it! Such talent you both posess. Thank you for sharing it. I am loving Elebee! All my best to you.....Tammy

    5 years ago

  • PiecesOfOlde

    PiecesOfOlde says:

    Awesome to learn about you. I too watched you on Ebay. Are you still there? I bought a fun Music DVD that you made too. Awesome success! I'll keep watchin'!

    4 years ago

  • wildriverrocks

    Clara Nilles from AcrylicsbyClare says:

    Fascinating the unique personalities of their faces......

    4 years ago

  • stitchcrafter

    Deb from stitchcrafter says:

    I think your art is phenomenal. Joy: the eyes, oh the eyes... All hail to Portlandia (mecca of artisans and relocated Bellinghamsters) Dylan: you're such a kidder, very enjoyable, esp re: the popcorn : D So glad I stopped by for a read. Deb

    4 years ago

  • Kitty107

    Tracey Ann Finley from Kitty107 says:

    Way to go to follow your dreams....I hope to be there too one day....not in your house with you guys, but creating art on a full time basis...not that you guys aren't nice and all...but you know what I your shop and your creativity and especially the husband and wife team...I am too jealous! Tracey Ann Finley Kitty107

    4 years ago

  • PhotosPast

    Brenda from Relic189 says:

    Love your art and the wit involved. I live in the mountains of Southern California and plan to one day buy your mounted deer head. Especially love the mounted moose head, but it's not indigenous to my area. <------Just say "no" to taxidermy and "yes" to cartbeforethehorse! Brenda

    3 years ago

  • MelissaKojima

    Melissa Kojima from ArtistInLALALand says:

    Love, Cart Before the Horse. What a cute interview with them. Very inspiring and fun.

    3 years ago

  • ZooCeramics

    Tracy and Maggie from ZooCeramics says:

    I just love your groovy things. They make me laugh. They make me sing. Your work is handsome and delicious, exquisitely made and nutritious. Well maybe not nutritious …except …well the pumpkin people do look rather tasty.

    3 years ago