Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
Most of my work goes by Crankbunny – but my name is Norma V Toraya. A Crankbunny is a large magical medicinal fish with rabbit ears… so technically its part rabbit. I live in Jersey City – which makes me really close to my work and friends in NYC. I have an office in my apt (one day I will start calling it a ‘studio’). I live with my dog Soda. I draw while sitting on my sofa. I put together most of my puppets and cards on the dining room table. I’m an animation director, but sometimes my brain likes to take a creative vacation from that world. I grew up in Miami, Florida and am Cuban. My second language is English. I’ve lived in a bunch of places. I got an undergraduate degree in sculpture and went to graduate school for animation.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
When I was in preschool they would give us large sheets of green and white striped accounting paper to draw on. I remember drawing rainbows, grassy fields, and farmhouses. I was really proud that I figured out how to draw the farmhouse with some perspective. It’s ironic that in Miami I grew up surrounded by concrete, tropical vegetation, and pastel stucco houses. On rainy days we would make large cutout snowflakes with scissors and folded white paper. My freshman year of college I experienced real winter for the first time in upstate NY. I felt like a total fool when I asked my roommate then “what happens when the really big snowflakes start to fall?”
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
People inspire me in different ways. Family, close friends and people who I like to work with who are extremely passionate at what they do is a huge inspiration. Stories (verbal, written, visually told). Daydreaming too much is helpful with getting ideas worked out. I’m can get pretty obsessive and nerdy about certain random topics of knowledge. I have an embarrassing love of puns.
What are your favorite materials?
Adhesive applicators rock my world. Brads (metal paper fasteners) still amaze me because they are so simple. My magic mechanical pencil which no one else can use because it’s got “the power”. Nice paper stock.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
Be nice! Be clear! The whole Internet buying experience can be a little cold for some people. It’s great to exchange messages and emails with people on Etsy to lessen that ghostly exchange. I think good pictures and clear descriptions are very important. It helps both the seller and the buyer. People should be confident in what they are buying so there is this fun anticipation to getting a package in the mail.
Why should people buy handmade?
Touch. There’s something really potent about getting something that you know was touched and individually cared for by another person’s eyes and fingers. If they made a mistake they would have had to start all over – but they didn’t (…or maybe they did…). I think when you have “Touch” the exchange goes both ways. A few people have bought cards from me and let me how it was meant for their mom or sister, or someone that was kinda feeling a bit sad lately. It always unexpectedly touches me. I rarely have that sort of direct exchange with my animation work because I guess there happens to be a larger separation.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
Overall, I think Etsy is built and designed really well. I’m especially impressed I can use Etsy on my phone (with the built-in Internet browser). ‘You go girl!’ to whoever kept that in mind when building Etsy. I wish there was an auto relist feature for items that I make as they get ordered.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m an animation director for Curious Pictures in NYC and Electric Company in Toronto. People hire me to make them commercials, music videos, TV intros, etc. When I’m animating it’s usually under intense circumstances (deadlines, late nights, no sleep, cabin fever, selective bathing) for a month or two. Animating is something I love to do but it’s very much a marathon experience. Other than that – fixing up my place, eating with friends, reading comics, watching DVDs, and taking care of my dog Soda. It’s the summer now, so I’ve been eating a lot of gelato.
Read any good books lately?
I picked up Automata and Mechanical Toys by Rodney Peppe. It’s pretty intense but it showcases some great automata artists. I got two really great popup books recently. Alice in Pop-Up Wonderland illustrated by J.Otto Seibold and Mommy by Maurice Sendak & Matthew Reinhart. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex is also a great hysterical book that I think adults probably enjoy more than kids.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Happy and Healthy….. And an Origami Cyborg.