Tell us a bit about yourself.
Doubleparlour is Ernie and Cassandra Velasco, a happily married couple living in San Francisco, CA. Ernie is a self-taught artist and Cassandra has a B.A. in Fine Arts from Humboldt State. We met in San Diego in our mid-twenties and moved to San Francisco about 10 years ago. We live in a flat with a double parlour in which we have converted the front room into an art studio. We formed Doubleparlour in November of 2007 with a series of paintings we worked on together and listed on Etsy. Since then we have expanded to selling our work at local craft fairs, and galleries in various US cities.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Ernie is a full-time artist. He quit his job as a pastry chef a little over a year ago, and has never looked back. Cassandra works full-time at a hospital and creates on evenings and weekends. In our free time we like to see bands, visit museums and galleries, antique shop and go on road trips.
What first made you want to become an artist?
E: Playing in punk/noise bands back in the day opened a lot of doors to other art forms from making flyers, zines, cover art, and duck tape sculptures.
C: My first serious artistic endeavor was a series of drawings of dog breeds I made referencing photos in the Encyclopedia Brittanica when I was around age 11. They were drawn with crayons with the name of the breed written on the paper. Not much to look at, but my parents hung the series along the top of the living room walls… my first art show.
Please describe your creative process.
E: I rarely sketch anything out unless I need a second opinion. The finished sculptures are never what I imagined them to be the first time I make them. The sculptures seem to continually evolve. Someday they will come to life and strangle us both in our sleep.
Lately, we both work with polymer clay more than any other materials. However, we also do a lot of illustrations individually or together… some end up as prints as well. I like to think in terms of series when working on illustrations and how variations of a theme will work together.
C: For me, it is a methodical process… I always have an image of the finished product in my head before I even begin sketching or building or searching for references. Sometimes I get busy or distracted with life and don’t get to create as much as I would like, but every time I pick up a paint brush and start mixing colors I remember why I love creating so much.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
C: I have a collection of my sister’s amazing handmade primitive folk art dolls. They are made of cloth and are quite labour-intensive involving sewing, painting, sanding, baking, stitching and antiquing with cinnamon and coffee. She has an Etsy shop under the name raggedraven. Also, when I was in college, my father who is an accountant and wood-worker built me a large and wonderful easel.
E: A small collection of works by local artists including a painting by Michael Page and a pen drawing by Paul Andrew Hayes.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
C: Be true to yourself and your artistic vision… is that too cliche? Take clear and accurate photos with detailed descriptions. Simple things like prompt shipping and good communication help to foster good relationships with customers and collectors. Always express gratitude.
E: Learn a foreign language, take afternoon naps, and eat lots of blueberries and figs.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I would first like to say that I like the community atmosphere that Etsy fosters. We enjoy reading the Etsy blog, including the Storque articles and This Handmade Life. It is great to be able to sort items in our shop. It would be nice to be able to upload photos in batches when listing new items.
How do you promote your work?
Actually, we don’t do as much as we could… Some nice folks have included our work on their Etsy treasuries and in their blogs… this has definitely helped promote our work. Craft fairs have helped establish our local presence and have gotten us offers for gallery shows.
Also putting Doubleparlour stickers on random cars has made us a lot of friends. Sorry, neighbors… no, just joking.
In ten years, where would you like to be?
We would like to be fluent in four languages, growing our own blueberries and figs, creating a constantly changing body of work, and taking longer naps.