Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I am Holly Ward Bimba, the artist behind Golly Bard. I live with my husband in the village of Upperville, Virginia. Upperville is about an inch wide and a mile long. We live in a little cottage that used to be the old telephone company. Beautiful farms, rolling hills and endless rock walls surrounds us. It is a seven mile drive to the nearest grocery store and twenty miles to the nearest everything else. Upperville is perhaps the closest thing to living in a Jane Austen novel, which makes me so happy because I know I was born in the wrong era and this place has not changed in at least a hundred years.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love reading – mostly novels; they are the least expensive way to travel to another place, another time, and a different world. I also love reading biographies of historical figures, especially kings and queens; I have found their lives to be stranger than fiction. I listen to music and watch lots of movies. I am a soundtrack junkie. I enjoy eating a great meal with friends and family and love to bake too. I walk every day to balance out my love of food. My husband is my dearest friend in the world and having known each other for twenty years, we tend to laugh a lot, mostly at ourselves. Occasionally, we pull out our lawn chairs and watch the birds.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I have always been an artist as far as I can remember and I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I really cannot remember a time when art was not a part of my life in some way. I was always doing something creative.
In third grade, I took a class called insect study – we had such an amazing public school! My teacher wore a bracelet made of amber which had a mosquito preserved inside of it. It was thousands of years old. I think that was the start of my fascination with bugs, insects and the natural world.
My high school art teacher was a traditional watercolorist. She was always painting, always working along with us and I can remember simply enjoying watching her paint. She really taught me to work with watercolor and I have loved the medium ever since.
Please describe your creative process.
I am a morning person. I need daylight to paint. I try to work every day. I paint, draw, take pictures, and write long lists of notes and words. I work serially, painting images multiple times. I love repetition, patterns and cataloging objects.
I work spontaneously, leaving room for visual tangents, which happen a lot. I rarely draw things out or have a precise plan. Sometimes I work directly from nature; more often, I simply start painting from memory or my imagination.
My work over the years has mostly been about observing and recording. Whether an object or a more abstract idea, I like putting things under a microscope, so to speak, exploiting the details as they emerge. I am influenced by just about everything but have a certain obsession with natural history, nature science and anatomy.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have beautiful pieces of lace handmade by my great grandmother and two 19th-century miniature portraits, which I adore. I have also found many wonderful artists on Etsy whose work I have begun to collect.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
Some favorite reads…
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
A Room With A View by E.M. Forster
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser
Everything by Jane Austen, Nick Hornby, David Sedaris, Oliver Sacks
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Etsy provides an opportunity to share your work with the world, which is so exciting! Whatever you do, do it well and love it, because things take time. Your work should give you satisfaction.
Love your customers. They have taken a chance on you so provide them with the best service you can.
Find your people. Golly Bard has a board of directors – well, not really, but I have a husband, family and dear friends who are my go to people. They are always there for encouragement, a little perspective and a good laugh.
For practical purposes, I highly recommend a kitchen timer. It helps to break up the day, plus I love when the bell rings. I’m not kidding.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
One of the greatest things about Etsy is the community. Our paths cross and intersect even though we live miles and sometimes oceans apart. To be quite honest, I am a pretty shy person but somehow, I have made friends on Etsy, fellow comrades in this online community and it is amazing. Whether a customer has purchased my work, included my work in a Treasury or simply written a note to say how much they enjoy what I do, I am so grateful.
I always take one last long look before I pack up my paintings and send them on their way. A really fun feature would be to have a virtual map of all of the places in the world where I have shipped my work.
How do you promote your work?
Since self-promotion is not really my forte, I sort of let things happen on their own. I reluctantly started a blog last year and I recently joined Flickr. I have come to enjoy both. I’ve advertised a few times on blogs that I love and have been featured on many wonderful blogs too. I have started to exhibit my work again and other than that, I just focus on making work.
In ten years, where would you like to be?
I will know when I get there!