Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi there, I am 25 year-old Agnes Blum living right outside of Austin, Texas. It is
a place where music is always playing and the iced tea tastes sweeter. I reside in our new home with my husband and toddler daughter Abby-Sue. I was born and raised in Ojai, California, a little valley nestled at the feet of the Topa Topa Mountains abounding with creative energy and artistic souls. I tumbled up in a large family; a middle child in a home filled with thrifted treasures and handmade curtains. It was at college where I met and eventually married the love of my life and Texas native, Justin. I am very happy here in the South as I have always loved its hospitality and enjoy frequenting all the bustling activities right here in Austin.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love watching birds, bats and thunderstorms and chatting with my neighbors over the back fence. I enjoy the outdoors and try to spend as much time outside as I possibly can. I also own both six and twelve string guitars and am plucking my way towards becoming more proficient on the banjo. When I am not crafting, exercising or making music, I am strolling downtown and stopping in at all the vintage shops on South Congress and visiting with kind individuals who are tending their stores and telling their stories.
What first made you want to become an artist?
My parents raised us to live simply and be creative with the things around us and I can’t remember a day when I wasn’t designing something colorful. Some of my first memories are of drawing huge chalk pictures on the driveway in elaborate colors with large worded messages to party comers or biking down the road to the local ceramic studio where I learned to throw my first pottery. I also loved creating three-dimensional cards for my uncle who lived with us after he lost his eyesight. My happiest birthday was the day my parents hired a private tutor to teach me art. I continue taking classes and have branched out into taking on students of my own.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Every item I create comes from a love first and foremost of color. Color theory is something I have studied intensively and find fascinating. Sometimes I feature a vintage treasure in my wreath which has something left to share, sometimes it is a new ornament that I alter to take a new direction and other times it is something that has to be painted for its story to be set free. I inherited large quantities of vintage haberdashery from my French Canadian Memere and love to pull out snippets and pieces of this finery to include in my artwork. Since I stay at home with my daughter, part of my creativity is keeping this little lady busy which involves setting her up with bowls of acorns, pine cones and buttons which she busily sorts while her mama works. Music is incredibly important to my creative process and each creation is usually set to a different rhythm, a mood reflected in the feel of the finished piece.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Although I treasure many handmade possessions, the one with the most sentimental value to me is the crib that my husband’s grandfather created out of oak for Justin when he was an infant, and now sleeps our little one.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Memoirs of a Geisha, Kristin Lavransdatter, Tom Sawyer, Tales of O. Henry, The Greek Tragedies
The Secret Life of Bees, The Grinch, Pan’s Labyrinth, Gettysburg and just about anything directed by Akira Kurosawa.
Emmylou Harris, Manheim Steamrollers, Beethoven, Simon and Garfunkel, Buddy Holly
Flickr, Facebook, Polyvore, Craftcult, YouTube
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Approach your photography joyfully. This is your chance to share with others the beauty you’ve crafted into your creation. Etsy is a wonderful resource for learning about picture taking. Before the articles I read in the Storque, I barely knew what a macro setting was much less where to find it on my camera. Turn your photography sessions into a pleasant afternoon; have some lively music on in the background and enjoy exploring angles and lighting. And always be mindful of color as you create. There is almost nothing more powerful than the language color and the way it moves people and is certainly the way I shop and imagine the way that many others do as well.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the interactive aspects of Etsy. I think it is fun to heart items you find irresistible and send notes to other sellers. The Forums have also been an endless resource to me of helpful people willing to share advice and a kind word. I would love to see gift guides where we could elect some of our favorite handmade items by city or state. I enjoy shopping locally in addition to handmade and imagine many others would find this an interesting feature as well.
How do you promote your work?
I have a blog on which I post pictures and ideas and have found Flickr to be a really happy place to share photos. I always seem to find myself in different places chatting with like-minded artists about the joys and fulfillment of living your craft, especially during my art classes.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Even more active in the art community then I am today. Involved in more craft shows, adding paintings to my Etsy store and applying even more of what I have learned in interior design classes to my home. I would also love to have completed at least one marathon. Might need a new pair of running shoes for that one.