Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Megan and I live in the same small town I grew up in – Jonestown, Pennsylvania. Population 3,000. We only have one traffic light. I live with my husband Joe and our 80-pound mutt Grizzly in a 1950’s brick house that we are slowly remodeling. I went to school for jewelry and metalsmithing – I have a BFA from Syracuse University, and an MFA from Kent State.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m part nerd and part outdoorsy girl – so I split my time between playing on my computer or reading a book and running or bicycling outside. I’ve been a runner since I was 11, and I ran my first half-marathon last fall. I also help coach cross-country. I only started biking a year ago, but since then, I’ve become really involved in bicycling advocacy. I think if everyone rode a bike, the world would be a much better place.
I also teach jewelry and object design at Towson University, outside of Baltimore, MD. The drive is painfully long, but I love the people I work with.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or making things. I think I was in art classes by the time I was six. My mother is a painter and my dad owns a machine shop – becoming a metalsmith seems almost inevitable!
From a very young age, I was always trying to start businesses using my creative talents. In elementary school, I sold everything from beaded bracelets to handmade confetti. I think I’m just as much a natural entrepreneur as I am an artist.
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
I love paper models! Lately I’ve been obsessed with them. I think they are a fabulous way to jump start creativity. Plus they help me visualize scale and layout. A lot of my process starts with pattern design – first hand-sketched on paper and then refined in the computer. Those designs then find their way into my jewelry, sculpture, and objects.
My main workspace is a studio set up in the garage. The welding process I use is pretty dirty, so that was the only option. Unfortunately, I don’t have heat in my studio, so in the winter, I’m often found working in my basement office, or when I can, on the couch in my living room.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I’ve been so lucky to trade with so many talented artists over the last few years – a lot of my favorite pieces have been trades – but I really love my copper bowls made by my friend Corey Ackelmire. They really epitomize handmade warmth.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Books – I read all the time, and don’t really have favorites, but I’ll happily read anything by William Zinsser, Annie Dillard, or Sarah Vowell. I also read a lot of business related books.
Movies – I like old classics like Roman Holiday and Singing in the Rain, and anything by Pixar, especially Wall-E.
Music – Elvis Presley and Jack Johnson are my perennial studio faves.
Websites – I’m shamelessly addicted to Amazon – I could browse for books all day long.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Be patient and don’t under-price your work. Your time is valuable – make sure you are getting compensated for the hours you are putting in. Its important that all of us sellers are striving to make a living wage from our work.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I’m so glad Etsy finally teamed up with Google analytics. I love it when I see a spike in my page views and get to figure out where all the traffic came from.
I would love to be able to arrange the way items appear in the main page of my shop. I’m constantly relisting just to shuffle the order.
How do you promote your work?
I love designing promotional materials – any excuse to make a new postcard! I do a lot of promotion through my blog, and also by posting on Flickr and Twitter. I also try to send periodic emails to other bloggers who might be interested in my work.
When I was first starting, I did a lot of craft shows. This was a really good way to get my name out there and interact with my customers. Now I do more wholesale trade shows, so I can connect with store buyers.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Running my own design business in a much more bicycle friendly world.