Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, I’m Summer and I live in the beautiful state of Oregon with my partner Jeff and our four-and-a-half-year-old pumpkin of a son. I have a BFA in Sculpture and Printmaking and a minor in Art History (eek, I’m rusty). I love the minimal, conceptual and environmental when it comes to fine art. I really like tea (black, hot, with a little raw sugar, and milk). I’m a fan of contrasts (clean-lined and modern paired with fussy grandma teacups and aged vintage… or simply the organic paired with the inorganic). Our family loves air-cooled VWs and we have a stray cat that adopted us named MiLK (she showed up on MLK day).
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Since I have a young son, much of my time is spent with him. I also do a lot of work for my progressive-minded church. I love to read, but haven’t made enough time for it the last few years, hence the Art History rustiness. Baking is a passion of mine and I tend to not follow recipes or I simply make up my own.
What first made you want to become an artist?
The word “artist” for me is at the same time overused and implies something that is unreachable. I’d rather use words such as: sculptor, printmaker, needle felter, seamstress (very much a novice, I assure you, but sewer certainly isn’t the right term is it?). Anyway, back to the question… I think my first motivation was around third grade when my friend Katie was much better at drawing than I was; this really frustrated me. So, I practiced and practiced until I was happy with my drawings (possibly seventh grade). Also, my father used to be a bit of a painter and would draw for me when I was a child – I loved that. Additionally, I was exposed to the arts when I was young via lessons. I took dance (ballet, jazz, tap…), gymnastics, piano, flute, and was in choir (I think that’s it).
Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
How: In order for me to make things, I obviously need to be inspired. Inspiration can come from a technique (I learned to needle felt = Moss Collection), a material, an image (doily trend + love of modern = Personalized Doily Paintings), or an idea (wanted a companion to the Moss Collection = Lichen Collection… oh yeah, and my mom helped me brainstorm on that one). Inspiration can also strike when the light hits something just right or often when I’m falling asleep… I can lay there and work out ideas in the quiet stillness.
When: I make work when I have the time and feel like working on it…which is often, but working on and working out ideas takes a great deal of time. Of course, deadlines are very helpful – I should make more of them for myself.
Materials: This is a quote from my profile, it sums it up nicely, I think: “I find it important to constantly re-evaluate my working methods to find environmentally-friendly sources for materials and shop locally whenever possible and still keep the aesthetic I am after.” Also, when I was at university, the printmaking studio underwent a non-toxic makeover (I was lucky enough and happy to help with this process) and sourced recycled and natural materials for my sculpture (and still do).
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
It’s impossible to narrow this down, but I would have to say anything my grandmothers’ made. My maternal grandmother made my sisters and me themed pillows for holidays, and my father’s mother was extremely crafty while I was young and always had a project going. She also has knitted my family quite a few heirlooms.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Anything by Jane Austin
Anything on Art History (particularly Minimalism, environmental art and Conceptual Art)
Books about Wolfgang Laib (my favorite artist)
Books on organic gardening
Oh yes, and the Harry Potter series.
Movies: (I’m not much of a movie watcher, but the visual is really important)
Vintage holiday movies (Rudolf, Charlie Brown and the like)
The Princess Bride
The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode (you know, that genre…they’ll have to count for one).
Whatever new and relatively unknown music Jeff has dug up today
(there are so many, I can’t help but go over, and I’m showing some restraint)
Some Etsy friends: BROOKLYNrehab, little is the new big (Miniature Rhino), Phydeaux
My dear “real life” friend, Pamela Susan
Etsian blogs I admire: fieldguided, Something’s Hiding in Here, My Paper Crane
Non-Etsy blogs: Four Pounds Flour (I LOVE this blogger’s working method…it reminds me of my own…lots of research), small stump, swiss miss
Of course, the biggies for eye candy: decor8, Design*Sponge, Oh Joy!, poppytalk
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
It’s been said however, photos are really important because they’re how one makes it to the front page which equals exposure. I also stalked the forums for awhile to learn as much as I could and went through seasoned sellers’ shop policies to learn as well. Whenever I sell something, I convo the buyer as soon as I can to give thanks, let him or her know I confirmed address and payment and state when I will ship the pieces(s). I think communication is really important. Etsy is a wonderful community and joining teams are very helpful. I’m a member of the Eco Etsy Street Team as well as Etsy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the treasury, it’s so much fun to curate one’s own little exhibit. Favorites are wonderful (I’d love to have folders that I can name to categorize my favorites). The Storque can be a wonderful resource. The Gift Guides are pure eye candy! Oh, one thing that would be lovely…the ability to do more things in batches like editing descriptions, tags, or materials (similar to batch shipping); that would save loads of time. Frankly, I’m so happy that Etsy exists!
How do you promote your work?
Really, I haven’t worked on this area as much as I would like. However, I have a blog (http://ottoman.typepad.com), a store front on cosa verde, and I guest blog on Etsy Stalker (but mostly because I love to write about art). Again, making the front page equals a great deal of exposure, so I work on my photography constantly. I’m also really thankful to those who find my work and write about it.
In ten years I’d like to be…
I’d love for my little family to be able to be ourselves (which can be difficult when one has a creative mind and can’t pigeon-hole one’s self into a typical corporate lifestyle)…living in a sweet, modern, simple home with a big veggie garden…canning our own food…buying our clothes from those who make it…having tea parties with friends (with those fussy grandma teacups)…reading lots of books…traveling and having wonderful adventures with “my boys” and visiting our families more…continuing to be inspired…and healthy (whew).