Friday, February 13, 2009

Interview with Kathy Weller...

...of Wellerwishes

King and Queen Kitty, 'watercolor tiny',
watercolor and technical pen, 2.5" x 3.5"
© Kathy Weller 2008

BH: Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff). My name is Kathy Weller and I live in Cambridge, MA. My business is Wellerwishes. It's my umbrella for my freelance illustration and design business and my custom pet portraiture work, as well as for my hand made art which I sell on Etsy. I am a member of the Graphic Artist Guild and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

BH: Apart from creating things, what do you do? I'm a Sales and Marketing graphic designer and illustrator for an online media portal called I love to cook, go out to eat, and go to movies, exercise, watch TV, and hang out with my husbannd and dogs.

BH: How long have you been doing your artwork/craft? Drawing: always. Can't remember a time when I started, because I just always have done it. I can't remember when I didn't.
Children's illustration: I've been working towards that career for many years now but in the past three years I've been doing very well, am thrilled with my progress and look toward the future! My hand made goods: I've been creating hand made stuff forever it seems. Fourteen years ago, I started a little greeting card company (also called Wellerwishes). That was my first big leap with both feet into the business side of art. It was cool! I sure learned a LOT back then! But it was before online communities, and nowadays there is SO much more support for independent creative businesspeople, in every respect. It's fabulous.

BH: What first made you want to become an artist? There wasn't really any question at all. It just was what I did, who I was, for as long as I can remember. It was also how I was usually identified by others: the one who is 'constantly drawing all the time'! :) The questions I had for myself were more along the lines of: What would I do with my art? What field would I go into? How would I make a living? I think as you get to know and develop yourself as an artist, some of those answers come to the surface naturally. Of course it often takes years ;) but the answers come eventually.

BH: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it? A drawing. I remember drawing on walls. I also remember my first "character" I created: Cute Animo. (I did him on paper, though.) I even created a "Style Guide", (like animation houses use). I didn't know what a "Style Guide" was back then, of course. I just wanted to make sure that, every time that I, or someone else, (when he became as big as Hello Kitty) drew him , he was always drawn consistently!

Bedtime with Tea, digital illustration © Kathy Weller

BH: Who is your mentor if you have one? I do not have a mentor per se, but there are several individuals whom I look up to, whose careers and achievements I greatly admire, and whose skills and talents I greatly appreciate and would like to cultivate some semblance of, for myself. The trailblazers! Some of them are: Carol Eldridge, Mary Englebreit, Sandra Boynton.

BH: Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc). I have different concentrations, and each has a different process. But I usually start with sketches. That is the common thread of everything.

Cardinal Christmas (set of four note card illustrations for Paper Magic Group),
watercolor and technical pen, 5" x 5"
© 2007 Kathy Weller

BH: What are your favorite materials? Watercolor, liquid inks, acrylic paints, pen and ink (nib pen as well as Rapidograph pens). I like to paint on hard surfaces especially wood and wood products. I don't like painting on canvas, linen or other fabrics - it's just not my thing. I also like to paint small. I am not really into painting large. I also do a lot of digital art. For that, I primarily use Photoshop, Flash and Illustrator.

BH: What handmade possession do you most cherish? My sister Nancy (BH member NancyRosetta) made me the coooolest necklace. It's my avatar -- the bunny holding the pom poms - on a chain, that I can wear as a necklace. It is the coolest thing! I never expected it. And it's all mine! (insert evil laugh here!) I love that it is one of a kind.
Another thing I love is this plastic plate I made when I was really young. In kindergarten, we made marker drawings that were super-imposed onto plastic plates for each of us to keep.I still have that plate, thank goodness. I love that plate. I still remember the process of drawing the art! I remember making decisions when drawing it, and the 'mistakes' I made, how I tried to correct them, because I couldn't erase the ink and I was unable to start over again. I remember the inner dialogue I was having with myself. I can recall thinking so critically and with such an eye for composition. It's kind of fascinating that I remember this.

Fairy Princess, "wooden wearable" lapel pin © 2008 Kathy Weller

BH: What do you love most about what you make? What I love most about what I make is I love drawing and painting on whatever it is that I make. That's my M.O. (Cat's out of the bag!)

BH: Are there other mediums you’re not working in that interest you? Yes of course! :) I took pottery classes years ago and they were so much fun and so meditative, but throwing the clay was extra hard on my hands after awhile, and really, what I wanted to do most was carve and draw on the pots I threw. So now, when I get a craving to 'do pottery', I head to Made By Me and paint a piece. No throwing necessary! I also love to make scrapbooks of vacations. I started making them before scrapbooking trend, or before I even new what scrapbooking was (and if you see them, it's kind of obvious that I was working with rawer materials because they are pretty rough around the edges ;) ). I have not had time to make one of those in at least five years. (Whew, time flies.) I also enjoy knit and sewn goods from a consumer standpoint, but it's not something I do myself.

BH: Any tips on selling handmade stuff? I try to always consider the saleability of the stuff I put out there, and that it will be somewhat sturdy! To that end, I'm interested in art that has some sort of function, no matter how 'vague' that function may be. One thing I have found by way of Etsy and independent selling, is that is that art prints are popular and do sell. I am pleasantly surprised by that, as the only function they carry is to hang on the wall and look pretty.

BH: How do you promote your work? Different types of marketing work better, or worse, for my three different concentrations. For my paintings, pins, prints and other handmade goodies, I have been using social networking tools/sites such as my blog, Trunkt and FaceBook to promote my work. In the pet portraiture realm, I've used several avenues to promote my work, from advertising in dog magazines and on pet-centric web sites online, to including "tell-a-friend" and "repeat-customer" coupons with completed orders. I've also donated a lot to charities over the years, which is good to mention because, although it's altruistic, it's also a form of PR as well. Speaking of PR, I also want to mention how incredibly valuable press is for any independent business! I've been very fortunate to have had a good number of write-ups on my pet portraiture, and, really, you just cannot buy that kind of visibility. For children's illustration, I do mailings, attend conferences, use social and business networking sites, and last but not least, try to deliver fresh samples to my rep regularly.
"Axel", watercolor and technical pen & india ink, 7" x 10" pet portrait © 2008 Kathy Weller

BH: How long have you been involved with Etsy and what have your experiences been?
I've had my Etsy shop for a year and a half. Etsy blew my mind when I first discovered it (and, apparently it blew a lot of other people's minds, as well!) I've had nothing but great experiences with Etsy. I've had some wonderful customers, some of whom have turned into repeat customers. Not only that, but I've met many other artists through Etsy. It's not ONLY just a great place to shop. :) It's also a great community of artists and art appreciators/buyers.

BH: What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy?
I think it helps to first and foremost have specific goals for the shop. That way, you can know where you are at the start and have a road map as to where you want to go, what you want to get out of the store, how much work you want to put into it, and the rest. Then once you know what your goals are for the store you can move on to the next set of goals for the shop. It might be just a place where you want to casually unload a few things. (If this is you, it's a more relaxed situation!) Or, it might be a place where you have a sales goal for each quarter and you want to meet or exceed this goal. (If this is you, then you need to get aggressive! :) ) Aside from that, in general I have learned the importance of bringing in new merchandise into the shop on a continually rolling basis. I think it requires a long term, leave-no-stone-unturned plan. I am not saying that this is my own plan -- I just notice that the most successful sellers have a strong plan, and one thing that they do is replenish their shop all the time.

BH: What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy? Good photos are very important. The more info about the product, the better. At the same, time try hard to self-edit, because most shoppers don't want to read a ton. They'd rather read a lot of useful information, in as few words as possible.

BH: Read any good books lately?
I read mostly non-fiction and reference books. Aside from that, I read children's books! Currently I am systematically reading every issue of The Horn Book that I've received in the past year. (The Horn Book is a magazine dedicated to children's literature and picture books.)

BH: Is there anything about you that would surprise people to know? I used to be an underachiever. But I discovered that it wasn't my fault! :) It was due to environmental influences. Now that I'm "all grown-up", I make the rules. :) (insert another evil laugh here.)

No comments :

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...