Please welcome Amy Castle of Rainy Roots Studio on Etsy. Her art makes me happy. What about you?
Please tell us about yourself and your art.
My earliest memories of being really happy and feeling worthwhile and “good” are of my elementary art classes. I was horrible at math and science but was really lucky to have had some phenomenal art teachers early on. That, along with a loving mom who really couldn’t
afford to, but encouraged and bought any and all art supplies I wanted – and trust me I LOVED art supplies, and that love has not changed one bit. You name it, I have it! That exposure has led to my interest in many different mediums over the years.
Without question, art is my therapy. Although I have studied art all my life, my degree is in Interior Design and I’ve been in the design field for 25 years. It is my “bread and butter” although I’d love nothing better than to be able to work full-time as an artist/craftsperson and hope to do so at some point. I am really concerned about the Earth we all share and I feel like if each of us would just make little changes for the “greater good” we’d all reap the benefits. I’m that person who hangs on to stuff “cause I can make something from this” and drives everyone nuts…cardboard, bubble wrap, used dryer sheets, potato bag netting…..you name it! That’s why, for me, my pop can art makes me feel like I’m doing my little part to bring attention to
recycling and upcycling. Things CAN be made from what most people throw away!
Do you vend in shows? Do you sell online exclusively?
I have done shows in the past although not for the pop can art I’m currently doing, but I’ve never had much success. I’ve been encouraged by fellow artisans to do a few shows this summer, so I may just check it out again. It is nice to give people the chance to see and touch my art in person.
What was the impulse to start your business?
I don’t remember ever not having that impulse! My experiences with working for others have not been positive, so I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that self-employment is the only way I can grow and be happy.
What is your niche? What sets you apart?
Honestly, with everything I do, I strive for originality from beginning to end. Everything is always my original art to start with. Many of my pop can designs started out as original hand-cut stamps that I make (you can see an example on my Etsy site) and stamp onto recycled stock for greeting cards. I avoid using other people’s art--I want it to be ALL MINE!
Which materials/colors/techniques interest you the most right now? What is inspiring you,
I continue to love the process of creating a hand-carved image and then creating a print with that image. I am also really quite obsessed with letter type and fonts…I have a friend who calls me a font geek and that’s fine with me. I love doing custom work for people – names, monograms, etc. I love the process of embossing a design into the metal from a pop can – it gives me immediate gratification, which I really need! None of this working on a piece for days stuff for me…I want it NOW! I have to say though that the process of getting the can to that stage is quite a tedious one – All the cans are cut by hand with my special scissors, cleaned and hand-flattened. (Let me just say that I am a manicurists dream.) I live on 8 acres in the country and am continually inspired by my woods, the farm next door and the textures and colors in the landscape that’s all around me.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting a business?
- Be very organized right from the start…it’s much harder as you get busier. Keep good accounting records and save all business related receipts…mileage, office supplies, etc.
- Be proud of your work. It’s yours – All yours!
- Be thankful and say “thank you” a lot. Even if someone shows interest but doesn’t buy, let them know you appreciate them and they may come back later to purchase something. The internet is a cold, faceless, impersonal world; make it more personal whenever you can.
- Don’t be afraid to self-promote: Mention your art business in conversation, do a Facebook page with a link to a website or shop, Tweet about your art AND others’ art. Make friends in these social media outlets and promote their stuff, too. These efforts will pay off if you are consistent.
- Try to be patient. It takes a little while for the rest of the world to realize that you’re an artistic GENIOUS! (still waiting…)
What question would you like to ask our readers?
I’m wondering how many other sellers are involved in shows and whether they feel it is a good investment in time and money. Also, how do they get information on what shows are coming to their area, and how do you know which shows are consistently good?
Where can the readers find you online?
Thanks so much for your participation here, Amy. So, readers! What answers do you have?