Hi! I'm really really excited to share with you today an interview with a really really amazing artist/painter, Vanessa Lee from Reset Reality. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the vibrant watercolor and gouache surrealistic paintings she has in her shop. If you're looking for some vibrant and unique original art for your home or office space, you're in for a treat!
Q. What is the first craft project you remember making?
A. All little kids have fond memories of working on fun craft projects growing up. I believe my very first project involved making a placemat for lunch time, with construction paper cut-outs of flowers, watering cans, and shovels. My teacher also bought me a set of crayons shaped like cars… so perhaps in the grand scheme of things, this whole art-making process has been fostered in me for the longest time. I think the difference is that as we grow older, not to stop working on some sort of creative practice.
Q. What inspires you?
A. I love figures, faces, costumes, animals, current events, history and color. I find myself going back to these themes when I make new drawing and paintings. Also, I have no shame hunkering down and copying drawings of Old Masters and doing studies to improve my skills… because, one can never stop getting better at what they do, and why not learn from the best? Knowing that I stand on the backs of the many heavy hitters in the art world before, I feel liberated that I can work my way up there too.
Q. Can you describe some of your creative processes?
A. I work primarily with gouache, which is a form of watercolor. The great thing about watercolor is that it requires both a willingness to be flexible and open to mistakes and accidents, and a precision and sharpness in decision making to counter the chaos that can potentially ensue and cause a piece to be problematic. By successfully executing this delicate balancing act, I create my best work. It forces me to be present in a world surrounded by endless distractions… it sounds Zen, and I appreciate my practice for that.
Q. What is your most prized handmade possession?
A. I own a small collection of bangles made by the talented artist Malili Otoya Hand-painted & made of wood, I receive compliments for them any time I wear them, and always refer people to her work. The bright colors remind me of my own paintings.
Q. What was the hardest thing about starting your Etsy shop?
A. Starting out, I had these grandiose ideas that within a month, I would become an overnight success, find myself with thousands of views, featured on the front page, etc, etc and I quickly realized I am just one small fish, in a gigantic ocean full of other very talented fish. I opened my shop officially in the Spring of 2012, and I’m happy to say, despite numerous moments of discouragement, that my shop is still open for business and improving every day. Eventually, I would love to call my Etsy shop my day job, but like all creative endeavors, it takes time, long-term commitment, patience, and willingness to keep at it. I think also the initial start-up costs… and potential expansion costs as one grows their business. For me, my next step would be to invest in a high-end inkjet printer to make prints to sell! It’s on my radar.
Q. What's the BEST thing about running your Etsy shop?
A. Knowing that my work brings somebody joy in their life every time they see it on their wall, hands down. My Etsy shop exists to give my paintings a chance to be seen and loved by others. Appreciation is a great feeling that all artists enjoy.
Q. How do your customers find out about your products?
A. That’s another thing I struggle with. My shop only averages about 400 views a month, which is a weak point I want to address. I’ve increased my social media presence, tweaked my Etsy search ads and SEO, and recently bought a Fish Indie ad subscription (www.fishindie.com/) which has significantly helped boost my visibility. July has brought me 181 views… it feels like a boost considering last month, I only had 288 the entire month! I am hoping to spread the word of my work through the blogging community too, as well as launch a blog of my own. I have plans to go out into NYC this summer and set up an impromptu shop in Central Park, Times Square or something… a la Bansky style (untappedcities.com/2013/10/14/banksy-day-13-spray-art-for-sale-ignored-s...)
Q. What are a few of your favorite items in your shop?
Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a new Etsy seller, what would it be?
A. Go big & never give up. Simple, easy to remember, and man, do I try to live by that.
Q. Where can we find you (etsy, facebook, twitter, etc.)
Q. Finally, tell us 3 fun facts about you!
A. I learned how to ride a bicycle at 24, so it's never too late to learn something.
I enjoy nonfiction literature, Sailor Moon, baseball (I’m a Boston Red Sox fan living in New York City… eep!), and the Blues.
And my favorite flavor of ice cream is Cherry Garcia
Thanks sooooo much, Vanessa, for sharing a little bit about you and your shop with us! I admire that you paint in watercolor and gouache-- I tried them and they were too "free" for me. I jealously admire artists who have mastered that media!!!! Also, I think your etsy shop advice is one of the best I've heard-- "go big & never give up." YES! I TOTALLY needed to hear that today. (I need to print that out and tape it on my computer. )
I hope you enjoyed this interview and a little insight into another fellow artist. Please stop by her shop, Reset Reality, and show Vanessa some love and maybe pick up a unique painting for your space.
If you are a handmade artist and would like to be featured, or you know know a killer artist that I should feature, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the section below!