Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Stormslegacy Designs

Our ongoing Friday Spotlight features our members of TeamBPAL. Let's meet Michelle of Stormslegacy Designs.

Tell us a little about the items in your shop. What do you make?
I make a variety of animal-inspired things, including art and jewelry. Sometimes a bit of steampunk slips in as well =3 I started with small charms of people's pets, including ferrets, chinchillas and rats. I've branched out into small "budget" earrings and nicer crystal and ceramic styles. I'm going to be doing a line of marker and watercolor pet portraits which I'm hoping to get into because I love working with pet owners.

What is your creative process?
It depends on the piece but most lines take me a little while to think up. I rarely do one-offs any more, though originally almost all of my stock was unique. In the case of jewelry I think through the design, buy the materials and then set myself in front of a good movie for the assembly. For the polymer clay earrings I often dedicate a ten hour day sitting and playing with clay to come up with different designs--I'll often start with a list of things that I know I want to make but will also make things on the fly as I feel it. For artwork, I sometimes just sit and knock an art card out, but my most successful pieces often take days of sketching out plans, editing them, playing around with the composition in thumbnails and then finally committing myself to the paper. It's not uncommon for the planning process to take longer than the painting itself!

For steam punk pieces, I buy things that attract me (did I mention that my spirit animals include the coyote and the crow?) and then play around until I have a composition that pleases me. Those are the pieces I find most enjoyable.

Which Etsy Teams do you belong to?
Pets Jubalee and TeamBPAL

Ocean's Treasure Steampunk Pendant

When you are not creating things, what do you do?
I am involved in rat rescue and foster for my local rescue group. Currently I have my fosters Hope and Faith who we have been rehabilitating:

I also have a day job at an office, spend time with my SO and am teaching myself how to track wild animals and identify their signs. I love going out into nature and taking lots of pictures to look things up later.

Tell us two random, interesting things about you.
-I have a degree in biology but decided just before finishing that I actually want to be an artist
-My interest in animals goes back as far as I remember and the two things I wanted to be most when I grew up were 1. an ornithologist and 2. a cat. My favorite book as a young kid was my father's zoology textbook which I referred to as zoo-goo-lee.

What has been your proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?
I have several times been asked to make clay portraits of animals for folk. One of the most touching was a woman who's cat passed away after 16 years. He was a brown tabby with a difficult pattern and a very characteristic lying down pose. When I finished the key chain for the person she was so excited and commented that I had utter nailed him and that it brought her joy to see him again. I've had a few moments where pet owners have told me that it was like I could see their pets.

Marker Pet Portrait

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Market yourself, do not expect to sell things just because you list them. Project Wonderful is a good place to look, and you can advertise on your favorite blogs or webcomics depending on your audience. It's also good to join a forum that will probably include people in your target audience and include a small, subtle advertisement in your signature. Second: find a theme and stick with it or open multiple stores because you don't want your store to look like a garage sale. I have issues with this myself, but I sell a lot more now that my store has more of a focus then when I used to have a wide variety. Find what sells and make it your focus.

What handmade possession do you cherish?
Oooo that's a hard one. Right now I would have to say my kitchen table--my father used to be a carpenter and made the table a few years before I was born (25 years ago as of the 28th!). It's rock solid and still looks brand new. I grew up with it and when my parents gave it to me I accepted in a heartbeat.

If you could have any item on Etsy regardless of price, what would it be?
Grinning Coyote Carved Wood Mask. My spirit animal is the coyote and I LOVE the expression captured here. While it's not how I picture Coyote, I love seeing different interpretations and would totally hang this on my wall!

What other skill or talent do you wish you could possess, if you had not taken this creative path?
I originally had dreams of being a naturalist but I have very bad anxiety that makes it difficult to drive or do many of the things that would be needed to go out and study animals in the field. I would love to be a writer about the natural world but I'm too motivated to move and work with my hands to sit and write!

Where else can we find you on the web?
Deviant Art:
Website (still in a bare-bones state):

That's all for this time! See you in two weeks. :)

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