The Interview

I finally tell it all. Read my interview by Kristin Walters of Handmade News. {LINK}

How long has your “Just Something I Made” blog been in place? Why did you set it up?

I launched the JSIM blog in March of 2008. I had already created a blog for my design work, Farm Fresh Creative, a site to keep my web portfolio up to date, but the crafty side of me wanted its own place to play. As I looked around my home I noticed there were many things I had made that I could not only share but show others how to create the same.

What do you usually cover on your blog?

My blog is a marriage of sorts between graphic design and crafting with an emphasis on vintage. I share gadget images for blogging, organizing and decorating ideas, thrifty repurposing, craft tutorials, and lots of eye candy and freebies. I also share my art as applied to the everydayness of life, such as sharpie tattoos on my friends at the lake, a doodly note to the child kicking my seat from behind on the plane to decorating my vehicle to celebrate my children’s school promotions.

Do you work with anyone else, or is it just you?

I design and craft solo with only the sounds of birds out my window. I can be a bit of an introvert, something I’ve learned to embrace.

What is your background – have you always been creative, did you have any special training, etc.?

Growing up, I was always artistic, with no direction. Then, during high school, in the Midwest, I was fortunate to attended a vocational school to study commercial art. At 17, two weeks before graduation, I was hired by an advertising agency as a production artist. Four years later I was a senior art director. I moved on to a larger corporate firm and eventually found my way to California where I freelanced at agencies and eventually opened my own design firm. And then the kids came…

How did you get started in this business?

I became a stay-at-home mom when my son was born and through the early years of necessary thrifting, I evolved into an antique dealer starting with the many treasures I had found from garage sales and thrift stores. I enjoyed selling farmhouse-chic-style furniture and accessories, with a emphasis on 1930s-50s pressed steel toy trucks for 4-5 years. As the children grew and the antique well ran dry, I went back to graphic design, working from home and designing on a smaller scale doing what I do best: logos.

What key things have you done to help you succeed?

Given back. I consider my creativity and talent an incredible gift from God and believe it was meant not only to help provide for my family, but to share with and inspire others. I design pro-bono for my childrens’ school, my husband’s fire department and our community and share lots of freebies and ideas on my blog. The more I share, the more He gives.

What do your readers seem to want to know the most about?

I think tutorials and unique repurposing are pretty popular posts with my readers. I tend to get questions mostly about techniques and materials. I can be a bit random about my posts with crafts one day, vintage images or free clip-art another, but crafty innovation seems to rock everyone’s boat and I love thinking outside the box.

What do you think makes popular?

Heavy on photos, light on words. I try to give every post at least one photo, even if it’s stock. I imagine many of my readers also read through lots of other blogs and tend to scroll through a post quickly. And although my photo skills are far from great, but they help tell the story and keep readers engaged. I do my best to show minimal but important photo steps of the things I make. I’m not afraid to photograph mistakes. Crafting is a process of trial and error, I have gone in some pretty fabulous directions thanks to the errors.

When I am coming up with a post, it’s natural to try to tailor it to what I think readers want or design something trendy or popular. But I find that when I share my own ideas and create the things that I would actually use or like, my post is always well received. I have constantly remind myself that my blog is a reflection of my own style and that’s what makes it unique.

When creating a new craft tutorial, I am conscience to include materials and supplies that are accessible to most readers. This in itself can be a challenge as, especially with vintage items, they are not always easy to find. I include resource links as much as possible.

Most of the comments I receive on my blog are thank yous. I think readers appreciate the time I take to share my creativity with them and having a positive place to go keeps them coming back. There are enough rough spots in everyone’s day, consider my blog a bubble bath.

In your history of blog posts, do you have a favorite?

BACK TO SCHOOL: 6:00 am Artwork.” It’s the post when I pulled out and photographed the years of lunch box napkin drawings I had done for my children. The photos are too dark, I think I ramble a bit too much, but this post reminds me of some of the sweetest days in my kids’ lives. I’d hoped to inspire other parents to add some fun and sentiment to their kids’ days via the lunch box, all the while creating a little journal of their school days.

What is your favorite kind of handmade project to do? Why?

Any craft with a more-practical-than-decorative purpose. If I can make it for next to nothing, that’s a huge bonus and I rarely make the same craft twice.

Where do you find inspiration?

In the back of my eyelids one half hour before I get out of bed. Stuff just comes to me then, I can’t explain it. Other creative blogs, online artisan forums, and photo managing sites are a few sites I visit to get my juices flowing.

How do you learn new techniques?

When I have a what I think is a new and unique idea for a craft or design, I spend a lot of time Googling to see what has already been done and to learn and gain inspiration from other artist.

What are some of your favorite resources for new techniques/types of crafts/ideas?

I have learned so much from the artisans who share their knowledge and resources through online forums.

Why do you craft? What motivates or drives you to design, be creative, and continue pushing the envelope for creativity?

It’s a machine I simply cannot turn off. I am so blessed to have a career and hobby that can fulfill my non-stop need to create and a family with the patience to appreciate it. I have an innate desire to be unique and innovative in my art, but at the same time, favor traditional skills and design.

Is there any kind of handmade craft that you haven’t done, but would like to learn or try?

Gunstock carving and metal engraving. When my father retired his gunsmithing business, he sent to me all of his sourcebooks on the subject. I also collect rare books on jewelry engraving. The art and technique for both are spectacular and would likely take years of practice. It’s a bit ambitious, but would be a wonderful skill to learn and I can think of a hundred of ways to apply this style of art to so many different crafts.

Is there anything else you want the world to know about you, your blog, your craft?

I do not live a story-book life and I am not super mom. I just don’t blog the rough stuff. I enjoy a modest life with a loving family. It is such joy to have found my place in the world of creative inspiration through blogging and connecting with others. It’s personally validating to see that I have helped spark other’s creativity and that things that I have created have been embraced by others.

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