Have fun reading the following interview!
Johanna: Tell us a bit about yourself and your family!
Ryan: I'm a single mom to an awesome 7 (almost 8 year old boy). He is crafty like me and we spend a lot of time "working" in my studio together. He's even sold at an art walk here in Portland and was the perfect pitchman for his handmade jewelry. I really enjoy having a crafty playmate as my kid :).
Johanna: Tell us about your creations and what you make.
Ryan: I take photographs and turn them into stacking blocks, hanging blocks and acrylic jewelry.
Johanna: When did you start creating, and why?
Ryan: I started creating for a living when my son was 1 year old. I've always needed to make stuff and found out that I really needed to make stuff after my son was born. I wanted some balance to mommy-hood.
Johanna: Do you have any inspirations, or someone you find especially inspiring to you?
Ryan: I'm inspired by everything. I live in a beautiful city, full of beautiful landscapes, gardens, forests, people, rivers and buildings. It is hard to be uninspired here.
Johanna: Many of us who have Etsy shops are always looking for new strategies for marketing. It takes diligence and perseverance. Do you have any tips to offer to the handmade community?
Ryan: First, take great photos. Then, tell the world off-Etsy about your work; find blogs, local newspapers, social networking sites and so on that are not affiliated with Etsy to share your work with. We are a supportive community but to make a living on Etsy you need to rely on having a wide audience.
Johanna: What are some things you have done you think helped your business the most?
Ryan: I think I have a lot of insecurity as an artist. That always leads me to take that extra step in everything I do, which gives people a sense that they are getting a great deal on my work. Additionally, over-eagerness makes a strong impression; word of mouth about my work has done more for my business than I ever could.
Johanna: Do you have a favorite piece you created?
Ryan: I really love the block sets. I think overall those are my most favorite things ever.
Johanna: Do you wear your art? Do you get a lot of attention from doing that?
Ryan: I only wear my jewelry when I am selling it. It really helps customers to see my work modeled. Every now and then I'll wear a piece out but it is not something I do as a form of advertising on a day to day basis.
Johanna: Since you photograph your own creations, do you have any photography tips to offer us?
Ryan: Sunlight is your friend. Indirect (or filtered) sunlight is the best light to shoot in and can really bring out the colors and shapes in any piece. If you can avoid the flash, do so, it makes things harsh and angled.
Johanna: Do you attend art and craft fairs/shows often?
Ryan: I am now selling at the local weekend art market here in Portland http://portlandsaturdaymarket.com I missed my friends, I missed "working" out of the house and I am really glad I made the decision to go back.
Johanna: How about a fun fact about yourself!
Ryan: Growing up with a boys name was pretty interesting. I got a notice to register for the draft when I turned 18. I didn't return the forms.
Thank you Ryan, for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and your work with us! I think I speak for all of my blog readers when I say I really appreciate it!
Reading your answers to my questions, I have not only taken inspiration in your words, but I feel I have learned something, especially about marketing off-Etsy. I really need to do more of that!
So again, thank you!
You can check out more of Ryan's work at Little Put Books.
All photos have been used by permission.
Please contact the shop owner before you use these photos.