I discovered Laura Berger's work very much by accident. I was visiting some close friends in Seattle and I wandered into a home store that carried her prints. The print I purchased was called Be Nice to Yourself (still available on her Etsy shop). Something about the design and the little creatures she created really captivated me, and I never forgot it. In fact, I held on to her business card, which was neatly tucked into the back of the bag the print was sealed in, and when I looked her up online I discovered a whole world of work she'd created, from paintings on wood to precious little dishes. In short, I wanted to buy everything -- and that's when I knew I had an artist on my hands that the world needed to know about.
Lucky for us here at COLOURlovers, Laura had time to speak to us for an exclusive interview in which she speaks about her creation process, inspirations, dreams of one day seeing her creatures as collectible figures and more. If you're as capitivated as we were, you can keep up with Laura on her Flickr page, through her blog (listed above) or on her Etsy page.
COLOURlovers: Do you remember the first time you created art? When was it?
Laura: I distinctly remember bringing home a giant fish that I made when I was in kindergarten. It was made out of two pieces of fish-shaped brown kraft paper that we painted fish faces onto, stapled together, and stuffed with something or other to make it three-dimensional. I showed it to my mom and then I watched Mister Roger's Neighborhood & ate a sandwich.
Since society seems to be moving at an ever-increasing speed towards going all digital, the thumb drive is like the file folder of the past, except more compact and much more stylish. Retailers have cashed in on the market for people's desire to have cool gadgets in their pockets, and you can find all manner of interesting flash device out there.
However, when you combine storage space with something like an MP3 player, ask your favorite designers to come in and finish it off with a great look, you may just find you have a product on your hands that really catches people's attention. Such is the case with Mugo, a line created by Aaron Atchison that features big name artists such as Julie West, Shin Tanaka, Jon Burgerman and more.
Etsy.com allows people to sell in many different ways. An excellent business model is selling your creations as PDF Patterns instead of the actual item itself. It requires almost no overhead so to speak since you are selling a digital file for the end-buyer to print themselves. It allows you, the seller, more creative time by simply selling the method rather than trying to keep up with demanding orders.
Featured Etsy seller, English artist Sarah Hanson of Dolls & Daydreams, does just that. She does it very well in fact by showcasing a few different finished products as eye-candy for each pattern. Versions of these creations shown in the store are merely examples of how cute these plushes can look, but the fabric choices are up to you, so you can make these projects look any way you want. Each purchase comes packed with a PDF pattern and instructions on how to create it. Sarah also provides some extra bonus links and advice for sewing dolls, along with your purchase.
Opening More Doors for Cashflow
Sarah's business model not only sell's cute doll patterns, but also provides a way to dress these dolls up with upselling. A very smart move and works beautifully for her shop. As soon as you see these guys in their outfits you can't help but want to also accessorize!
Sell the Idea - Make it Tactfully Visual
These doll's aren't anything small either at 18.5" tall! Sarah does an excellent job showcasing her product. She doesn't just provide a single image of one doll, with a note that it's a pattern. She showcases a great picture of the main product - the Owls three in a row, sitting and standing. Then an up sell image of the owl's dressed in clothing - sold separately - and finally a representation of size by having a child in the picture holding one. I couldn't wrap my head around what this 18.5 inch doll might actually represented until I saw the image of the child.
Recapping this selling structure:
- Include nice, clear, un-grainy pictures. Sarah does a simple white background (a piece of posterboard can work). Colorful items are best shown on a simple background.
-Include a variety of inspirational looks. Sarah does this with many different fabric variations of the Owls.
-Include visuals to how big the item is: a quilt - show it on a bed, a doll - show it in your hands or a child's (try to represent it in real life, not against a ruler), an outfit - show it on a real body, etc.
-Finally, if there is a way to accessorize your item show it, but make sure to note that the PDF does not come with such and such items, but you can [link] get them here.
Etsy sellers create many types of products, not only in the sewing or PDF world. A couple of different scenario's to add upselling to your product pages would be:
Jewelry - Selling a necklace? Show an image with a ring and earrings that match....note links to those products...run a special to buy all three, etc.
Sewing Patterns or Clothing and Accessories - we've covered a lot about the patterns as the main topic in this post, but putting doll's aside, things like clothing could include accessories such as a purse, belt or other clothing accessory that might go.
Lastly, don't be afraid to start networking with other sellers to create a cross-combo upsell. Wow, does that sound complicated? It's easy, if you make dresses and skirts and have no interest in making purses, connect with a fellow seller and work out an agreement. If you only make necklaces, connect with someone doing more:
-Simple Exposure Trade - each of you post a product and link in another product page for upselling to the other user.
-Commission - Instruct buyers to mention a code in the special instructions field at checkout for the item on the other sellers product to get some sort of benefit (%/$ off next order, etc). Basically create a way to track that they bought from both of you.
Overall, the PDF to Print business model is an excellent way to keep loving your craft, broaden your market and have more time ultimately for creating new products for your line. A would almost guarantee that selling a pattern over the actual dolls will gross ten times more. Opening your pattern license up to allow others to sell the finished products provides even more of a draw.
As an Etsy buyer and crafter myself, I would much rather spend $10 on a pattern than spend $25+ on a single doll. Remember, Etsy is a creative community. Most of the users who sell on Etsy most likely buy on Etsy - and those people like to create.
One look at the patterns in the Dolls & Daydreams store, and you can easily imagine yourself spending a long and lazy Sunday with your sewing kit out, creating these precious little plushes.
Handmade plushes always give me a rush of delight. As a person who loves craft and collectibles, there's something about owning an item that has been created by hand that feels better than purchasing a mass manufactured item. It's a similar feeling to receive a gift that's been made by hand.
All images copyright Sarah Hanson of Dolls & Daydreams.
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This post was written in collaboration with both Colette Bennette & Molly Bermea
Welcome to The Design Minute, a new feature on the COLOURlovers blog where we take a quick look at an inspired design, whether it be on a canvas, a t-shirt, a billboard or a passing elephant, and have a quick chat with the artist behind it. Today's design is called Color Wheel, and it can currently be found at ultra-cool t-shirt design site Threadless. Creator Ross Zietz has a few other designs under his belt, but this one was perfect for our color-obsessed readers (and yes, I'm talking to you).
COLOURlovers: Give us three words that you feel best describe this design.
Ross: vivid, bicycle, kaleidoscope-ish.
COLOURlovers: Do you have a current favorite Threadless design? If so, what is it?
Ross: Dead Pirate by McBess. Nice and Simple. Sorry it's not too colorful but it's the one I wear the most.
COLOURlovers: You have to create a design in under five minutes, using only words to describe it. Go.
Ross: Ha... A wide open shark jaw, just the two jaw parts (top and bottom)... The teeth look like normal sharp shark teeth from afar but when you look closer at them, you realize that they are actually sails to a bunch of tiny sailboats. I think i'm actually going to design this tonight!
COLOURlovers: You've mentioned in your bio that you loved cartoons and manga as a kid. Can you name any early influences?
Camilla: Oh for sure! Cartoons shaped my life! Disney movies, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Masters of the Universe (He-Man & She-Ra of course!), just to name a few.
COLOURlovers: When did you first start to draw?
Camilla: The first memory I have of drawing was when I was 5. I was drawing before then, like all kids, but there's a particular moment that was like me realizing my calling. I drew this snow leopard and I was just so proud of myself! I loved it, and that is when I knew I wanted to draw for the rest of my life.
As we move into mid-November, it's officially time to declare my favorite time of year: cooler temperatures and long coats, multicolored scarves, gloves, and hats to go with it! It's a great time to redecorate the home, change the colors of your bedroom, or go shopping for a new sweaters for yourself, the kids, or possible Christmas gifts...who knows what you may find?
This week on What's Crafty on Etsy, we'll look at all kinds of fun items for winter to help you get yourself into the spirit.
If you like modern design but feel white walls are just too plain, perhaps I have just the thing for you. Etsy user designedDESIGNER has a variety of wall decals for sale to suit rooms of all sizes and colors. This set, called "Birds in the Urban Forest", comes with six trees, birds and loose leaves for you to arrange as you wish. The price beats wallpaper (which is so last century anyway). If you have a baby's room to decorate, there are some precious options as far as that goes as well.
Did you know that blue has proven to be one of the most calming colors for use in the home? Its presence causes humans to experience tranquil emotions. Studies also show that people are more productive in blue rooms, and that blue is a good color to wear on a job interview because it symbolizes loyalty.
There's a lot more to blue than meets the eye, and if you've ever found yourself attracted to it but you don't know the reason why, perhaps now you have a bit of insight. We'll focus on the calming color in our Etsy treasure hunt this week, bringing you all manner of fun finds that ought to chill you out and make you feel pleasant and mellow. And perhaps serve as useful as well, which would be a lovely bonus!
A journal is always one of those things that gets my creative juices flowing. I find I am always attracted to a pretty binding, rough edged pages, and a touch of vintage charm when it comes to a book I want to write in. A journal like this from Etsy user Conduit Press fits all those descriptives, taking a page from an old Rand McNally map of England and Wales for its cover. Binding is hand-stitched and the pages are hand-torn. A lot of care and love went into this, and I'm sure it would be a joy to use! You can also find books with secret cut outs on the inside at the shop -- any literature lover would simply love to have one of these private hiding places on his or her shelf!
Last week, we gave you some ideas about how to spice up even the simplest of outfits with our favorite picks from Etsy's handbag sellers. Of course, any woman knows that a handbag is not her only choice when it comes to accenting an outfit -- there's also shoes, hairpieces, and of course, one of our very favorites, jewelry. Do you like precious stones? Handcrafted metals? Whimsical designs? We've got you covered. Follow me this way for some choice picks from the talented crafters of Etsy's ranks.
Many women will agree that Swarovski crystals & beads can produce a stunning variety of wearable collectibles. Etsy seller Candybead uses them to great advantage, capturing all the brilliance of the rainbow in pieces both bold and delicate. All items are made by hand come in an organza drawstring pouch, so they would make ideal gifts. We liked the soft cream rose pearl bracelet above, but the orange bracelet that kicks off the post is also from the same crafter, showing off a wide range of style and color options. She also indicates that she loves custom orders on her profile page, so don't be shy -- ask for any combo you want!
On the whole, Etsy is a kind of gloriously overwhelming experience. Every time I go look at it to get this column started, I find myself wanting to buy a dozen things before I even surf past the first page. It really is a website you need a guide to. This week, we thought we'd bring you the best of homemade handbags from Etsy's selection, proving that you don't have to spend a fortune to look infinitely chic on a day around the town.
A simple structure with a bright pop of color always works. Etsy seller BadKitty Hawaii makes these from high quality Japanese cotton fabric, lines them by hand, and adds a magnetic snap closure so your stuff doesn't leak out onto the floor. Even better, the bags come in a variety of colors and styles, so if yellow and blue isn't your thing, you can likely find something that is. Oh, and there are wristlets and clutches too, and the shop accepts custom orders.
This week on Etsy, we found many of our top picks just happened to feature shades of green. Maybe artists are looking forward to fall? While there's always something to be found in every color on Etsy from jewelry to clothing to art, it seemed like artists were in the mood to evoke the spirit of cooler temperatures on the eclectic site this past few days. And who are we to complain?
The easiest way to get your friends to keep coming over for dinner (well, other than cooking them spectacular food, that is) is to make your dinner table memorable. A quick splash of color in the form of dinnerware will do just that! This gorgeous green ceramic set from Etsy artist chutneyblakedesigns is hand-painted and kiln-fired and also comes in a variety of other colors (I love the dramatic look of the black set). Her shop has more in the same style, as well as picture frames, coaster sets, serving bowls and more.