Category: featured artist series

featured artist :: cutesypoo

from the archives: 15.3.11

name: Jocelan + Jason
company: cutesypoo toys
links: website | blog | shop | twitter

What do you make?
My husband and I make cartoons for a living and formed this company out of our love of toys. I just wanted to recreate the kind of toys that inspire kids, instead of the toys you just get from the toy store that are made in china, why not make one of a kind of toys that kids really fall in love with? Plus we always wanted to make our cartoons come to life and animating them is ok..but when a kid can hold and touch and hug a toy…then that is really something!! Most of the toys we make are custom printed with ecofriendly inks such as the cone gnomes, but recently we are making embroidered toys with our new embroidery machine such as our cutesypoo pillows and plush kitties. Of course, we always try to make out toys ultra cute!!

What or who inspires you?
Kawaii culture like Hello Kitty, I worked on the Pucca tv show and that was an influence, japanese zakka style magazines, friends, flickr..food! I think of food when i make toys ..like the colours i will ask myself …does it look yummy enough to eat??

photo credit: studio jeanie

How did you get started?
I have been to japan twice and after i got back from the first trip there i started to try to sew my own toy bunny from a japanese felt book and when i did i was hooked! Funny thing is I tried hard not to create my own stuff because i am so creative at work I wanted to do a “mindless thing ” while i relaxed in front of the tv at night ..but eventually I couldn’t help myself when i started to draw something in my sketchbook i just HAD to make it!! The first thing i made was a plush coconut bun and i still have it.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
Cotton canvas, vintage scraps of fabric because it looks good and fleece and minky because it is easy to sew.

What is the hardest and your most favourite part of crafting?
Easy! My favourite is drawing up the ideas and also the satifaction of a completed project and my hardest is the whole part between that!!

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
I know everyone says this but it’s true! Stay true to what you are and what you want to create but also be realistic with your products and see what sells and do research by doing craft shows to see what people think of your stuff. In other words..don’t just ask family and friends…

featured artist :: kove handmade

from the archives: 01.12.10

name: Kyla Leslie
company: Kove Handmade
links: website | blog | twitter | facebook | etsy

What do you make?
kove is primarily a line of knit and crochet scarves, cowls, warmers and wraps. There are a few necklaces and clutches in the mix as well.

What or who inspires you?
The line is heavily influenced by the west coast. I love living by the mountains and next to the ocean, so those textures inspire my work. Versatility is important to me, so I strive to incorporate functional elements like hoods and double sided buttons into the designs.

How did you get started?
I would say it was a combination of time, obsession and curiosity that lead me to launch kove. Reconnecting with a craft I had learned as a youngster (crochet) and using it to create something contemporary and wearable was something that I wanted to put out in the world. I opened my Etsy shop on Valentine’s day this year, and ended up realizing a dream I didn’t know I had.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
I mostly use a chunky wool / acrylic blend of yarn, which is super soft to work with. I also love the contrast of incorporating hardware into my fibre jewelry.

What is the hardest and your most favourite part of crafting?
The biggest challenge is time – which I suppose is true of any small business owner. A lot of people use the insanity workout. I wish there were more hours in the day to just sit and design. But the best part is seeing people enjoy what you’ve made, and make it their own.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Love what you do, do your best work, and really get to know who your customers are.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
Probably a crafter or designer.

featured artist :: laura bucci handmade

from the archives: 13.9.10
name: Laura Bucci
company: Laura Bucci Handmade
links: website | etsy shop

What do you make?
I focus on functional fashion, home & travel accessories. I like to use retro/modern fabrics but lately have started designing my own vintage inspired line. You can see my new fabric in action on the sustainable cup cozies. If I can’t produce the fabric myself, I’ll use unique indie designed fabric. You’ll see this used to make pouches, tea cozies and more. I am very conscientious about waste, so I started using fabric remnants to make fabric pinback buttons.

What or who inspires you?
I’m inspired by the many illustrators of education and story books in what we now call vintage books. Often times the illustrators were not credited but a few were, so I’d to acknowledge Merle Smith and Maud Sherman.How did you get started?
I studied fine art and photography a long time ago. But what I do now is a real departure from what I studied. I am a self-taught sewer. Sewing was preceded by knitting which is what got me started being creative after a 10 year hiatus. This all came about from feeling a need to be creative and independent after working at regular jobs. I am slowly returning to my photographic roots but now within a new medium — fabric and functional objects.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
I like fabric with different textures and I favour natural and vegan materials such as linen, hemp, and cotton.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Differentiate yourself from the rest. What’s different about you? Why would people want to buy from you? Think about branding, it’s really quite important and something I am thinking about right now. When I began crafting, I focused on products and I’m only now thinking about branding. When you think about your brand you are working on a style that you will convey to viewers. Consumers buy because of the perceived style.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. Some work is definitely plain and simple craft with not much artistic intention. Some craft is very much a work of art. Deep down inside I always thought I was an artist but I’m only now getting comfortable with that concept. I believe images on a t-shirt can be art, it all depends on how it’s done.

featured artist :: track and field

from the archives: 23.08.10

name: Sasha Freeman
company: Track and Field Designs
links: etsy shop | flickr

What do you make?
I make a variety of items, currently sewn & screen printed accessories – laptop bags, messenger bags, pouches and brooches. Sometimes purses and mittens. I have a very short attention span, making a lot of different things keeps things interesting for me.

What or who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere! I get inspired by fabric. I adore fabric. I even get inspired on my daily walk through my neighbourhood – all the heritage houses! I totally want one!

How did you get started?
I have always been a maker-of-things. I grew up sewing and knitting thanks to my Mom who is an expert sewer/knitter/crocheter.

What are your favourite materials to work with?
I have a serious fabric addiction. I can’t get enough of the stuff! My favourite fabric is linen. It’s just the best.

What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
The hardest part for me is marketing. I am shy and awkward and not at all comfortable with promoting myself. My favourite part is the creative & creating part! The whole making-something-out-of-nothing thing. I find the process of building something from a heap of fabric pretty satisfying.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
I don’t even know what I am doing half of the time! But I think it’s important to make items that you love. Continually improving your line and creating a strong “brand” will make your line stand out.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
I will say….designer. All my patterns are my own..dreamt up and made by me.

featured artist :: flight path designs

from the archives: 12.04.10

name: Naomi Joy Yamamoto
company: flight path designs
links: etsy | facebook | twitter

What do you make?
Handcrafted graphic leather goods

How did you get started?
Totally by fluke. I didn’t intend on getting into this! Seriously, I went to art school in Calgary where I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts. At the time I was doing installation based artworks, exploring social stigmas of identity. When I finished school I ended up sharing a studio with my friend Kari Woo who at the time was just beginning to go big into doing her silver jewelery line full time. I had a studio, was out of school and needed to figure out what to do with myself.

One day, totally by chance I ended up buying a piece of leather and felt so inspired by the material. Kari was super supportive and influential in getting me involved in the handmade movement. I started first making handbags and branched out into belts and buckles-which are the bread and butter of my business three years later.

photo credit: sharalee photography

What are your favourite materials to work with?
I really like any material that is organic and malleable-leather, felt, fabrics.

What is the hardest and most favourite part of crafting?
Hardest would be time management for me. I get easily distracted and can be easily swayed from doing what should be a priority. Favorite is having the time and space to come up with new designs. I love that part of this job. I find that its important for me to be constantly re-inventing my work to keep things fresh and interesting.

Do you have any advice for those in the biz?
Listen to your intuition, always do your research, take care of your body and soul, form a community of like minded individuals and keep inspired however you can.

Do you consider yourself an artist or a crafter?
If I had to choose, I would say I approach my work as an artist, but I consider myself a designer foremost. Design is the big passion and source for my work.