Friday, June 20, 2008

let me tell you about one of my favouritest people...

lea keohane of leakarts and supplyriot! she is one of the sweetest, coolest, and most amazing people i know, and i wouldn't have met her if it wasn't for etsy!

to let you get to know lea a little better, i conducted an interview with her, and here's what she had to say:
  • what 5 words would you use to describe yourself?

Creative, hilarious, (see, wasn't that funny?!?), busy, Aquarian (that one pretty much sums it up), and wordy :) See, I can't even bring myself to a 5-word answer!

  • so when did you discover your artistic talent? did it sort of come naturally, or have you really had to work on it over time?

I guess it just came naturally for the most part (not to discount all of the hard work that I have put in developing my personal style). My mom used to leave little crafty projects out on the kitchen table on the weekends so that she could sleep in :) Also, my stepmom gave me a little journal when I was 8 and I used to write the dorkiest poems in it, but it sparked my imagination and got me writing a lot. Finally, I had an amazing art teacher, Mrs. Luna, in high school that really encouraged me.

(what a cool name for an art teacher - mrs. luna!)

a portrait of maya, lea's cat; © lea keohane, 2008
  • do you ever get "artist's block", and what do you do to snap yourself out of it? i imagine that could be especially annoying when you're trying to work on a custom piece.

Working on custom pieces is usually what gives me artist's block! I think it's because I am afraid of making a mistake or not meeting the client's expectations. I just have to remind myself that it is only paint--I can always paint over it if it doesn't come out right. Then I schedule a dedicated time in my planner to do it, and I just do it.

  • does your location (portland, oregon, as well as your home) inspire you or in any way contribute to your work?

Portland definitely inspires me! The people here are so young, vital, and creative (even the older people!), and the rain makes everything sooo gorgeous. There is a great art scene here and so many fantastic, inspiring artists!As far as my apartment, well, on one hand it is really nice to work from home, and I will always have a studio in my home, but I think I would be a lot more productive if I had a dedicated workspace outside of my home! Or a bigger place to live :) I am grateful for our little apartment, though, and it's in a fantastic, central location.

"a poem in fervor"; © lea keohane, 2007

  • where do you get the inspiration for naming your pieces? the titles are very poetic.
That's so funny because it's probably the one area that I struggle with the most. I totally sympathize with artists that have titles like, "Chair #76." Haha! Like I said, though, I used to write a lot when I was a kid, and actually entered college with the intention of becoming a writer (ended up with a Fine Arts degree instead). In high school I did a lot of (scary!) poetry readings at local coffee shops in Denver. So I guess words are very important to me. I try not to force the titles--my work is very intuitive and likewise, the titles often just come to me while I am creating a piece.

  • what does your daughter think about your success as an artist, and do you think she'll follow in your footsteps someday?

This is a direct quote from her "I don't even care about that stuff." Haha! That's what she says when I get all excited about making sales :) She is 8 though, she'll get it someday. And she always tells people proudly "My mama is an artist!" I'm not sure if she'll follow in my footsteps but I hope that I am showing her by example that she really CAN do anything she wants with her life.

"indie's bath"; © lea keohane, 2008

  • i noticed on your flickr account that you draw, also. any chance that you'll sell your drawings in your shop soon? i think they're brilliant :).
*blush!* Thank you! I do have some of my ink drawings in my etsy shop now (I am listing prints of some of them as we speak, too, so there are more affordable options). But maybe you mean my line drawings? I have considered it! We will see what the future brings...

(i'm dumb - yes, i was talking about your sketches :p)

a bunch of washi paper that lea sells at her supply shop, supplyriot

  • what made you decide to delve into selling supplies on etsy at your other shop, supplyriot? how did that come about?

In October of 2007 I was running a business on eBay with a close friend of mine. It was not going well, and we ended up dissolving the business. Lucky for me, Ryan of LittlePutBooks needed help shipping, and that job combined with my art sales pulled me through the holidays. After the New Year, however, she didn't need me nearly as much, and my art sales completely died off. I had been working for myself for so long that I couldn't even imagine going back to a "real" job! Ryan helped me brainstorm and came up with the idea of opening a supply shop. She had a lot of extra supplies that she wasn't using, so with a small loan that another friend of mine gave me and Ryan's wholesale knowledge (and destashing some her supplies to me), SupplyRiot was born :).

  • are there any etsians that inspire and encourage you that you want to give a shout-out to? (i swear i don't mean me, haha!).

Well, you of course! There are so many that I hate to name too many names in the fear that I will exclude someone. Etsy has been such a wonderful and supportive community for me. There are a few though that have been especially great--Ryan of LittlePutBooks, of course, and Leah Pellegrini who hosts a weekly tea time for Portland etsyians, and my friend Danielle of who often shares booths with me at local craft fairs. Everyone on ESST (etsy supply street team) and PDX Etsy street teams are fantastic! There are too many more to even try to name names :).

  • what advice do you have for other etsians who dream of earning a living wage from their art?

I still dream of earning a living wage from my art, too! I am not sure what the formula for that one is. I would definitely say, though, a few things:

*Don't expect all your sales to come from etsy--you should also be doing local shows, whether they are craft fairs or galleries and/or other online venues.
*Branch out. You are creative! Put that creativity to use to find other ways to make a living. Besides my own original artwork, I sell supplies, do portraits, pet portraits, custom work, piecework for other artisans... I am always looking for ways to increase my income. Teach, write articles, advertise, network...

*Don't be afraid to make a living. People think that artists are poor by nature, but you deserve to make lots and lots of money! Figure out what your weaknesses are and take a class to fix them, or hire someone to do those things for you. Figure out your strengths and go for it!

  • anything else you'd like to say? :)
I think I just out-said myself :) Thank you for the interview, Melissa!


see what i mean? she's the best :).

don't forget to check out leakarts and supplyriot on etsy!