Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August Artist of the Month~ Sunflower Express

August Artist of the Month is Sunflower Express! Lisa Williams, all around creative force magnetic, is a great positive energy. She doesn't see obstacles, just opportunities. She doesn't see raw materials, but possibilities from spreading joy and happiness to her customers. She doesn't just see poly felt and say, 'What in the world can I make it that??', like I do. Read on...

Q~How did you get started?
A~In Utero... lol... I've been creating for the majority of my life. I started in fine art and dabbled in Theatre Design for a bit. I'm currently in the graphic design and Illustration business. My first memories are of art competitions that was basically the root of my existence. I seriously doubt that will ever change.

Q~Why do you continue?
A~Because not creating makes me cranky. I went for a couple of years (without creating) when I first moved to the DC area, just out of creativity juice... I think a lot of it had to do with the whole getting married and having a kid thing kinda throws all of your priorities out of wack. My son was a month old when I went crazy and decoupaged a table in the house and then painted another one in the course of 24 hours... Then I got back into painting. Then I opened up my Freelance Graphic Business and then I stumbled on Etsy, and all of the handmade gifts and cards and found a place to live.

Q~What is a great success story?
A~I think my favorite success story was making it into my first juried festival... Everyone knows that is a nerve wracking experience regardless of how confident you are in anything else, just putting your work in someone's hands to like or not like is very stressful regardless of how high or low profile that event might be.

Q~Where do you get your inspiration?
A~I'm a visual person... Sometimes just a simple trip to the mall is enough to spark my imagination. A lot of my kids stuff is inspired by my 3 year old son, he has very specific boy tastes so he is a fun person to "converse" with about product development. I read a lot of magazines. Fashion is a passion of mine and I love to see how colors and embellishments are being used. I also am a big lover of flowers and gardening (though my personal garden has taken a serious hit lately) so I draw a lot from nature in my design process.

Q~Why do you make/create what you do?
A~I make fun stuff out of Felt. Specifically I love using Felt, a simple material to create jewelry and vintage inspired coin purses and change purses. I completely hand sew, the sewing machine is like a accent tool. I think there is something special about completely creating something by hand. I embellish my pieces with hand embroidery, and fun accents like swarovski crystals and sequins and beads... For me its all about the bling. I also do notecards, T shirts, Recycled Vinyl Guitar pics a little of this a little of that. I'm a craft schizophrenic.

Q~What is one thing you love about your business?
A~I love working at home... I seriously love not getting out of my pajamas and not having anyone else be the boss. I get to manage my schedule and If I want to do cards today, I get to do cards. I love being able to be flexible in what I do. I also love being able to travel to cool places and meet fun people. I also love staying home with my son and being creative on a regular basis. I seriously don't think I could function as well in a "normal" job after working for myself for 2 years. OOPS you said one thing.

Q~What is one thing you loathe?
A~MARKETING... I do it but I hate it. I feel like every artist should just be assigned an agent to do the boring businessy stuff for them... granted I've learned some tricks, but I would so rather be making something than sitting on the computer for hours analyzing foot traffic and singing the Felt Song from here to eternity.

Q~What is your dream about your art?
A~One day I want my little shop to lead to a big Bohemian shop in a cute location with a restaurant attached for my hubby the chef and musician, where we can showcase artisans and musicians and sell cute stuff.

Q~What is your mission?
A~Sunflower Express is also a TV show for kids where I play Ms. Crafty who demonstrates art techniques and mini craft projects for kids... Sunflower Express the line was inspired by the ethos of the show... My goal is to help elevate craft and art on a local level and getting out there in the community especially being a person of color I think that helps for kids of ALL races to see that any form of expression be it music, art, dance, crafting, painting, it is valid and worthy goal.

Q~Where are you based?
A~Lovely Hollywood Section of College Park, Md

Q~Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
A~That's tough... I'm half Artsy Hermit, Half full tilt extrovert... So depending on what time of the day it is I vacillate between NYC, Paris and London and then the other half is split between a Cattle Ranch in Montana, a farm house in Provence or a villa in a wheat field in Italy. Sometimes I really love being fully immersed in what I am doing without being disturbed... so an isolated place is sometimes ideal but at the same time sometimes I seriously crave noise and loudness and the sound of a city that never really calms down.

Q~What would you be doing if not this?
A~I would be normal... LOL... no seriously I can't envision a life where I'm not creating... If I wasn't crafting I would probably be more focused on my fine art.

Q~What is next?
A~Getting over 30 sales by the end of the year. I am also making a hard press on wholesaling and trying to drum up publicity for the shop and the show. I'm constantly evolving the line so very soon it will be time to concentrate on the winter line.

Q~What is your favorite question to ask people?
A~What is your theme song?

Q~What is your answer to that question?
A~Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan

More good news to share very soon! New fall shows added. Too much to post here, but back soon...~Jen

Green Tip~ If at first you don't succeed, give up?

I recently ran a kid's summer art camp, in which we painted cement garden stepping stones. I was very set on sealing them with Low VOC clear coat. However, I could find it NO WHERE. I called places, went online and researched local retailers and went around to the big box hardware outlets. No one carried it in the store and I didn't have enough time to order it online. Finally, totally defeated, I went to Duron and just asked them for regular VOC sealer. The employee lead me over the section, and lo and behold~ H&C Low VOC Sealer!! I almost hugged the guy. :)

So, if you are looking to seal a patio, garage or such and need a retail location for the Low VOC coat, Duron Paints at the corner of Mt Vernon and Glebe Road in Arlandria carries it!! Give them a call.