Tuesday, June 7, 2011
June Artist of the Month~ Fast Snail
Moms are magic and yours sounds extra wonderful. ~Liz Hutcheson
My mom *is* pretty wonderful. She is intelligent, passionate about history and books, has an insatiable thirst for trivial facts and loves to go explore. Like many mothers, she is a big supporter of her daughters and encourages them to push their boundaries. I have learned a lot from my mom over the years, least of which is to gain insight from mistakes and move forward.
When I went on a study aboard in the Fall of 2003, my mother decided to come and visit. As she had never been to Europe, we wanted to make the most of the time. I was living in London, which acted as a great springboard to many cities on the continent. Both being art lovers, we dreamed of going to the Louvre, and thus, did a long weekend in Paris.
When we arrived, my mom wanted to walk from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower. As I had done that once with friends, I knew the seemingly short distance was deceiving. However, we wanted to see the city, so decided to do the walk. Buildings loomed in the way as we got closer and closer to the famed edifice and we were unable to even glance a peak of it.
I knew we were getting close to it, but I wanted to surprise my mom. As we passed a building, she looked to her left, and I looked toward her. She stopped short and gasped, raising her hands to her face. "OH!," she said, with the delight of a child on christmas morning. I knew it was right there, but I was glad I was looking at the joy on her face, rather than at the tower.
Our trip to Paris was a wonderful time, where we explored an enchanting city together. It was the beginning of annual international trips for her and I was glad to be a part of infancy of her love of foreign travel.
Based on this trip, Paris in general, and the Eiffel Tower in particular, became a special bond between the two of us. Her birthday was last week, and I wanted to do something special for her.
Last Christmas, I got a set of Honey Tower notecards for my mom, who not only loves the tower, but bee motifs at large. It was the prefect combination of both things. And, I was right, mom said it was one of her favorite gifts, and I could stock her up with more cards anytime. However, she went one step further than that herself: she went on the Fast Snail website and ordered more right away!
Recently, I approached Liz Hutcheson, the creative force behind Fast Snail, to do something a little special. As I get the gift of gab from my mom, she needed a slightly bigger card to write on. I also thought she would like a personalized card with her name.
Liz was *wonderful* to work with, so very agreeable to the request. I love having a relationship with an artist, that I can work on a little project on with. I just knew my mom would be pleased, and I was so happy Liz could help me surprise her.
And, mom was very happily surprised! She said she couldn't wait to use the custom made cards.
Read on to find out how Liz comes up with her ideas and what she thinks about her ultimate inspiration, the Snail!
Q~How did you get started?
A~ I have been drawing and creating all kinds of things for as long as I can remember. My mother was an artist, so I guess that it is in my genes.
Q~ Do you have any special training or education?
A~ I majored in French and minored in Studio Art in college. Since then, I’ve taken classes at the Corcoran School of Art in drawing, oil and watercolor painting, and digital art.
Q~ Do you have a favorite material, medium or substrate you love to work with?
A~ A nice inky black pen on white drawing paper is heaven! I also love to work with watercolor, pastel, pencil, and oils.
Q~Why do you continue?
A~ I continue because it makes me happy and, when all the planets line up, my artwork can make other people happy too. Seeing people smile or have a look of recognition as they look at my work makes my day.
Q~What is a great success story?
A~ My Washington, DC and Eiffel Tower images. The Washington Monument Birthday card is probably the most popular card in my line. And I love to dream up new guises for these famous buildings.
Q~What is one of your greatest failures?
A~Not paying attention when I am cooking/baking. Those pesky measurements need to be so exact.
Q~Where do you get your inspiration?
A~ While no one would call me outdoorsy, I am inspired by Mother Nature (trees, clouds, the night sky, birds, squirrels, bugs, and other creatures great and small). Other sources of inspiration include interesting people I meet or observe, things I’ve read, proverbs, French language and culture, kindness, and silliness. I am also inspired by old things with some history –- like me!
Q~ Why do you make/create what you do?
A~ I like to make things that people can use to communicate with the family/friends/colleagues in their lives, whether it is remembering their birthday and other milestones with a great card, or sending them a great gift or special note.
My images tend to fall into a few broad categories. I draw my alter ego, the Fast Snail®, because I always have. We chug along and try to keep smiling through it all, rain or shine. I’ve found that there are many other people there who can relate to the Snail. Go Team Snail!
As an incurable Francophile and language nerd, j’adore creating French-inspired images. The bonus with these designs is that I get to have a blast hearing about my customers connections to France and the Eiffel Tower in particular.
Since I’ve lived and worked in Washington, D.C. area for many years, doing designs based on the monuments and the flag of the District of Columbia is a natural. People have so many interesting stories to tell about their ties to the area. It is also fun to have a reason to brush up my on American history.
I call another design group my “mixed nuts.” These images feature silly and whimsical creatures and scenarios from imagination. Reality is highly overrated as they say!
Q~ Where is your favorite place to sell? Or Favorite show?
A~ I like to sell in the D.C. metro area because there is such a diverse group of people here. I don’t have a favorite show per se, but have been lucky to do Art on the Avenue, the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market, Clifton Day, the Fairfax Holiday Craft Show, and the McLean Holiday Crafts Show in the past few years. Each show has a different personality and that makes it even more fun.
Q~ What is one thing you love about your business?
A~ I love being able to share my art with others.
Q~ What is one thing you loathe?
A~ Thoughtlessness makes me bananas.
Q~ What is your dream about your art?
A~ When I started my business, I said that my goal was global domination. Five years in, I’ve revised that a little to getting to where I can spend more time creating art and getting it out to a larger audience.
Q~ If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A~ I'm going to go with flying. That way I could travel more and not have to go through airport security or pay baggage fees.
Q~ Where are you based?
A~ Arlington, Virginia
Q~ Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
A~ Any beach or island. Paris or the South of France would work too.
Q~ What would you be doing if not this?
A~ Maybe a yoga teacher or a plumber or a yoga-teaching plumber. I like to fix things and hanging out in hardware stores. And I could do either anywhere in the world.
Q~ What is next?
A~ Infinity and beyond! Seriously, I hope to expand my distribution area and continue to work with clients to create cool new products or designs to fit their needs. The latter keeps things fun and interesting.
Q~ Glass half full or half empty?
A~ Half full by all means!
Q~ What is your favorite question to ask people?
A~ What they would like to be when they grow up.
Q~ What is your answer to that question?
A~ An artist who does yoga on the beach who can make other people laugh and bake a decent cake from scratch.
Q~ What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen sparrow?
A~ I’m pretty sure that it is twice the square root of the area of a Fast Snail’s shell, but let me double check with accounting and get back to you …
Owner & Designer
Fast Snail LLC
Creative Greetings & Design
Facebook: Fast Snail
Ballston Art & Crafts Market: June 11, July 9, September 10
Hope this got you thinking about special, artist created gifts what you could give to loved ones. This time of year is all about graduations, weddings, baby showers and birthdays.
THIS COMING SATURDAY: Come to the 2nd Saturday Art Walk at the Workhouse Arts Center and meet with artists, in their work spaces, and see what they can do for gift needs. It will be the official Grand Opening of my new studio there. Stop by and say hi! ~Jen
Workhouse Arts Center
9601 Ox Road
**I am in Building 9, Studio 912**
Green Tip~ Farmers' Markets
There is a lot of talk about 'organic' foods lately. In general, they are better for you and the environment, not being grown or created with pesticide and toxins. Many large companies pay a lot of money to get certified by different eco-organizations. On the flip side, smaller 'mom and pop' operations can not afford to go through this process and so can not advertise themselves as organic. However, most are. They feel better about not exposing themselves and their customers to these chemicals and find the produce is better without them. While at the farmers' markets, talk to the vendors about their operations and find out if the farm naturally. Better than a seal on a label any day!