October 20, 2013

Interview with Erin McManness

Today I am really excited to get to share with you an artist that I discovered at one of the boutiques I sell at in Decatur, Georgia. Her name is Erin McManness and creates the most vivid and beautiful pieces of art.

I was instantly blown away by her use of colors and the stunning female forms she creates.

I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her as much as I did!

P.S....Click on any of the photos in this post to be taken to her etsy store!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.

I'm Erin, and I'm currently working towards my Masters degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I like rock music and drink way too much coffee. I have been an artist all of my life, but I got started on my illustration career path almost 10 years ago, when I traded in my Musical Theatre Major for a Studio Art major. I was trained as an oil painter, but now make illustrations in a lot of different media.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?!

When I'm not working on art, I'm usually baking and trying new recipes out on my boyfriend and our friends. I make a mean Scottish Shortbread, and my personal favourite is my Lemon Zucchini Bread. If it's got vegetables in it, it can't be all bad, right? I am also currently searching for a furry friend to call my sidekick.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My commercial work tends to lean over to the fashion and editorial side of illustration. I am extremely interested in fantasy, psychological space, and surrealism. The figure is my favourite thing to draw, and I am constantly inspired by it.

What does handmade mean to you?

Handmade is extremely important to me. I used to create wedding jewelry, and really cherish the mark of the artist. The brides I worked with were always so thrilled to have a custom piece for their special day - and an heirloom for years to come. I am involved in a local co-op in Decatur, HomeGrown, where we sell only handmade art, and I shop exclusively online and in local stores and small businesses for gifts. It means so much to me when others value my work, and I've taken the pledge to never go to the mall at Christmas again! I want to give my support to people just like me.

How would you describe your creative process?

My creative process almost always involves coffee. I currently have a great worktable in my sunny studio, where I like to jam out and focus on a number of different projects. As a freelancer, I often have multiple projects at once, and often find it helpful that I can keep my mind and eyes fresh by working on all types of work - from an illustrated fashion book, to apparel designs, to a 10 foot banner for a gaming convention. I love the variety!

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

My boyfriend is also an illustrator and screen-printer, and he always makes me little drawings. I don't think he realizes just how much I love them! I keep them all around my apartment, and tack them to my inspiration board and refrigerator.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?

When I'm in a creative rut, I always go back to this quote, "Winners just get shit done." Especially in graduate school, it's difficult to sort yourself out of a creative rut - you're not really allowed to have them at SCAD! While it's really intense work, I am grateful for the hustle-attitude. If I really need a break, I'll go out and grab a smoothie and listen to the Lord of the Rings soundtrack really loudly in my headphones, have a zen moment, and then get back to it. I try to push myself in times of creative exhaust - sometimes you get your best ideas when you think you're out of ideas!

Where do you see yourself and your business in a few years?

I have been feeling a sense of anticipation for the past year that my business is about to reach the end of its latest plateau and begin climbing up to the next level again. My goal for the New Year is to start it off with an agent and take my freelance up to the next level. In the next few years I'd like to be working on large-scale commercial illustrations and continue my financial stability of paying my bills with my art work!

What is the best and worst thing about being an artisan?

The best thing is seeing someone wearing your work on the street, or seeing your work in print. Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a lady wearing one of my necklaces. I wasn't able to catch her to say hello, but that warm fuzzy feeling stayed with me the whole day. Second best is the schedule and freedom. I have almost complete flexibility in my schedule and get to tackle projects that really excite and inspire me! But on the flip side, working for yourself - and working as a creative - often means putting in a ton of hours (and not always getting paid for them). Most weeks I work 60-70 hours and barely leave my desk. I find, though, that coffee with friends or taking a jog will refresh my eyes and my mind, though!

What advice would you give to other artisans trying to sell their wares?

My professor has a saying, "Go as fast as you can for as long as you can while the fire is hot." To be successful artist is to adopt a lifestyle, and the lifestyle is going to require a lot of time, energy, and personal investment. The lucky thing though, is that if you truly love what you do, these things come as a natural inclination to grow.

What is the most popular item you sell?

Since we're in Atlanta, my most popular print is Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead. This past Spring I had sent his agency 2 prints as a thank you for the inspiration the show has given me -- I was shocked to have them sent back to me signed by Andrew Lincoln himself! One says "Big Zombie Love" and the other says "Best Wishes from the Zombie Apocalypse". It was the coolest thing EVER.

What are your top five books, movies, musicians and websites?

Favourite Books are the Game of Thrones series. I am a huge fan!
My favourite movies are all "guy" movies: Braveheart, Gladiator, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones... I also love watching old black and white samurai movies with my boyfriend. And I have a big soft spot for Miyazaki (doesn't every illustrator?)
As for music, my favourites include Dave Matthews Band and The Black Keys. I was a Musical Theatre major, so I also love operas and shows like Les Miserables, RENT, Phantom of the Opera, etc.

Where can we find you online and off?

Offline, my work can be found at Homegrown Boutique in Decatur, and very soon at HodgePodge Coffeeshop and Gallery in East Atlanta.

Thank you so much Erin for taking the time to let us get to know you better! Please be sure to check her out online or stop by Homegrown Boutique if you are in Atlanta!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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October 15, 2013

Handmade 365

At the beginning of October, I read about a project started by The Tales of Ted and Agnes blog.

To put it simply, the idea is to wear a handmade item everyday for a year and take a photo of it. It can be a scarf knit by your grandmother, a dress made by your extra crafty friend or a little piece of shine you created for yourself.

I figured that since I spend all day every day making handmade stuff....this project has got to be a piece of cake, right?! Right?

Well...taking a photo of myself wearing a pair of my handmade jewels has been a little bit less consistant than I hoped for, but they say that it takes 3 months to build a habit so hopefully I will be able to get this down soon. I have really enjoyed wearing a new item everyday though that I made. It has made me wear a variety of items, not just my old standbys (even though I create mounds of jewelry, I still wear the same five things over and over and over again).

I've been at it for about a week now and have seven days of photos to share with you. I thought each week I would do a recap on the blog, but be sure to check out my instagram or facebook page if you want to see the photos each day.

/Day 1\

Rose gold Swarovski crystals with 14K rose gold filled earwires. Super sparkly and don't you just love the rose gold trend right now? Not available yet in my etsy store, but by the end of the week they will be all photographed and in stock.

/Day 2\

Vintage czech glass jewels with vintage gold plated hammered drops. These are deceptively light and I have them available in a few colors and wear them so often. These are one of my new favorites in my current rotation. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 3\

One of the first pair of earrings I ever made for myself and my absolute favorite. These have light blue Peruvian opals which have been wire-wrapped in 14K gold and hang from thin, light earwires. These are the only ones available and they are all mine!

/Day 4\

I made these just last week while playing around with some splashes of color. These are vintage brass dangles which have been hand painted with coral on top and fuchsia on the bottom. The ear wires are antiqued brass, so it has the mixed metal and color block trend going on. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 5\

Sometimes it is best to keep these simple. This is one of those necklaces. Simple, sweet and perfect for everyday wear. A bright sparrow and 14K gold. Available in my etsy store here.

/Day 6\

I liked this necklace so much that I wore it two days in a row, messing up my goal of wearing a different item for each day of this project. That is how much I like it. The lotus flower is stamped into the sterling silver and the contrast with the oxidized metal and bright sterling really highlights the design. The chain and pendant are both sterling silver. Available in my etsy store here

/Day 7\

 I am really loving gold lately. I never really liked gold jewelry growing up and never thought that I would wear gold. Now....it is what I wear 90% of the time. I love the warmth of the color, I love how it looks on my skin and it really goes well with colors. These earrings have vintage lucite beads in a coral hue with the same gold plated hammered pendants that I wore a few days earlier. I am a creature of habit, what can I say? Available in my etsy store here.

So that about wraps up my first week into the project. I am really loving this idea and am going to try my hardest to stick to it. I think that it will help me grow as a jeweler as well as I get to create fun new pieces more often.

Have a great night everyone!

PS....I am having a 20% off everything sale in my etsy store, so all the pieces above aren't priced any higher than $20.80. Woohoo!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~ 

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