This is Audrey. Isn't she fantastic? I just want to snatch her up and run away with her.... No, ok, that would be awkward and kidnap-y, but I really really really like her! Audrey was my introduction to a little Etsy shop called ouou , and I immediately fell in love. There is just something about her - innocence, charm, imagination, those boots! - that transports me instantly back to my childhood. Maybe it's the fact that I so completely identify with her, maybe it's the fact that she's just so pretty - but Audrey is one of those characters that gives me a serious case of artist-envy. A very serious case. I mean, like I want to be the artist behind Audrey. If I could draw (and I most certainly cannot - I'm a designer, people, not an artist), I'd spend all day every day drawing lovely little characters like Audrey and her friends.
After idolizing Laurie (ouou) from afar for some time - checking in regularly to see what was new in Audrey's world, taking note of Laurie's simple images and eloquent item descriptions - an amazing thing happened. She hearted me! It was just the opening I needed - time to convo and share my true feelings. After I'd finally managed to convince Laurie that I was (mostly) a harmless kind of stalker, she kindly agreed to answer some questions for me. And here's what she had to say:
M & G: How did you get to be so cool?
L: Oh, please. I'm a total nerd! :)
M & G: No, seriously, do you think I could ever be as cool as you?
L: You're the coolest stalker I know. (wink!) Promise!
M & G: I love Audrey (but you knew that already). When did she come into your life?
L: My most constant form of art practice has been drawing creatures on postcards or mail or such for my friends. These little drawings were building a world of characters for years without my really knowing it.This past autumn, it had been 7 years since getting my BFA in children's book illustration without much art involvement. In September, I met a children’s book author who gave me a very stern talking-to about the important step of releasing creativity into the world. She motivated me to take a look at what I enjoyed the most and think about what I wanted my life to look like. She tore through my excuses! Ha! After that meeting I got right to it and, with help & support, was able to open the shop 2 months later! That was November, holidays were in full swing. What a wild wake-up! These characters are descendants from the notes I wrote to my friends, so they are the oldest and newest to me. Anyone who looks at their Wellingtons as a means for some serious splashing has a kinship with Audrey!
M& G: What is it about children that makes them such an integral part of your designs?
L: Bringing a child into a drawing gives us permission to let our whimsical, open-hearted, and imaginative side take over. Adding a child to those drawings asks the viewer, “Where are you in this story?". I have gotten more people writing in because they saw a drawing and it reminded them of someone in their life. Its always in response to a child's image (never to the animals or monsters or dragons alone) that people get involved and start telling stories. Those stories coming into the shop were completely unexpected, amazing (!), and they’ve made this such a fulfilling and enjoyable adventure. It feels really welcoming to have people share very warm and loving aspects of their lives in that way.
M & G: Talk to me about your Gocco.
L: I’m fascinated by different kinds of printmaking. If I ever return to art school I'll be there for printmaking. Gocco is great because it fits in the house, you know, without the acid baths and all that! (You can learn more about Gocco at savegocco.com) The Gocco machine actually belongs to my trailblazing sister & collaborator, Celeste. She opened her shop Bamboo Village Press on Etsy before I came aboard and we have both found Gocco to translate our different styles in a really amazing way.I’m still learning how to be bold and print with several colors, to use color to make form. I am addicted to line = form, so it’s a great challenge! I tend to favor the silkscreen items in my shop because they are more a handmade craft, the process of making them is very long, and in the end I’m always all inky and happy. By the way, I'll do my best to help if anyone has a Gocco and needs help with something! They're quite an investment so troubleshooting can be unnerving. Honk if you love Gocco! (<---ahem, *nerd*)
M & G: Do you have a day job? I’ve been working on illustrating & creating for the shop full time for 2 months now. Although a lot of us begin on Etsy and get swept up in the dream of quitting the day job and living happily off a craft, I think there are a lot more questions you need to not only ask, but answer with yourself before taking that step. I have learned so much, but am also looking forward to going back to a day job. The Storque recently had an interview (a great read) with Brandi Strickland who said she works 3 days a week & the rest is art. That sounds like heaven to me!
M & G: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?
L: I’m curious to see what Etsy will look like in 5 years, as a marketplace, and hope it is still fundamentally a craft advocate. I’m very eager to begin printing only on recycled paper, to have a wholly earth-friendly shop. As a paper goods shop, I’m always aware of my responsibility there. Personally I would like to be more settled, have a garden, a stable home. I really enjoy gardening but have lived in cities for a long time. There are so many things to try; new printmaking techniques, more bookbinding, printing on fabric…I expect I’ll be busy over the next 5 years! If art comes from a place of playful exploration, and I am still accessing those imaginative travels in 5 years without cynicism or hesitation, then I'll still feel very lucky to be doing this!
M & G: Can I be your best friend?
L: If you made it through "Honk if you love Gocco!" and you still want to be my best friend, then yes!Sweet.