What’s the story behind your store, where did it all start?
My store was born out of a desire to contribute to my community and to worthy causes.
I started out selling on ebay and while I sold around a hundred paintings, listing fees ran my slim profits into the ground. I took a break from ebay for a year or two and concentrated on my art and showing locally. In 2004 after the Indian Ocean Tsunami I had a very strong desire to contribute to relief efforts and this charitable urge was strengthened in 2005 after hurricane Katrina. As a result of these and other similar events I searched for ways to offer myself and my efforts to a greater good. Some of these efforts were volunteering at a bereavement camp for children as well as participating in the prison outreach program my Zen temple runs. About half a year ago I decided to give selling items online again another try, this time vowing to donate a percentage to charity for each sale I made. In this way I felt justified in my efforts and I felt certain that my work mattered even if I was not turning a profit. I have spent a lot of time questioning the value and meaning of art, I think most artists have as well. I have come to believe that what is best about art is the way it connects us to something greater than ourselves. E. M. Forester wrote "To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way." Being of service to another human being or to a deserving cause puts us in our proper scale. To see things as they truly are, living in our proper scale, is to affirm and embody our own essential humanity.
What can we find in your store?
My store features fine art, both abstract paintings as well as classical realist drawings. All items are originals though I do hope to start offering less expensive prints soon. For each sale 30% or more is donated to a charity, currently the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center is the charity I donate most to though others are featured on the site.
Do you have any favorite items?
My three latest paintings are my current favorites as they combine issues and styles I have been working on for over 10 years in my artwork. These paintings include the same pure abstract elements that many of my previous works have with a more representational, decorative style.
Where do you get ideas for your products?
I draw inspiration from a large variety of sources some of which include wall paper, lace, and Japanese "katagami" (paper stencils used to dye kimonos) as well as the artwork of abstract expressionists like Rothko, Mondrian and Franz Klein.
What has been your biggest store challenge?
I am still quite new to Etsy and so have experienced a number of problems like the difficulty in getting good quality product photos. I also have not worked out a good price range, many of my items are quite expensive and I'd love to offer more modestly priced, quality works in the future.
Do you have any advice to other store owners, especially newbies?
Well as I said earlier, I am new to this myself, but I would suggest placing your purpose in something other than just selling work. I've found when I am able to approach an activity without a preconceived notion of what success might mean, I've been able to feel fulfilled in a deep and satisfying way. I'd also suggest becoming an active member of a few groups (I'm part of Etsy for charity and Etsy treasury team) because this helps your enthusiasm level as well as increasing your visibility in the online community.
What a great interview! I personally love charity work and dedicate as much time as I can to helping others in my community, so kudos to you Ed! Check out his store today to see all of his beautiful artwork! Don't forget to check out the other featured ETTeam artists listed on the right side of my blog.
Until next time ...
The girl behind the lama