Saturday, April 14, 2012

Interview with Meghann Rader, fine artist

Meghann Rader is a mixed media fine artist living in Canada.  Her work renders the natural world in a graphic way.

Meghann Rader

FR: Hi, Meghann, and welcome.  Tell us a little bit about your business.

MR:  My shop has gone through a bit of a transformation recently. When I first started on Etsy, it wasn't my main focus. My items were very random and didn't really speak to who I am. I've recently had the opportunity to put a full time effort into my business and I've been putting a lot of energy into making new items and rebranding to create a shop that's cohesive and represents me.

My shop is now focused on my experience living on the west coast of Canada, the landscape here and the plants and animals that live within it . 

Port Alberni

FR: Why did you choose to name your shop and business after yourself? 

MR:  I've used my name because I want to represent myself as an artist, not be a person behind a brand name. I want to be able to take my work to galleries and stay consistent with how I'm representing myself on and offline.

FR: Tell me more about the experience living in Canada.  From the pictures I've seen on your blog, it looks so lovely there.

MR: I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada. We recently relocated from Victoria, a medium sized city on the south island to Port Alberni a fairly small city that sits in a valley in the middle of the Island. I love that there are green tree lines and mountains in every direction. If you look at my work you will see that the view here has been a big inspiration for me lately.

FR:  How did you get your inspiration to get started with a business?

MR: I guess the cliche thing to say would be I've always loved creating and have always wanted to work for myself, which is true. The real beginning of wanting to be a full time artist happened when I was in my third year of University studying a variety of courses that weren't really leading me anywhere. I needed another elective so I thought I would sign up for an art class. Art was something I was good at and I figured it would be easy. I went to the art department to inquire and was rudely rejected without even having shown my portfolio. I was insulted. “I'll show them” I thought. In the weeks that followed I decided to drop out of the school entirely and I applied to the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design In Vancouver. I like to say I did this out of spite, but it was actually just the kick in the pants I needed to pursue something I actually liked doing. I did get into Emily Carr, which is a whole other cliche-filled story for another day.

FR: I wonder if that professor knows that he actually was a boon to you on that day.  Do you also have a day job, or is this your full-time business?

MR: I spent the last four years working at an art supply store in Victoria. Sometimes I think of it as having a second degree because I learned so much about the mechanics of creating. I love talking about art supplies and figuring out how to turn a concept into reality. When we relocated this past November I was lucky enough to be able to focus on my business full time. I feel like I'm still in the early stages of it but I'm working hard every day to get my work out into the world.

At work in Meghann's studio.

FR: It looks like you're off to a great start.  What's your favorite item in your shop and why?

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like original artwork alone can be a bit of a hard sell on Etsy, so I'm always looking for ways to create artwork with multiple uses. I've recently started making my own pendant and brooch bases and painting little tree line vignettes and animal portraits on them. I'd have to say these are my favorite items right now because I am having so much fun making them. Each one is a little piece of wearable original art.

Add caption

FR: What's your favorite folk or fairytale?

It's hard to pin down one favorite tale. Lately I've been listening to a lot of storytelling on sites like Librivox while I do my work. Librivox offers content that's in the public domain so there are many old stories to be found. There are a lot of wonderful modern folktales out there as well. One in particular that I've been fond of recently is called Night of Hunters. It's a song cycle inspired by classical music, written and preformed by Tori Amos. The story begins with the ending of a relationship. It follows the woman's psychological journey through the night where she is confronted by a shapeshifting being named Annabelle. Annabelle helps the woman examine the destructive nature of her broken relationship and leads her to the Fire Muse who then shows the woman how to regain her strength and to see the world and the loss of her relationship in a new way.
Here is a little video about it:

Please visit Meghann at  You can find her shop at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Welcome, New Captain!!

I'm so pleased to present an interview with our new team Captain, Jessica Boehman of Hans My Hedgehog!! Jessica is a talented illustrator, etsy-er, and art history professor. Her illustrations are so beautifully detailed, and she has already brought a great new energy and dedication to our Folk Reveries team. I will still be around as a team leader, and I know we'll have a smooth transition.

To help all of us get to know Jessica, I asked her a few questions....

Dru: How did you become an artist?

Jessica: I wanted to become an artist when I was just a kid of maybe five or six. My older brother had a sketchbook...blank pages that it was ok to draw on. Wow, that was such an exciting idea to me. I had always liked drawing and set my mind to it at that point that I would be good at it. No one really tells you differently if you set your mind to it. I took all the art classes I could throughout primary and secondary education, and was a Studio Art/Art History major in college, with a focus on illustration. I only started my shop in January of 2011, after completing my Ph.D. in the History of Art. I knew it was time to start drawing again.

Dru: What are your inspirations and influences?

Jessica: I take a lot of inspiration from stories. I loved reading as a child, and still do. I have dog-eared, broken-spined, careworn copies of books of tales that I still keep near my studio. There's something about the magic of those stories that captures the wonder of being a child. I want to remember that when I draw, because I feel like I am capturing my childhood again when I smell the pencil shavings and feel the paper under my hand. I have a callus on my right hand that will never go away; it developed after hours upon hours of drawing, head bent, over my sketchbook.

I also take inspiration from travel. As a military brat, I lived all over the country and in Germany. As my heritage is half German, I really started identifying with the Brothers Grimm over there. You can image the trolls living in those mountains in the south, or mermaids in the North Sea. As a grad student, I was lucky enough to earn a Fulbright to study for a year in Rome. The beautiful sculptures and paintings, but even moreso the mosaics and tapestries, made me interested in continuing my study of pattern and mirroring that you can see peppered throughout my work.

I love children's books, too, like the subtle, fantastical shading of Chris van Allsburg, the medieval detail of Gennady Spirin, and the elaborate narrative borders of Trina Schart Hyman. I am amazed by the talent out there and it makes me excited to try to be a part of it.

Dru: What is your art practice like? (and any tips on combining it with a day job?)

Jessica: I draw after completing my "homework" for my teaching gigs. I also draw on my commute, part of which is spent on the Staten Island Ferry.

As for the drawings, I usually do a mock-up on photoshop to lay out a composition (that saves me tons of time), and then start with a gentle sketch. I work in tiny sections at a time, bringing it to full-finish before moving on to the next section. It prevents me from leaving a work unfinished (like I tended to do when I worked in washes or layers one at a time). How this will translate to color work: probably not very well. :)

Dru: What are your goals for the future?

Jessica: My goals are to make Hans-My-Hedgehog Illustrations a full time gig. I started on that road by attending the Arts Business Institute annual workshop in February. I learned so much about how to be realistic in planning my future. I also want to be completely eco-friendly, to work in league with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and to expand into children's books. Next up are illustrated pillows. They are gorgeous.

Dru: What sort of plans or goals do you have for the Folk Reveries team? And, what would you like to say to our team members?

Jessica: I'd like to see us revive the original spirit of the team. That may mean taking new members. I'd like to see a dynamic community where we can discuss our successes, setbacks, or questions about professional issues. That being said, I'd like to try to bring the focus back to our folk/fairytale/nature roots...I imagine challenges and blogposts from the team as a whole that talk about our shared experiences with that magical world. Thanks so much for having me! I can't wait to work with all of you--my very favorite shops on Etsy.

Hear, hear!! Thank you, Jessica!!

**Please visit Jessica's shop, her blog, and of course our Folk Reveries team forum.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Yes, it's Back!!

We took a nice break from the treasury challenges, literally months!! I hope everyone had a nice Holiday & New Year! And now we are almost into spring!
I have had a really good past few months~ As many of you know, I have Crohn's disease & Ulcerative Colitis which gives me exhausting bouts of pancreatitis. Last year I was in the ER over 50 times, had 2 colonoscopies, and 3 surgeries. By the time October got here, I was so overwhelmed that I really thought about throwing in the towel. Then one of my friends called and asked if I wanted to go on a cruise... I immediately called the travel agent & booked it. I visited & hiked The Mayan ruins, snorkled in Beliz, visited Mexico & Honduras, cruised around the Caribbean sea for 8 days and came back refreshed!

I know many of you have probably thought I had given up on keeping these challenges going, but what I really needed was a pick me up. While I was on my cruise, I came back and found out that a treasury ( not one of our team) that I made, made the front page, and two of my items on other treasuries made the front page. I had a boat load of sales while I was sailing on a boat! harhar.
But it made me realize that treasuries DO help sales!

So, this notice is the "Official Commencement" of the Folk Reveries Team Treasury Challenge.

So get those fingers ready, not just to curate, but to click, comment & share on other team members' treasuries!

The Folk Reveries Treasury Challenges will run every fortnight (by-weekly), then members will be given a week to vote on them.
The curators of the winning treasuries will be announced along with any prizes that will be given.
The winner will also be awarded by having curators use one of their items per treasury made in the following challenge.

All of the rules for making a treasury for this challenge can be found here.

So, our first fall treasury challenge will begin on Thursday the 9th, and run til the 23th- Voting will begin on Friday the 24th and a winner will be announced on or around Friday, March 1st.

To make this challenge even a little bit sweeter, the winner will receive a $15 credit to ANY of my shops!
Anyone else interested in donating a prize, convo me!!
Good luck and may all our treasuries make the front page & bring in lots of sales !!
xoxo Chy

p.s. Make AS MANY treasuries as you like, there is no limit!!!

{Posted by Drucilla for Chymiera}