Next up in our series of getting-to-know-you interviews.
Amy Olszak of Handmade by Amy
How long have you been an artist, and how long have you been active as a business artist?
I’ve been an artist all my life, for as long as I can remember. My mom stayed home to raise my sister and I, and we were always doing some kind of crafty project. Even when I went off to school, while I was majoring in the practical business field I always had at least one art class each semester to keep my sanity, and I ended up with an Art minor. I started scrapbooking in college and that lead to creating handmade cards. Friends started asking me to make cards for them and encouraged me to sell my creations. It wasn’t until 2007 that I began really selling my cards to the public, and I still get really excited when I get an order from a part of the world I haven’t previously sold to. I’m up to 13 different countries!
Are you an artist full time?
I started out with my business part time while working a full time job, but I went full time as of June 2008, selling both on Etsy and locally. Now, with the birth of my first baby this April I’m back to part time, as I now have the job of full time mommy! Because I have less time, my business has developed into more graphic design and less of the intricately handmade cards I used to make. My biggest selling items are address labels. I started making them for myself, as I love to decorate my mail, and I had no idea how popular they’d be when I started offering them in my Etsy shop!
Besides our new baby boy, we also have four furry children – a beautiful, energetic white boxer named Lola, and three cats: Gracie, Cumin and Figaro. We always said our house was a zoo, and ironically, our baby boy’s initials spell ZOO! With such a chaotic and busy life right now, I’m trying to simplify my business life. So this year for the first time I’m selling custom digital files for Christmas cards. Buyers purchase the digital file and can print as many cards as they’d like from home or send the file anywhere they choose to get printed. They can often find cheaper printing alternatives this way. Though I will still offer printed cards for those who want them.
Who or what inspires you to create?
I think most artists would tell you that they’re inspired by pretty much everything! Love, life, family, nature… the important thing is to pay attention to the world around you.
Describe your work space.
I used to have a whole room in our house devoted to my art and crafts. When our baby was born I had to compromise so now share our home office with my husband. It’s a little more cramped, but I have a window that looks outside as well as pictures and artwork to keep it inspiring. Most days you’ll actually find me on the couch, with a baby in my arms and trying to type one-handed on my laptop.
What kinds of things do you like to do in your free time?
Free time? What’s that?! With an infant it’s hard just to find time for my business, though we do enjoy getting outside and spending time in nature – at a lake, hiking or just sitting in the yard watching the leaves blow in the breeze. I also still love to scrapbook.
What is your favorite handmade item, made by you or given to you?
My favorite item I have made recently is probably the set of three monkey paintings I did for my baby boy’s nursery. They’re fun and colorful and though I had no idea at the time, I now see they match my son’s personality perfectly! I also now fully appreciate my mommy cards I make and also sell in my Etsy shop. (A mommy card is like a business card for the hip and modern mom) They’re so handy, especially for us new moms who attend a lot of mom groups and play dates. When I meet another mom, instead of scribbling my contact information on a scrap of paper found deep in my diaper bag I hand this cute card that not only has my contact info but the names of people in my family. I get compliments on them all the time!
What does being an Amy mean to you?
I always loved my name and felt it suited me well. I believe an Amy to be fun-loving and someone who enjoys life; someone who surrounds themselves with loved ones and gives of themselves without expecting anything in return. The glass is always half full to an Amy.
Shop on Etsy: http://amyzo.etsy.com
Portfolio on Flickr: www.flickr.com/handmadebyamy.com
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Raleigh-NC/handmade-by-amy/25867504144