I'm excited to introduce a new blog feature: interviews with my favorite Etsy designers! My first interview in this series is with the very talented designer/photographer/painter, Michelle Brusegaard.
Ana: Describe your first sale on Etsy. And how about your 1,000th?
Michelle: I listed about 10 of my silk Batik Scarves on etsy, and two weeks later while I was checking my email at work (bad!) I got the ever exciting transaction email. I was in shock. I kind of wanted to quit my job right then and there…. 1,000 sales later, was still shocked, just in a different way. By then it was becoming apparent to me that I could make a living this way, and I felt so lucky! I still get excited when I check my inbox and I see the old familiar “Congratulations on your sale at Etsy!”
A: I love your shop because of the breadth of mediums you employ. Tell us a little bit about your Barbie photography series.
M: I started this series in my last year at college. I began by just photographing the old dresses that I had saved, and then began collecting vintage, homemade ones. I love the tiny fabrics and shapes, especially if they’re well-worn and stained here and there. They seem to have lives of their own…sometimes naturally appearing abandoned or castoff…other times reminding people of how much they loved them when they were kids, which makes them equally as precious and beautiful now.
A: Describe your studio / work space. What does it sound like?
M: My studio space is kind of a dump! I work in two places: a tiny office that I share with a giant futon and an unfinished basement that I share with all the junk I can’t seem to throw away. I sometimes find the clutter inspiring, while other times I find it encompassing! That being said, I don’t know if I could function in a neat and orderly studio-I feel the need to have all my supplies within reach at once, so it’s hard to stay organized.I usually work with music on (mostly Minneapolis’s 89.3 The Current). I also sometimes work in my living room, especially when I have something monotonous to do, like iron 100 scarves, and then I will watch junk television.
A: How do you motivate yourself each day?
M: I am really motivated by the growth of my business and that growth just motivates me to make more. Everyday seems to be a bit different. I am realizing that the reason I work in so many mediums is that I am easily distracted. So I try to structure my days around several activities rather than just one project. For example, today I started by eating grapes and drinking coffee while answering customer emails and making proofs (it’s wedding invitation season!). Then I took a yoga break (I just started incorporating this a few weeks ago). Then I had lunch over more emails. Then I headed down to the studio and did a little painting (and some laundry). Then back to the office for some packaging design, and then to the living room where I made some fabric-covered buttons for awhile. I think having a running list is a good thing to do…but not sticking to it too much is also important for me. Sometimes when you’re working creatively, you just have to go with the flow and not force yourself to do something your not feeling—that always seems to come out in the work!
A: I love that you incorporate bold graphics on your scarves and table linens, are you looking to expand your line of cloth products?
M: I am slowly, but surely. I am not currently set up to burn my own screens, so I’ve been having them made for me by a fellow Etsy seller (Zengirl). This limits me a bit as to how frequently I “make” a new screen, and thus a new design. I do have a few new designs just waiting to be printed, that should happen sometime later in February. I love working with fabric and screen-printing and am excited to learn more about it and expand my line.
A: Tell us about Minneapolis. How does the city influence or inspire you?
M: Minneapolis…I moved here about 3.5 years ago with skepticism. I am really more of a small town person (although many people tell me this is a small town….not when you’re from North Dakota like me!). But I really like it now. The indie craft community here is burgeoning. I don’t know if the city inspires me, per se. But I do often get inspired here!
A: You've made 2,584 sales on Etsy (as of today)...tell us what the site means to you.
M: Etsy has changed my life! I feel super lucky almost every day that I discovered it, because I really didn’t have anything else up my sleeve in the way of making a career out of art. Without it, I think I would have been destined to a life in Art-related retail.
A: What's the last book you read? the last movie you saw? or the last CD you played?
M: Book: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
Movie: The Namesake
CD: Sigur Ros
A: Who was the last Etsy seller that made you sit up and say "wow."
M: The last seller I added to my favorites was Jill Bliss, since she just started an etsy shop. I am a huge fan of her work. But I guess I didn’t discover her there, so….One of new favorites for knitwear is Wool and Brick, making things out of unraveled sweaters really speaks to me! Also, Pursecution...these purses are hot and super well-made-I’ve seen them in person!
A: Do you collect anything?
M: Miniature furniture and old doll dresses.
A: My blog tends to focus on fashion, too...so...what are you wearing?
M: It’s embarrassing, right now I’m wearing yoga pants. Not very fashiony. I’ll tell you what I was wearing yesterday:
Black Piecemeal Dress by The Machine Stops,
Old pink slip peeking out,
Grey and black striped knit leggings from Target,
American Apparel hoodie in black,
Fatty fall scarf fromWool and Brick,
Red leather boots from Anthropologie
A: How do you see your work evolving in 2009? What should we look forward to?
M: More paintings and photography…new jersey scarf designs….the rest is unpredictable!
Thank you so much, Michelle!
(All photos are from Michelle or her Etsy shop)