The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.
Who Am I?
If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->
Nice to meet you.
What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?
I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.
First polymer earrings (scanned image).
But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.
Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.
At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.
Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.
Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.
That left art.
What are you influences or sources of inspiration?
My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.
I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.
Anam Cara (Trio)
More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.
Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)
Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.
How did your art become a business?
It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.
When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.
Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.