Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Featured Etsy Artist: Tamara Kraft

Today's featured artist is Tamara Kraft, maker of magnets and buttons and bookmarks with serious attitude. She has one of the top shop averages in our daily contest and you can catch up with her on her website at She caught my attention with this button that was just so freakishly unexplianably awesome I had to email it to like ten friends:

I Pooped Today Beaver Magnet or Button - You ChooseI Pooped Today Beaver Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

Oh but that's me, on with the interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I have a tendency to giggle inappropriately. I am left-handed and have crazy hair.
I believe that bursts of spontaneous laughter are the most fulfilling type of instant gratification. It’s one the best gifts to give, too. Sharing those moments can be uplifting and grounding at the same time.

Decaf Magnet or Button - You ChooseMarch 29th, 2012 - featured
Decaf Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

What got you started making buttons?
I wanted a button maker for years!

The attraction to small magnets and buttons for me is the challenge of expressing an idea within the confines of a 1 ¼ inch circle in five words or less. It’s liberating within its limitations, because you are not overwhelmed by the scope of the project. A big blank page can be a scary thing.

I just started drawing a couple years ago. I was always creative, but never an artist. I started to draw as an outlet for a personal tragedy, and there was no pressure to impress anyone. I ended up with a pile of bizarre pictures that had no real purpose -but I liked them, and they made me laugh (which was saying something then). I made them into gift tags to attach to family Christmas gifts. I later asked for the pictures back, so I could trace them. I had no confidence that I could reproduce them, but I wanted to figure it out. I did a lot of erasing.

Frog Prince Dissection Magnet or Button - You ChooseApril 5th, 2012 - featured
Frog Prince Dissection Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

What got you to open your shop on etsy?
My cousin was posting items she had found on Etsy on her Facebook page. She has great taste, so I checked it out. I was immediately hooked. I had sold crafts online before, but it was awkward. There wasn’t a natural platform for crafters and artists before.

Beet It Magnet or Button - You ChooseBeet It Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

What's your home like?
Last October I bought a hundred-year-old house that my husband and I are renovating. My studio is the big, slope-ceilinged room upstairs. Which is not to say that I don’t spread my projects all over the rest of the house. And the back yard. Our kids are grown, so we share our home with our Poo-Chi, Lily, and our free-range dwarf bunny, Dandelion. They make us laugh a lot. ¬

Nap Dog Magnet or Button - You ChooseNap Dog Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

What inspires you?
Other illustrators. Painters. Real-life situations that should be serious and weighty. Funny noises. My husband. Shapes in the clouds. Lily and Dani interacting. Things people say to each other.

Big Girl  Panties Magnet or Button - You ChooseBig Girl Panties Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

Tips for other etsy artists?
1. Keep asking yourself what sets you apart from other sellers. If your answer isn’t significant enough, keep evolving. Many people start doing Etsy because there is something they enjoy making that they would like to keep making more of. That’s just fine, if there is enough difference and appeal to your product to please the potential customer, too. If they aren’t getting joy from your offering, you won’t be getting sales.

2. If you aren’t satisfied with the way a project turned out, don’t list it. Be proud of what you ship out, and be able to stand behind it. Your reputation and self-respect are too valuable for you to be flippant about quality.

3. Don’t quit your day job unless you have too. Being creative is more natural when do you don’t have to rely on it to pay the bills. Allow your business to grow naturally. I promise you will enjoy the adventure more that way.

Lab Assistant Magnet or Button - You ChooseLab Assistant Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

Most important thing you've changed about your shop or products since starting on Etsy?
I had a line of t-shirts with my designs on them that were really cute. But I was having trouble with sizing and production consistency. It was causing me more frustration than joy, so I pulled the line from my shop. That was over a year ago. I continued filling local orders and experimenting with production techniques, trying to get a certain look and feel in my finished product. I put a lot of time into it, but only when I felt inspired. I’ve thrown out a lot of shirts.

Just this month, I think I nailed it. It’s my intention now to put together a cohesive line of samples that I can build on, and launch them next month.

Kitty and Mouse BookmarkKitty and Mouse Bookmark
by tamarakraft

Have you bought anything cool off Etsy lately?
Every day. I belong to the Teamdream and Daily Dose of Handmade teams. They are bursting with people who make great stuff and offer fun vintage finds. I enjoy the items I buy, and I like supporting other Etsy sellers.

Any 10 Magnets or Buttons - You ChooseAny 10 Magnets or Buttons - You Choose
by tamarakraft

Want to make an "I did great at the contest" acceptance speech?
Thank you, Etsy Contest, for offering a venue for people to peruse handmade and vintage goods in a simple, fun, no-pressure atmosphere. My success in this forum inspires me to keep creating and finding more things to laugh about!

Cussing Brain Magnet or Button - You ChooseCussing Brain Magnet or Button - You Choose
by tamarakraft

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