Artist: Allison Strine
Website: Allison Strine Designs
Where are you located?
I'm in the Atlanta area now, after having lived the first 30 odd (and they were odd) years of my life in Boston.
What do you create?
I make collages on thick art canvas, and then use the wonders of technology to transform the art into soldered pendants called LadyBirds. I also make soldered pendants/charms/baubles/doodads out of vintage license plate letters and fabric.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
I totally stumbled into selling my work. I had spent several years being very involved in the scrapbooking and altered arts industry, focusing solely on doing work for publication. I really loved seeing my work in print, especially in such highly regarded mags like Cloth Paper Scissors and Somerset Studio. After a while, I started feeling like I was losing myself, doing work that I thought editors might like, instead of listening to my art heart inside. So after a short art break, I whirled through a spurt of creating highly personal little figures that talked. Since they were part lady and part bird, I came up with the brilliant moniker of LadyBirds (I know, it's shocking, but true.) A friend mentioned Etsy as a possible outlet for me, and I started a little shop. It wasn't easy to shush the 'what-if-no-one-buys-them' naysayer inside of me, but I'm so glad I did!
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Just about everything I come into contact with is fodder for my little art brain. For images, I love to use odd catalog stuff. The words are everywhere. My husband came up with one the most popular LadyBird sayings, when he started saying we should carpe the diem. Really, though, my life is one big fat ladybird.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
Ooh, whatever I'm using at any given moment is my favorite. When I'm soldering, I love the soldering iron, and when I'm painting, I love my paintbrush! I'm just a tiny bit addicted to my Mac computer, too.
Can you explain a little about your LadyBirds? What are they and how did you start making them?
I want to make art that tells my story without being a downer. I had a painful childhood, and developed an eating disorder as a way to cope with my troubles. O lo these many years later, I'm living the most wonderful life imaginable. I wanted to make art that helped remind me to live in the present, and not to revert to yucky negative thinking. I first started wearing a "She Dares to Be Happy" pendant, and it was good. Then I tried the "She Doesn't Pretend to Be Normal" pendant, to help me remember to be me, and it was good, too. Next, I tried the "She Goes the Whole Day Without Wearing a Bra", and the rest is history (kinda).
There are so many negative messages sent to women about our bodies, and it is important to me that the LadyBirds are made of all shapes, from massive silhouettes to pencil thin bodies, and of every skin color under the sun. I want to send my daughter a positive message about what it means to be a girl, and the LadyBirds help her to understand that she is much more than what others see on the outside.
What keeps you motivated?
I wonder about that sometimes. I may possibly have some (rather unattractive) obsessive tendencies. I'm sure I'd do some sort of art even if people hated it, but one of my greatest rewards is hearing from a customer that my piece had a positive impact on her day. Women have shared some really heartfelt, touching stories of being affected by a LadyBird touched them. That is without a doubt the most amazing reward of all.
How do you get the word out about your work?
So far, it's been word of mouth, and a little bit of advertising on blogs. Etsy has been an invaluable asset - there would be no business without the luck I've had on Etsy. The whole internet is just amazing to me; my mind is boggled by the fact that a lady in Tasmania can buy my work (and one did!). I'll probably do an art show or two this year also. I did one last fall and it was the first time I got to see people's faces light up when they read something that tickled them or spoke to them. I'll never forget that feeling of satisfaction, that my art actually made someone feel good!
What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
I want to get my web site up and running, and I want to sell more wholesale. There's so much to learn about starting a business - it's exciting, and scary and fun all at the same time!
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Ooh, I'd say it's important to listen to your heart, and make sure you're creating something that really reflects your own unique personality. And if it doesn't work, change stuff! Push yourself, even if it's scary as heck.
Who are some of your favorite indie artists/designers?
I'm new to the indie world, but from the altered arts world I'm quite inspired by the colorful work and generous spirit of Teesha Moore.
If you could live in your dream place/city where would that be?
I adore Hawaii, and Europe, and Boston in the summer, and San Francisco, and Maine, but really I just need to be wherever Lloyd is.
What's your definition of a perfect day?
I'm lucky enough to be living the perfect day right now (as long as the kids don't bicker too much). I like having my coffee, and bringing the kids to school, and calling Lloyd, and going to exercise (actually I hate it but I'm glad when it's over), and coming back home to do some soldering, and computering, and art-ing. And so on, until the cooking dinner part, which is the worst part of the day for me! But then it's over, and I'm happy again finishing up the day puttering around on the computer some more. Exciting, huh?
Thank you Allison!