Artist: Janick Gravel
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Web site: Nea Wear
What do you create?
As of right now, I create jewelry for women and embroidered wall decor art, which I call Wall Wear.
How did you come up with your business name?
When I was looking for a name, I thought about the prefix “neo”, which means “new”. But it sounded too masculine for what I was making, so I just replaced the “o” by an “a”, and voilà, it made Nea! As simple as that!
When and why did you decide to start your business?
Actually, I already had my own business when I started making jewelry. I was a trained graphic designer, and was working freelance from home under the name Fonetik for more than 3 years at the time. At first, I wanted to sell my items because I started having way to much jewelry for myself (and working from home, you don’t go out everyday, so you don’t adorn yourself as much either!) and I wanted to see if people would actually buy some! A week later, I got a feature on a big blog and it all continued from there! Of course, I didn’t know then that 2 years later that I would launch my Wall Wear collection and that it would give my that extra push I needed to switch roads and be a multidisciplinary artist full time!
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Materials, for sure! I love texture, I love color, fabrics, beads, threads, buttons, clay, paper, and so much more! All materials, even the ones I don’t use, inspire me. Mixing different components and making it all just go together well, that’s what inspires me!
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
I would have to say that in 2008 it has absolutely been embroidery hoops! If you could see my stash of metal and wooden hoops, you would understand... I’m kinda addicted to searching for them and buying them!
What keeps you motivated?
Materials, again! When I find a new linen color or new beads, it just gets all my creative juices flowing back again and I just want to DO stuff! Of course, sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of motivation when months are slow and things are not going as well as you’d planned, but some new supplies always makes everything better! Let’s just say I shop a lot for supplies! Lol :)
What would be a dream project that you’d love to work on?
I have tons of little dream projects in mind, and I try to reach them one by one, when I feel the time is right. I’m a big fan of pottery and clay and the artists that make it, so in 2009 you’ll find a collaboration in my shop between a clay artist (I won’t give a name yet!) and myself. It’s already in the works! Another dream project would be... Well I can’t tell yet either! It will be another 2009 surprise, a new skill that is not jewelry or embroidery. I like surprises, I like keeping some things secrets until the last second and I like to do the whole “official collection launch” too! So, stay tuned!
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Have great unique products and work at it a lot, and work and work! I would also tell them that it’s not easy, that people around will think it’s more “glamorous” than it really is (money wize) and that some will push you forward and some will try to pull you back. But keep charging! When you know for yourself, inside, that you can do it, you can and will make it happen! Believe in yourself, it’s as simple and as complicated as it sounds, but for me, it’s just worth everything!
Do you take your own photographs? If so, can you share three photography tips?
I do (although I have a few items that feature a friend model that were taken by a professionnal photographer). First, the best advice has got to be to use natural light. Flash is NOT your friend! Completely outside doesn’t do it for me either, it’s too bright. I like the contrats that comes with natural but indirect light.
Second, I would suggest taking tons of pictures for each items. For example, I need 5 for my Etsy listings, but I actually take between 20 to 40 pictures for all my items. Why choose the top 5 of 8 pictures, right? Chances are you’ll get more lucky with 5/40 odds!
And last but not least, I know it can be painful and boring, but really try to learn Photoshop or another photography software. I couldn’t live without my Photoshop. It can brighten a picture in a snap (once you learn a little bit of skills), adjust your colors and add contrast. At first it will be hard, but it IS really worth it!
What's the most important thing you'd like people to know/understand about your work?
That it’s evolving! I think that since I launched the Wall Wear in June 2008, I see creating slightly in a different light. I adore doing jewelry, but making everything from scratch like with my stitching is a new expericence that is really unique to live. I sometimes get requests for jewelry styles I don’t make anymore, which is OK, and if I have what it takes on hand I usually do it. But sometimes I won’t, too. Sometimes it’s just like — I went forward and don’t want to go back. Not because it’s bad or anything, I’m just not there anymore. Just like any other job, I guess!
What has been the most important lesson you've learned while running your business?
To love it all: the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the strenght and the weakness. When you learn to see the good in the bad, the good ones are also so much better!!
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
Besides the new skill I said I wouldn’t spill the secret earlier in the interview, I’d love to learn more knitting (I just know how to make the normal lines stitches right now) and start crochet, and learn a little bit about sewing! In a dream world, I would do pottery as well (I had done a little in high school and loved it), but that’s more a plan for in many years!
What's your definition of a perfect day?
A perfect day would consist of waking up to a sale, a bright not too cold not too hot day perfect for taking pictures in the morning after a little gardening, making some stitching and jewelry on the balcony in the afternoon, and then going out for a meal or coffee with friends and a lot of chatting!
Thank you Janick!