Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
Photography has always been a passion of mine; after thirty years as a trial consultant, I crossed my fingers and plunged into full-time fine art photography. I’m the Director of a co-op of professional photographers in Old Town, Albuquerque (Albuquerque Photographers’ Gallery) and am also represented by Johnson’s Fine Art in Madrid. Additionally, I’ve been juried into numerous fine art shows. My life is rounded out by being a wife, mother, and human to two wildly rambunctious malamutes.
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I opened WindDancer Photos in June of 2008. Most galleries predominantly feature regional art but my camera is with me wherever I go and my photos are not confined to the Southwest. I wanted to expand my customer base for all of my photographs and Etsy was clearly the best option.
Tell us a bit about your products.
All photography, of course. I sell both raw prints and matted prints; some of my photographs are printed on canvas and, in the last few years, more and more of my photos are presented as infused aluminum prints. The infused aluminum prints add depth and a stunning luminescence to my photographs.
Similarly, I’m printing more of my raw prints on metallic papers.
What inspires your work?
My father was a professional photographer and from the time I was little, he taught me to “feel” a place and that the best photos result when you have a strong connection to what you are photographing. My goal, always, is to produce a photo that captures how or what I felt when I saw it: the power of nature, the eons of time reflected in the textures and rhythms of our planet –in mountains, rocks, trees, oceans; the forgotten stories held by falling down, rusting, abandoned buildings, houses, cars. The photo below is of 3 classic cars by a brick building, a rather mundane photo. But when I saw the scene, I had a sharp image of old cars by a motor court in Needles, CA Route 66 on a blazing hot summer night. The final photo reflects what I felt when I took the photo.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
My first goal is to expand my offerings of photos taken in other places. Second is to learn more about online promotion of my art and the uses of social media. Ultimately, my goal is to build business as I enter retirement years — understanding, of course, that my idea of retirement is to travel more and take even more photographs!
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
There are numerous excellent photographers on Etsy. I’m a perfectionist and I strive to make sure that each photo I sell reaches the customer in perfect condition and meets or exceeds their expectations. I’m always happy to customize a listing to a client’s need. Beyond that, I list only photos that have met my personal standards for capturing what I felt and saw.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
The fun part about what I do is that the entire outdoors is my work space. I take a couple of long road trips each year and frequent smaller jaunts in and out of the state to take photographs. I have a home studio for organizing, processing and printing my photographs but it’s not much to look at: a seemingly disorganized jumble of computers, printers and shelves of photo paper!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I just jumped into opening my store. I didn’t realize the amount of time it takes to properly work your store: scheduling your listings, promotions, varying your features, etc. I’m still behind the curve in learning about using social media in promoting one’s art.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Decide what your initial goals are and count on spending more time than you expect to list and promote your art. Do regular “cruises” around Etsy both in your own field and in others to see what other artists offer, how art is promoted, and more. Join a few good teams and get to know the artists on those teams.
Learn as much as you can about how to use social media outlets. The good news is that Etsy is a fun place – I can always find answers to my questions, other artists willing to help. I’ve never had a bad experience on Etsy and I’ve found some outstanding and unique presents!
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I’m an avid reader and I enjoy cooking and gardening. But, when all is said and done, I don’t view my work as work so I’m just as likely to go out and take new photographs or embark on learning new photography skills.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never stop learning, never stop pushing yourself to improve. The only failure is not trying.”
My father, Jeff Sutton
Where can people find out more about your business?
I have two additional Etsy shops: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ForDaGuys which specializes in “Guy Gift” photos: old cars, Route 66, sports and more. The second shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TwoGenPhotos is new and is devoted to scanning negatives and printing my father’s World War II photos (he was a Marine combat photographer) with profits donated to the Navajo Code Talkers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A world without art (in all of its forms), without things lovingly made by hand would be a bleak and dreary world. If you have a talent, nurture it, develop it and find joy in what you create. And, it goes (almost) without saying: support artists by buying their work because no matter how much joy is involved in creating, joy alone does not put food on the table.
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.