Friday, October 10, 2008

Interview with Justine (Crown of Storms)

The thought of transitioning my hobby into a business was, in its early stages, a daunting proposition. My formal education was in education, not business. So after pacing back and forth for about a year, I took a workshop on starting your own business. This workshop lead to another and to another and to another and, slowly, I began to see how I might fit into the business world. After doing some shows (which I did not like) and sewing for other people (which did not leave me enough time for my own stuff), I decided in April of this year to focus full time on my own business and on building a stronger on-line presence. It continues to be an exciting journey.

Most of the workshops and adult education classes I took focused on traditional ways of doing business: leasing or buying a space, establishing a brick and mortar presence, retail, wholesale and consignment. Very little was said about on-line businesses. So, I have learned a lot by watching and doing business via the World Wide Web.

The weirdest thing for me is the visible invisibility of it all. I post something on my blog or on Etsy or Flickr, hit the OK button and that is it as far as I am concerned. Where the images go or who they reach is not in my control. No one walks through my studio doors to give me a sense of how I am doing. In fact, mine are among the bazillions of things posted every day on the web. It is astounding to me that anyone sees anything of mine at all!

As you may imagine, I am completely humbled and honored when someone finds something of mine and gives me feedback about it. So it was with delight that I heard from Justine a while back saying she had featured one of my lobsters on her blog. I am learning the power of on-line social networking (something the business classes I took never mentioned) and how wonderful it is it be connected with creative people world wide. In this case, I went on-line to be in contact with someone from my home state of Maine! How cool is that?

In the spirit of reciprocation and because I love her photography, I invited Justine to participate in this blog. To my delight, she agreed. Justine is the creative spirit behind Crown of Storms and it is an honor for me to bring you this interview.

"Some of my favorite things in the world," Justine tells me, "are cupcakes, David Duchovny, chocolate soymilk, exclamation points, spooning, the ocean, guacamole, natural light, pink wine, Radiohead, books, antiques, ice cream, Legos, tea, spiral staircases, whales, asymmetry, David Lynch, vulnerability, owls, androgyny, people-watching, nesting dolls, roller-coasters, Ellen Von Unwerth, heat lightning, ambiguity, home-made crafts, giraffes, lesser-known joys, anticipation, vintage clothing, driving at night, Diane Arbus, crossword puzzles, simplicity, dinosaurs and photography."

"I have been an amateur photographer," Justine continues, "for about 6 years now. My favorite camera to use is my Nikon D40X but I also use a couple Canon Powershots. I take all kinds of photos: nature, landscape, animals, portraits, candids, architecture, macros. I work in all digital right now but hope to move on to some different forms of photography in the future (35mm, vintage cameras, etc.). Right now, digital is the cheapest method for me, important since the boyfriend and I are still trying to save as much money as we can. It also allows me to experiment the most. I can take as many photos as I like and pick the best ones from the lot!"

"The people that influence me the most," Justine says, "are people who take the photos they want, when they want, where they want. They don't really mind who likes them or who buys them. The photos are extensions of themselves and while they are glad to be accepted, they don't require it. It is quite admirable to be so selfless in your work."

True to this selfless ideal, Justine uses her own blog, Etsy Gems, to showcase other Etsy artists and items within a theme. "This is a place for me to simply and efficiently show off all the things that make me ooh and aah. None of this work is mine: none of it. It is all brilliantly photographed, designed, doodled, sewed, crafted and otherwise created by other fantastic minds."

When life gets challenging, Justine turns to her family and her boyfriend. "All of them are extremely supportive and amazingly unbiased. My brother especially will give me completely honest advice about anything I do and really help me to grow and improve myself. In a way, when I am challenged, I am more driven to succeed because I know they are behind me."

Justine also gains inspiration from books and music. "I have TONS of favorite books. I read all the time. Godspeed by Lynn Breedlove is completely surreal, with so many mental images accompanying the reading. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (one of my favorite authors) is so brilliantly written, so full of confidence and adventure, he reminds me of myself. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is such a beautiful book. It is filled with heartbreak and confusion but most of all acceptance and absolute unconditional love that spans time. As for music, you can almost always find me listening to Radiohead."

And, the shoes Justine wears? "Converse All-Stars. They're the only "sneakers" I've owned in the past 5 years (at least) and they fit me pretty well (har! har!). Comfortable, understated, functional, practical, dorky and cool."

Justine lives in Scarborough, Maine with her wonderful boyfriend and their two kitties.

You may find out more about Justine's life and work in her shop and photo gallery.

You may see her favorite artists on her blog.

If you live in or are visiting Maine, you will find Justine's work at Twinkle's Gallery, 284 Main Street, Canaan, ME.

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