Thursday, July 23, 2009

Artist Interview: Valerie of Zebra Lilly Jewelry

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you Valerie of Zebra Lily Jewelry. Her favorite color is any blue that has an aqua or teal hue. She's a girl who loves the sun and for her dream vacation she'd "like to envision [herself] in one of those huts above the pretty blue waters within French Polynesia. One day [she] will also go to the Galapagos Islands." While on her vacation she'd feast of a breakfast of "a veggie omelette with morning star veggie sausage patties and toast! MMMmmmmmm…" And, Valerie gave me her perspective on weekend activities "Weekends? What’s that? No, I’m kidding. I like to rest my feet if I can because I’m always on the go but I will always sacrifice that if I can go spend time with family or friends, especially if the weather is good (not always common in Seattle) and we can be outside."

Then we got down to business and asked some questions about her art:

What started you in your art/craft?
I have been told I was probably a crow in one of my past lives. I love all things sparkly. When I was a little girl I would spend my time pretending I was a paleontologist digging up dinosaur bones or excavating pretty stones out of the back yard. It was a hobby that I never believed would exceed that status. My mother gave me a beautiful wire-wrapped necklace as a graduation gift and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I can do this!’. I studied that piece and began to teach myself how to make jewelry. I wish I could meet the artist and thank her for leading me to happiness!

What are your favorite materials/tools?
My favorite materials are sterling silver wire and faceted, plump gemstones. The fatter the better : )

Who's your biggest inspiration?
My mother was the person who instilled in me an appreciation for nature, especially geology. She continues to inspire me and support my endeavors.

How long have you been producing your work/How did you get started in it?
I have been making jewelry off and on for 2 years now. I began making jewelry as a junior in college with the idea that it would remain a hobby so it often took place on the back burner while I studied for exams and tried to keep up with homework. I realized that my love for sparky things like sterling silver wire and those juicy gemstones was pretty expensive so I sold a few things here and there so I could continue to do what I loved doing.

Where do you hope your art will take you in the next year?
Who wouldn’t love to see more increased sales? Just before graduating college (from the University of Washington), I realized that I would want nothing more than to be my own boss and use my time being creative and making things people love. I want to be able to support myself (at least part time for now) off of my jewelry. I just want to be successful, which for me, is determined by my happiness, not necessarily financial gain.

Is there anything you want people to get/take away from your work?
I want people to appreciate the love and time that goes into handmade pieces. Now that I’m on the inside of the handmade community, I completely understand what it takes to create products that the artist and people can love and appreciate. When I make my pieces, I make sure it is something that I, too, would wear and proudly stand by. I pay so much attention to detail and make sure every wrap is to my liking and every component sharpened or polished. All of us make products because we care about making a quality item that can be shared and/or given to loved ones.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Do your research first! Hang out in the forums…get all the legal business paperwork out the way…keep track of all your receipts…don’t underprice yourself…give great customer service and always be willing to go the extra mile….there is so much but I guess most of us just learn through trial and error.

Here is just a sampling of some of Valerie's beautiful work!

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