Today’s last post of the day is a great one, I must say. I interviewed Jan Avellana of Hazelnut Cottage, a sterling jewelry shop and a blog by the same name, for the latest studio tour. When Jan isn’t working on Hazelnut Cottage or another blog that she writes for (which you will read about in the interview), she is busy being a mother to her two small children. Oh, and did I mention she currently hold two degrees (one in graphic design and the other, a Master’s, in education)? I don’t know how she find the time. Here’s the interview…
-How did you get started with Hazelnut Cottage?
Hazelnut Cottage has gone through many permutations over the years; graphic design, bookbinding, dried flowers, soap making and even potted plants (really)! The version of Hazelnut Cottage that exists now came into being when my second child was a newborn baby. I’d put him in his moses basket under my computer table and I’d alternate between nursing him and surfing the net, desperately searching for a way to work from home so I wouldn’t have to go back to teaching. I stumbled upon Etsy and found my calling and my tribe. I had been making jewelry off and on for the last dozen years or so, but Etsy made me realize that living the indie life was indeed possible.
-Is Hazelnut Cottage your full time job? If it is not, how do you balance both?
My full time job is being mommy to my two young sons, wife to my husband Steve and learning to be an almost growed-up person! But seriously, Hazelnut Cottage is my main gig for now, and I do put in full-time hours some weeks, mostly part-time hours the rest of the time. I am also the in-house graphic designer and contributing writer at Hawaii Traditions, a blog featuring Hawaiis unusual local traditions, values and culture””stop by and say “Aloha!”
As far as balance is concerned, I have none! My self-care borders on atrocious (I am working on it), when I am busy with work for Hazelnut Cottage or writing for my friend’s blog I feel guilty that I am not more attentive to my children, and lets not even talk about my (lack of) housekeeping! And that poor cat. Sigh…
-Name your three favorite makers/crafters.
Just three?! Gosh, I dont think I can name just three. I adore the artwork of painter Joseph Blake, illustrations from Aliette and whimsical wire work of De Beaux Souvenirs. I connect with the spirit behind Crystsal Neubauers OPF Studio, the originality and business acumen of Kelly Rae Roberts and the charm of Middleburg Folk Art Studio). Oh, I guess thats more than three”¦I could go on and on!
-Who or what do you draw the most inspiration from in your own work?
I read lots. Esoteric books on art, on art and faith, on living a creative life. So writers and books and words, always words, inspire me”¦I am also a sea creature by nature, and prefer being in the water to being on land, so the bits of the ocean permeate my work and color choices. As far as my other artistic endeavors (I am secretly a painter at heart, or maybe an encaustic or papier mache artist!), I find that my children inspire me. When I sit down to paint or create, I have all these grand intentions of creating Serious Art, and what comes out of me are silly bits of candy colored childhood innocence”¦I realize that through my work I am attempting to capture the fleetingness of my childrens childhood, while redeeming my own less-than-perfect memories.
-What advice would you give to others who are looking to start a craft business or trying to promote themselves as artists? Any tips you can share?
I think, just begin. This is always a huge one for me. Just start. Try it. If it doesn’t sell, or you grow out of the media, allow yourself to try something else, to grow, to evolve to enjoy the process of creating rather than getting all bent trying to do everything ‘right’. I struggle with this every day! I think there is something very important about the idea of work as play. Hmmm…as far as promoting goes, I am learning everything by trial and error; advertise on blogs, kindly introduce yourself and seek out blog features, create, create, create and keep putting yourself and your work out there into the world. I believe the right people will find you at the right time.
-What do you like most about your studio/ workspace? What do you like least?
What I love most is all of the natural light that floods my art studio. I love my tansu”˜s (Japanese storage chests). Oh! And I am in the process of painting my bulletin board wall!
What I like least is my own slob-ness. I am a slob. It was a truly H-E-R-C-U-L-E-A-N effort to clean up my space for this photo shoot. I am still traumatized and in therapy because of it!
How do you get any work done in your studio with such a gorgeous view (yes, the above image is the view from her window)?
Oh, HA, HA. I am the most disorganized creature, and quite easily distracted to be sure. Its wonderful to be able to look out of my window and see the marina and a sliver of the ocean in the distance. I do try to be productive”¦writing lists helps (when I don’t lose them), keeping all of my orders on a clipboard in chronological order and inviting people over so that I am forced to clean up, and keeping my yummy artstuff in constant view to entice me to play””these are my secrets for artistic productivity and uh, organization!
Thanks for the tour Jan! I love Jan’s tips about starting a new venture and that view…wow!