Tell us a bit about yourself.
In a nutshell, I am Becky. I originally hail from America (the United States and Mexico, to be precise), and come from a multicultural, multilingual and multinational family which means that family reunions sometimes sound like United Nations conventions. I’ve lived in several countries throughout my life, and that is something for which I’m thankful as I easily adapt to new surroundings, I’m good at networking and I’m not picky about food. I’ve been happily married since 1996, and I currently live in France with my husband and son in a small apartment with a spectacular view of Lyon. I speak French fluently, but English and Spanish are my native languages and the ones I still prefer even though I spend most of my time speaking in French.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m a Mommy. I’m an avid knitter, too. But before I was a Mommy and before I ever learned how to knit, I was a full-time lawyer. The corporate kind, for large international firms where I did fun things like negotiate mergers, acquisitions and incorporate affiliates of foreign banks. I’ve also been the in-house kind, for a telecommunications company that was being established as the first competitor of Mexico’s sole telephone service provider and when everything was all set up there I went back to the firm with extensive telecommunications knowledge under my belt and a bigger office. Before I received my license to practice, I clerked for a U.S. Congressman in Washington D.C. and a New York State Supreme Court Justice.
After years of work that required a lot of travel, I decided to take a break from active law practice so I could be a fashion designer. And I did, after studying fashion design/illustration and tailoring at l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts et techniques de la Mode, the first fashion school established in France. Now I dedicate my time to doing freelance design work (mostly for a French textile company’s fashion label) and creating custom clothing and accessories as an independent artist. It’s a whole other ball of creativity, but just as rewarding. I may not actively practice as a lawyer anymore, but boy, oh boy it sure is handy to be one.
What else? My husband and I are big museum buffs. We enjoy eating out and visiting the medieval towns and historic sites surrounding Lyon. We love to travel! When I’m not drawing, reading, sewing or knitting in my spare time, I like to stay active by walking to my local gym for workouts or a jazz dance class.
What first made you want to become an artist?
I don’t remember exactly what or when it was…when I was about six or seven I used to write and illustrate my own books and bind them – I loved to invent stories – and I taught myself to crochet when I was about eight, and made a freeform sweater for my stuffed Curious George plush doll. I also spent a lot of time making elaborate dioramas, and once created a prehistoric scene complete with clay cavemen and animal skins drying over a little twig faux fire. (The animal skins had been fashioned from pieces I hacked from the chamois my father used to use to dry his car. Oops!) My mother would encourage me to express myself artistically in all sorts of mediums, and would let me use a wide variety of materials to do so. She was and continues to be a pack rat and she’d let me take old stuff out of the garage so I could “invent” or reconstruct things. I think that had a lot to do with my desire to become an artist.
Please describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc).
Most of my ideas come from experimenting with shapes and materials. I often pull out muslin and drape it on the mannequin, pinning and re-pinning in search of new and interesting cuts. I also get ideas for details and embellishments by draping odd materials on the mannequin, everything from bubble wrap to old slipcovers …I once ripped apart old and damaged soft suitcases my downstairs neighbor was going to throw out and reconstructed them into different shapes on the mannequin, took photographs, then sketched designs using the photos as inspiration. I also enjoy making my own textile creations by manipulating fabric or other materials: I’ll cut, shred, re-knit, re-sew, embroider, or paint in order to come up with something more personalized. I organize all my ideas in workbooks or on poster boards by stapling visuals, my croquis, my photos and my textile samples to them. When I want to make something, I always use materials with which I feel a “connection”; it’s important to use materials that have a level of personal significance to me.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
To date, the handmade possessions I most cherish have been created by my seven-year-old son; I have a picture frame he decorated for me in bold red paint and colorful buttons. I also hold dear a lightbox my husband made for me using a wooden wine box and a recycled lamp cord.
Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and websites (besides Etsy).
El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham
La Casa de los Espiritus by Isabel Allende
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Knitter’s Handbook by Montse Stanley
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Movies with historical period clothing or elaborate costumes, like Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and The Last Emperor
Anything with Alan Rickman in it
Fools Rush In cover by UB40 (my husband gave me the cd containing that song when we started dating, so it’s “our” song…awwwwww!)
It’s hard to narrow it down: Right now I’m listening to a lot of Mika, so let’s make him number five.
Bissonnette on Costume
French Food and Cook
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Take advantage of the community at Etsy – participate in the forums and/or in the Storque in a productive and positive way. Promote both offline and off of Etsy. Keep an eye on main trends, but don’t pay too much attention to what everyone else is doing and/or attempt to do the same, even when it comes to product presentation or wording in descriptions. Do your own thing, and have fun with it.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
The Treasury! Oh la laaaaaaaa. I spend way too much time in the Treasury; it’s a wonderful free feature and I have a lot of fun with it. I also enjoy the Storque; it’s a great way to see what’s happening elsewhere and I like that Etsy members are able to contribute content. I’ve contributed content myself, and hope to continue to do it in future.
New features: Pardon my double exclamation points, but I’d love to see a currency converter at Etsy!! I’d also like to see a PayPal option for users to pay their Etsy bills, especially for us international-based sellers.
How do you promote your work?
I’ve posted an Etsy mini on three of my personal sites, and that has brought people into my shop and into Etsy. I’ve also posted an Etsy mini at indiepublic.com. I have two LookBook Plus portfolios of my work at trunkt.org : one for my accessories and one for my illustration/design work. I belong to several Etsy flickr groups, and it’s a fun way to play “show and tell” with other crafty people. Offline, I wear or carry around clothing or accessories I’ve designed. If someone asks about them, I let them know who made them!
In ten years I’d like to be…
Continuing to fulfill every goal I set myself, and happy no matter where the four winds may take me