Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Clare Elsaesser. I’m 28 and I live in a small but cute, old fisherman’s cottage over looking Bodega Bay (which is about an hour north of San Francisco) with my sweetheart Kai. I have lived in five houses and skipped around between two states the last couple of years, so I plan on staying put for a long while even though our backyard has turned into a throughway for menacing looking cats lately. I have unruly hair, which I’ve managed to tame (though it was not easy) for this photo. And I am unbelievably excited that my friend Megan introduced me to Etsy and now almost magically, I am a full-time artist!
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Recently, I have been watching lots of movies from New Zealand and Australia (sorry to lump the two together as I know there are some rivalries between them, which my dad explained might have something to do with beer and sheep). Since we can’t afford to go to either place yet, we live vicariously through their sometimes colorful, sometimes cheery characters as they traverse their respectively lush and arid landscapes. I also enjoy lightly tending to our vegetable and herb garden, which is mostly self sufficient since we live in a rainy place, and eating the delicious spicy foods Kai cooks me. I really got lucky in that department!
I also sporadically play gin rummy and other older people games, go on minimally challenging hikes/walks and spend lots of time sleeping in a cozy bed (my artistic inspiration, ha ha). Basically, I live the life of a not very physically active but Internet savvy premature grandma and I can’t complain because so far, it comes without arthritis (though I imagine I have that to look forward to some day).
What first made you want to become an artist?
I think it was in junior high. I wished I could draw perfect bubble letters like only the most talented junior high schoolers could and was otherwise completely enamored with wild artistic people. It turned out that it was a bit easier to fit in with them than with everyone else who seemed to think I was a total weirdo because of my striped stockings and lopsided hairdos.
I went to art high school and art college, all with my family’s encouragement. Then a few odd and moderately stressful jobs later, I met Kai who convinced me that it’s okay to try and do what you want to do.
Please describe your creative process.
I love routines — another thing I share with older people. I get up around 7:30 and spend about an hour on the Internet before I buckle down and start working. I get the business stuff out of the way, which includes the crazy process I have undertaken of hand making business cards out of the scraps of paper that I trim off the paintings and prints. Then I start sketching and painting, take a break to look for more inspiring images, and alternate between both of these for the rest of the day, all the while chain drinking tea.
I use matte acrylics and beautiful wood panels as well as heavy, textured watercolor paper for sewn paintings and prints. Oh, and for all the sewing, I have a once large, but now dwindling rainbow collection of vintage threads from my favorite childhood neighbors Harry and Fuki, who still send me birthday cards in their nineties.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I really covet all my Etsy purchases. Right now, I would say my most cherished possession is the birthday present painting Kai did of my Naomi Lingerie sleep boxers. The sleep boxers are so cozy and great! I also love the tiny people that Kai’s sister Esther made for us that conform perfectly to the little shells they rest in, and also the crocheted tater tot that her boyfriend Marcos (behind our houses) gave me.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
I spend almost all of my Internet time here on Etsy. Other than that, I guess I am skipping around from blog to blog and spying in on people’s Flickr pages.
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Mostly things I’ve heard other people say and that I try and remind myself: make sure you would want to buy what you’re selling, have fun and above all else, don’t give up!
I think I’ve learned everything here from watching the progress of shops I admire.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the Favorites section and only wish I could afford to purchase all of mine. I am crazy about the Storque, especially Alison’s News from the Craft + Style Blogosphere which satisfies my need for external websites.
I also love having Etsy Conversations with people. I have made great buddies through these conversations, like my friend Mikael in Sweden who sent me special treasures from the Stockholm library. It makes me so happy to be part of the internationalCommunity that Etsy has formed of lovely people who care about handmade things and realize how much better they make our whole world. Whenever I’m feeling down on life, I just think about this… and baby animals, and before long, I feel okay.
I would love the ability to search on the home page for a shop by its name or part of its name. It never seems to work when I try and do this; maybe I am just doing something wrong?
How do you promote your work?
So far, I haven’t done much aside from renewing shop items daily and purchasing Art Showcase spots, although I am looking into different blog options for placing ads. I also did a giveaway on theBright Side Project, which was fun and led to some great connections. I’m still trying to figure out what my next step should be.
In ten years, where would you like to be?
In a house maybe just a little bit larger than the one I’m in now doing what I’m doing now, hopefully a little bit better, and living happily…with a car that drives itself so we could take naps and wake up somewhere far away.