Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Amie and I live in Richmond, Virginia with my husband Johnston, our new baby Wolfgang and giant shepherd mutt Leroy. I was born in British Columbia but moved frequently living in nearly every province in Canada. I went to grad school for painting and sculpture at Parsons in NYC and met my husband there. After a few amazing years of big city life we retreated to my parents cabin in New Brunswick, Canada for a year or so and became art making hermits. Now we live in beautiful, unique Richmond. I miss Canada terribly but really love it here!
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I make sculpture mostly from reclaimed wood and found logs and such. A few years back, I learned how to chainsaw carve from a couple French Canadian woodsmen which was so awesome! I really want to incorporate wood carved pendants into the Thief&Bandit jewelry. I also teach sculpture part time in the art foundation department at Virginia Commonwealth University. Now, most of my time is spent taking care of my super sweet baby born Feb 22nd… my husband (also a sculptor) and I both agree… Wolfgang is our best sculpture ever!
What first made you want to become an artist?
Well, I was always into making stuff. I spent many hours as a little kid drawing, making jewelry, paper mache sculptures, etc…. The moment I remember most is when I was eleven, my family moved around every couple years and my sister and I spent the summer with my aunt and uncle in a small town in British Columbia while my parents got situated. I was sort of a loner kid and my aunt picked up on this and really fostered my artistic ability. She gave me a book of historical fashion illustrations to draw from and I think I spent the whole summer drawing from that book. In high school, I was really into altering vintage/thrift store clothes. I also couldn’t get my hands on cool band shirts so I made them for me and my friends. But drawing was really my passion and with the encouragement of my high school teachers, I studied art in University. It hasn’t been until recently that I started designing clothes and jewelry again and I’m having so much fun with it!
Please describe your creative process.
I surround myself with source material (books of patterns, old magazines, nature books) and draw from them with ink pens. I manipulate my sketches in photoshop, burn screens and print fabric and t-shirts. Playing with the printed fabric is super fun. I create so many color combos that sometimes the possibilities seem endless and it’s a bit overwhelming but I eventually always seem to get the right combination.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My favorite handmade possession is a nearly life size buffalo head make from cardboard, painted paper mache and burlap by my good friend Lily Lamberta. It hangs proudly above our bed so every morning we wake up to its shining face.
Name your top five books, movies, musicians, and websites besides Etsy.
1. The Uniform Project (Donate!)
2. vbs.tv (some great shows)
3. Cheap Thrills (Extremely talented young fashionista from Winnipeg-she rocks Thief&Bandit in her Feb 16th post)
4. MTV (The City-major guilty pleasure!)
5. Ooga Booga (Super cool LA shop for everything art/zines/fashion)
What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?
Be prepared to work really hard. If you are not willing to put in the hours and effort, it probably won’t fly. Your pictures are super important. I have my photos professionally shot which costs extra but I think it makes a difference since I’m not the greatest photographer. I think photo consistency is important too. You want to show the true theme of your work and shooting it in the same location/setting will help portray that. Also, list items often (daily if you can) so people will constantly be seeing it. It really helps to get consistent sales.
What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
I love the convo feature and I make it my goal to reply within 48 hours no matter how busy I am. I also love the fact that I am in contact with people from all over the world. Sending out packages to Israel, China, Australia, and Italy is thrilling and speaking to them through convos is so awesome! I also love how you have complete control over your shop. Featuring items is great and sets the tone for your shop.
How do you promote your work?
I’ve advertised on fashion websites and contacted some fashion blogs. Luckily, I’ve had tremendous luck with this and many have featured my stuff. I’m really into this new phenomenon of personal fashion blogs where people will photograph themselves in vintage/new getups. I offer to send them a couple items to keep in exchange to photograph on themselves in Thief&Bandit with a link to my site. It’s brought in a bunch of sales and is so cool to see how they work it!
In ten years, where would you like to be?
It would be great to have a brick and mortar Thief&Bandit shop. I would love to be able to create my own little factory and employ people and keep it handmade. My husband and I dream of making a Thief&Bandit skate team. Designing decks/streetwear and sponsoring skaters would be awesome. Finding time to do some chainsaw carving would be sweet too!