Friday, June 10, 2011

Jess of Winnifred's Daughter - An Artisan Interview

Another super talented artist whose work I adore.  Please allow me to introduce, Jess of Winnifred's Daughter.  She is a fellow plushie, or softie, artist with a very unique style.  I wish I lived in Australia so I could go visit her at her booth to see more of her stuff - especially these art dolls! (which, btw are not listed in the shop...holding out on us, huh Jess?) ;)  I can't get enough!


First of all, I have to be a total geek and ask you how it is to live in Australia!  Is it hot all the time?  Do you have tons of poisonous, scary creatures crawling all about?  Are you an awesome surfer?  (Please excuse my total stereotypical-ness.  I’m clueless and it seems so cool there - and full of great artists, by the way!)

I was born in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia in 1986 - so am an Aussie through and through.  We moved to beautiful Queensland about 13 years ago and since being here, have discovered what a beautiful (and inspiring) place it is to live. I DO have many weird and wonderful creepy crawlies in my backyard, but with those also come Wallabies (a small relative of the Kangaroo), Possums, Green Tree Frogs and we even saw our first Koala the other day (whom we've affectionately named Henry).  My house is about 15 minutes from the ocean and beaches, but I must confess I am not a keen surfer.  It is super hot in summer, but we are in winter now, which is a cosy crisp relief. I have found the Gold Coast a great place to be situated in my crafty business venture - I have been extremely fortunate to have met a number of fabulous artists and crafters all working to keep the craft scene alive.


Is there a story behind your shop name, “Winnifred’s Daughter”?

Ever since forever my sister and I have experienced craft trade shows, markets, gallery exhibitions due to my mum's keen interest and artistic abilities.   When titling my business, I was keen to find a name that reflected (and paid testament to) the fact that all of my craft and sewing skills were taught to me by my mother.  The name 'Winnifreds Daughter' came from a nickname my uncle gave to my mum when he was a child (he couldn't quite say 'Jennifer' so he called her 'Winnie' instead).  So therefore I am actually Winnifred’s Daughter.


How did you come to be an artist?  Did you have some pivotal point of inspiration in your life or was it a more organic path that brought you to where you are?

Art and craft has always been a part of my life (I know that’s sounds like a cliché but I have fellow crafty family members that will testify that in my case it’s actually true).

The years between finishing high school and now at the ripe old age of 25, seem to have flown by (on a pair of blanket stitched wings).  When I began fantasizing the notion that I could start my own business, I realised that everything I had learned from my million former vocations had lead me to and directly contributed to me actually being able to pull it off.  All forms of my creative ‘knowledge-ness’ seem to be inextricably intertwined. 

I was always known as the ‘arty farty’ girl at school (by friends, foes and strangers alike) and after majoring mostly in arts subjects, I decided that any form of tertiary education should take me strictly in the direction of following my lifelong dream of working in film and television.  I was overjoyed at being accepted into film school and after completing a two year Diploma of Screen, felt I had gained enough knowledge to get out there amongst the industry.  I worked on a freelance basis (an up and downside to filmmaking) for numerous feature and short films, music video and corporate productions.  Though the launch into my chosen career was well and truly underway, my desire for creating things on a day to day basis still seemed neglected.   In 2006, I decided to give makeup school a try and stayed there for a further year to study.

With these additional skills under my belt, I continued to work in various areas of the film, television, theatre and makeup industries.  I remember this as a very artistic time.  I did illustrating work, lots of inventive makeup jobs and was a member of the Art Department for the filming of a local children's program (an unforgettably exciting experience).

Having formed a little production company with some uni buddies, I was given the opportunity to write, produce and direct my very own debut short film (a long time goal which was finally fulfilled in late 2008). 

I was still working in film but was getting more and more involved in visual arts (having also taken up a part time administration and marketing job to bring in the mullah) when a magazine article changed my life.   It was about crafters and artists using the internet to market and sell their wares and listed a website called Etsy (which at that point I had never heard of).  I decided to do some investigating and visited this mysterious Etsy site.  I couldn’t believe it! There in front of me were thousands of stores for me to visit created by folk with art and craft on the brain JUST LIKE ME!  All in the space of two days, a brand new inspiration had taken hold, and so far, it has not let go.

After a year of preparation and planning, Winnifreds Daughter was born.   It has been a wonderfully rewarding experience to create my own little art and craft business and I’m constantly learning more about the industry.  I find the most exciting part about having my own business is knowing that there are no boundaries to what I can do and where it can go.  It’s a challenge to make my products better, build my brand and to bring to fruition the countless ideas I have wafting around in my head.   And the best bit - I get to be crafty and creative every day.

You mention in your profile on Etsy that your shop is your “latest little adventure into being creative”. What other things do you like to do, or have you done in the past, as an artist?

Oh my goodness - you name it, I've tried it!  Painting, photography, sculpture, film, writing (even quilting!!!!) I shall not continue!!!  It is only recently that I have been able to start incorporating some of my other crafty loves into the business.  I love photography, papercrafts, drawing and designing.  Given all the bits and bobs I have picked up along my creative journey, I am glad that I have a decent ‘know-how’ of getting ideas out of my head and into my hands.  I have found nothing more rewarding as an artist than the successful outcome of a creative idea!

The thing I always want to know most about fellow plushie-makers is, what is your process like?  Are you organized?  Spontaneous?  Do you draw out your ideas first?  Just start cutting up fabric like a mad woman?  Do tell.

Given that I also must retain a (rather un-stimulating) ‘day job’, I have a very planned out way of working on Winnifreds.  Friday is my cutting day.  I plan out all the things I need to make (whether it be new ideas, products for markets or custom orders) and pull out all the fabric, embellishments, etc., etc. so they are around me, and get to work designing and cutting at the same time.  I then use weekends and nights to sew and stuff my creations.  I have found this is the best system for me - it helps me stay on top of things.


Where do you create?  Do have a “spot”?,a room? a studio? a section of the couch? :)

I generally use the living area to create - given it's the only area big enough to spread everything out that I use (there are a lot of ‘bits' in a Winnifreds creation), but always have trays of 'cut but not sewn' products neatly organised on my bedroom floor.  All of my stash and supplies are neatly sorted into shelves and drawers in my room and I always keep an open notebook and pen beside my bed (as much as you think you'll remember that great idea you have as you're drifting off to sleep - trust me - you never do!).

Do you have any sweet, upcoming events that you'd like to share with us - either personally, or in conjunction with your Etsy teams?

I am a permanent stall holder at this fabulous local handmade market called 'The Upper Market' and next weekend am having a stall at The Pig Day Out - an event which is devoted to the awareness of dumped guinea pigs and other small creatures.  I am very excited about this (it's a cause I am passionate about) and have made 'pig' inspired wares especially for the day.  Otherwise it's just business as usual - developing new ideas and strengthening my designs and products.


Do you have any big plans for your business in the future?

My hope (and intention) for Winnifreds Daughter is that it finds a place in the crafting community locally, nationally and internationally.  I plan to continue to expand the product range and explore other forms of merchandise development and make my brand the best it can be.  We are slowly building a steady Facebook following and being at The Upper Market each month allows us to connect with other crafters and get out there.  As long as my creative juices are permitted to flow, I shall remain content.


What do you think folks?  I friggin love Winnifred's Daughter.  And Jess.  So very cool.  Great plushies and she's such a sweet and creative girl. Definitely check out her Facebook page as well as her shop - there's a lot of pictures/products on both.  And if you're a "tweeter" - here's her Twitter page.  Thanks for joining me for another Artisan Interview!


pasqueflower said...

Loved this post! Love her unique softies--each one has a real personality!

Cassandra said...

Thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I know, her stuff is so cool!