by Patricia Hecker, 2-D Mixed-Media Artist, NAIA Staff
One day, a few years ago, I was in my studio playing. (Some of my best ideas have begun this way!) Over the years, I seem to have acquired an addiction to rubber stamps . . . This play led to me stamping mahogany cigar boxes with black paint. I love rubber stamps and before long, I was hooked! The black paint on wood looked like tattoos. I loved the look and was not sure where this creative energy and box fetish would take me. A few friends who lost pets wanted boxes to hold the ashes of their deceased furry loved ones. I created keepsake boxes for them. This added an artistic signature to a painful closure and began a body of work that was somewhat alternative.
Not certain if this body of work would fit into mainstream juried shows and wanting it to continue, I needed to find other venues to sell what I was having such fun making. I was calling this work TattooDreams. By this point my boxes had taken on themes other than commemorative urns and had a playful yet artsy old world look to them. I became aware of a site called Etsy.com.
Etsy.com is an online site that allows the user to set up a shop and sell handmade work, supplies and vintage items (20 + years old). The site is driven by artists of every type and quality of work. Every age, genre, and discipline from all over the world is represented. A listing costs 20 cents and is poste for four months. With a 3.5 % fee taken out of the final sale, this grand exposure is affordable. Unlike the auction format of eBay, here you set your own price.
I watched the site for a while and continued my fascination with black paint emblazoned onto wood. I was mesmerized by this. This body of work held a huge departure from my very colorful mixed media work I juried to shows with. It may have been this absence of color and emphasis on pattern and message that had me intrigued. My blackened fingernails were proof the trade was entering my body!
Whatever it was, I knew it was here to stay and needed to find a venue for it to sell.
In December of 2007 I set about posting my first boxes to the Etsy site my husband Jon and I set up. Within two weeks I made my first sale! Into my email came the message from Pay Pal: You have cash . . . what wonderful words! I will never forget the excitement of that first sale and the amazement that this online shopping venue was working. Id sold stuff on eBay before, but never garnered this type of thrill. I was now selling art stuff!!
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above: Pat's Etsy store, left: a Tattoo Dreams box