Get to know the artist behind the curtain
Get to Know the Artist Behind the Curtain...CATHERINE HOLCOMBE February 08 2015
I have written a few of these artists interviews but this one is special for me. Catherine is the first artist we have brought on at Shower Curtain HQ now that we are printing our own designs. Her work can be found in many places like her ETSY shops, Society 6, Kess InHouse, Zazzle and Houzz.com. She has such a fun style to her work and her creations would add personality to any home.
Here are a few questions so we can all get to know Catherine better:
Tell us a little bit about yourself...when did you realize you were an artist?
I live in Southern California with my three sons. We love the beach and we get outside as much as possible. I am the daughter of a photographer and an avid quilter - so art has always surrounded me. I have always been artistic in some way...drawing, painting, and so forth, but did not consider it as a viable career option until about 10 years ago. My degree is in Business Administration, but I have studied art and illustration at a local college as well. My work is done in a studio in my home - I find it works well to be able to create anytime!
What is your favorite medium?
Watercolor is my first love and may always be my favorite...I just love how the colors mix on the page to create happy accidents! I also like working with pencils, ink, crayons, feathers, acrylic paint, pastels and collage. It is important to always be experimenting and discovering new ways to create.
What is a typical day like for you?
I recently quit my part-time position to pursue my art business full time. The support of my family was very important to taking this step. I always get up very early to work. I like to work in the quiet early mornings....I can accomplish so much before the house becomes chaotic. This is when I take care of my Etsy stores and do the business of the business. Later on, when the kids are at school, I create, submit art, walk, gather inspiration etc. I usually do no schedule "creating" time. It usually happens with urgency....I get an idea and I feel it has to be rendered...or at least jotted down for later...I keep note pads everywhere. I have also taken up photography. It has taken some time to learn it - and I still have a long way to go, but I am enjoying the journey.
You do a lot of work with maps - how did you get into that and are there any rules for using maps in your art?
Maps are a large part of my work. I really adore the intricate little details of maps. I love the antique maps...that show the continents in a distorted way. Maps have to be out of Copyright in order to be used in my work...sometimes they can be licensed or used with permission. I gather maps from a number of sources, but my favorite is to find them in old atlases in book stores...when they are falling apart and nobody wants them, I can give them new life!
What are the perks/challenges of working from home and being self-employed?
I enjoy working from home for many reasons: The commute is a short walk downstairs! I am never far from my work if I am needed for something. I have the freedom to work when and where I want...sometimes I work by my brother's pool... The best thing about being a self-employed artist is being able to be there for my sons, to say "yes" to helping out at school while earning my living doing what I want to do. There are some challenges ...like work always being within reach...sometimes it is hard to put it away....there is always something that can be done - so I struggle with balance - but I am working on that. I would recommend this route to anyone who is self-motivated and disciplined.
Any "ah-ha" moments or big breaks?
My "aha" moment happened a few years ago when I was trying an at-home business working for someone else. I was spending a great deal of time trying to market something that I did not believe in...at that moment I realized that I believed in my art and had no problem discussing it with friends and family or marketing it with confidence. At that moment I "hired" myself.
Nice! Any advice you would give to an artist wanting to make a business out of it?
Advice to someone wanting to start an art business....It is hard work. You have to be disciplined, consistent and have high standards. You also have to be able to take rejection and criticism...and make it work for you in a positive way.
I am thankful we were able to team up with Catherine to bring you some unique shower curtains to choose from. What you are seeing are just a few pieces of her work we are currently selling here at Shower Curtain HQ. We will continue to add more pieces from Catherine in the future!
the 'girly side' of the animals. So the Giraffe and the Elephant and the Owl, they all are girls. Also the
Wolf and the Zebra. I like cute things ... an artist friend once gave me the name "Queen of Cuteness"
Currently there are 13 different works of art from Sascalia on Shower Curtain HQ. She is one of my favorite artists since starting this business. Her bright colorful style is so eye catching and unique. Her "Purple Tree" is one of my best sellers. I was so happy to she agreed to answer a few questions so we could all get to know her better…
Get to Know the Artist Behind the Curtain…Marley Ungaro March 17 2014
Do you wanna know a secret? The first sale on Shower Curtain HQ was this curtain:
The sale occurred about a week after the website went live. I will never forget it. Thanks Marta from Michigan :-) The artist that created this beautiful work of art is Marley Ungaro. There are currently 7 different curtains on Shower Curtain HQ with Marley's work on them and more will be added in the future. Marley was kind enough to answer a few questions so we could get to know her better. She also adds some great tips for anyone wanting to make art their full time job and have control of their schedule. Thanks for all the great feedback and tips Marley!
1) You mentioned that becoming a stay at home mama helped you realize you could use your God-given gifts of art and started doing custom work. And now your son is an artist too! Do the two of you paint together everyday?
No, unfortunately my son and I do not get to create and paint together every day. He would love to, but he needs to focus on school, which is very difficult for him to do. We actually have to 'turn him off' most days and get him to STOP creating and have him focus on his schooling. I can relate since I was just like that myself. I am fortunate to be able to use that creativity NOW in life, but for him, it's very challenging. He is far more creative than I have ever been, so I KNOW he will do amazing things in life with it!
2) It looks like you work with a lot of watercolor. Is that your favorite media?
Yes, watercolor is my favorite medium, because I find I can easily go from fine art to illustration art with it. I actually started in oils and loved it, but quickly went into acrylics and loved how quickly they dried. I painted with acrylics for many years and hope to get back to that. When I started illustrating for a gift company (and their product line), I got hooked on watercolors and have used them every since. You can take them anywhere...and they are especially easy to use at the beach or the pool during the summer. I am blessed that they come easy to me, especially after I hear how some other artists struggle with them.
3) 2 of my favorite curtains are your Giraffe and Panda (he is too cute!) You are clearly very talented! Did you paint from looking at a picture?
For my animal "watercolor cuttings," I do look at pictures when I'm forming the animals, yes. But, for my florals, I usually just make up flowers in a whimsical way. It's important to me to have the animals LOOK like they should. When I do illustration work, it's not as important, so I usually just draw from my mind and use a more comical approach. When I do fine art pieces, I definitely get my inspiration from pictures...magazines, etc. For instance, when I do a floral themed calendar, I'll find arrangements I like and merge them with antique vases and make my own unique picture to work from. This way, I am making sure I am getting the 'anatomy of the flowers' correct (if that makes sense).
4) You mentioned your art is in some children's books, how did you get started in that?
Again, when I started illustration work (mainly for children's products), I was hooked. I have always wanted to do children's books, so I promised myself a long time ago to delve into that market at some point. At some point you'll get seen by the right person; or someone will like your work enough to want work on a project with you. That's just what happened with me. A wonderful friend of mine had liked my work that she'd seen over the years and wanted to talk to me about a story she'd been working on (she was a writer). So, we merged our talents, and our book quickly came together: The Proper Use of One's Shell, by Jennifer Johnson and Marley Ungaro was a sweet self-published success in Greenville NC. I have gone on to do more work here and there, for others and for myself. I'm currently working on a big project for a wonderful woman who worked with Mother Theresa. We are hoping for big things this year!
5) Your United States MAP was the first sale for Shower Curtain HQ - what was your inspiration for that painting?
My inspiration for my United States map came from my World Maps that I've been selling for many years. In turn, my inspiration for those came from two things. Of course, being a Mom that wanted to encourage her children to learn in a fun way was very important and sent me to such a fun project. But, secondly, when I was growing up, my Dad would sit us down on the weekends and quiz us about all the countries of the world and the states and capitals. At the time we didn't like it, but now I see that it was priceless. I think adults enjoy my maps as well!
6) Any advice for someone wanting to do art as a way to stay home with their children and make an income from it?
Just that...DO IT! If you have any desire, any love at all for creating and doing for others, then by all means, find a way to make it happen. You will NOT be wealthy. But you will be happy and thankful that you are working for yourself and running your home. Make sure you try and find something unique, that's not overly done. I've been on Etsy since 2007, but have been doing my art calendar for over 10 years. I've created the watercolor cuttings (haven't seen anyone else doing them), and just started doing those because I didn't want to throw away scraps of beautiful watercolor paper that my son had painted when he was little. Also, if you DO decide to start your own little art or craft business, try and do it on your own, especially if you don't mind being on your own alot. Get a great dog! You really do want to be your own boss. Bringing in others is so challenging, and you really don't want to bump heads while creating what YOU want to create. But be willing to share your ideas with other artists and crafters when they ask, no matter how new you are to the business. I have people asking me quite often where I get these products, supplies, printers, etc. and am more than happy to help. We are in this together. I'd love if someone helped me if I needed it (and there have been a few that have). Be patient with being in a business like this. It takes time, quality, and a gooood heart! xoxo ~Marley Ungaro
In case you have not noticed, the shower curtains on this website are works of art…no really, they are. All the curtains from DiaNoche Designs license art from various artists and the art is printed on a blank shower curtain via dye sublimation. And what really causes the warm and fussies is that whenever you purchase one of these lovely curtains, a portion of the sale goes back to the artist…cool,huh? I thought it would be fun to feature a few artist that have quite a few pieces selling here at Shower Curtain HQ.
Nicola Joyner is originally from the Cayman Islands but now resides in Maine. She left her job as a graphic designer to raise her children. It was then that she found her love for painting. As you will see in her work, she has a look that appeals to kiddos and adults. The bright colors and the storybook style will put a smile on your face and brighten up any bathroom. Nicola was kind enough to answer a few questions so we could all get to know her better…
1 - You art has such a fun style to it and you mentioned that you started painting when you became a stay at home mom, with kids, when do you find time to paint and how do you entertain your kids when you work?
Thank you! I try to keep my art fun, especially the pieces for kids. My youngest daughter is now in first grade, so for the past 2 years, while they are both in school, I have really been able to focus on painting and building nJoy Art as a business. Back when I had them at home I would paint in bursts, an hour here and there between preparing meals and attending play dates. Occasionally they would sit and paint with me, but most of the time I painted at night, after they were tucked in bed. Thankfully they've always had early bedtimes!
2 - What artists, if any, have inspired you?
I have been a fan of the impressionists since before I knew what the term meant. I'm always sneaking that Van Gogh Starry Night sky into my paintings! I'm also inspired by many of the artists on Etsy now, I am humbled to be selling my art in such good company.
3 - There are many businesses that license your work, did you market yourself or are they finding you on ETSY? Any "big breaks?"
Ha :) I wish that there were many companies licensing my art!
I do have contracts with a few that have been a real pleasure to work with. I first began licensing my art to the greeting card company I worked for under the name nJoy Designs, doing that was a big learning experience for me. My first big break came with a license to a company that prints wall art for children's rooms and nurseries. I got that contact thanks to my old boss. She met a sales rep who thought my art would be a perfect fit for this company and suggested I send them samples. I've been working with them for about four years now and I just added several new images to their line this year. The other 2 companies I'm working with did find me via Etsy and Facebook. I ought to market my art more, but I tend to just put it out there and hope that interested parties will find me. There have been a few other offers, but some times it doesn't work out.
4 - You paint everything from robots, to solar systems, to owls to mermaids…where do you get your ideas?
Kids! I have 2 young daughters and 3 nephews near by, they are the ones providing all the inspiration. My oldest went though a phase where she was fascinated by the solar system and the planets, that was when I painted my first solar system. In first grade she did a segment on owls, and I painted my first ever owl. When my youngest was 3 she learned to sing You Are My Sunshine from her grandmother, and she sang it ALL the time. The You Are My Sunshine paintings I do have become my best selling theme on Etsy. I suppose I ought to be paying my kids royalties!
5 - Do you still do graphic design or do you only paint?
Officially I am still a freelance graphic designer, but it's been over a year since I did any work in that field. The companies that I had steady work with cut back their freelance budgets and rather than looking for other opportunities in that area I chose to focus on building my art business. Having design skills has been very valuable however, I'm able to easily provide high quality files to the companies that I license to, and I'm able to design my own Etsy promotions as well.
6 - What challenges, if any do you face as on artist?
Honestly, making money as an artist is a big challenge. I feel lucky to have the chance at making a living doing what I love, but it's not all that easy. Thanks to Etsy I have a permanent marketplace for my originals, and having a few licenses helps, but I have no way of knowing when or how much money is coming, if at all.
7 - "Rapunzel's Tower" was one of the first sales at Shower Curtain HQ, what was the inspiration behind that painting?
Really? That's great to hear! Again, the inspiration was my daughter, she was in her princess phase and her favorite princess at the time was Rapunzel, I was trying out fairy tale themes and decided to paint that one for her. It is a personal favorite!
Thanks Nicola! We currently have 6 curtains with art from Nicola here at Shower Curtain HQ and we will continue to add more.
Her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NJoyArt/149485271752582