by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
|American Girl Doll Clothes|
schulmanArt: How do you think your environment has influenced you as an artist?
Donna Bividen: I like traditional styles which may be partly because of my small town upbringing. Having spend many summer months on my grandparents' farm, I appreciate home style and nostalgic goods, things that are made to last. While I try to be current, I have never been one to follow the crowd.
SA: When did you decide to be a professional artist? :
DB: I'm not sure I ever really made a decision to become a professional crafter. It just kind of happened. Several people had said I should be selling the things I make, things I was giving away, so when my niece asked me to join her in two craft booth sales last fall, I agreed. I decided then was the time to get an online presence. I opened my Etsy shop in September of 2012.
|handmade hair clips|
DB: I learned to sew from my mom, who taught me not only how to sew but the importance of doing it right and making things that will last. I made most of my clothes when I was in high school (back in the days when you had to wear dresses or skirts to school). In college I branched out to making even more things and then even made my wedding gown. Later I taught myself counted cross stitch, how to crochet, and make jewelry. Both are rewarding because I love seeing something take shape as I work on a piece.
DB: My best selling item so far is doll clothes for 18 inch dolls such as American Girl. I rarely make two alike and I like to use upcycled fabrics now and then. Since my shop is fairly new, I am still figuring out what people want so I do have some holiday items and also seasonal things in my shop. Right now I am working on a Kindle cover for my sister. I promised it to her some time ago. I also have several cross stitched items ready to be made into totes, coin purses, etc. to put in my shop.
How do you get inspired?
Strangly I find that sometimes I dream about a design. I will wake up with it on my mind. Mostly, though, I see a piece of fabric, like it, and think, "what can I make with that?" Some fabrics just seem to lend themselves to one type of project.
What advice would you give beginning artists?
When it comes to selling online, if you have the desire, you have to try it. This is what my daughter told me (smart lady). If you don't, you will never know if you would have succeeded. It is a job and it is work. You can't just set up a shop and wait for sales. Also, listen to good advice. One thing I love about +Etsy is that she sellers are so willing to help. It is our own fault if we ignore the advice of seasoned sellers.