Inspiring each other to create our own unique art is one of my greatest joys. In search for inspiration, I found a jewel in the site Badbird and its artist in residence, Andrea Zuill.
Badbird is a interesting name for a blog. What inspired you to call it that?
There are two reasons I came up with the name Badbird. First, I have pet birds and no matter how small a bird is, once they discover that you won't harm them they will try to walk all over you. Second, I love illustrating small birds that have a attitude.
You're a talented oil and watercolor artist who also loves embroidery. I try to inspire embroiders to unleash their inner artist in their designs. Do you have any tips to help them sort of figuratively stitch-outside-the- line?
This might sound funny but I think to unleash your creativity you should copy other artists that you like. It's kind of like walking in their shoes artistically. Once you have played with other people's images then get out a sketch book and start playing with what you have learned. Start teasing out those images that are lurking in your own mind. I always say that nobody has to ever see what you have put in your sketch book, so go crazy.
I am showing off a little here, but I have a couple hundred sketch books filled with ideas and images. 90% of what is in these sketch books is just awful but the remaining 10% is totally awesome!
You create an embroidery pattern of the month and say that you once searched Flickr to find where people had used your patterns in creating their designs. How important is it to inspire others to make their own art?
Yah, I used to do a lot of searching to find people who have used my patterns, but I made things easier on myself by creating the Flickr group, Badbird Patterns. First of all, I am very aware that many people just want to created not design. I hope my patterns give some crafter out there a design to bond with.
I do enjoy when I come across a crafter that has taken my patterns and tweaked them to make them their own. I have seen some of my "embroidery" patterns used for applique, coloring books, or in interesting combinations with other embroidery patterns.
A lot of people need a starting point when creating. It's fun to think that my patterns might help a crafter get going on a project.
Your Patterns group has a Suggest Patterns category. I loved reading your members' comments and thank you for motivating so many to embroider. Do you have a favorite member's suggested pattern or two?
The members suggestions are a real lifesaver for me! You don't know how many times a new month is looming and I can't think of a idea for a pattern. I just go blank!
So far my favorite design suggestion was a Maneki Neko. I would have never have thought to doing that image. Also, it was fun because its been done so many times I was interested in how I could actually put my own spin on this icon. Badbird Pattern's member Robyn Enz did a knock out embroidery of my pattern.
Second, is the Octo-Bunny. So many people want bunny or octopus patterns. I joked that I should combine a bunny and rabbit and members seem to really like the idea. Once again, for me it was an enjoyable challenge.
We love that you also offer a free pattern every month. How did you get into embroidery pattern designing in the first place?
Basically I saw other artists on Etsy selling their own embroidery pattern designs, and I thought, " I can do that!". I sketch up an image, scan it into my computer, and clean it up in Adobe Illustrator. The whole process was a no-brainer for me. I don't come across many no-brainers for me in my life, so I just had to do it.
Inner child resurfacing? You bet! And apparently, it connects with a lot of people's inner child too. I love kids. I love that children are a real mix of sweetness and evil. There is a bunch of art out there that highlights the goodness in children, but it's tons of fun exploring the many faces of a brat.
Here is my Etsy basics:
- Check out Etsy to make sure the item you sale fits with Etsy's demographics. Hip, mod, vintage and kitch fits the general description of items that sale on Etsy.
- Sell a product that people can't just whip up themselves or that is like everyone else's.
- Have at least 10 or more items in you store and add new ones regularly.
- Relist like a crazy person. Relisting keeps your images in front of Etsy customers.
- If you need help starting on Etsy contact a store that is already doing what you want to do and ask them for advice. When I first started, I couldn't have gotten very far without the help from other Etsy sellers.
- Have a blog, Facebook account, and Flickr account. So far, I have found Twitter to not be very useful to me.
You have described your art as dark and whimsical. Is there anything you do to prepare yourself in starting a new piece or does the moment select you?
If I need ideas, I start looking for images that inspire me. Sometimes inspiration is more a feeling than something I see. Music is very important. I listen to REM, They Might Be Giants, Beck, Cake and others to get me in the mood.
There are times when a idea just pops into my head. That's great fun. I just need to sketch it down before I forget it.
You say that you are mostly a self-taught artist. What advice can you give a budding artist who wants to take the same route?
Learn from those who have gone before you. Keep your eyes open to the art around you. Don't be a passive observer of art. Learn to communicate with yourself. Techniques in different mediums can be taught, but your own expression is a personal journey. There are guides and teachers that can give you direction but you are the one that will have to do the work.
Everything an art teacher can teach you, you can learn on your own. I believe people who continually go to art classes enjoy learning this way and there is nothing wrong with that.
Your latest show was at the Galleri Urbane. Tell us about that experience and update us on your next big undertaking.
I have been showing with Galleri Urbane for many years. I really love that gallery and its owners. Plus, at least once a year I get to go to Marfa, Texas which is a very surreal experience. Marfa is a very small town in West Texas that has a population of artist, designers, writers, and movie directors. I believe my last show in Marfa has moved to Galleri Urbane in Dallas and then will head to Boltox Gallery in New York.
I really don't have any big plans which is kind of nice. I am opening a small retail space in a store called Leaping Lotus, located in Solana Beach, California. It's located in the Cedro Design District. I hope people will stop by!
Thanks Andrea. We love your creations and your great advice.