So I’m pretty excited about today’s featured artist, Karen Sandall, because we’re basically neighbors! She too, resides in the delightfully weather-unpredictable town of Spokane, Washington. Our city may get the butt-end of a lot of jokes from the more hipster west-siders of our state in the Seattle area, but that doesn’t mean our region isn’t a place of festering artistic energy. As it turns out, a lot of famous people are from Spokane. Craig Nelson and Julia Sweeney just to name a couple. Basically, give us an outlet, and we will let our creativity shine. Karen has obviously found an outlet with Etsy. Her store SchwinkShop is filled with marvelous, up-cycled goodies! It’s amazing to see what her crafty hands can do to transform regular objects into handmade treasures! Read her interview below to learn more about Karen and SchwinkShop.
Can you sum yourself up in 3 sentences? Give it a go!I am an avid upcycler and crafter originally from the Willamette Valley in Oregon now living in Spokane, Washington. I believe that creativity is one of the greatest things about being human, and greatly value anything that promotes, supports, and empowers arts and crafts. I was laid off in 2010, and starting an etsy shop has been an awesome way to keep busy and engaged in something outside of myself.
Tell us about what you sell on Etsy:
I upcycle old, sad, and ugly items and give them a brand new life. I try to make my items fresh, modern, and relevant. I also have a couple of my paintings and a few vintage items that I don’t have the heart to upcycle for sale in my shop. My shop is a colorful and eclectic mix of interesting items.
What is your favorite thing about creating?
I love the moment where I know that what I am doing to an item is working. Sometimes I know where to head with an object right away, and other times I sit on a project for months. I’ve definitely had my share of misguided ideas, and occasionally have to start over. For every upcycled item in my shop, I eventually had that magical moment where I felt like doing a happy dance and usually utter insightful phrases like, “holy crap it worked!”
Where do you find your inspiration?
My primary inspiration comes from the items themselves. I get most of my “raw” materials from thrift stores, garage sales (my mom is an avid garage saler and I get most of my items from her adventures), raiding my brother’s basement, and donations. I have a natural inclination to take something old and ratty and make it look good again.
I am also inspired by color. I will look at an item, and imagine it different colors until an idea sticks. I am drawn to bright colors and love brash color schemes.
My shop name and theme were inspired by my upcycled bike project. I found an old broken down 1960’s Schwinn at Time Bomb Collectibles in the basement. With help from my mechanically inclined boyfriend, we took the bike apart and cleaned it up, replacing all of the parts that were beyond repairable. I love bright pink, so when it came time to paint, I chose the brightest pink paint I could find. The results were super sweet, and I love my pink Schwinn–and the origin of my shop name is a combination of the words “pink” and “Schwinn.” The rest fell into place neatly– a bicycle that has been restored makes a great theme for an upcycle shop due to the root word being the same. I also happened upon a toy miniature bike that was a similar style to my Schwinn. I took that one apart and painted it the same pink and enjoy using it in my product photos. It adds a touch of whimsy.
Do you have any selling tips or tricks for other Etsy sellers?
My shop has been open since the end of May, and I have 12 sales. I don’t have any tips or tricks of my own to offer. I’m just plugging away at various strategies I’ve heard from other sellers. I have joined some teams, I have networked via facebook, I have made a few treasuries, and I recently joined April’s Army.
Do you have a coupon code for us?
In the Spokane area, use the code: SPOKANE to avoid paying shipping if you can pick up your item. *
Using the code: ISAWYOU will get you 10% off your entire order from my shop.
*Take THAT Seattle area! Oh, and thank you Karen so much for sharing your wonderful words and creativity with us!