ImageZoo Artist Interview: Rigel Stuhmiller

image copyright Rigel Stuhmiller

images copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Rigel Stuhmiller, one of ImageZoo’s amazingly talented artists who just so happens to have her own Etsy business as well. We’re huge fans of Etsy here at ImageZoo so we wanted to take some time to ask her a few questions about her shop and her work.

How long have you had your Etsy business and what kind of products do you sell?

I’ve been running my Etsy business since January of 2008. In my shop I sell my cards, prints, letterpressed items, and custom artwork.

What inspired you to start your own Etsy shop?
Etsy really impressed me with its breadth and depth of products and sellers, and the overall high quality and creativeness of their items. Their site is very well built and easy to use. Etsy’s model tends to reward good products, and I knew from word-of-mouth that Etsy shoppers really enjoyed the experience of shopping. The startup investment is minimal, so I decided to give it a try.

rigel_fruitcardsimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

What inspires you to create?
I feel most creative when I’m sharing ideas with interesting people or put myself in a very stimulating environment. My best ideas come when I escape my everyday routine and my everyday ways of thinking. Working as a freelancer it’s sometimes hard to make myself take some time off to experience a new situation, but afterwards I’m always happy that I did it. My work is better because of it.

rigel_strongmanimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

How would you describe your sense of design style?
I would call my design style simple, elegant, and fun, with a strong hand-crafted element.

rigel_velocipede-1image copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

What advice would you give other artists considering joining Etsy?
Be professional: Always be nice, helpful, prompt, polite, honest, and deliver a terrific product — make it easy for customers to like you, trust you, and come back. If you can’t give them what they want, tell them up front. Etsy shoppers are, for the most part, extremely nice and are excited to have a good experience. They’re looking for a handcrafted touch and a personal, personable experience. If you deliver a bad product or if you give your customers a bad experience, there are many other sellers out there that they can turn to.

I also suggest taking good professional-looking photos of your items, offering low shipping costs, offering a range of price points, figuring out what you can make that people really want to buy, and doing your own legwork to get press directing people to your shop. I haven’t found the purchased advertising on Etsy to be too useful. There are so many sellers on Etsy that you really need to put in a lot of work to stand out.

rigel_birdstreeimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

How did you get started as an artist and when did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I never thought I’d be an artist, even though all the signs were there. As a kid, I thought I would be a stockbroker (I don’t know where I came up with that) but would sit in front of our TV and watch The Little Mermaid, stopping the VCR to draw each frame. I irritated my teachers by constantly drawing in class. In college I thought I would be a computer programmer. That lasted about a year until I realized that I was skipping classes to make art in my dorm room. Finally, I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t going to be happy in life unless I was making art.

rigel_poppiesimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

Can you describe your process when creating art? What is your favorite medium to work with?
A while ago I was mistakenly delivered a box of a thousand ball point pens bound for the mortuary down the road. They’ve become one of my favorite tools because they’re very simple and unthreatening (I don’t feel like I have to create the Mona Lisa when I draw with them) and there are so many of them that they have saturated my living space. Whenever I have an idea, there is a Mortuary Pen within arm’s reach. Which is a boon to me, because my process usally starts with a lot of quick scribbles that I put aside for a while, then later rework with more scribbles until I’m able to envision what the final piece will look like. Once I refine the basic layout, I either transfer it to the final medium (linoleum block, pen and ink, etc) or bring it into Photoshop to play with colors and tweak some more. Sometimes I finish the piece in Photoshop.

My favorite medium… it’s a tie between all types of printmaking and Photoshop. The first I love because of its random beauty and wonderful texture. The second I love because it provides so many fantastic ways to stimulate my creativity and helps me streamline my work process so well.

rigel_cauliflowerimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

What are you working on now?
I love storytelling, and comics are a passion of mine. I’m working on a series of comics for tinytowntimes.com and am creating a lot of comics for my own comics site, drenculture.com. I’m also working on a series of block print portraits and some pen and ink illustrations.

rigel_pigimage copyright © Rigel Stuhmiller

What is your favourite thing at the moment besides art?
Right now my favorite thing is roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes. I also found this great blueberry muffin recipe so I’ve been making a lot of those (I’m very food-motivated).

•••

– Thanks Rigel for taking the time to talk to us and best of luck with your Etsy shop!

Check out Rigel’s tutorial on how to create a blockprint: http://rigelstuhmiller.com/about/index.htm

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