Sunday, October 07, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 25

This week we are back up in British Columbia, Canada

Name: Glenn Ross
Occupation:Parent and Artisan

Tell us a little about yourself. I am a self taught woodworker with a BA in Archaeology and an MA in Architecture.  I have a passion for living well - slowing down and enjoying life.  I am a very committed family person,  because, after all, healthy families create a healthy society.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy? I have always created  . . .  starting in the 70’s with a lego obsession.  I started making a living off my work after I graduated from Architecture school.  A furniture design/build course introduced me to furniture while I was in school - and after graduating my first projects were architectural models.  I opened my Etsy shop in 2010, as a way to reach a bigger online market for my pet feeders and beds.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it? My wife inspired the name for my business, it’s a phonetic spelling for the word verve: vurv:n. enthusiasm or energy, especially as manifested in works of imagination.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be? I have to admit, my relationship with Etsy is a puzzling one.  By many metrics, I have had very good success on Etsy: I have over 100 000 hits, 10 000 favorites and I have been featured on the Etsy homepage and emails several times.  Yet, I have only made 29 sales.  For me, Etsy is one of several storefronts I have in different online neighbourhoods.  It’s a young, quirky and vibrant community, but ultimately not one with very deep pockets it seems.  These are my people, and I love being here, but they are not necessarily my clients.  

How would you describe your creative process? I would say, it’s slow.  I like to have many ideas on the go at one time.  I have sketches and prototypes surrounding me all the time.  I never know when a flash of inspiration will hit me- it may lead me to my next great idea, it may just take a project to the next step, or it may lead down a dead end path.   The important thing for me is to be rigorous - function always has to come first, and good, minimal design usually follows closely behind.

Where do you get your inspiration from? My life.  I’m not being egocentric when I say this.  I’m always identifying problems in the material world around me that need solutions.  My pet feeders are a perfect example - we adopted our first dog, Oliver, and suddenly I became aware of just how ugly the off-the-shelf pet feeders were (this was 10 years ago)  So, this became my next design challenge, and one of my first big successes.  

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? No, I have attended dozens of local craft shows over the years,  but rarely sell enough to cover the cost to attend.  I always get a great reaction to my work, but I think the price tag for my work is generally higher than most craft show attendees are prepared to pay as an impulse purchase.  

What is your most cherished handmade item? A dog that my daughter Jian (5 at the time) made from scraps she found around my shop, completely by herself.  She had recently learned to use a needle and thread, so she even made the head and sewed the eyes on herself.  I love to see the unfettered creativity of kids.  

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do? Gardening, and road trips.  I find gardening to be the antithesis of the stress of everyday life.  We love road trips and camping.  We like to get off the beaten track to explore the beauty that is all around us.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why? The local green party candidate.  My other passions are sustainable living and supporting a manufacturing middle class in North America.  My problem is that I tend to be introverted.

Five years from now you will be… Finally finished renovating my house.  

Describe yourself in five words: Ethical, creative, committed, passionate, mindful

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list? Rural Alberta advantage, Born Ruffians, Arcade Fire, A.C Newman, Metric

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows? The same advice given to me by my furniture design teacher at Architecture school: Just do it.