Sunday, June 30, 2013

Buy Handmade vol 64

We head to Berlin for this week's installment.

Name: Dana Zimmerling
Occupation: Illustrator/Graphic designer
Etsy Shop: danadamki

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an illustrator and graphic designer from Germany who loves short legged animals with long bodies. I love traveling and living abroad (for about 4.5 years I lived in Japan, Australia and Hongkong), but now I settled in Berlin.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I have always created little things, but started to do it much more since I opened my Etsy shop in February 2012.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

When I lived in Japan I wanted to make my own magazine, so I started to work at a printing company. I had designed a little font for the title of the zine, but not all of the letters looked good with my title ideas. Sometimes the spacing didn't properly work, so I gave up on my ideas and just started to arrange letters that looked good as a word. "d-a-m-k-i" looked quite good, so I chose it. After four issues I had moved back to Germany and printing became expensive, so I stopped doing the zine. As I wanted to keep the name and I already had a URL called damki, I called myself danadamki and am using this name ever since for myself as an illustrator and also my shop.
Damki also seems to be a Polish word for bicycle, but that's just a coincidence.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
My Etsy shop has not become my full time job yet. I am mainly selling small, inexpensive things and it's hard to make a living on that. Also until now I produce in very small editions, so the production is quite expensive and time consuming. 
I'd love my Etsy shop to be my full time job. It would be awesome to create little fun things all day long. Until then I'm also working as an illustrator and graphic designer.

How would you describe your creative process?
I try to think about something I would personally like to have or use and then I do it. It has to be something I'm really into. I need to feel passionate for something to draw it, otherwise it won't look good.
I just grab my pens and sketchbook and start. Sometimes it helps hanging out at a Café to get more ideas, but I need silence at home to finish it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
From traveling, my friends, films, internet and looking out the window. I can see a busy crossing ( but not many cars) in Berlin-Kreuzberg with tons of interesting people, pets and coffee shops.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? 
No, I gave up on selling my artwork at craft shows. I find it too tiring to choose what to take with me, go there, set up a booth, sit there all day long … And I'm very bad at selling things face to face.
The last time I took part in a craft show, was at a christmas market in a shop in Berlin. The booth cost me 30 € I think. I earned 15 € within the whole day. I spent some of those "earnings" for the subway and then met this very old lady in the street crying for help. She was carrying a very heavy bag and she said she had just released herself from hospital where she had stayed because she was an alcoholic. It turned out she had lost orientation and walked in the wrong direction for about 3 km with her heavy luggage. As she had no money with her, I called a taxi for her. When I took the last Euros out of my envelope I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. The hug of the old lady with her Jaegermeister breath was worth it (although she probably hopped off the taxi at the next liquor store), but on that day I decided to never take part in a craft market ever again.

What is your most cherished handmade item?
I personally love my shrink plastic brooches most, especially cats on skateboards. Sometimes I don't really want to let them go. Some of them take me up to 1.5 hours to make, so it's quite ridiculous. The buyers love the Twin-Peaks coloring book most.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I quite like exploring areas I don't know, especially in foreign countries. When I lived in Japan I used to cycle around in industrial or harbor areas and take photos of abandoned objects. I also very much enjoyed finding remote cafés or restaurants and talk to interesting strangers. On my last holiday in Australia I started to draw a travel diary and it was amazing how much more interesting everything became. I think having in mind that I needed to draw something weird or fantastic every single day made me do a lot more things and talk to a lot more people (especially if they seemed a bit weird).
In Berlin I like to hang out at cafés and sometimes art shows. I like to meet old people who tell me their life story. 

Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?
I wanted to be an author when I was a child and then an archaeologist. I spend hours with my dog under a little garden house, where it was digging holes and I brushed the dust away with a paint brush. I once really found an old coin. Now that I think about it - has my Dad maybe placed it there?! 
Nowadays I could imagine to do a job which is based on craftsmanship, like refurbishing furniture or restoring historical buildings.

Five years from now you will be…
… illustrating more silly cute things for money (and not only fun). And have a Welsh Corgi.  I also dream of living in a farmhouse in the countryside one day, but I think I'm not ready for that yet. Maybe in 5 years.

Describe yourself in five words:
Adventurous, animal - loving, sarcastic, sometimes secluded, kitsch-addicted

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your iTunes, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

The last five songs I listened to were: France Gall - Laisse tomber les filles, Deerhunter - Revival, Баллада Военной Машины КлипThurl Ravenscroft - The Headless Horseman, Grieg - Anitra's dance. 
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

Don't expect to get rich (although it could happen). Only produce things you would like to use yourself and only do it, if it's fun. You might not earn a lot of money, but maybe something else will show up, like a job opportunity or interesting people you get introduced to. 
Product photos are very important and should look as professional as possible. Sunlight helps. And be patient :)

I chose to make the collage with all her awesome shrinky-dink brooches and necklaces because there are so many hilarious ones to share, but she also has other great items in her shop - so definitely go check it out!