Enjoy the interview!
1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?
I make prints, artist books, collages, and mixed media pieces. After retiring from architecture a few years back I took an intensive training course in etching at Crown Point Press in San Francisco. This captivated me so that I have been making etchings for the past six years as an artist in residence at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. I sketched a good deal during my training and professional career in architecture so doing etching was a kind of natural extension of that work. I found that etching can take many and complex directions. In addition to using various resists (wax or liquid) on the copper plate I picked up techniques for photo etching (using a film process for an image that is exposed onto the plate) and aquatint (application of a fine powdered resin that, when heated, forms tiny bubbles on the plate resulting in a tone in the final print).
I typically use some form of stylus to make marks in the resist which, when placed into the acid bath, will make lines. The aquatint coating can be covered with a liquid resist wherever I don't want an etched tone. From then on I cover successive zones and place the plate in the acid bath each time so that areas have graduated tonal shapes from light to dark.
One of my latest techniques involves a combination of the etched plate and Japanese "kozo" paper. I compile various shapes, color blocks, and images in Adobe Photoshop and InDesign and print these on the paper. This paper is then soaked and placed on the etched plate with wheat paste so that, when run through an etching press with a fine art paper, it bonds together resulting in an interesting "collaboration" of the two techniques and styles.
I have also trained at the San Francisco Center for the Book where I learned letterpress and the essentials of making artist books. I made a series of three accordion-style books 5 1/2" x 6 1/2" (two of which use letterpress) that are based on my travel sketches and photographs. Each one used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign for image manipulation and layout. The digital files were then printed on a large format printer on Innova Smooth Cotton fine art paper. I then hand cut each larger sheet into covers and backs along with the interior pages that were then folded and spliced with archival tape at the joint. The covers and backs were assembled using PVA archival glue, wrapped around binder board.
More recently I have thrown myself into mixed media pieces and collage. I can work quickly with acrylics (since it is fast-drying), paper, sandpaper, screen material, and whatever is within reach. Sometimes I even throw in bits of a discarded etching of which I seem to have an unfortunately large collection. I just finished a collage using mostly bits of colored paper and, yes, more etching shards, that will soon end up hanging in the nursery of my very first grandchild!
2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?
Printmakers and SF Etsy
3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.
I have to take my camera and sketch book with me when I travel overseas. A lot of my travels with my wife involve home exchanges. We are trading with two couples from England this coming May and another couple in North Carolina in the fall. We find that, aside from the considerable economies, we pick up a great deal of local lore from our trading partners and have a far more comfortable living situation than a hotel.
I've also made two audio walking tours of sections of the Financial District in San Francisco that are available on iTunes for the iPad and iPhone. They are available here and here. This was an earlier passion after retiring but the art had a greater pull. Other pursuits involve running an independent study group for young architects and working on that novel-that-will-probably- never-really-get-written.
I sneak in a few rounds of golf and love to bike from our place in the Mission Bay district to points along the Bay. Other hobbies have included renovating my condo and my son's new home in L.A. My wife is a former banker who is now also enjoying retirement. I have two wonderful "kids": my son who works as a web designer for a well known entertainment company and my daughter who is with a major foundation with grantees primarily in Africa.
4. What inspires your creations?
I find that my inspirations come principally from my business and leisure travels. I guess that's when the mind is most unencumbered and is stimulated by unique and different surroundings. A good part of that travel involved working on several architecture and urban design projects in different settings including Hanoi, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, and the U.S. Subliminally, I found I stored away a vast amount of cultural insights from these places layered with a broader appreciation of the world in general.
5. How did you get involved with Etsy?
I had been aware of Etsy for some time. A long-ago friend talked about it but since I didn't know anyone who used the site I didn't jump in. Recently, having little luck with sales from my own web site, I thought "Hey, why not try good ol' Etsy?" I am gradually making my way around its various parts and finding it most enjoyable and educational (and hopefully some day, fruitful).
6. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?
My biggest challenge is figuring out how to MAKE MY FIRST SALE! I just recently joined and I know that miracles don't grow on trees (sorry for the mixed metaphor). So, more recently I have tried some "soft initiatives" like joining teams and circles and getting to know fellow Etsians' shops and how they approach setting up their own sites and products.
7. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?
Be patient and be unique.
8. If you had to be an animal for one week, which animal would you choose to be? And what would you do?
Because I'm an urban kinda guy and I love waterfronts I think I would like to be a seagull. Seagulls are a more socially acceptable and elegant bird than a pigeon. I would love the feeling of flight over my domain and especially would enjoy those late night "cleanup missions" after a night game at the San Francisco Giants AT&T baseball park where all manner of leftovers is to be found. But, rest assured, I would be selective about where I dropped the aftereffects of those missions.
9. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
My web site. I have recently started a blog. I am hoping to get a better handle on my Facebook and Twitter sites so I'm afraid they're not all that interesting right now.
If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!