Friday, September 18, 2015

A Closer Look At my Etsy Shop Story....

Around 2007/2008 my artistic career began a new creative adventure, designing and creating jewelry. I really felt I would be able to offer my pieces for sale much easier than my visual art.  I assumed that setting up a table at our local Farmers Market, fairs and such, would be simple. I couldn't have been more wrong. Discouraged at how and where I could sell my pieces, I continued working at the familiar, painting and illustrating, as well as honing my jewelry making abilities.
A cartoon I drew during my first days as a seller on Etsy. by Anita Berglund 2008

A common question asked of artists, including myself is... "Is your work for sale?" Prior to jewelry making, my two dimensional work had been on exhibition occasionally in an art gallery or two. But because of the physical issues I have, promoting my art work and seeking out venues for exhibition and sales, was too big of a challenge. It didn't mean I wouldn't paint or draw, it just meant when it came to selling, it could only happen by word of mouth and those seeing my work hanging on my walls!

I guess it would help to understand my "story" better,  to explain what my physical issues are. Well, almost fifty years ago, I was born with a neuromuscular progressive, genetic disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 3. Which means that my physical abilities are always changing,  which means finding ways to have enough energy to do what I love, being an artist. That also includes,  adapting to those changes to enable the physical aspects of life in general. In order to live independently,  I depend on the arms and legs of others to carry out the tasks, that I am no longer able to do on my own.  Walking was possible until I was about thirteen or so. Using wheels for legs full time, wasn't a surprise, the transition was expected. Back then, physical challenges were no big deal, because my arms still functioned well. As my disability progresses, I depend more and more on the "arms and legs" of others, beloved husband included.  No biggie, just a part of life, the way God designed me! (Psalm 139)

Zoom ahead to the present...
My life is a wonderful gift and I love that creating is as normal as breathing. Makes sense, since we are created by God, our Creator! As time has passed, so have various abilities and I would be in denial if I said losing those abilities, especially the use of my arms, hasn't been a big deal. Well, it actually wasn't for years, not even losing the use of my legs bothered me. It wasn't until recent times, when my arms could no longer leave my side. In fact, it may surprise some when I say, walking  for me, was actually way overrated. As long as I had my hands and arms to do all I wanted,  all would be well. Got over the arm changes, still had my hands.

The Grace of God, supportive friends and family and an incredibly caring husband, doesn't hurt. However, the recent muscle weakness in my hands and boughts of physical fatigue, definitely impact my creative abilities. The desire within is surging, my mind races with ideas all the time. In fact, I was diagnosed with ADHD about ten years ago. It is comical to me, to think what would happen if I had full use of my muscles :o)  No matter how much my creativity is whizzing through my brain, it just won't make my body cooperate. Needless to say, my productivity isn't what I wish it could be. That being said, my artistic life isn't over yet! Even if I live to see the day, when my hands lose total function, unable even to type like I am trying to now, creativity is in our DNA. All of us have it, we just express it in different ways. For now, I continue to express it as best I can, be it designing and creating jewelry, learning more and more about polymer clay and all that means, digital illustration, and now (2015) working with resin... stay tuned :o)

Needless to say, I think it is quite clear why starting my Etsy Shop, A Bergie Creation, was a perfect opportunity. I finally had a feasible, affordable, accessible way to sell my creations. Having this shop  is all about being offered a way to do what I love and have a way to share that with the world. Quite literally,  I have been blessed with knowing that over 1400 pieces of my jewelry are being enjoyed in countries all over the world! A really cool thing.

Now Here's The Long Version of My Story....
I have been creating ever since I could hold a pencil. As a self taught artist, my main discipline has been Visual, working in two dimensions. Everything from illustrating, to painting, to graphic design. In high school art class, I was able to complete a variety of other art making methods, like jewelry design and pottery.  I really loved working in clay, but Highschool was only four years long and access to that kiln, would just not be possible in my future as an artist. So I kept with what I could do best, working in two dimensions. It wasn't until last December (2014), when I was blessed with finding out that I can use Polymer clay. It wasn't as physically difficult as I thought it would be, and no kiln is needed, just an oven! Even though my hands aren't as strong as they once were, yes, it is a challenge, but, it is exciting figuring out ways to make it work. It is like painting in three dimensions.

It didn't hurt that early on inspiration seeds were planted, as I got to see my Dad's colour pastel a

nd oil landscape paintings. Not to mention, my parents always provided me with craft kits and art materials. I remember playing around with "Dip It" plastic film, wood burning, rug hooking, spirograph, paints, Laurentian Coloured pencils, plaster of paris moulds and figures to paint, spool knitting....oh, the memories.

Out of High School, I was hoping to take our university's Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts program. Sadly, it wasn't fully wheelchair accessible so I was unable to attend. After some employment stints, (not art related), while always drawing and such, I finally decided to enrol at our local College. (about 1989-1991) in Arts Administration. Even though it was a great learning experience, especially since, I got to complete a 4 month internship in fundraising at the Royal W inning Ballet and in the education department at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, I concluded that the management side of the arts just wasn't for me. Creating is in my blood, I need to do it, not manage it.

It helped that, after obtaining a one year employment contract as the education assistant, while at the Gallery, I was given the opportunity to do just that, create. Better yet, I learned how much I love teaching and inspiring children to make art. Aside from assisting with art lessons,  I also got to teach some cartooning lessons to children. They also let me Illustrate their fundraising cookbook!

Whether in school or working, my entire life has always been spent creating wherever I could...illustrating, painting, sketching - designing whatever it was. Aside from my parent's encouragement, I give credit to my dear Grandma Harris. She would have me sleep over at  their home when I was a kid, where she always had a craft kit for me to put together. If no kit, there were styrofoam egg cartons and other materials to cut up and make something from.

Aside from my usual creating projects, learning the new age of computer desk top publishing,
became a new passion. Again, self taught, I was hired to work on a local small publication doing layout and design. That lead to the inception of a small coffee paper, called Superior Coffee Talk. A friend did all the leg work, seeking out advertisers and shops that she would then deliver to. It was great fun to work on designing and publishing a fun little paper for a quick read during a comforting cup of joe.

In the late 1980s, I forgot to mention that I was blessed with receiving my first solo exhibition in the Pictograph Art Gallery in Atikokan, Ontario. The subject back then, reflected my heart at the time, fashion illustration. And...about twenty years later (about 1998), thanks to our university finally becoming fully wheelchair accessible, I enrolled part time in that HBFA program and honed my composition, design, painting, drawing and printmaking skills. Not to mention, receiving great inspiration by being able to learn a tonne in a couple of art history classes, as well as, being selected to participate in a some of "Lakehead University's juried student art exhibitions."

In 2001, I was blessed yet again, with falling in love and marrying my now husband, Craig.

About nine years ago, I was blessed with an Ontario Art Council "New Works" Grant. The theme was "All Creation Sings." My inspiration was to paint God's creation in whatever manner inspired me.  That definitely means endless subject matter. The paintings were in acrylic and the subject matter I chose included fruit, flowers and vegetables. Inspired by Georgia O'Keefe, I too feel that you can't just look at something like a flower at a distance or as a whole. It is when you look very closely that you can seen amazing details that most people miss. That is basically how to best describe my paintings.

Back to My Shop Story.....
It goes without saying, that creating is a natural thing to do. Again,  sorry, it is too difficult for me to focus on just writing a story about my shop, because there is so much more.

The actual online shop was a practical decision for me, as you have read, for obvious reasons. When I saw what Etsy offered, it was a perfect opportunity to  sell my work.

Drawing, Illustrating, Painting, design work and such, have always been my number one focus. It wasn't until 2008, when a spontaneous, practical need, prompted my dive into designing and making jewelry! I love it, but like my always bouncing brain, my ideas lead to changes in

materials and designs, so nothing is ever the same way. Well, the only consistent design, is my number one seller, "The MINI Collection" small hoop earrings.

Most recently, my newest creative tool, as mentioned earlier, has become polymer clay. Love the feel, the colour and the endless possibilities.

For me, making jewelry has been like painting with wire and beads and most recently, the polymer clay thing!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Happy creating in whatever ever form you choose.

 For more details about me personally, please feel free to check out my blogs and YouTube Channel.

A SIDE NOTE:  Please, if you have children, encourage them to create. Always have art making materials available. No, you don't have to spend lots of money, just paper and pens and pencils, crayons...pressing flowers, leaves in pages, cutting, glueing, pasting....I think you get the idea. And remember, don't tell them that sky's aren't purple or green, if they colour it that way (I say that because I really did hear a parent say that to their child once, it was so painful to hear and watch)...there are no rules when it comes to kids and art. It should never be a painful process, if they aren't enjoying themselves, then, don't force them.