Featured Artisan: UphillDreams
Please start by telling us a little about yourself and your studio.
I’ve been using the name Uphill Dreams in reference to my artwork since 2004. I came up with that name when I realized what an uphill battle it was to really live your dream. It’s a good thing I don’t give up easily! Last year I was taught an intricate seed bead pattern, and from there I was hooked! Seed beads are like my new crafty best friend. I use half of the spare room in our home as my studio (my fiance uses the other half as his man cave, but he’s nice enough not to bother me while I’m working). I’ve got an “inspiration wall” above my work area where I have cork board and magnet board in a checkered pattern. If I see something interesting it usually ends up on that wall. My desk is deep enough that I can set up Netflix on my laptop and bead in front of the computer while watching movies. Granted, I can only do this with patterns I’m comfortable with, otherwise I spend half the movie taking the project apart because I missed a bead. I hope those days are behind me.
If there’s one thing that defines you, what is it?
My drive to go the distance when I really want something is what mainly defines me. Once I found the joy of seed bead work I quickly studied up on different patterns (which I am still trying to perfect), and I even enrolled in a jewelry design and repair program with Penn Foster. It feels great to finally know what I want to do when I grow up!
What role does your family play in your art?
My family is the most supportive structure I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, they give excellent feedback and help however they can with my craft. When I was in high school my younger sisters were becoming interested in the arts and crafts. I remember thinking “No, art is MY thing. Can’t you focus on music or sports?!” But now I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s so nice to bounce ideas off of them periodically, especially when a profitable idea strikes! I am so thankful for my family’s support – it’s unreal.
Where do you live and what is it like?
I still live in my hometown of Lakeland, Florida. It’s not a “huge” city, but I sure do crave the small town life. I moved downtown almost two years ago, and it’s a lot comfier being surrounded by the arts and historic-ness that makes downtown.
Where did you learn your medium?
I learned how to work with seed bead patterns from my fiance’s mother, Jeri Cartwright. I was at her house for a visit, and when the men left (to do manly things, of course) she showed me how to make a Russian spiral bracelet to kill some time. I tell you, I was SO addicted that I must’ve made 20 more bracelets at home the following week. It is still my favorite pattern to this day (not that I know them all yet, but I’m getting there).
What are your goals with your ArtFire studio?
I can already see how being a member of ArtFire has brought my store more traffic than I could on my own in the vast world that is the Internet. I hope to sell enough handmade goods online through ArtFire to be recognized and taken seriously in the handmade artisan world and to continue my career education. This is a stepping stone for my dream, which is to sell handmade precious metal pieces on HSN or QVC. I doubt I’ll give up the bead work all together once I graduate from Penn Foster’s jewelry design program because it’s part of who I am now – just like the colors on my canvases were translated into the color of beads I use now. I am an evolving artist, but I won’t ever forget my past.
How did you come to selling online?
I’ve always had a website for my arts, whether it was selling canvas art, selling designs on t-shirts, or displaying information about my tattoo practices. Transitioning into selling my handmade jewelry online wasn’t that hard, especially after I found ArtFire.
How did you come to find a home on ArtFire?
I had a personal website up and running for about 4 months with my handmade jewelry, and I had only made one sale. I started looking into communities for handmade artisans, hoping I could get some feedback, made friends, and hopefully see more sales on my site. I found ArtFire right before I signed up for Etsy. After comparing the two I said hello to ArtFire! I chose the option that was more personable and more user friendly to buyers. I also love the “artifacts” that ArtFire gives away, like rewards. The forums and guilds are wonderful, too.
What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?
Live your dream, even if it seems impossible. When you strive for something with your heart and soul it will happen. Odds are you’re not starting where you want to end up, but believe me, you don’t want to miss the ride!
Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?
I believe that there are too many factory made items cluttering our homes, which is why I do my very best to buy handmade or vintage/used items when I can. Buying handmade is buying a lasting item – it’s supporting the people who took the time to learn certain techniques to complete that project for you. You may pass these items down generations of your growing family one day. Selling handmade is giving someone else hope that they can do it, too. I like to think not only am I selling beaded jewelry, I am also selling inspiration to someone who will one day be a handmade artisan, too.