Thursday, October 15, 2009

Etsy Excavations

Okay. I've been selling over at Etsy for a couple of months now, and I've noticed something really interesting.

It's a great place, stuffed to the rafters with talented artists and craftspeople, but it is HUGE and a little daunting if you just want to find some new art. So I have taken it upon myself to find some for you. Just art from visual artists - painters and photographers - because honestly?

They're buried kind of deeply over there...

Octavia Clark's Etsy shop, DreambyDay, is filled to the brim with delightfully offbeat photographs of everything from salt shakers to ferris wheels. She has a great sense of space in her photographs - even in the small, tight still life images she captures.

1. Your photos are really wonderful - unique and a little quirky (and I mean that in the very best way possible...I adore quirky). How long have you been working in photography, and how did you get started?
Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! Quirky might be one of the best compliments (in my opinion) a girl can get. Who doesn't love quirky? Sure romantic, whimsical, and cute are all great, but quirky things really stick in the memory. I started in photography when I was a really young kid. My mom gave me one of those really cheap 35mm cameras that she got as a free gift for buying gas or something like that. At first, she actually bought film for it as well. After going through 5 rolls in a single day, she realized what a monster she'd unleashed and rationed the film supply. This did not sit with me and of course, when I was out of film for the week I started seeing all sorts of amazing things I wanted to take pictures of. To help the withdrawals, I'd hold the viewfinder up at what I wanted to capture, and then draw it with crayons. Needless to say, it's been an addiction for a long, long time.

2. Okay - I'm an equipment geek. What kind of camera do you use?
Okay, this is going to be an embarrassing answer, and I could always just say that I use a Canon rebel XSi, but that wouldn't be really be honest. I only just made that leap a few weeks ago, (I still don't know what half the functions are, but I'm learning!). I've used everything from disposable cameras to ridiculously expensive pocket digitals to pawn-shop vintage finds (that didn't always work). Some of the best pictures I've taken were on the crappiest of cameras it seems like. Right now my a-list bag contains my beginners DSLR, a pocket samsung digital, and a Diana clone. I still have an original Diana from a pawn-shop some 15 years ago, but I'm a little worried about her health lately, so the Edelweiss goes on adventures with me now :)

3.What does your creative process look like? Do you head out with a story in mind, or do you let the subjects you encounter guide you?
It's very rare that I head out with an actual idea in process. I think I've only tried that once, and ended up with one picture of corn before getting distracted by a cat on the sidewalk, lol!. I'm one of those quiet people that absorb and assimilate everything around them, so usually when I encounter something that could become a photograph, I study it for a little while, or sometimes even leave and mull it over, until the story and details evolve. I, unfortunately, am not one of the lucky people who can shoot from the hip and come out with art instantly, and I've missed a lot of wonderful once-in-a-lifetime shots because of it, but it's something I'm working on!

4. Tell us about your shop name, DreambyDay - what's the story behind the name?
DreambyDay is a snippet of a quote by Edgar Allen Poe.

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night"

That quote has several meaning for me. Firstly, I'm a consummate day-dreamer. I can't even begin to get into the strange and wonderful places my mind wanders to (sometimes when I really should be concentrating on something else). I'm also terribly nostalgic about everything. Secondly, I didn't really grow up in an atmosphere that encouraged art. Sure my Mom was always supportive of my creative side, and hung all the drawings I gave her on the fridge, but there was always that linger question of "What are you going to do for a REAL job?" I hate that question, as I'm sure just about any other artist can relate to. Even to this day from the people closest to me do I get the "real job" vibe. Whatever happened to following your dreams? I always thought people were supposed to encourage that. I tried the "real job" for a long time and felt like a zombie every day. I'm meant to be an artist, and darn-it, I'm going to be. I think, in the end, why I picked that was in defiance of every "real job" nay-sayer I encountered. I refuse to wait for life to happen to me, I'm going to live the dream I've wanted to be and I'm not going to regret a single minute of it!
5. Let's talk favorites!
Who is your favorite artist/photographer?
Favorite artist is without a doubt Van Gogh. I know that seems like a cookie-cutter answer, but when I saw a print of "Starry Night" as a very young child, that was the moment I knew I was an artist. I finally got to see the actual painting in New York last year and it was like a religious experience for me. I actually felt light-headed and had to sit down afterward.
My favorite photographer is Sally Mann. Her work is so bizarre and uncomfortable, but you just can't look away. I love how down-trodden the environments appear, and yet how it seems strangely glamorous at the same time. I have an obsession with that kind of twisted and creepy, yet instantly recognizable as American feel (I like to call it 'Macabre Americana'), sort of like if Tom Waits songs suddenly became photographs.
What is your favorite location to photograph?
This might sound weird, but my favorite location is my Grandmother's house. She's always been a pack-rat and after 80+ years, she's amassed an amazing collection of odd things. There's no rhyme, reason, or theme to any of it. She just loves to collect, and I love her for it. On the same end table you could find everything from a bobble-head baseball player, to a functioning miniature harpsichord. From pince nez's to extremely sinister salt and pepper shakers, I could spend years photographing her home and still find something new every time I turned around.
What is your favorite cat name?
Oh wow. This is a toughy. I try to give my cats unique names in honor of their majesty and own special personalities, but the one that stuck with me the longest was what my favorite librarian named her cat; Betty. For the longest time, with the way she talked about her, I thought Betty was a neighbor or relative or friend. I laughed and laughed when I discovered Betty as a cat, and even more when the bespectacled, cardigan-wearing accomplice of my librarian morphed into an old-lady cat.
What is your favorite book and/or author?
Oh good, an easy one! Hemingway is my favorite author. For having such an uncomplicated, manly way of writing, his descriptive powers are amazing. He also had the cheekiest, subtle humor, and an amazing talent for making you invested in the characters very early in the book. A close second favorite is a tie between Terry Pratchett and Ray Bradbury.

Favorite book, funnily enough, isn't a Hemingway. It's called "To Reign in Hell" by Stephen Brust. It's sweeping and beautiful, funny and sad. I definitely recommend it, but don't read the jacket description! When I did, I thought "enh" and let the book sit on my shelf for almost a year. It's amazing, and just might change your life for a couple of days ;)
Thanks for being my guinea pig, Octavia!

Find out more about Octavia at her blog, and go pick yourself out one of her lovely photographs - you certainly won't regret it!