Monday, April 5, 2010

Spotlight on Queer Team member Jerise

Jerise interviewed by fauxsure

What sorts of things do you offer in your shop?
I offer cards, artworks, pastel and pencil drawings of NYC scenes, wedding and birthday commemoratives and certificates (including ketubahs and Quaker wedding certificates), screenprints (on paper & tshirts/fabric), and design work of various kinds (banner creation, monograms, business card design, etc.). I'm a calligrapher, so a lot of my designs include lettering of one kind or another.

How did you first start selling on etsy? How long have you been selling? Do you sell anywhere else?
I first heard of Etsy from friends in a printmaking class in the summer of 2008, and I set up a shop finally in November 2008. I've been selling my calligraphy for a bit longer than that: I guess I started about three years before, when I was living in WV. But before Etsy I had a lot of difficulty getting people to look at my work, even though I created my own website and tried to get traffic to it. I also sell occasionally in NYC streets and parks (like Union Square Park), and I've done a few area craft fairs as well.

Tell us a little about your typical creative process and how you go about making your work. What kinds of steps do you usually go through?
Well, it depends. I try to look and sketch from life as often as possible, every day, so most of my other work comes from that: I love wandering through my northern Manhattan neighborhood, Washington Heights, and seeing what I can see. When I design papercuts, it's usually a mix of my imagination and the layers and colors I've seen in one of my sketch subjects or a photograph (I also take a lot of digital photos to work from). For traditional papercuts, I work from older designs, but also introduce my own ideas. For calligraphy, I try to practice a bit every day, and when I have a long calligraphy piece to do, it takes me a while to imagine different layouts--I use my sketchbook again for this--and finally decide on one. Then I write out the text a number of times, using different sizes, different spacings, cutting it up & laying it out, etc., before I do the final piece.

What are your favorite materials to work with?
Paper--all kinds! I love the beautiful Japanese printed and non-printed handmade kozo papers, and Indian khadi, and any type of nice drawing paper. I'm currently learning a lot about different types of handmade papers, and experimenting with them; having NY Central Art Supply in the same city makes this much easier. Oh, and nice inks and gouache! I love colors.

Are there other creative projects you are involved in outside of your work in your etsy shop?
Well, I teach, which can sometimes be a creative project! I often take classes at School of Visual Arts downtown, and have been learning about Japanese woodblock printing and screenprinting there. I've also led kids' arts days in the Bronx, and I'm working toward starting up an arts program in my neighborhood for kids and adults.

Besides art/ crafty stuff, what else do you like doing in your free time?
Well, I love walking my 'hood, and reading, and playing with my cats. I also sing in a Yiddish chorus, and in the past I founded one (in WV). I love playing the guitar, and the piano when I can.

Does your queer identity come into play in your work?
No way it couldn't! But it's true that it's a little beneath the surface most of the time. In my ketubah/marriage pieces, I specialize in same sex couples' certificates, and I guess I make my statements in other pieces by quietly slipping in rainbows and lettering quotes that encourage open mindedness and respect generally. Sometimes I just have to put Sappho on a card, though. :)

What are your hopes for the Queer Etsy Street Team? What brought you to join?
I was excited to find out about the Queer Etsy Street Team! I think I'd looked for an LGBT team a while back, & hadn't found one, so it was pure serendipity that led me to find out about it now. Hopes: well, to make some friends and help bring the LGBT community on Etsy to more prominence, help contribute to the team's success.

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