As I progress in my artistic life, I realize that so much of my inspiration can come from admiring other artists’ work, and getting to know those artists. I have made jewelry and created some kind of art or craft my whole life, but only recently have I ventured beyond the four walls of my home to the world of artists that is out there. In 2007, I made a bold move and signed up for a mixed media art retreat called Art & Soul Retreat, in Portland, Oregon. I signed up for six classes, and jumped right in, not knowing a soul.
I read in the online Art & Soul Yahoo group that participants would be trading charms, ATCs, and little art supplies. I busily made 50 ATCs and 50 charms to bring with me. Now that’s the way to meet other artists! Since then, I’ve joined other groups, attended other retreats, visited hundreds of blogs, and I have “virtually” met dozens of artists from all over the world. My way of thanking these artists for inspiring me is to feature some of them in interviews on my blog.
The first artist is Kecia Deveney, a jewelry artist (and so much more!) from New Jersey. She lives by the shore with her husband Jeff and their two sons, Tucker and Dillon. I first met Kecia when I joined the Charmsters yahoo group for swapping. We met online, but didn’t meet in person until we both attended Portland Art and Soul a year later in 2008. In that time, and through her blog, I’ve seen the beautiful jewelry that she creates, her assemblages and altered art, and the artistic way she decorates her home and lives her life. She has also been teaching classes and has been published in some art magazines. It is my pleasure to present to you this interview with Kecia.
How would you describe yourself as an artist? Do you give yourself a title?
I like to describe myself as an indie craftepreneur; a mix between crafter, artist, photographer and businesswoman. I tend to do my own thing, make my own rules and try to be eco-responsible at the same time.
Can you give me a timeline of how your art has developed over the years?
I've always done some sort of crafty thing. There were always the handmade gifts at holidays because I found them fun to do and got more pleasure of creating them versus shopping for them. To decorate my home, I would buy stuff from flea markets, thrift stores or take stuff off the side of the road and then re-purpose them. I love to decoupage so a lot of big furniture items were done using magazine pages and decorative paper napkins. One day I decided to try and decoupage a vintage purse the same way I did my furniture. From there I started decoupaging old tool boxes, vintage jewelry boxes and other items. I gave a lot out as gifts and then people started to suggest that I sell at shows, which I did. I gained a small following and after meeting a nice girl at a show, she suggested I look up the term, "altered art" on ebay. I had never heard the term, so I did and I was amazed that there were others out there doing similar art to mine (altering items). It opened up a whole new world to me. Then I discovered that there were magazines and even retreats where you could go and take classes. I started a blog, joined a few art yahoo groups and attended my first retreat, which was in Columbus, Ohio. There I met my very first art friend, Kim, who was very encouraging about my art. She was a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of things that I still was very unfamiliar with and she'd always point me in the right direction with resources. Slowly I developed a blog following, started sending things to magazines and was published. From there I started submitting teaching proposals. I'd say the whole process from shows to teaching has been about 4-5 years.
Did you try many things before you developed your current style?
Yes, I tend to get bored quickly, so I like to do a variety of media. When I get tired of one, I'll do something else for awhile. I also think it helps keep things in perspective and always from doing the same thing over and over.
What type of art do you spend the most time doing?
These days I mostly make jewelry, but I still like to mix it up a bit. I think a booth with a variety of different items will attract more viewers.
Through what venues do you sell your art? Which type of venue has been the most successful for you?
I don't do many craft shows anymore. They are a lot of work, which I started running out of the energy to do; especially if I have to do it alone. Mostly I like to sell at Art Retreats because it is a captive audience, they know my work and they are into similar things. Locally around where I live, they aren't quite sure what to make of my stuff, so really the right demographics is key.
If you were making art solely for yourself, not for sale, what would you make?
Hmmm, knowing myself as well as I do, I have to say, I'd get bored only doing one thing. So I'll say that I would probably do mixed media sewing, make art dolls and jewelry. I love creating jewelry just for myself and usually these are the pieces that are most sought after. So there must be some sort of freeing pressure to only create for oneself and not for a potential buyer.
Can you talk about your art friendships you’ve met online, how you’ve cultivated them, and what they mean in your artistic life?
I did not grow up in the area where I currently live and I don't have family here. So needless to say, I don't have many friends here. My home life tends to keep me isolated. Also, I'm originally from California and grew up in the navy. I've traveled my whole life and I am a bit of a gypsy/nomad. I'm extremely independent and sort of my own island. With that in mind, I tend to be a bit different from the average mom in this area. I like to say that I stick out like a sore thumb. But to me, that is a good thing. I hope they see me as the interesting and creative person that I am, but I often suspect that that is not the case. I've lived here 12 years and in that time, I developed maybe 2 or 3 good friends. But these are people I rarely get to see, so to answer your question, yes I have a lot of online friends. These are friends that I have made at retreats, through my blog, yahoo groups or on facebook. There is a core group that I see often at retreats and we email regularly or text. Then there is the group that I communicate with via internet only and then the facebook crowd. My true good online friends are extremely important to me. I can call them when I am upset. They understand my trials and tribulations and are there for me when I need support. An important quality to me in a friendship is to be friends with people who will be there for me as I am there for them. They support and encourage my art.
Do you still participate in art swaps with other artists? If so, what type, and if not, why not?
I don't participate in big swaps any more as I just don't have the time. I like to do one on one swaps with people as it is more meaningful to me. It was fun at the time and I'll never forget hosting the 50 participants Valentine's swap with the Charmsters. It took me 9 hours to sort everyone’s stuff. That one will go down in history! Currently there is a group of 6 of us who will be swapping in September. I need to get going on that one!
Thank you, Kecia! Stop by tomorrow when I will be posting the second half of my interview with Kecia. For now, check out her blog and see her latest creations. Here is where you can find Kecia Deveney, craftepreneur (just click on the links to go there):
Her blog, Lemoncholy's Flight of Fancy
(post her a comment and ask her how she came up with that name!)
Her Etsy shop
Flickr (I like this photo here)