Friday, October 1, 2010

Interviewed by Mirlette Islas of Mexican Colors

Name: Martha A. Rodriguez
Location: San Francisco, California

She is a latina urban folk artist established in San Francisco, California.

Her art for me is so full all of this things I left in my Mexico Lindo.  When I look at her work all the images of my homeland thrive in my mind.

You want to know more about her, here is a great interview.

1. Tell us about your crafts and how you came to make them

Being a Latina / Chicana born and raised in California, I’ve always been drawn to images, icons of all things Mexican. I’m a 3rd generation Chicana. When your family has lived that long in the U.S. your country of ancestry, in my case Mexico, becomes only a distant memory. It is up to you to reconnect with the customs, imagery and language of your ancestors. Well I’ve done a great job with the customs and imagery. Here is where my artwork reflects my Mexican ancestry. My Spanish language skills though are pitiful! Two out of three aren’t so bad!

I also became more focused on crafting when I lost a friend 13 years ago to a violent crime. She was a wonderful influence in my life – full of positive energy – despite many troubles in her youth. When I lost her, I realized life was too short to waste on indecisiveness. I had always felt the creative spark. I decided then to take it on full time and create.

As far as the types of crafts I create, I’m all over the place. I like to work with upcycled items, renewing them and recreating them. I make some jewelry usually with images of Frida Kahlo. I also do mixed media work on canvas. I love to use image gel transfers, painting black and white images and creating a new background. I also love painting on canvas with acrylics. I just finished a Dia de los Muertos collection called HIPSTA-VERAS. Its based on Hipsters you see in urban populations but they all have huge skeleton heads, little bodies dressed in the style of hipsters. It’s really a fun collection.

2. How long have you been crafting?

I’d say I’ve been crafting about 15 years. When my kids were first starting school, I wanted them to experience the holiday of Dia de los Muertos. I worked with their teachers and created a Day of the Dead lesson plan. I’d show up with books on the holiday and created lots of sugar skulls during that time. We also created an altar in their classroom. It was a very creative time for me, my kids and their friends.

3. How did you get started selling?

In a previous career, I had been a jewelry sales rep. I had done trade shows and sold out on the road. You would think it would be easy to sell my own stuff. The truth is it was a lot harder. When you are presenting your own work, it is so much closer to you. It’s hard not to take things personally. I had to force myself to get myself out there and use the resources I had.

4. What does selling on Etsy mean for you?

Etsy has been a great way to sell my work online. It’s a great starting point. When you are trying to introduce your work to more people in the U.S. and beyond, what easier way is there than go with Etsy?

Unfortunately, Etsy is now overwhelmed with creative people trying to sell their work. It has become much harder to get seen. This is where promotion has become absolutely necessary. You can’t just wait for buyers to find you anymore.

5. Which colors do you use most in your work?


6. How do you promote your work?

I do all of my promoting online. I use whatever promotional venues are online that are easy and FREE. These are hard times and I have to be very careful about where my money is spent. For my online stores (Etsy, Latin Pop Shop, Nest) I promote mywork through:

a. Facebook – I have both an individual page – Martha A. Rodriguez and a fan page – Estudio Martita
b. Twitter – under estudiomartita. Always list newly posted items on Etsy to Twitter. It’s the only way to get people to initially view new work
c. my blog – estudiomartita.blogspot.com
d. flickr – I post photos of new work here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/estudiomartita/

Even if I don’t have new work posted on Etsy, I always post daily to Facebook and Twitter something from my Etsy page. It may seem like overkill but I think it’s the only way to remind customers online that you exist and have work available to sell.

7. Can you share your #1 tip for success?

a. Promote every day on Facebook and Twitter.
b. Try to create an item that is easy to make, easy to sell and not too expensive. That way you can add something new regularly (once a week?) without it taking too much time and energy.
c. Don’t listen to those feelings of doubt. Enjoy what you do. That’s the most important thing. d. Learn from mistakes, Don’t let them hold you back.
e. Always look to the future that your business will grow, your work will get better and better!

I guess those were 5 tips. It’s hard to pick just one!

Thanks to Martha for sharing with me her time, her art work and a little part of her life.

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