Artist: Sidney Ann
Web site: sidneyann.etsy.com
Location: Seattle, USA
What do you make?
I make coasters, small mirrors, beach/tote bags, cosmetic bags, pillows, leather wallets/clutches, and hand-bound leather journals.
Where and when do you do your creative work?
Thankfully I have a large living room in my apartment, so I sectioned off half of it and turned it into a studio. I try to spend time in there every day, although it’s not always possible as I am often busy with my other “jobs” and commitments.
Do you have "day job" separate to your art?
I am a contractor for Expedia. My work mostly involves a lot of writing and editing. I do this from the comfort of my home which affords me the time and flexibility to pursue my business.
Where and what did you study?
I have a Business degree from the University of Washington. I did take some art classes while I was there, but I just thought that a business degree would get me further in life. In retrospect, I should have focused on art since my creativity is one of my greatest strengths. The business aspect of it comes pretty naturally to me, although it’s my least favorite part. I am quite entrepreneurial and enjoy being my own boss.
What inspires you and what motivates you?
I am inspired by architecture, fashion magazines (especially the ads), travel, old-fashionedness, and shopping. I just love design, innovation, and discovering what’s “new”. Additionally, thrift shopping brings me great joy. I’ll see a dress made out of some hideous fabric and think, ‘that print would actually look best sandwiched between two pieces of glass for a fantastic coaster set’, or I might buy a shirt just because I want to use the buttons on one of my leather clutches. I love the thrill of the hunt!
When did you start doing this?
I started to realize that I had too many pillows made from old scarves my senior year in college. My friends came over and said, “you should sell these!”. So I named by business “Pirouette”, got my business license, made some business cards, and dreamed about building up the courage to approach some local stores. During the summer of 2002, after I graduated from college, I stumbled upon a Seattle boutique that specialized in goods made by local artists. The proprietor of that store said my pillows kept her in business for those first six months. It took me another year or so to realize that I could make more things with scarves other than just pillows. That’s when I expanded my line to include coasters, mirrors, glasses cases, and picture frames – all made from scarves – and changed the name to Sidney Ann (my first and middle names).
Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
Yes, I’ve always been into crafts and sewing. My mom used to sew a lot, although she mostly made leotards to sell at my gym. Eventually I made my own leotards, always a little different from the ones my mom made however (quality wasn’t quite where I needed it to be). I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands whether it would be sewing, coloring, baking, etc…
What do you love most about your work?
I love the sense of completion I receive when I actually finish something, especially executing a new idea for the first time. I’m famous for starting projects and not finishing them. I find that many projects are more fun “in theory”. For example, I would really like to be able to make clothes, but since I can’t follow directions I am forced to make my own patterns and that is very difficult without a dress form (or maybe even with one). The only garments I ever successfully made were the leotards (I didn’t make that pattern). I also love being surrounded by color.
What's the most fascinating place you've been?
Prague is very beautiful, as are the San Juan Islands. I am going to Europe soon though so my answer will likely change by the time I get back.
A book you love:
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I was a gymnast for 16 years. Gymnastics was such a big part of my life for so long, it is something that still carries a great deal of influence over my daily activities. Compared to what I’ve been through, everything nowadays is cake!
What achievement are you most proud of?
I received a full gymnastics scholarship to the University of Washington. I feel that my proudest adult/real life moment has yet to come.
What advice would you give women starting their own business?
If you love what you are doing, you’ll find a way to make a living doing it. Also, don’t be afraid of change – embrace it.
What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
I don’t like to market myself (I’m a terrible saleswoman). Etsy is like a dream come true – I don’t have to talk anyone into doing anything!
What do you love to do in your free time?
Aside from making things, running and yoga are my near-daily staples. I also enjoy going out to dinner and trying new restaurants, road trips, travel, shopping, and watching movies.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on using up some of the fabric that I have on hand… there’s a lot of it! No, really, I am working on some new bags for Spring/Summer, experimenting with new shapes and color combinations. I’m also big on leather right now, but even I’m not sure what I’ll create next with it.
What do you hope to achieve next?
Short-term, get to Europe and back in one piece. This is a big step out of my comfort zone, especially considering it is a solo adventure for the most part. I am so excited to experience new cultures and food, meet new people, and to become inspired.
Long-term, I plan to open a design-oriented accessory and home decor boutique. This is my calling in my life so I have to make it work.