February 11, 2009

How did I become a glass etcher?

My friend, Mary of Lolly-tots, inspired me to write a post about how I got here. This is her original post. Here's my story (it's pretty long):

My dad is very artistic, and tends to go through phases of interest where he becomes really interested in one subject/instrument/medium for a while before he switches gears. I've inherited some of this, but I seem to be learning how to stay focused, as an adult. He's always been really helpful at encouraging me to try new things, so I got to experiment musically and artistically at a very young age. He also taught me about computers, so I was trying out html and graphic design as early as I can remember. I always knew I didn't want to work in an office, or for someone else. I'm fiercely independent.

As a Child
I enjoyed writing as much as drawing, and my favorite assignments were the weekly illustrated stories we had to write in second grade. I took special lessons in grammar after school with my 3rd grade teacher, because I thought I'd be a writer. I wanted to write and illustrate children's books, and I started creating my own.

Middle School
I learned to love digital photo restoration--I borrowed magazines from the library with my favorite bands on the cover, then scanned them in and "fixed" the tears and missing areas. I designed a fan website for the Smashing Pumpkins, and I made friends online (I met some pedophiles too, but it was nothing).

In High School
I thought I wanted to be in the spotlight, and I became obsessed with music. I learned some things about playing the guitar and I took some voice lessons. I recorded a few songs (original and covers) and performed at a bunch of school events. I discovered that tattoo artists are well-paid, and I bought my own equipment.

My boyfriend and I drove across the country with the intention of moving to Arizona, where tattooing was legal. Arizona was miserable, we had $600 between the two of us, and Massachusetts decided to legalize tattooing, so we went back (after months of working in restaurants and coffee shops to save up the cash).

Real Life
Tattoo artists didn't need more apprentices, and the artist I wanted to work with told me to go to art school. I got a job selling shoes, but didn't know what to do artistically. When my shoe store offered me a salaried position, I decided instead to take some art classes and work part-time at another shoe store.

Design School
School was a lot of work, but I learned so much in my classes! I only took three classes towards a certificate program, but I never completed the certificate. Instead, I started drawing a weekly webcomic to let off some steam from the frustration of a retail job. I worked more, so I could save up for the inevitable day when I'd quit my job to do something artistic. I had to get OUT!

Taking the Plunge
In 2005, I quit my job to start a business, even though I didn't know what I was doing. I read business books and thought I knew a lot from being an assistant manager for a really small store, plus I'd taken some management training at my previous corporate job. I had no idea what I was doing.

I was making beaded jewelry, because it seemed easy. I couldn't sell it, even though people liked it. I desperately wanted to draw, but I was getting tired of doing the webcomic. I didn't have a lot of confidence in what I was doing. One day, I discovered that I could draw on little glass marbles with my Dremel tool. Somehow, that blossomed into a little business for hand-engraved vases and pendants.

Since that day, I've been reading everything I can and talking to anyone who might offer me some information about running a small business. I work hard, I do a lot of marketing, and I'm very frugal. Ironically, I've never had to borrow money in my life until this past Christmas, when the business was booming. We just couldn't pay rent at the same time as buying all the new equipment the business needed to keep up with demand. Crazy!

Now the economy is crapping out, just when things are taking off for me. I've worked up from basically nothing, with no experience and little training. I will never underestimate the amount of hard work and sacrifice it takes to run a business. I don't own a house. I don't have kids. I don't go to bars or clubs or out to dinner. I'd love to have all these things, but I guess my place is elsewhere.

I want to see this business truly succeed, especially since my husband is now working for me. I don't give up easily! But I think I can accept defeat graciously, if that day ever comes. I may not have an impressive resume, but I think I could find something else to do with myself...


Anonymous,  February 12, 2009 at 11:27 PM  

What an AWESOME story!?!! Very inspiring. I'm glad you were prompted to write this. I hope to see you at a Tea Time some day!

Mary Kelly February 13, 2009 at 10:33 PM  

wow that is a strange path you've been on. I forgot you said you had a web comic. Do you have any of that online anymore?

It's a long weird path you take when choosing not to do the boring 9-5. It makes life more interesting and gives you so many more stories to tell. Always an inspiration to hear other's journeys as well :)

Amanda February 14, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

Here's a link to the webcomic: http://nosoapradio.comicgenesis.com

They seem to have canceled all my login info and aren't responding to me anymore, so I can't update the site! They've also removed the extra portfolio pages, and some of the images aren't loading properly. :(

I don't blame ComicGenesis though. I think they require their artists to update at least once every 3 months, and I haven't updated in a couple of years!

I was thinking of re-publishing all the comics (or, the ones I still like, anyway) on the blog here. Maybe I'll do that!

Pauleridoo February 14, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

I'm touched. What a great story -- you haven't lost your talent for writing! Thanks for sharing with us.

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