Monday, 27 April 2015

Etsy shop find...a chat with Cori Dantini

It's time for another instalment of some etsy shop loveliness, 
and this time I've been chatting with Cori Dantini.
Cori creates lovely whimsical art and sells the prints in her etsy shop.
Subject matter includes beautiful, elegant birds, characterful intriguing girls and most recently, lions, giraffes and zebras in her nursery art.
Lets have a little looksie shall we, and get to know Cori...

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background... 

My story is not a traditional story... and it is a bit long.
I grew up knowing that I wanted to make art.  It was simply the only thing I was really good at...  so when I went to college, I studied art, fine art to be exact.  
I focused on oil painting with a minor in printmaking from WSU (Washington State University), in my hometown of Pullman WA.    
I thought I would grow up to be a waitress/bartender. 
I imagined that I would paint all day and serve food all night, but commercial art sort of crept into my life.  
I didn't seek it out, and I didn’t truly understand it, but one day I woke up and realized I had become an illustrator.
It began when a liquor rep came into the bar where I was working in Seattle.  
He said he heard I was an artist, and asked if I would be willing to hand paint some signs for him. 
I jumped at the chance to make money doing what I loved to do, paint!  
So it began...  an illustration here, a series of illustrations there, a bathroom door, a chalkboard menu, a painted floor...  and before I knew it, I realized that I had unintentionally become an illustrator and that I didn't mind it. 
In fact, I liked the challenge of it.  
Eventually I found myself in Denver with my soon-to-be husband, and I couldn’t find a job. 
One day while cruising the want ads my husband found a job listing for a "clip art designer". 
I called up the company, went in for a meeting, and they sent me home with a big packet that asked me to draw a bottle of wine in "this" style, and a car in "that" style.  
It was a huge undertaking, but when I brought in my pile of drawings they hired me on the spot. 
Then they asked me if I owned a computer. The answer was no...  
My father kindly bought me a computer (I am forever thankful for this) and I began the process of learning all about vector based artwork.  When I began I was creating about 20 images a week, but by the end of 2 years I was designing 40 per day 
(that is a lot of drawing!). 
And then poof!, the business died off, which encouraged me to try my hand at greeting cards, and I am still designing them today.  
After the clip art cycle was over, I started putting up online portfolios, which lead to some exciting work with a local art director by the name of Gale Venosdel.  
He pushed me in ways that I had never been pushed and he really made me grow as an artist / illustrator.  I love him for that, and I still to this day look forward to projects with him (as they are always challenging and produce the best work)!   
When my husband finished his PhD in neuroscience, we left Denver and came to an empty rental property "with great studio space" that was owned by my parents.  And that great studio space and a chance encounter with a lady at a tiny craft show in Uniontown, Wa led me to open my etsy shop... which then led to sales, which led to interviews, which led to a faith in myself that people actually liked my artwork, which led to craft shows...  and then art fairs where I had a chance encounter with my licensing agent Sheila Meehan. Now she and I are on a ride together, and who knows where we’re going!  
Hopefully to some really fun places that hold some exciting career challenges.

 2. What books/ magazines are currently on your coffee table?

My coffee table is absolutely COVERED in Legos, but my bedside table has stacks of books on it! 
I just finished reading 'The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian' by Sherman Alexie (which I totally recommend), and now I’m reading a book called 'Refuge' by Terry Tempest Williams. 
And next will be 'Elsewhere' by Richard Russo.  
This would also be a natural place to talk about the fact that I am ALWAYS listening to an audio book in the studio...  and if I am working hard I can go through as many as 2 or 3 books a week in there... it helps me get back into the studio day after day, as I can hardly wait to find out what happens next (in the book AND in my work)!

 3. Who is your design hero and what inspires you?

I must confess, I really don't have a design hero.  
I learned early on that paying too much attention to what other people were doing/making affected what I made, so I try to keep my nose down and stay as true to my authentic "making" as possible.  

4. Tell us about a typical day for you...

I pull myself out of bed at 7 a.m. to a very typical morning routine focused on getting my son Henry out the door for school.  
When he’s fed and his backpack has been zipped shut, I leash up our (very old) dog Lucy, and she and I walk with Henry to school. 
Then we walk back home so I can get to work.
On any given day I am typically in the studio from 8:30 - 3:00 working on anything from printing and shipping etsy orders to designing fabric, and creating new paintings or illustrations.    
I try very hard to finish working before Henry gets home from school so that I can do my favorite and best thing, which is to be his momma (I really do love it).  
Then it's all about homework and the evening meal as a family.  
Evenings are a bit free form, but we are all tucked into bed fairly early with our books, getting ready to face a new tomorrow.
I'd like to be able to write in this section that I practice yoga and take dance classes, perhaps that I carve out time to meditate and spend time with friends. 
But truthfully a typical day is very much about "getting it all done" and trying to fit happiness into the cracks of the day.
Did I mention that my husband Liam works from home as well?  
He is a nice little part of my day too, and we often meet at the coffee pot or share lunch.

5. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?  

When I have a new job in front of me, the very first thing I tend to do is thoroughly clean my work space. 
The studio is often totally out of control after I am finished with a project, and this act of tidying seems to help me get excited for the next challenge.  
As I clean I handle all the bits and bobs and it sort of fills up my creative well, and by the time it is cleaned up I am ready to begin.

 6. Complete the following sentence...

'My happy place is......... on a pebble beach looking through all the tiny rocks in search of a perfectly round rock with Liam and Henry nearby. 
It makes me smile to think on it.

 7. What art do you have on your wall?   

Ooh I love my art! 
If you were to look around my home you would see work by Amanda Blake, Jenny Mendes, Stepanka, Diane Sudyka, Ouida Toucshon, Calef Brown, and Michael Corney. 
I have a soft spot in my heart for old carved wooden "things", like old touristy totem poles, hand carved wooden bowls and angels (all found thrifting). 
And lately I have fallen in love with Scandinavian folk art, and have been lucky enough to find a large Dala horse and a funky Swedish doll. 

 8. What's your guilty pleasure?  

It takes time, and I don't have a lot of "free time".  
Basically, I feel like I am playing hooky when I do it!

 9. Do you read any blogs? 
If so, what are your top three?

I'm a huge Pinterest fan, but that isn't a blog. 
BUT it takes me to all kinds of places (some of which are blogs)!!!  
I seem to end up on interior design blogs the most, but that could be because I am obsessed with kitchen design right now. 
We’re planning a remodel and hopefully that will be happening this summer.   

 10. What’s your favourite item for sale in your etsy shop, 
and whats the most popular item with buyers?

I think my most favorite piece is a personal piece called ‘We are at the curve that never ends’ (see below). 
It was created in honor of a great little story that once upon a time happened to me. 
I was at the park (up on the top of a little hill) in tall, tall grass.  
I was lying there, sun on my face, birds chirping, clouds floating by.  
The grass was tall (maybe a foot deep) and the hill… the hill had a little path that went all the way around it.  
So I am all blissed out and laying there minding my own business when this little person starts in on a sing-songy tidbit. “Look mom” he says, “we are at the curve that never ends, we are at the curve that never ends, we are at the curve that never ends”. 
It went on and on. 
Around he went on the curvy bend (ALL the way around) saying it over and over, rhythmically.  
Repeat, repeat, ‘we are at the curve that never ends’.  
And aren’t we all?  
We truly are always at the curve that never ends. 
It was such a perfect little piece of truth (out of the mouth of babes).
The most popular item for years were the owls (hands down), but now I am noticing that people buy a fairly even representation of everything.

A big thanks to Cori for such a wonderful interview!

You can follow Cori here...

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