If you've spent your time wandering around etsy, then surely you've come across oktak. This shop is full of the most adorable and stylish purses you'll find on etsy, featuring vibrant and fun textiles, and even her own hand embroidery. Aki, the artist behind these beautiful creations, was kind enough to spare some time in her busy schedule to be a Featured Artist.
......................... the interview .........................
A random fun fact about yourself:
I was trained to do something totally different - I worked for the Japanese Foreign Ministry before I started this.
The first 3 random words that pop into your mind:
cat,lunch,party (OK, I'm an airhead..)
How would you describe your work?
Bright & fun with a special attention to detail.
How long have you been at it?
I started making bags in 2003, but it wasn't until 2005 that I launched my own website and Etsy shop.
So for you, is it an innate talent or practice makes perfect?
I definitely think it's both. My aesthetic and creative ideas are innate, but my technique is something I had to acquire and prefect over time.
From where/how do you find inspiration?
Never really thought about this, but I guess from a lot of things. Definitely materials - when I see a gorgeous textile, I immediately know what to make with it.
Photographs and paintings, old dresses and kimonos, food (beautiful fruits & veggies), flowers, and sometimes my kids' drawings.
What was your most memorable creative experience?
About 6 months ago, I started making "special edition" frame pouches which were very labor-intensive. Some were hand-embroidered, and some were patchwork, and they took hours to make. I wasn't confident at all that they would sell - I guess for me, it was more "art" than "product", and I just needed an outlet for my creative energy. But to my surprise, these high-end pouches sold very well. I then realized that people did recognize and appreciate "art" and hard work, and were willing to pay extra for these special pieces. Since then, I'm not afraid to make what I want :)
What do you do when your inspiration and creativity is tapped?
I've never had this problem. I don't know if I'm lucky or not, because I have the opposite problem - there are constantly about 100 ideas in my head, but I don't have the time to materialize all of them! It's a huge dilemma.
Any memorable low points that you've learned from?
Oh, too many to share here .. it's constantly trial & error, both in creating and in doing business.
What is your formula for success?
I'm not sure if I'm qualified to give such a tip, but I believe that you have to make what you really love and want to make. This should come before considerations about what is selling in the market, or what other people are making. If you make what you love and work hard to improve it, your work will shine and people will see that.
Was there a moment when you realized that you'd achieved success?
Again, I don't know if I've "achieved success" yet ..
But it sure felt great when I was featured in several national magazines this year, and hit 1,000 sales on Etsy!
Any advice for those having a bad case of artist woes?
If you think your work is great, but is not selling - examine every factor that is not directly related to your art. Most importantly, photos - improve them by any means!
Description, price, promotion, customer service, selling venues, packaging etc. ..
There are always many things that can be improved. It may be scary, but get other people to critique your shop and be brutally honest.
When not hard at work on your designs, what would we most likely find you doing?
Being a mom to 2 kids (ages 9 & 4). Not much time for anything else!
In a parallel universe where you are not a fabulous designer, what would you be?
A ballet dancer or lawyer.
What are some of your favorite etsy shops?
and many, many more ...
What's at the top of your etsy wish list?
Any suggestions for my next featured artist?
Any of the guys mentioned above!
......................... end interview .........................
Thank you for your answers, Aki!