Welcome to Woodland

116 Welcome to Woodland

Like the few features that you have been used to reading on my blog, this, too, is one of them. To be clear – in this series, I talk to artists, designers, illustrators (and shop owners) whose inimitable talent and beautiful crafts fascinate me. This feature throws some light on Jesi Rodgers, an artist whose wooden wares I first saw on Instagram (I have to thank Eddy for leading me to her account), and if you like to collect hand-painted crafts and quirky jewellery, you’ll surely like her stuff. Pieces of our e-mail conversation, below…

Jesi, you opened your Etsy shop back in 2010, did you have a lot of time to think about it before you joined the Etsy community online and began selling your wares? 

Actually, everything that happened with Etsy has taken me by surprise. I’d been painting for years but everything would just stay in my house. I never had much confidence in my craft, it was just something that I loved doing. My friends would look at my artwork and try to push me to get an Etsy account, but I kept procrastinating. One day, I finally registered the name to make sure nobody else would take it, but my Etsy account actually sat empty up until the end of 2011. In the meanwhile, I gained a decent fan base on Instagram and decided to actually put up some paintings for sale. I was terrified that no one would want anything or that my prices were too high. My first sale happened almost a month later, and it felt awesome.

All of your products are extremely cheerful and colourful. In fact, they remind me of little woodland creatures. Is that an underlying theme – what with all the gnomes, forest dwellers, colourful furry faces, and the whole wooden element that you employ to create your art?

It does seem like there’s a theme, but it wasn’t planned. I paint happy things because I’m a pretty happy person. I’m inspired by woodland creatures, vintage and retro looks, and tattoo art. I kind of smash all of those bits together when I paint, and I just paint what I usually like – gnomes, teeth, cameras, coffee cups, et cetera.

Have you always only ever painted on wooden surfaces? It’s something especially unique, that I’m not used to hearing of. Do you also carve the pieces of wood into particular shapes, treat the surfaces and then paint over them?

I actually used to paint on canvas before but I hated the texture so when I found smooth pieces of wood at the craft store, I had to try my luck with wood. I’ll probably never go back to painting on canvas! Craft stores are pretty awesome like that because they have different shapes for me to paint on. My friend Tyler actually found these egg-shaped pieces of wood and suggested that they would be perfect for my gnomes (see: the little buddies in the picture). He was right. Most of the time I find my frames at antique stores so they are all different shapes and sizes. For the tiny portrait frames and stationery, I use really thin sheets of wood with a paper backing so that I can cut into the sizes I require.

Does it take up much of your time and efforts to make a single product?

It really depends on what it is that I’m working on. A larger painting would take me about 8 hours to complete, a mini-painting would take me 2 hours perhaps. Once I had to paint 5 sets of nesting dolls (5 dolls per set) and that took me three 10-hour days to complete.

Do you ever feel creatively blocked when it comes to working on new designs and products?

Definitely. I think it happens to everyone every once in a while. It bums me out when it does happen though. Thankfully, it never lasts that long.

Besides crafting products for your label, is there anything else that you work on alternatively?

I actually work on making and painting products for my Etsy shop at least 5-6 days out of the week. I’m lucky that I get to say that this is my full-time job now. The days that I’m not working, I like to go exploring abandoned buildings and take photos. Just another obsession, er… hobby of mine that I’ve been doing for about 8 years now!

Are you ever likely to open a physical shop in the future?

I can’t say never because it would be amazing… but as of now, having a strong online presence is my big goal. I’m going to try to have more craft shows this year though.

For a new and small business owner like yourself, what’s the best part about selling on Etsy? And when it comes to hand-made stuff, I know there are plenty of folks out there who can be dissuading, did you feel any of that when you started out? How do you combat such things, if ever? Even copycats (that’s the scariest bit for me)!

The best part about Etsy is reaching such a large audience and the website being really easy to navigate. I definitely think it is a big help for people who want to sell hand-made items. As far as copycats are concerned, I’ve only had a few of them. You put so much of yourself into trying to make a design that is uniquely yours and to see someone else take the credit for it is just heartbreaking. Luckily, I haven’t caught anyone trying to actually sell my designs.

Are there more interesting artworks up your sleeve that folks should watch out for?

Always! I have plans for new miniature figures, rings, necklaces, and painting designs. I’m just going to keep creating them for as long as my little brain will let me.

{ Don’t forget to keep checking Jesi’s Etsy page here, for updates! She keeps adding new stuff on a very regular basis. I have to say though that I have a special fondness for the gnome brooches in particular. And you? ♥ }

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes and pictures by Jesi Rodgers

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5 thoughts on “Welcome to Woodland

  1. I love the gnome pets! I always think I’ll restart my toy collection but I need a cool display shelf first (possibly thrifted because those always look the best). And when I do, I want the wooden gnomes!

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