Friday, October 10, 2008

Interview with Ladonnae

Part of an ongoing interview series profiling EtsyVeg members.
Interview by Kylie of

Meet LaDonna of Etsy's ladonnae

Q. Etsy is a unique blend of artists with many different creative styles and approaches. What is your own "philosophy" or approach to creativity?

My thinking is that everyone creates, or has the potential to create, but might be neglecting or denying it. If I don't create, then I become uncomfortable, and will invent an excuse or a reason to escape so that I can do what I love. I once took off work for a whole week so I could stay home and finish a large painting I had started one Sunday afternoon - called in sick! It was great- I finally gave up my day job completely this past summer, and am now in an artist's residency program at Mary Anderson Center in Indiana. So I can create all the time now and have wonderful projects planned out already.

Q. What do you sell in your Etsy shop?

I started out selling just my jewelry designs using upcycled vintage jewels and semiprecious stone. This summer I added some of my pastels and acrylics, some vintage items that were too beautiful to upcycle, and some supplies that I know I won't be using but would like to offer to others for their projects.

Q. What are your creative inspirations?
Mostly mother nature - I love this earth and all she offers. It's the humans that get me down! :)

Q. How did you get started creating?

I have been creating since I was a small child -
at six I wrote little storybooks illustrated with crayon and tied together with my gramma's crochet
yarn. I also made strange little sculptures in the garden and flower beds that my grandparents thought were funny - little rock and mud girls and animals.

Q. What other artistic tendencies do you have? Do you have other crafty/artsy skills that you already do or would like to try?

Yes, i am a poet and writer. I have been published in 9 different journals and anthologies - many moons ago I even won second place in the Kentucky Women's Poetry contest for a poem called "Sister, Sister" -
check it out. That's my artsy stuff.

In terms of crafty stuff, I'm pretty good with a sewing machine, but haven't really done much so far. I am also a web designer for artists, writers, and galleries - I currently maintain 10 different sites. I used to do them for all types of businesses, but then I was asked to do a paintball site and a feeder cow site!! That's when i stopped doing it commercially and just focused on what I know and love. Paintball GUNS and MEAT processors - eeeek - what the F*#K!?

Oh... I better add photography, too. As you can see from my etsy site, I love taking photos! A friend of mine wants me to do his catalog images for his pottery next spring. YAY!

Q. What would you like to try to make, that you haven't already? What is your dream project?

I'd like to start making my own paper, and maybe these weird little spirit dolls that I can picture in my head that would incorporate the use of more fabrics and textiles. There is also a clay studio onsite here at the center, so I may try my hand at that over the next six months during my residency.

My dream project is to have my own gallery promoting women artists and crafters - all handmade. I have a two-year plan.

Q. Do you have any other hobbies/interests/passions?

I love to go hiking and walking. I have rhuematiod arthritis, which is an auto-immune disorder, and most exercise kills me physically- but i can hike all over the place! Plus, I get lots of good energy from the trees and rocks, and it rejuvenates me.

My other passion is that I produce women's arts & crafts festivals, called "Every Woman's Arts & Crafts Festival," in both Kentucky and in Florida. I go between the two places - it is great fun and all about women artists and crafters. There are no juries or high fees, and the only requirement is that your items are handmade by you! :) We have a great time, and they both keep growing!

Q. How long have you been on Etsy, and are you an Etsy addict? :)

I joined in March 2006, but didn't really become active until this year when I returned to KY to help my family. It was my only "job," so I figured I'd better get busy and start marketing! Plus, I had more time to create, and it has just grown into a life consuming obsession. Uhmmm, yeah, so I guess I am addicted.

Q. Is etsy a large part of your business? How else do you market your work?

I think Etsy may only be half of my business op. I have business cards, and of course I do the women's festivals. In addition to organizing the festivals, I set up a booth there, too. I also have some of my jewelry in a couple of local galleries, which- amazingly enough- get better sales than I do online. I think it's because people can touch them and try them on. I am now in the process of setting up a shop with, as well, because there has been some interest in my visual arts as posters and notecards. So we shall see how that goes!

Q. What are your future plans for your shop/business?

I plan to continue with Etsy as an online presence just because I love it so- there are so many great people and groups I'm involved with. I feel good knowing there are other folks out there like me. :) I do have that two-year plan, though, and will have my own "physical space" gallery/shop eventually. O yes, it will be mine.

Q. How long have you been vegan/vegetarian? How does being veg play into the rest of your life?

I'm really just a recent convert of four years. When I was growing up, we didn't get food choices, and ate what we were given and "were damn thankful for it." Needless to say, that is why, as an adult, I have health issues. Doctors wanted to put me on all these crazy medicines with terrible side effects, and not knowing, I did try that for a while. But I got tired of constant blood, eye, kidney and liver tests- if the medicine was that toxic why am was I taking it, right?

So I focused on eating healthy, raw, organic foods- my other passion! Subsequently, I found that a modified vegan diet is best for someone like me, and I have not been to the doctor since I switched over to it in 2004. I am on no medications other than two plain aspirin and a B-complex vitamin each day, and sometimes I don't even need the aspirin! YAY!

I mainly switched to a veg lifestyle for health reasons, but also because I learned about how meats were being processed and how animals were treated. Did you know that U.S. meats are not allowed to be imported to European countries? Hmmmm... My family says I know too much, and I think that's a good thing.

Q. What is the last recipe you made? What are your food vices or cravings?
My last recipe is on the stove right now - it is my famous Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup. I'm drooling just thinking about it. My recipe for this was printed in the "alternative" newspaper in St. Augustine, FL this past spring. I plan on adding it to my personal Web site as soon as I establish one... I keep putting that off. Vices and cravings? Easy - CHOCOLATE and BEER (in that order)! Luckily, for me there are organic/veg options for both!! I am so blessed. :)

Q. What is your favorite vegan/vegetarian store/restaurant/blog/website?

I haven't really spent a lot of time seeking out blogs or sites to frequent. My fave store was in St. Augustine, the Present Moment Cafe and Market. They have the BEST carrot/apple/ginger/lemon juice in your life, and also raw sunflower nut loaves, hempseed milks... I have not been anywhere like it since I returned to Kentucky in June. "sigh" I have, however, discovered a great organic farmer's market here near the Mary Anderson Center. I am going this Saturday for the first time - I'll let you know how it goes! :)


annada said...

Congrats, Ladonnae! You have very diverse and wonderful things!! :)

Crickets Creations Handknit Scarves said...

Especially love the artwork with the blue/turquoise background!!

FireHorse3 said...

What a multi talented and interesting Etsian - lovely work and nice to hear about your life : )

Julie said...

I love that Ladonnae photographs her jewelry on plants and flowers. How cool! Congratulations on all your success!