June's Artist of the Month is Karen, creator of Groovebag. If you haven't seen her shop yet, that's because Groovebag is a totally undiscovered secret. A secret that I am about to divulge. Get ready to drool over the handbags that will crank up your hotness factor while simultaneously giving you flashbacks of bad 80s haircuts. Really, ladies, what more could you want? You are SO MUCH HOTTER than you were back then!
Speaking of the 80s and bad haircuts, Karen has donated this awesome times ten Prince Sign o' the Times zippy wallet. To win this, you must READ THE RULES and please, follow them! Comments like "Ooh, cool." are not going to get you to the winner's circle!
Karen's upcycling genius is to take all things musically discarded and repurpose them into totally hip, completely braggable, and completely functional must-haves. Did I mention the SASS? So so sassy. For instance: if you thought paying bills was no fun, then obviously, you don't have a WHAM! checkbook cover.
Let George Michael bore into you with those eyes, and paying bills will be a snap. A snap that will lead to a booty shake. Need a place to store your biz cards? Oh yes, watch the envy when you whip out your little Roxy Music cassette tape zippy. As if the girls weren't jealous enough that you store these little numbers in your Saturday Night Fever Groovebag. (flipside K-Tels Goofy Greats). Oh yes. Let's get to know Lady K:
Tell us the story behind your shop name.
I first started my shop by making the Groovebag purse so that's how the name landed as a shop name. I played around with a few different names but my oh-so-clever husband came up with groovebag and it kinda stuck. I liked how it sounded......all retro and groovy at the same time!
behind Groovebag? How did it start? How long have you been creating
musically inspired accessories? Give the world a little background.
I am a one woman band and the sole proprietor of Groovebag. I design, cut, sew, glue, file, polish each piece myself, by hand. I came up with the idea during a winter of boredom and lack of work. See, I work making costumes in the film industry here in Toronto. The nature of the film business is feast or famine. I am either working my butt off non stop 18 hours a day or I'm sitting on my butt at home waiting for the phone to ring with the offer of my next job. The winter before last, I found myself in the latter of those two scenarios. In order to keep myself sane I started playing around in my home studio with ideas for a computer bag using album covers. In the midst of all of that I came up with the idea of a handbag made out of old vinyl albums. I pushed my original idea to the side (where it still sits waiting patiently for me to return to it...poor neglected idea) and started making prototypes for the Groovebag handbag. Many attempts and months later I came up with a product I was happy with and voila! I opened up my ETSY shop.
What inspires you?
I can get pretty worked up over an amazing piece of fabric and now that I am deep into old music media, an album cover with jaw dropping graphics (particularly 1970's) really rocks my socks off!
Do you have a personal design philosophy?
Not really. Some of my best ideas are born of "mistakes" in that when I let go of striving for perfection I often find myself more open to new ideas and designs. I do have a "standard of quality" philosophy though. That comes from making costumes professionally for the last 24 years! All of the sewn components of my bags and wallets are sewn really really REALLY well ; )
Where is your work sold? Where can people find you?
My work is in my ETSY shop and in a shop in Seaside Heights, New Jersey called Le Petit Garage.
What's your bestseller? Or, if you do mostly one of a kinds, what sells the best?
It seems like the Zippy Cassette Wallet is really popular! And when I first opened up my shop I sold a beeeee-you-tee of a Groovebag made using a blue silk plaid and The Bay City Rollers and Toto. That baby flew off the *shelves*!
Show us your studio!
What are some of your favorite materials to work with? What do you find yourself drawn to most often?
Well, old music media seems to be my favorite. It's a throw back to my younger days I guess. I used to love sliding an album out of the cover, slipping it onto the old turntable, dusting it with the velvet brush and oh-so-carefully drooping the needle. Ahhh. Ooops. Sorry about that. I do actually play each album before "sacrificing' it to become one of my handbags. Same goes for the cassettes.
Describe your biggest artistic disaster to date.
In the early prototype stage of making my handbags, I was heating the albums in my oven before cutting them. It seemed that the heat made them more pliable and easier to cut. Let's just say that their were some oven disasters involving vinyl and high heat. By the way, I've since come up with another way of cutting the albums!
Share your favorite moment in your creation process.
It has to be choosing the 2 albums that will adorn the outside of the Groovebag handbags. I try to compliment the colours in the fabric of the bag to the colours in the albums labels. As well as choose two album titles that go together...or sometimes not....It's all really quite fun and actually more challenging than it sounds.
What's your favorite piece that you've ever done (and is it still for sale)?
It seems that my favorites keep changing each time I make up a new batch of handbags or wallets. I suppose that if I had to choose one it would be a gem of bag that I made with a pink silk burbury type plaid. The album choices really worked out well on this bag....Polka greats with Frankie Yankovic and The Knack. Remember My Sharona??
And it is for sale.....just haven't listed it yet. Maybe I'm not ready to give her up just yet!
What's one piece of advice you wish someone had told you when you started?
As an ETSY seller I wish I had spent a heap more time learning all about ETSY and all of the fantastic features on the website. I am still learning all about the website!
Do you have advice for someone just starting out in a creative venture?
Shameless self promotion! I need to do a little more of that myself. And be patient. Sales won't happen overnight even though we all wish that they would!
Looking ahead a bit, what's upcoming for you?
I applied for a juried craft show here in Toronto.If I get in it will be my first show! Keep your fingers crossed. Oh yah. My husband and I are going on a 3 week trip to Europe this August!! He's a film maker and one of his films is screening at a festival in Germany so off we go. YAHOO!
What else do you want the world to know that I didn't think to ask?
I am a marathon runner. I have run 7 full marathons (26.2 miles) including Boston, New York and Chicago. I've also run a few half marathons and some 30km races. It clears my head when I go for a run. It unwinds me just like having a glass of wine at the end of a hard day.
Recommend three artists the world should know about (but doesn't).
Aliza Amihude. She is an amazing art jeweler.
Sarah Rosensweet. She makes the sweetest little sweaters for kids.
Derreck Roemer. He is an insightful and intelligent film maker. And he's my husband!
And finally, what is your favorite word?
Thank You Lady, K! I can't wait to add a Groovebag to my handbag collection! WHOOO!