Drawing and making has always been a part of my life.
Cards By Ashley - http://cardsbylesley.blogspot.com/
- Tell us a bit about your journey becoming a small business owner?
After finishing my art degree in 2005, I was encouraged by friends and family to offer a selection of greeting cards for sale. I had always made custom cards so the cardsbylesley collection was a logical next step to sharing my work. My goal was to create multiples cards that looked exactly like my original sketches. Once I found the right equipment and processes I knew I was in business. I knew some local shops that might enjoy my sense of humour and they became regular stockists. And, I would occasionally sell cards myself at craft shows.
- Have you always been interested in art and wanted to be an artist?
Drawing and making has always been a part of my life. When I was very young, I often received art supplies, colouring pencils and inspiring books, which sparked my interest in the visual arts. I even designed cover art for school yearbooks and plays, and eventually attended a formal art school in Toronto where I studied everything from printmaking, textiles, jewelry making and ceramics. Sharing my creative designs with others fuels my impulse to keep on making.
- How do you come up with these whimsical creatures and ideas of sayings for the cards?
Often a greeting card drawing starts with a special someone in mind, but I am also a keen observer and every walk to the park or through the yard may start an idea about a dog, squirrel, insect or a flower. I often research animal traits and how different species interact with other animals compared with humans. Then I just let the silliness and my imagination take over.
- Can your items be customized?
Yes, I am always open to creating custom work for clients.
- Please tell us about your new line of sticker products?
This summer, I was a vendor at the new Kingston NS Farmers Market where I launched my line of Nova Scotia inspired cards. A friendly customer was taken with a particular design and inquired about having a sticker made to give to someone. I liked the idea and so I re-worked the design, tested out new sticker papers and am really pleased with the results. Likely there will be more sticker designs in the future.
- Can you walk us through the stages of how you create your cards?
I often start with pencil and paper to sketch out a few action poses and the general composition of any new ideas I have been thinking about. I use quality watercolour paper, ink pens, watercolour paints, and then sometimes add gradations and fonts. Finally, I use digital programs to refine each design after many test prints. I source my envelopes and sleeves through a Canadian company, print on large format paper made in the USA, then I hand score, cut and stuff each card in my studio.
- Out of all the products you offer, which is your favourite one to design and why? With the cardsbylesley collection, I enjoy the format of greeting cards as my customers will end up sending my drawings near and far just to make people smile.
- Can you tell us the pros of being a small business owner has provided you?
I have been selling handmade products for years, but have only recently been doing this full time. Being a small business owner involves a lot of different skills that I enjoy practicing and perfecting. Skills like, learning about my customers’ interests, developing new designs, producing and managing product inventory, as well as sales and marketing. Although the hours are long and I tend to work as much as needed, I am ultimately in charge of my schedule which means I can balance my time between making, selling and rejuvenating myself mentally and physically.
- What is your most popular item that you sell?
Out of the greeting cards, one of the most popular items is the alligator on a motorcycle flying over lit candles on a cake. It is a birthday card for any age and the image appeals to people with a little wildness and determination, mixed with humour and nonsense. The ‘Cat Lush’ image of the ginger feline relaxing with a goldfish martini is a close runner up. It brings a smile to those who know how privileged cats think they are.
- Can you tell us about the online blog you have started?
cardsbylesley.blogspot.com is my online offering for the illustration work, stationary, and stickers that I make. I post about upcoming shows and new work, fabric patterns, and occasional musings. You can buy directly from me through the blog, and if customers have questions about where I am vending, or custom requests, they can connect with me through the site.
- We are excited you are now branching out into wall art. Can you tell us more about your new product line?
A lot of people who purchase cards make comments about framing them and most standard frames will not fit the cards size well, so I created new formats that will last longer than a small card. The wall pieces are currently limited editions of each format; only 10 of each size and style will be created. They are reproduction prints of the drawings on archival paper, laminated to board or wood and sealed so that the crispness of the paper image is protected. I have started offering 5 x 7” paper images of most designs as well.
- When we can’t find you at a market or working on your beautiful creations-where can we find you? Your hobbies, interests ect..
I balance my work time between cardsbylesley and Lesley Ashton Jewellery. Outside of that, to refuel my creativity, I volunteer and socialize a little, exercise, tend to the cat a lot and busy myself with gardening and keeping up with my ever supportive partner.