Today I’m interviewing Anna Bartlett of Shiny Happy Art. Anna has been a longtime reader and supporter of the My Poppet blog. I was delighted when she approached me to sponsor the blog, and I thought this would be a great way to get to know her a little better.
I love finding out what makes other creative folk tick, and I’m often interested in how others run their businesses and manage the other aspects of their lives.
Anna’s work is very colourful and she has her own unique style. Let’s get to know Anna a little better…
What do you create?
I create original paintings and drawings, some of which I have printed onto fabric which I then sell as is, or sew into cushions, bags, tea towels and other lovely things.
Why do you create?
My Mum’s an artist and my grandfather was a professional photographer, so there’s always been art in my life. I have memories of being about 4 or 5, and Mum would give me a bucket of water and a paintbrush and I’d start at one end of our cement driveway, paint all the way up to the end, and then come back and start again.
Now, as an adult, and with four children of my own, I create to make our life better, full of colourful, interesting and unique memories. I’ve tried to harness this drive to build a business that artistically enhances the lives of others, and hopefully I’ll never have to have another ‘proper job’.
Actually, I have a goal to never have to write a resume again – we’ll see how that pans out! Apart from making art, I really enjoy sewing and baking… pretty much everything I enjoy doing makes a lot of mess. I’m very lucky to have a very understanding husband. Where do we buy your creations?
From my website www.shinyhappyart.com , or from my studio in Toowoomba, Queensland. I’m very lucky to have a studio that is right on the highway (it used to be a strawberry packing shed) with plenty of light and space. I open to the public on the occasional Sunday, and by appointment. I also go to a couple of local markets, but only when it fits in with the family. What do you enjoy most about what you do and why?
The wonder and amazement that you start with nothing, think a bit, draw a bit, do a bit and then, suddenly, it’s ‘something’! Most of the time that ‘something’ is not that close to what I originally saw in my head, so I keep on reading books and taking classes to bring my skill level closer to what my imagination requires.
I also really like being my own boss, although a regular pay packet would be nice sometimes! Another thing I really enjoy is blogging. Since I started my own blog in 2006 I have connected online with many artists and crafters, and I hope to meet some of them in real life one day.
What is your background?
I’ve always loved art and done well at it, but I studied marketing and business because it was a ‘safer’ path to take at uni. Through my marketing jobs, I learned a lot about graphic design and was a self employed graphic designer for many years. I was also in the army reserve for eight years, spending one year doing full time service. THAT certainly seems like a whole other lifetime ago!
Shiny Happy Art has been going for almost ten years in one form or another, and I’m delighted with the direction we’re heading now. What, to you, is success?
To actually feel ‘successful’, I would like to be able to do what I do in daylight hours, but I honestly can’t see that I’ll be even close to that happening at least until my youngest starts school in 2014. (That’s going to be a really great year!)
My first financial goal is to earn an income that covers my kid’s school fees and I’m working towards that now. There’s a strong link for me between my desire for ‘creative success’ and ‘financial success’ because if I’m not making this work for us financially, I really should be doing something else that lets me spend more time with the kids.
The whole myth of work/life balance annoys me really. I’m always going to be the type of person that jumps into opportunities and ideas feet first, and while my top priority is always my family, I honestly can’t imagine that the illusive concept of ‘balance’ would make me happy. So I’ve just let go of it.
I’ve got plans of course, but I just do what I can do in the time that I’ve got. Really, success would be to make art that I’m proud of, turn it into useful and desirable things, sell enough of them to have a regular cash flow going, and still have enough time to do other things I want to do that don’t earn me money – like volunteer work for school and for SANDS (the stillbirth charity that is close to my heart), and simply making things for and with my own family and friends.
So what’s next?
I plan to work a lot ‘smarter’ in 2012. I’ve made plenty of mistakes this year, so over Christmas I’ll be working on a proper business plan. In 2012 Shiny Happy Art will be releasing a limited number of cushions and teatowels each season, and I’ll expand on some other ideas that have been percolating, like collaborations with other creative people and totally new products. Quite simply, I want to make a lot of people smile – when they discover Shiny Happy Art, when they choose something for themselves or a friend, when they receive their order in their letterbox, and when they hang it on their wall or pop it on the couch. There’ll be a lot more ‘Shiny Happy’ in a lot more lives next year, and that’s got to be a good thing!
Thanks for sharing Anna.
Shiny Happy Art Shop
Shiny Happy Art facebook page