Hello all my wonderful readers! I can't believe I'm actually starting a following. This is awesome. You guys are awesome.
Before we get started with this week's seller interview, I would like to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who's checked out the For Jason shop on Etsy. She has gotten a great response so far. Let's not stop there! Keep buying, and my fellow members of April's Army, let's get creative! :) It really has inspired me a lot knowing that my work will be going to help someone who needs it. I can't wait to see where the future funds will be given.
Now, onto the main event! Today we're going to meet Eric, the man behind Tangled Metal on Etsy. You AA members have probably seen him around in forums as well. I hope you all enjoy. Without further ado...
Name: Eric Young
Home State: From Texas but live in Arkansas now
Home City: Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Favorite Color: Black, green, red, brown
Favorite Drink: Beer:Guinness, Wine:Merlot, Liquor:Thors Hammer Vodka, Breakfast:Strong Coffee, During the day:Water
So, Eric, you're a dude. If there's something that's sadly lacking on Etsy, it's dude artists. So what made you decide to start creating jewelry and things in the first place?
My father is a silver and gold smith, my grandfather was a gunsmith, I come from a long line of blacksmiths and metal workers. Metalwork is in my blood. My family has always been in craft shows, art shows and owned galleries and shops since I was very young. I started making chainmail around 1986. My father wanted me to learn silver and gold smithing but I did not have the patience at the time. So, what do I learn, a craft that requires a huge amount of patience. Go figure.
What, specifically, drew you to creating chainmail? Were you into European history? Tabletop gaming? Something else entirely?
Yes,yes and yes. I read the complete works of Shakespeare when I was 9 years old. Maybe that is what messed me up. Just kidding. Shakespeare got me into European history. Then I branched out to Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. A lot of chainmail in there for sure. Sure, there was some tabletop gaming influences. I was young when D&D was getting its start, but I remember my dad was interested in the dice because they were multi sided. This was all before the internet of course. There were no training manuals, no books written on it or anything. I looked at pictures in books at the library and tried to learn by sight.
How long did it take you to perfect your skills enough to create the intricate pieces you're selling today?
I started over 25 years ago and I am always trying to do a better job. I started out cutting up coat hangers, much to my mother's dismay. I now use commercial flush cut rings and create rings myself with a jeweler's saw. I started doing production pieces early on. I was slow. It would take several hours to make a pair of earrings. Slow and steady wins the race it would seem.
How long does it take you, on average, to make a beautiful piece like your Very Purple Glass Bead Chainmail Handflower Slave Bracelet?
My very first 30 bead handflower took about 4 hours. Now, as a production piece, it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes from start to finish. I had to become very fast at making chainmail when I was a booth owner at the Kansas City Renaissance Fair. Seven weeks of fair, 250,000 visitors, a lot of stock. When I was in the height of making full time, I could make a complete long sleeve shirt in under 12 hours.
You have a lot of really original chainmail pieces. Where do you come up with the idea to make a chainmail leather cuff bracelet or a chainmail cat-o-nine-tails?
Copy is the greatest form of flattery. When I was on the road at Renaissance Fairs, I would create a new item and within 3 months it was being recreated everywhere. So, I had to stay on top of new items, constantly creating new and unusual pieces to be different. There have always been the standard items that many other chainmailers do, and there is a reason for that. When you have a shop you need to have things that people recognize to draw them in. Then you wow them with something they have never seen.
You also make some really lovely Steampunk jewelry and accessories. If anyone has read Regretsy, or just searched for Steampunk on Etsy they'll find that not many people really know what qualifies as Steampunk. How does this, for lack of a better term, ignorance of the genre effect your sales and the interest in your shop?
I think that a lot of things are mis-labled Steampunk, but you have to understand, Steampunk is a newish fad. Want to know what steampunk is? Imagine Jules Verne meets Tim Burton and throw in a little H.R. Giger. It is a mixture of Gothic, Science Fiction and Victorian. Steampunk isn't one thing, it is a blending of many. Gears, cogs, sea creatures, corsets and top hats. People who look for actual Steampunk items find people who make them. Sure, there are plenty of things out there that make it hard to find but eventually, people will move to another fad like handmade owls or octopi.
If you could define Steampunk in your own words, what would those words be?
See above. The definition changes in my mind on a daily basis.
As far as chianmail goes, I can't help but note your prices are very low. Knowing that you could charge a lot more for your art, is there a reason in particular your prices are what they are?
Really? My prices are low? Interesting. I thought they were high, but as some of my friends say, I live in a bubble from 1989 to 1998. My prices back then were even lower. I guess because I am so fast at making chainmail that I just pay myself a decent wage. Perhaps it is time for me to give myself a raise. That is the one bad thing about working for myself, my boss is a slave driver and doesn't pay me too well.
What, in your opinion, is the sexiest thing about a woman sporting a chainmail accessory? (Or man, for that matter. I don't want to discriminate.)
I think wearing something that brings out natural beauty is the sexiest thing. Like green beads on a necklace bringing out green in the eyes. I think that wearing chainmail jewelry makes you feel sexy and that brings it out. Just for the record, I wouldn't want to discriminate either, but I prefer women. :)
Do you play video games? If so, what would your favorite game of all time be?
I used to play video games. I started way back on my Commodore 64. I was always quite fond of the Ultima Series. I also played Ultima Online for over 11 years. I finally quit last year. Not to play another game, but because it became boring. Now, I don't play any video games at all. i do not even own any Console Gaming Systems, but I would love to have a working Nintendo and some old games.
Do you play any tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons? If so, which of your characters was/is the most fun to play?
Here again, in my younger years I played. I grew up in a pretty small town and there were not that many nerds so I never really played that much. I always played a warrior when I did play. There is just something about a Paladin that was fun.
How did you get involved with Etsy?
I went into retirement from chainmail around 2002 when I broke my thumb. I could not hold pliers. It took a long time before I could use my hand and it still hurts if I work for more than a few hours at a time. I really didn't want to start doing shows again and deal with that stress. I needed the extra money. My girlfriend, owner of Curious Crow Design and Curious Crow Vintage suggested that I put up a few pieces. Low overhead and high visibility always look good to an artist, so here I am.
Is there a certain aspect of Etsy that you really like? What is it, and why do you like it so?
I like a lot about Etsy. Having a shop open 24 hours a day, having a built in online community. Low fees. Rating system with feedback. These are things that are very difficult to achieve with your own website.
If you could give one piece of your art to a celebrity, who would it be, and why?
First of all, Celebrities have the money to pay for it. Second, there are several celebrities who wear my work. And third, I would much rather give a piece to charity. All that said, I made a dress a few years back that would have looked very nice on Cher.
What is your favorite way to advertise your Etsy shop? Forums? Twitter? Facebook? Why is it your favorite?
My shop isn't even a month old yet. I am still trying to figure out the best way to advertise. My personal Twitter account has almost 9000 followers. I started my Tangled Metal Twitter a few weeks ago and it is around 400 followers. I seem to get most of my traffic when I post new listings to twitter. My Facebook Fan Page has just over 30 "Likes" so, there is a little bit of trafic from there. I am going to be doing a monthly art show and will be giving out business cards, so hopefully that will also increase traffic.
Who has been the biggest influence on your art and creativity?
My family has always been a huge influence on me. Today, my girlfriend, is by far the biggest influence on me. She's a very talented artist and encourages me to create.
If someone new to Etsy asked you for one piece of advise, what would you tell them?
Read everything you can before you list your first item. Learn about Etsy specific SEO and take great pictures. I am VERY lucky that my girlfriend is a photographer too. She has a great camera and a great eye. The one thing that will keep you from sales is a bad picture.
Do you have anything else at all to say to the nice people reading? Anything your heart desires. :)
Compliments are great, but remember that the greatest form of compliment is to purchase something from someone's shop. I have a day job outside of Etsy, but there are many aspiring artists out there that Etsy is their only form of income. If you have money, share it by buying something from someone. It builds people's confidence to make a sale. It may also pay their bills. This is not a shameless self plug, like I said, I am not relying on Etsy to feed my family.
Here are links to my different web presences:
Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/TangledMetal
Website: www.tangledmetal.com (Still working on it)
Thank you all for reading. Tune in next week for another wonderful member of the AA team, Folded Frippery!