Fat and Appy Is Open on Etsy!

We opened Fat and Appy Modern Art at FatandAppy.com a few months ago, using the Shopify platform (which we love). But a lot of people we respect (and have successful Etsy shops themselves) nudged us to “get on Etsy.”

I’ve been shopping on Etsy forever, so it wasn’t a hard sell. I just knew it would take a lot of work to load in the store, set up tags, photos and pull it all together in the “About” section. And then last week, we finally decided to take the plunge. Jonathan and I both worked hours rewriting copy, enlarging jpegs and brainstorming tags. We also launched a new design, called “Identity Crisis.” It’s available in four sizes, starting at $99.

Rody bouncing horse by Denver illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Our new Etsy store can be found at FatandAppyModernArt. I think it’s so exciting to be in the company of thousands of creatives who are making things. I hope we can debut new products on the Etsy store or maybe even original drawings to get feedback. I’ve even been cooking up a 3D printer project. I have endless ideas…but I just try to take them one at a time and decide what to pursue. My notebook is full of ideas; Jonathan has a similar notebook and his is crammed with project ideas, too.

And now we can check off Etsy. Hurray!

Tomato painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fox print by illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Yeehaw Colorado painting by Jonathan Fenske

A fried egg print by Fat and Appy, designed by Jonathan Fenske

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More Emma Klingbeil

I wrote about Emma Klingbeil, my new favorite artist, a while ago.

I also told you in that post that I thought I had a “fox” thing. Turns out, I do have a thing for the woodland fox.

Today’s post is about two more Klingbeil paintings I purchased from her Etsy shop. I just love her creation of these woodsy, clever creatures. I can almost smell the toadstools! They also make me happy, and I always say, “Buy art because it makes you happy.” I am happy, happy, happy.

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Emma Klingbeil’s I Live in the Woods, watercolor on paper, 11″x14″

This next one hangs in our hallway upstairs. I took it down to get a good shot which turned out to be a weird, light bouncing shot:

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Emma Klingbeil’s Antlers4, watercolor on paper, 5″x6″

And here is “Antlers4”, but where it actually hangs upstairs:

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What about you? Who is your fave artist and what makes you “happy” about their work? Tell us in the comments!

Art We Love: Katie Fenske Bridges/budpnq + Necklace Giveaway

This week, we are returning to our series “Art We Love” with a wonderful artist, Katie Fenske Bridges, and a giveaway. So exciting! Katie is Jonathan’s sister and so very talented. She’s a beaded jewelry artist with the Etsy shop budpnq (say, “budbud”), painter, mom, wife and a really beautiful soul. Katie made a completely gorgeous necklace just for our blog to giveaway away to a lucky reader. Want to enter? Just leave a comment below on the blog. If you also share this post on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll receive two entries. Just let us know in the comments you did so. We’ll draw a name on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 and announce the winner. Easy!

Now, let’s dive in and learn more about Katie and budpnq.

Fat and Appy Blog giveaway

Jennifer and Jonathan: Your beadwork is luscious, fun…just plain playful. How did you get started making jewelry? 

Katie: Every time we visited my grandparents in Florida, Grandpa had a craft project for me to work on. The summer before my 8th grade year, I stayed with them for a couple of weeks and on the days he took me with him to work, I spent my time stringing up necklaces with an assortment of glass beads he’d given me. I turned to jewelry-making a few years ago, because for someone with a constant need to involve her hands in making, beading necklaces is not only a fun return to my twelve year-old self, but rewarding. They come into existence fairly quickly and can be put to immediate use. My mom got me hooked on using vintage glass beads when she supplied me with a trove of necklaces in various states of disrepair from a church tag sale. I dismantled the necklaces and cleaned every bead. When I saw how much Mom enjoyed the necklaces I was making, it drove me to make more and eventually, I found a style that represented me accurately. Most of those tag sale beads have long since been put to use and I now have a couple of suppliers I regularly purchase from so I am able to create with a bit more consistency and frequency, two factors that keep the creativity flowing.

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy jewelry shop Budpnq

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy

You seem to be tapping into your Scandinavian heritage. Tell us a little about that inspiration.  

Our paternal grandmother’s family was Swedish/Norwegian. My memories of Grandma, though time-faded, are ones of nurturing. For my brothers and me, her Swedish pancake breakfasts were a highlight of many a Florida vacation. I actively seek out Scandinavian illustrators, crafters and bloggers for inspiration because their work is not only great fun, but also comforting. I hope the work I do reflects both elements in some way.
Etsy shop Budpnq
How long does it take you to stage product shots for Etsy? Your pictures are very good.

Thank you. The picture-taking is almost as fun as actually making each necklace. My “lördagsgodis” series has me listing a different necklace every week so when it comes to taking pictures of those necklaces, I just wait for the sun to come into my workspace and arrange them as whim dictates. It doesn’t take long because I’m usually trying to sneak in the shots before our toddler, “Turtle,” wanders in. Often, elements of her presence can be found in those pictures. She’s always leaving her toys in my office; therefore, they get used as props. I smile when I look at my shop and see the evidence of being her mom. When it comes to collections of necklaces, I like the pictures to be more cohesive so I need to do a little planning. Our oldest niece, Taylor, faithfully agrees to model for me and we’ll spend an afternoon either at my place or on her mom’s beautiful property in the country. I will do Tay’s hair and makeup according to a loose mental sketch and then off we go chasing the light.
My favorite piece of equipment is the Canon 50mm 1:1.4 lens a good friend surprised me with. I use it all the time because it allows me to give my photos the softness I like.
Etsy Shop Bud Bud

Tell us what a typical day in the life is like for an artist, Etsy seller, wife and mom. 

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy shop Budpnq

Katie Fenske Bridges from Etsy Shop Budpnq

My routine changes often based on my husband’s work schedule and our toddler’s needs, so I don’t get too set in my ways but right now, I start my day with a bright greeting from our daughter and a cup of coffee. Chris will have already given her breakfast so if she is entertaining herself, I get on the computer to check my Etsy shop and other social media outlets. I do some tumbling or pinning while I finish my coffee. It’s not long before Turtle is needing my time so we will play or craft together, run errands or, as a treat, we meet Nana & Poppa for lunch. In addition to having the Etsy shop, I also do the occasional portrait photography session or small painting job so Chris and I have carved out a set time for me to work on any freelance jobs I’ve taken. (If it weren’t for his eagerness to help me succeed with all my creative endeavors, I’d never get anything accomplished.) The three of us eat dinner together and Turtle and I watch Curious George before the bedtime routine begins. After singing “Sea of Love”, “talking to God” with her, and kissing her goodnight, I repeat my morning routine minus the guilt of not giving all my time to Turtle. And minus the coffee. Most necklaces are created late at night. Every Saturday, Turtle goes to her Lola and Lolo’s for most of the day so I’m able to finish anything I wasn’t able to during the week, but usually I just create more work for myself by starting something new. Chris and I try to get in coffee dates when we can. On days he’s off, we share late night snack dates at the dining table. Right now, it’s all about the little things.
You have thousands of Pinterest followers. What’s your most popular pin?The most popular of my own work is this one which features my first four lördagsgodis necklaces grouped together. I ended up making a necklace for the commenter, Kati Driscoll, that is four random necklace strands tied together into one necklace. I thoroughly enjoyed that project and have been wanting to do another, but something always overtakes it on the priority list. After a quick check, it seems my most popular pin of someone else’s work is this playhouse from Ralfefarfars Paradis, a Norwegian home living blog.

Tell us what artists or designers are inspiring you right now.
Elisabeth Dunker of Fine Little Day
Sabine Timm, known as virginhoney on Flickr
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It was so wonderful to chat with Katie and learn more about her inspiration and art. She graciously agreed to make a necklace (inspired from Jonathan’s toy paintings) that we could give away on the blog. In the course of making the necklace, Katie was drawn to launch a new collection of beaded jewelry called “Leksak” which is Swedish for “toy.” The entire collection will be available in Katie’s budpnq shop on Etsy.To enter our contest, simply make a comment on the blog, below. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter and your entry will count for two entries! Just tell us you shared it in the comments. We’ll randomly draw a name on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 and then announce the winner of Katie’s Leksak necklace. International fans, you’re in luck! Katie will happily ship to you. Good luck! Also, Katie is so cool, she’s offering 10% off in her store for our readers. Just use code FATANDAPPY.

Buy Art Because It Makes You Happy

How do you know what art to purchase?

There’s one rule: Do you like it?

If so, proceed.

(Rule #2 would be: Can you afford it? But I’m kind of assuming you already asked yourself that.)

I bought this awesome painting from Nashville’s Emma Klingbeil last week. It makes me so happy, I look at it all day.

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I may or may not have a fox “thing.” We’ll see.

Art on a Budget: 6 Ways to Find Art That’s Affordable

Jonathan and I love art, and we share our home with paintings and other special one-of-a-kind pieces that mean a lot to us. I know from talking with friends who come over that they often want original art—but don’t know where to start. It’s too expensive, right?

Well, of course, it can be. But it doesn’t always have to. With a little work, Googling and luck, you can have beautiful art, all for not much money. We’re living proof!

Okay, if you’re still with me, read on for a few tips on buying art on a budget. (Or finding art on a budget…but we’re getting ahead of ourselves!)

Art on a Budget Tip #1: Find An Artist You Love and Then Figure Out How to Buy from Them

I’ll let you in on a secret: artists like to sell their work. And they usually do it with a smile on their face. So, get out and meet artists. You’ll be collecting on the cheap, so head to undergraduate art openings at a college or university near you. Stopping in at the local yogurt shop? Chances are, there’s an artist on the walls that month. Even Barnes and Noble displays art on the hall leading to the bathroom. Look for artist “studio tours” in nice weather. Go on gallery crawls where there are pop-up exhibitions happening on nearby streets.

Use Twitter to find artists by following hashtags such as #illustrator and #artist. Strike up Twitter friendships with artists and visit their websites. Often, artists will set up online stores where they offer paintings, prints and even pillows of their work. Want something different but completely cool? DENY Designs based in Denver sells home decor goods printed with amazing art, including stretched canvas.

Become friends with your new favorite artist. Get on their email list. Comment on their blog. Be supportive and introduce them to other potential collectors. They’ll be grateful and when you commission them to paint the perfect 24″x24″ piece for your foyer, they’ll gratefully move you to the top of the list.

Once you find something that’s in your budget, ask yourself just one question: Do I like this piece? If you do, buy it. This is where you decide to part with cold cash: if you like it, it’s yours.

When I was in high school, I was really into Georgia folk artists. I adored R.A. Miller and found out a cool gallery in my hometown of Greenville, S.C. carried a few of his pieces. I walked in the door (probably decked out in a vintage dress and humming an R.E.M. song) and trotted out a few minutes later with this tin cut (below) for $40. (The painting on the left was purchased in Nicaragua off the street for less than $20. It has a cardboard frame…isn’t it the coolest?)

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Pro Tip: When buying art from a cafe or bookstore, it’s a universal truth that the frames will be atrocious. Look past it—it’s okay. Head over to Dick Blick and re-frame your sweet new piece of art.

Art on a Budget Tip #2: Trade Something

From time to time, Jonathan (who is an artist and children’s book author/illustrator, if you are a new reader to this blog) will trade with another artist he admires. It’s how we got this piece by David Nielson when we lived in Atlanta a few years before we moved out West.

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If you aren’t an artist with another painting to trade, maybe you are a graphic designer and can trade a website design. Or maybe you’re an attorney who can give some contract advice to an artist. Stay-at-home mom? What about babysitting for an artist who needs help watching kids so she can work? Trading works best if you have a relationship already established with the artist. So, I say ask–you never know what you might be able to arrange. Back in Atlanta, we once traded a painting for a Danish Modern dining room table and chairs. (If you want to see that painting, “Chivalry Is Dead,” click here. It’s peeking over the shoulder of our friend Brian.)

Art on a Budget Tip #3: Troll Etsy

There are some amazing artists on Etsy.  It’s like an art fair on your laptop. You’ll have to sift and sort but when you do, slap a heart on shops you love and come back again and again. We purchased this print from 12fifteen and then framed it with a Target matte/frame combo. I love prints and think they are a great way to collect someone you love…even if more than one person has the same one you do. Total cost: $47.50.

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Art on a Budget Tip #4: Ask an Artist to Paint Your Walls

This one takes a little more coordination, but you probably won’t be turned down. As long as you are not asking the artist to paint a Disney character (blech), most early-career artists will happily come over and draw something special on your wall and then paint it. Jonathan got his start doing murals all over the Upstate of South Carolina. Send a friendly email…what do you have to lose?

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Art on a Budget Tip #5: Don’t Forget Sculpture

An often less-expensive path to an art-filled home is to remember sculpture, vases, birdhouses, lamps…anything that you love and expresses who you are.

This TimeStone clock makes me happy every time I walk downstairs for a badly-needed cup of coffee in the morning. The bright yellow bird slides back and forth. We found this at a thrift store for less than $5.

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These blocks were a gift for the new baby. They are fresh, modern and so pretty. From tiny giraffe on Etsy.

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Art on a Budget Tip #6: Make Friends with Your Local Thrift Store

Every thrift store in America has a huge bin of mouldering frames, 1970’s owl art and assorted motivational posters housed in gold-tone frames. You, dear reader, are going deeper. Remember to disregard the frames and the cleanliness of the art. Pounce on anything that is clearly original and well done. Jonathan rescued this awesome 1982 painting from a thrift store down the street. It’s by Denver artist Bruce Clark and I can’t imagine what happened so that it ended up where it did, but we couldn’t be more thrilled to be the new owners.

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I should definitely add that many quality galleries offer paintings in the low hundreds. Some even may have very small works for less than $200 if the artist is just starting out. Or they may sell high-quality prints that cost around $100. But if those prices are too steep for your budget, then I hope some of my ideas may help. Good luck and happy hunting!
Do you have a fun art collecting story? Share it in the comments!  And don’t forget to subscribe to more Fenske art news by scrolling to the bottom of the blog and entering your email. Keep up with Jen and Jonathan on Twitter, too: @jenmanskefenske

Sometimes, All Roads Lead to IKEA

We did an ambitious thing yesterday—we took the entire family to IKEA. That means three kids six and under, one of them being an infant who likes to stop at the Milk Bar multiple times per day.

The two older girls salivate at the mention of the word “IKEA.” To them it means hot cinnamon rolls, a trip to Smaland (the free kids area where you can drop the little darlings off) and darting through the kid bedrooms.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip.

Since we were there to pick up a few floor lamps and little else, I could relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the place. I saw a too-old-for-this guy in his late twenties giving his granny the hard sell on what she needed to buy for him. I saw at least two couples fighting. And I walked behind a woman who held court with her five kids proclaiming, “IKEA is overrated. I guess it’s a status thing.”

Jonathan, who has a Scandinavian heritage, pointed out several designs in the textiles area that reminded him of his grandmother, Elsa. And then this ironing board cover caught his eye.

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

Photo by Jennifer Manske

Something simple. Something under seven dollars. We talked about design, artists, family heritage and the accessibility of good art (did I mention the kids were in Smaland? Because they were occupied, we were able to actually talk—you know, have a conversation. Which is a miracle.)

We’re not snobs—a high price on an object doesn’t mean it’s better. Sometimes, it’s worse. We have an overpriced bookshelf from a modern design store that’s quite frankly a mess. It’s poorly made and barely holds itself together.

I like looking at pretty things. And I like when pretty things are reasonable priced, which means more people can enjoy them.

I love these blocks my sweet friend F. gave us for the new baby. They are from Tiny Giraffe on Etsy.

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

Photo by Jennifer Fenske

One of those IKEA floor lamps makes a perfect accent to the girls’ room. The kids are delighted to have something new—and pretty. In fact, as I write, they are playing “IKEA” in the family room. I have been invited to attend the Grand Opening. Have to go!

http://www.jonathanfenske.com

Photo by Jennifer Fenske