Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx with Kathleen Habbley (formerly known as Seamripper)

I’m back today from my day off, although I did not get everything done that I wanted to get done yesterday. I did get a new fridge and stove, since the old ones were original to the house and it was time to get more energy efficient models. I also played a LOT of WII…Mario Smash Brawl to be exact. Sometimes, you just need to take a break and have some fun, you know. 😉 But I’m back and back to work.

Back on track, for today’s Indie Artist Fixx interview I was lucky enough to be able to interview Kathleen Habbley (formerly known as Seamripper). Kathleen is a super talented illustrator who has does custom illustrations for Repro Depot Fabrics, MYMY, Adorn Mag, CROZ Zine and more. She also sells goods made from her illustrations and crafty goods that she sews.

Read more in my interview with Kathleen below.

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1. What’s the name of your business and what do create and sell?

I operated under the name Seamripper from 2002-2007 and just changed it over to my name, Kathleen Habbley, to have an equal focus on my illustration work. I make and sell little sewn items like pouches and wallets. I also sell items made out of my illustrations and have products licensed with My Favorite Mirror.

2. Tell us how you got started with your indie business.

In college, I started watching Martha Stewart’s show and reading her magazine. I bought an embroidery kit from her mail-order catalog and it just inspired me to start making things. Soon after I got a sewing machine and started sewing little wallets and napkins. In 2002, I made a website (seamripper.net) and then found Cut + Paste thru some handmade items she was selling on Ebay. Then I realized there were other (younger) people like me doing crafts as an artistic outlet. Having to make my own website led me into illustrating and I enjoyed it so much, I pursued it as a hobby as well.

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3. What are your inspirations in your art and in life?

I feel very inspired by my childhood. My mother used to cross-stitch and she taught me when I was very young. There is a rare quality and special-ness to something that is made by hand. I also had an older brother who introduced me to comics, video games and music and I became very in-tuned to art and the visual aspects of my surroundings. Most of the stuff I make is something I would be drawn to when I was younger–just bright colors, retro and kind of cutesy. The store I bought my school uniforms at in grade school had a Hello Kitty section and I remember being just mesmerized by it.

4. Are there any pearls of wisdom you’d like to share with newbie indie business owners?

I would say take your work seriously but make sure it’s always enjoyable and your heart’s in it.

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5. What three things can’t you live without?

Coffee, my computer, hugs.

6. What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst?

Best: I enjoy making stuff and drawing and the fact that I can make some money from it is an added bonus. I can listen to my ipod and just create stuff at my own pace.

Worst: I guess, since I don’t have a boss and I’m working at my own pace it means longer breaks between website updates. I always wish I was updating it more.

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7. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at?

Crafty Blogs: the small object, my paper crane, rosy little things, decor8, m. patrizio, print and pattern.

Mags: I just started buying a magazine printed in England called Lula that I love. I don’t think there’s anything like it made in the US. I like magazines that are unpredictable.

Shops: I buy most of my craft supplies online, especially fabric…places like reprodepot, purlsoho, superbuzzy and kitty-craft.

8. Were you an artsy craftsy kid? If so, what kinds of things did you do?

My mom taught me to cross-stitch when I was around 6 or 7. She also signed me up for a craft class one summer and I made a latch-hook rug. In high school, I used to watch MTV’s House of Style and Todd Oldham had a crafty-ish segment called Todd Time. I took an old pair of corduroys and made my own throw pillows from one of his lessons. I also had a brief stint in high school where I was making candles and giving them to friends. I always enjoyed making stuff.

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9. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

I worked at an animal shelter so I’d have to say I’m both! I could never choose one over the other!

10. What does indie mean to you? You can give a literal definition, choose to be a little esoteric or a combination of both. 😉

I remember asking my brother when I first heard the term in the early 90s…I actually thought it had something to do with Indiana (no joke). I think the ideal definition of it is anything that operates outside of the mainstream and offers something unique with pure intentions. I feel like modern culture is just so predictable and repetitious–not only in art but in all aspects. All the towns and cities are clones of one another with the same chain stores, coffee shops and restaurants. I think “independent” has a noble connotation these days and it should. It’s a risky but worthwhile venture to buck tradition and offer the people something new and different.

11. What are you reading, watching and listening to?

Reading: Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion.

Watching: The Daily Show and Colbert Report every day!

Listening to: I just bought the new Flight of the Conchords album (stellar!) and I’ve been nostalgic lately and listening to music from my college days, like Solex and Run-On.

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12. What’s one thing you’ve learned as an adult that you wish you knew when you were a kid?

I’ve just recently learned that you have to stand up for yourself and not let others determine your self-worth. (Being independent!) Only surround yourself with positive people who really care about you and understand there is something as unconditional love. Also, you are always stronger than you think you are.

13. What’s new? Any new plans or products that you want to share?

I’m really into quilting lately…pillows and handbags. I hope to have them in my shop soon! I’m working on making mini wooden houses and selling small editions of them. Also, my mother recently passed away from breast cancer, so I’m planning a crafty fundraiser to donate money in her name.

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