Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Dozen Details with Barb Stellmach...

I am fascinated with the lives of others. The details behind an artist's life and work are like getting to see how candy is made! I'd like to introduce you to a new feature here at Life Set to Words which will allow you to take a peek into the lives of some very inspiring artists. Each month I will ask one inspiring artist to share a dozen details about his/her life. I hope that these interviews will inspire you, encourage you, and inform you about artistic living!

Our first Dozen Details is with the incredibly talented photographer/jewelry maker Barb Stellmach of Ginger Lee Photography. Barb is a dear friend of mine and a true inspiration. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to get a deeper peek into her creative life...

~1~ What made you first start looking at your camera as something more than a snapshot shooter?

I suppose it was when I began selling jewelry online a couple of years ago. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted with my point & shoot so I did a few art fairs and raised enough money to purchase my Nikon D60. Also, after discovering the flickr community, I realized photography was a way to express myself and my interests.

~2~ How did you learn more about photography and using a dslr?

I did a lot of googleing. I also refer to the website digital-photography-school.com and have purchased a book for my specific camera. I’ve also learned a lot through flickr. The people that I’ve formed relationships with are always there to lend a hand with any questions I may have. Honestly, before I was involved with flickr I didn’t have a clue as to what textures, dof (depth of field), bokeh, and conversion even were. I still have SO much to learn.

~3~ What’s in your camera bag?

I guess I don’t technically have a camera bag. I usually just throw it in my purse if I’m going somewhere. However, I do use a few different things. I have a Nikkor 18-55mm and a 55-200mm lens that came with my camera but rarely ever use. I also have a Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens that I love and it’s probably on my camera about 90% of the time. I recently purchased a Nikkor 35mm f1.8 that’s great for everyday use and still produces that beautiful blur that we all love. I have a Nikon SB600 speedlight flash that I occasionally use as well as two batteries. I also use a vintage Kodak Duaflex II for ttv (through the viewfinder) shots as well as a recently purchased vintage Argus Cintar 50mm that I’m really excited about. Note to self… must buy film!

~4~ What kinds of things do you like to photograph?

I’ve really taken a liking to food photography. It would be so fun to take pictures for restaurants and food magazines. Bon Appetite… are you reading this? :) I also enjoy still life photography, thanks to you Meg. I love all the details that go into setting up a shot. The colors, the props, the backgrounds…. you can really tell a story through such a picture. Simplistic and portrait photography is also something I’ve delved into that I really enjoy and I’m looking forward to experimenting with it more in the future.

~5~ You also make jewelry. How did you first get into that?

A good friend of mine taught me how to make earrings for the bridesmaids in my wedding. That was only three years ago. Like photography, I’m completely self taught and had mostly made things for myself until I realized I wanted a new camera. Knowing my husband wasn’t going to buy me one, I decided to sell online and do art fairs to earn some cash. I realized this is truly what I was made to do… sell my jewelry to people who can appreciate somebody’s craftsmanship. Art fairs are SO FUN!

~6~ Where do you look for and/or find inspiration?

For me inspiration is everywhere. Lake Superior has inspired me to create unique, one of a kind jewelry. The food I eat and my household decorations have inspired me in my photography. I’m inspired by nature, magazines, blogs, flickr… Everyday someone posts a new photo where you think, “I wanna do that”! So you set up your shot, grab your camera, and put your own unique spin on it. It’s a lot of fun!

~7~ You are a busy mommy! How do you fit creativity into your day?

It’s hard, especially now that the baby’s more mobile. If I’m lucky I can get some jewelry made/take pictures while the kids nap or while Maria’s playing and Ginger is busy chewing on something. :) After the girls are in bed, I often make jewelry while watching TV. I’m also very thankful for such a wonderful husband. He’ll happily watch the kids so I can go out on a photo walk/drive or take some still shots. He’s a real big help around here and I seriously don’t know how I’d manage without him.

~8~ You recently began selling your prints and jewelry on Etsy. Many of us are looking to take our hobbies to the next level. What made you take the leap?

I had every intention of sticking with it the first time I started selling on Etsy, but I quickly realized that the pregnancy of my second child was kicking my butt, so I decided to close up shop. Now that things are back on track, I knew I wanted to do more art fairs this summer and needed a place where buyers could find my artwork all year. Although it’s hard to get noticed on Etsy, it’s easy and affordable and I didn’t think twice about reopening. I mostly sell prints online because it’s less time consuming and with two little girls, time is not something I have a whole lot of. I do hope to keep some jewelry pieces in the shop at all times. I love the preparation of an order. I package everything with love and I’m a big fan of details. Picking out fabric and sewing the jewelry bags, finding ribbon to match, the earring cards, the thank yous… it all makes a difference. Your buyers (myself included) appreciate a nicely packaged product.

~9~ Where else do you sell your art?

I currently sell jewelry at Wintergreen in Duluth, MN. and I’m working on some pieces for their store in Ely, MN too. It’s a winter clothing boutique that makes all of Will Steger’s expedition wear. I’m hoping to sell in more stores here in Duluth as well as out of state. As I’ve mentioned, I enjoy doing art fairs over the summer and autumn months. There’s a few in Duluth and one in a neighboring town that I’m crossing my fingers I get accepted to. I’ve also sent in an application for a fair in St. Cloud, MN. which is roughly 3 hours south of Duluth. It should be interesting to see how other cities react to my products.

~10~ What advice do you have for someone just starting out in photography? Jewelry?

Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions has definitely worked to my advantage in the recent months. Practice is only going to make you better. Don’t be afraid to step out of your box either and try something new. I quickly realized that selling jewelry was a tough market because it’s everywhere. I knew I needed my product to stand out from the rest and I believe I’ve achieved that by using Lake Superior rocks in my designs. I hope that it’s the same story with my photography.

~11~ What are three words you’d like people to use {either now or someday} to describe you and/or your photography?

fun, creative, inspiring

~12~ What does success look like to you?

I suppose I consider myself a success in some regards. I’ve produced a product that people like and because of it, I’ve been able to reimburse my husband for all of my supplies. I’m not the type of person who usually finishes things. My goals are always changing, as are my interests, so to achieve something like that is a pretty big deal. I’m pretty happy with where I am in my teeny tiny business. I’m able to enjoy the summer art fairs without feeling overwhelmed, and at the same time sell a product that I enjoy making. I’d hate for something I’m so passionate about to become another chore. So I guess success to me is taking something you love doing, sharing it with others, and making a small profit. However, if I ever do experience success on a larger scale, I’ll welcome it with open arms.

And now for a special GIVE AWAY!!!
For two very lucky random drawing winners, Barb is generously offering up one of her 8 x 10 Where's The Love prints as well as a Lake Superior rock necklace {shown above}.  All you have to do to enter is take a peek at Barb's Etsy shop and tell us which is your favorite item in the comments on this post. You have until Friday, March 26th at midnight EST to enter at which point two names will be randomly selected for these two amazing prizes. I have both a necklace handmade by Barb and prints from her shop and I can testify that she is a quality babe and her goodies are awesome! Enter, tell your friends, blog this...and we'll announce the winners here on Sunday, March 28th.

Until then, you can visit Barb at her blog, on her Flickr stream, or at her shop {where she happens to be having a buy two, get one free sale going on}!

Thank you so much, Barb! We have loved learning these Dozen Details about you!!!


Mommy in the Making March 23, 2010 at 1:25 PM  

Hi! What a great giveaway - I am seriously lusting after the Barb's stunning rock necklace - beautiful. And the prints too! I would want the literature print of the two books to give my mom. We're both crazy about books (both my dad and my hubby grumble occasionally about their lives being overtaken by books - but they love us and our books come along with us!) and I know she would love this print and it's shared meaning :)


Johnna Riddell March 23, 2010 at 1:39 PM  

Maegan this is a GREAT idea, I am so excited to read all the interviews and this was a great start.

Barb is so talented and so kind, I really love all the things she does and all the ways she looks at things. I loved what she said about success... I think that's what it should be. :)

Her Jewelry is beautiful. I have been contemplating buying a piece, or perhaps the buttons ( which I adore ) since they are so special and one of a kind. And her still life photography is a true inspiration to me!

Thanks for this lovely showcase interview, it was FUN!

barbara March 23, 2010 at 2:11 PM  

thanks Maegan for offering me this fantastic opportunity! i had so much fun filling out the questionaire :) you're the best!!

Ginny March 23, 2010 at 2:20 PM  

Hmmm.... I am really drawn to the Gray Winter Days silver disc earrings... and the Where's The Love print in one of my favorites... This new series is great fun to read. Best of luck!

Debbie E March 23, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

love hearing about other photographers.what made them start,what they love to shoot and so on.I saw her Farm fresh on flickr and followed it to her etsy.MY FAV!! Simple times. Reminds me of easy days and summer fun. Country goodness all rolled up. Love that necklace to.The rocks on it really make a great piece. *fingers crossed*

Mackville Road :: Diane March 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM  

I've been admiring her photography and now I am smitten, too, with those rocks! The necklace is gorgeous and so are the buttons over at her shop. Looking forward to more of your series!

Mackville Road :: Diane March 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM  

I've been admiring her photography and now I am smitten, too, with those rocks! The necklace is gorgeous and so are the buttons over at her shop. Looking forward to more of your series!

Camilla~ Bloom March 23, 2010 at 3:06 PM  

Great interview, always fun to read about photogs. Thanks for introducing her to us...off to check out her flickr stream

kk March 23, 2010 at 3:09 PM  

Such a great idea and a wonderful first interview....
Barb is truly the best and you really showcased how amazing she is. :)
I also have purchased jewelry from her shop and she has gifted me with some magnificent pieces as well. her work is outstanding.
Her new egg print is my new fave. :)

Emily March 23, 2010 at 3:40 PM  

Loving this idea! What fun. :)

Six Dollar Kicks is my favorite print. Thanks for the opportunity to support other artists, and the chance to win great art!

Micheline March 23, 2010 at 3:47 PM  

If this interview is any indication, this series is going to be a great success. I'm already looking forward to the next installment.

full of bliss March 23, 2010 at 4:05 PM  

What a wonderful article! So fun to get to know one of my favorite artists on flickr. I have loved and admired Barb's beautiful photography for quite some time now. Not only is she an amazing artist she is such a sweet person. Thanks for showcasing her. As far as my favorite items in her etsy store, I have always loved her fence photograph and her the pretty Lake Superior buttons.

Thanks for this wonderful interview.


Bootsie King March 23, 2010 at 4:18 PM  

The Buy Me print and the eggs are close seconds but I love the Billy Balls because they me think of Barb, must have been her buddy icon when I first found her stream. This is fun Maegan!

Stephanie March 23, 2010 at 4:38 PM  

Such a delightful interview! I follow Barb's flickr stream and she inspires me with her creativity. Thanks for sharing even more about her here!

{Amy} March 23, 2010 at 7:05 PM  

This was great and so nice to learn more about Barb, very interesting! I am really looking forward to reading more each week. This is a fantastic idea Maegan!
My favorites? I love the Buy Me and Blueberries In My Cup prints...but there are so many awesome ones. Barb is so talented!

Beth Simmons March 23, 2010 at 7:34 PM  

What a great article about Barb! I just loved reading about her journey and getting to know more about her. Her photography is always awesome and this is not the first time I've visited her shop:) It's so hard to pick favorites though. I just adore the pincushion print and I also love the powder blue necklace. Thanks for this Maegan. What a great series this is going to be!

Corinne March 23, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

I love the blueberry hill print.. gorgeous!

It was so wonderful to read Barb's interview. Thank you for letting us peek into your artistic side :)

Heather March 23, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

What a treat to hear more about Barb and a giveaway to boot! Fantastic.
Love powder blue necklace.
The pin cushion print Where is Love has been a favorite since I first saw it on flickr.
Thanks for sharing. :)

Rosie March 23, 2010 at 10:24 PM  

What a great interview. Her work is so inspiring to self taught photographers like myself. I love her store. I think my favorite is the Where's The Love print! So pretty and colorful.

Kimberly Chorney March 23, 2010 at 11:24 PM  

This is such an awesome idea, loved reading more about Barb, she is such a wonderful and talented gal.. I am so happy I got to spend some time with her and I can't wait to go back for some more camera fun!

Kim Klassen March 24, 2010 at 12:59 AM  

meg, you put this together so brilliantly.....wonderful presentation...

and barb, it was so nice to learn a little more about you.... your jewellery is as beautiful as your photography.....

wow...so good!!

congrats ladies! ♥ kim

Jamie March 24, 2010 at 6:53 AM  

Wonderful new series!

I love the Of the Earth necklace - so beautiful!

triShie March 24, 2010 at 7:08 AM  

i've been following ur flickr stream and you're so amazing! how u can make everyday things so beautiful and special!

i can't decide between the Summer Days and Gray Winter Days earrings!! too lovely!!

Misty Wallace March 24, 2010 at 10:35 AM  

This is awesome. It will be very nice to read about some of the women who inspire me to keep clicking! she is very talented I love her images. Thanks for sharing

Sandra March 24, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

This is a great idea! Loved reading the interview and being introduced to another fabulous artist.

Kristi March 24, 2010 at 12:45 PM  

What a wonderful interview! Barb is amazingly talented and kind...love her! Hmmm...so hard to make a decision...I loved everything! The ones I'm most drawn to are: the Sterling Silver Disc Earrings and the image of the Billy Balls.

janine March 24, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

I just love where a blog will lead you! I've never been on Barb's blog before but it's in the favourites bar now. I am so torn by the beautiful prints she has in her shop but I think it has to be the 'fence' print. Love the subtlty of the hearts in the background. Thanks for such a great feature and amazing giveaway :)

Mamabear March 24, 2010 at 8:57 PM  

I love these necklaces, wow! My favorite photograph has to be Nature's Carpet, simple elegance! Thanks!

Anonymous March 25, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

Ohh, you're announcing the winner on my birthday, that's kind of fun! I just found you through Slugs on my Refrigerator and I'm pleased I have. Great blog here!

Elena (Tickled Pink Knits) March 25, 2010 at 10:45 AM  

That rock necklace is really wonderful. I can imagine it not only around one's neck but as artwork on display, on a wall. Visited the shop and spotted a set of lake rock buttons - I love unusual buttons so they would have to be my favorite.
Thank you for the introduction to a new shop, and for the giveaway!

Polly March 25, 2010 at 2:26 PM  

I love the Solitude print. Solitude is something that I long for most days and absolutely cherish when I am allowed that time. Loved the interview!!

Kathleen March 25, 2010 at 4:24 PM  

Thanks for the wonderful interview and terrific giveaway opportunity! I'm longing for "farm fresh" and "blueberry" for my new kitchen. And also for the next interview in this series!

Meg March 25, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

Amazing giveaway! Thanks for posting this. I wasn't aware of Barb or her stunning work, and I am so excited to go explore her stream and work now :)

*fingers crossed*

Courtney @ splashing grace March 25, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

wow, thanks so much for introducing Barb! I think my favorite is the Blueberries in My Super Adorable Thrifted Mug :) It's lovely, and now I'm starting to crave all things blueberry now!

I Sew Lucky March 26, 2010 at 9:31 AM  

I am happy to call Barb my cousin and my art fair buddy!!! She is very talented and I have several of her jewlery pieces.
Love the article and wish you all the success Barb!

sgizas March 26, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

My cousin Barbara is a very talented artisan indeed! This was a lovely showcase on her and her work.

I hope to win this contest, but I see there is a lot of competition ;)
My new favorite item in her shop is her Farm Fresh egg print. ♥ it!

OmaEmmy March 26, 2010 at 2:03 PM  

Loved reading your showcase interview highlighting Barb!! She is amazing with both her photography and her jewelry. Thanks for more insight into a wonderful artist!! My favorite picks right now would be the cool buttons and the "Only in my dreams" print!! I think I might have to get one of the rock necklaces though..they are so awesome!! ~Jo~

Beverly March 26, 2010 at 3:23 PM  

Oh, I love reading about artist and how they started out. I would love to win a print or jewelry!

t does wool March 26, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

I nearly missed this wonderful interview!!

jessica March 26, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

I'd love a 5 by 7 of Where's the Love...to hang in my sewing room! Loved reading more about lovely Barb.
xo Jessica (ells ojala)