Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vegan Etsy Team Member of the Week: Heather of 3am Art Productions!

Meet Heather Henry, artist and creator, the mind and eye behind 3am Art. Today she provides us with a little background on the stunning images and other fascinations available in her shop...

Hi, I'm Heather from 3 Am Art Productions. I'm one of those people who chose a user name on Etsy, but didn't use my store name as the user name. Whoops! So my shop is found under aktie9. Also pretty much anywhere on the web, if you wanna find me.. just type in aktie9, and BOO there I am! Although I did make it a little complicated and used various forms of "3 am" for a few things, like and Although flickr is aktie9 & shop and a few other places.

When did you open your Etsy shop, and how did you choose its name?
I opened my shop in 2007. I chose the name 3 Am Art Productions in the WEE hours of 2003. It's the name I gave my hodge podge of artwork and crafty things, that I had been doing while whiling the hours away till my son, Liam was born. 3 Am was the time I was feeling good, awake and able to work on things. I was very sick during this pregnancy, and wish I had found veganism then, as I would have felt tons better. I did eat a lot of fruit and veg during this pregnancy, but was also eating fish. Fruits and vegetables were the things I could actually keep down. I've been thinking lately that, there was a reason my body was handing me back the nastier stuff, i.e.: sometimes you really should listen to your body a little bit closer. I also had a lot of misconceptions about tofu. I have learned oodles since then.

What kinds of items do you sell in your shop, and what inspired you to start creating them?
I began doing doodling in paint programs and thinking I could sell my little drawings as cards or supplies for folks to buy the cards. Then, my second son was born, and I was given a smashing camera to take his photos, instead of going out to have them done. I'd had a bad experience with a photographer losing an entire order of work of my older son and his cousin. All irreplaceable photos and adorable moments... just gone. I was so upset I didn't wanna go through that again. Since I'm a DIYer at heart from art to car fixing, I read my manual from beginning to end and I tutored myself on how to take a good picture. It was a process for me. Although I had lots of experience with other cameras, digital was all new. I sell mostly photos in my shop, but I also sew and sell some sewn items from time to time. I also love polymer clay and make and sell some of those items as well. I just began selling some of my photography as digital artwork in the form of banners/avatar sets. I'm inspired by Nature and her good works and deeds. I love animals. I love trees, I'm a big eco-junkie so anything nature inspires me. I love colour. Loud, bright, popping you can't miss it colour! Sometimes I like pale, soft muted tones too... I change daily. I think I'm part chameleon sometimes.

Do you donate through your shop to any charities or do any volunteer work?
Yes, I do. I help out on EtsyVeg and the POE Street teams. I also donate a photo from time to time to the EFA Charity of the Month. I also work with EtsyVeg whenever there is a team charity donation going on. I will use my Volvo wagon if any dog in my area needs a ride home or to a safe haven. I pass along information for the CT ACO whenever she has dogs in need of a home, which is all the time. I've picked up dogs for rescues lots of times and I will do it again, whenever I can. My kids and hubby usually come with me, so they can experience it too. I think it's important to tell our kids the truth about everything, every aspect of life... even the sadder parts. Unless it's downright unexplainable or too scary, they should be told the truth. They need to know things so they can be streetwise and ready for the real world.

What are some of your favorite things about Etsy?
I like the speed and ease of listing items. I like the camaraderie I've found in the groups and with other folks I've met. I've made a lot of friends here and it's wonderful experience. I think the people are great. I think Etsy itself is great. I especially love treasuries and looking items up by the search. I always find what I'm looking for. Everyone is soo nice here. I've not had many bad experiences so Etsy makes me very happy.

Do you sell your items outside of Etsy, either online or in retail shops?
I don't sell off of Etsy at this time. My kids are still little, and I'm planning on homeschooling next year, so Etsy and keeping up with that is enough for now. Just doing this right now is enough; I've got all the irons in the fire and then some.

Have you been featured anywhere?
I've been really lucky - lots of really nice folks have featured me and passed on my photos to their friends. I've been on the front page of Etsy and many blogs and sites. Yvonne of EtsyVeg and handmade has featured me too. Sometimes I write for the EtsyVeg blog and post things for the team. I have been featured in treasuries and on other folks' blogs from time to time. Roni of Daisy Wares even featured me on her Daisy Wares FB page. She's such a sweetie!

How long have you been vegan, and what made you go vegan?
I have been Vegan for about three years now. My sister made me do it! Literally. She read Skinny Bitch and the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch books and began harping on me to change my diet. I'd been long complaining of feeling like garbage. Funny, it shocked me at first, that it was what I was eating. Well, we do that everyday don't we? We don't dip ourselves in an oil slick every day, do we? So logic is... it's the food we're eating. Once vegan, I realized I was celiac and got tested. HEY, I was right. Sounds hard doesn't it? Being both celiac and vegan? It does to an outsider of course. But since I was lucky enough to go vegan first, and then discovered the celiac... it was like stepping down a path and the transition was fairly easy. 'Cept for Pizza. I can find Pizza now. I'm just very very unhappy with the sauces. See I'm also a geek. I read anything and everything I can for health now, and have found out that BPA is in canned foods. So no more red sauces in cans. Jar only. Since I don't like it, I DIY. I make my own on a lot of things. I've long been a DIYer, and come from a long line of artists, so it just goes hand in hand.

What are your favorite foods?
Pizza with homemade sauce and Daiya cheese. I love cheddar Sheese on gluten free noodles. I eat a lot of homemade and I also drink a lot of smoothies and eat plain old veggies and fruits. I try to make veggies just by themselves or steamed with a tiny bit of dressing as my mainstay for eating and meals, or prepped, processed stuff in much smaller amounts. I do love to bake for the kids. Since I'm gluten free there is the chance they will be at some point also, so I bake everything gluten free. Since I cannot leave anything to someone else, I DIY my very own flour mixture.

Do you have any favorite vegan things, like books, websites, stores, etc.?
I try to buy from Etsy folks as much as possible when I'm buying things we want. I use thrift stores a lot to recycle and upcycle items. I use Cosmo's or Pangea to get my Daiya and Sheese. I love The Living Earth in Worcester for all our organic produce, The Loving Hut for vegan Chinese, and The Belmont Vegetarian Restaurant for the absolute best vegan Jamaican and Island Cuisine ever. I try to stick with buying from the small guys as much as I can.

What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
Fixing and keeping my Saabs and Volvo happy, reading, researching, veganism, animal rights issues, human rights issues, eco issues. If it's a cause, I'm all over it! I love to talk and think about politics, especially, the part about trying something new. I like kawaii things.. little, tiny, cute things... I have an addiction for them. I also love colour and art. And music. I live, breathe and sing music. Well, I used to sing. Now, I mostly listen to and LOVE music. I cannot live without it. I love reading the lyrics and using them as quotes. I also love to blog. No kidding? I have three of them. My art page, My Saab & Volvo blog, and now where I blog about all the vegan eating travels I make in Worcester area and vicinity. I love to write. I'm working on a book of short stories that I've concocted in my head, and a novel as well. I'm constantly doing some sort of writing or playing with the kids... and running pell mell all over the place. Sometimes I forget things. I can be spacy at times, since I have so much going on.

Do you have any animal companions?
Sure do! We adopted Duke, Black Labrador Mix from in Orange county NY. He is awesome! So laid back and calm... just love him to pieces! I don't know if he's really black lab or has any lab in him at all. He does however, have some Chow. He has the telltale purple tongue that Chow dogs have. He's so sweet we don't care what he is. After adopting him we decided to foster his polar opposite, a full blooded English Black Labrador we named Sadie. She lived with us for 18 months and then we finally found the right home for her. We were going to keep her. She wasn't fitting in well with the family though. She was like living with the proverbial Bull in a China Shop. So we found her the right type of home that could accommodate that and wear her out on a daily basis. She's awesome and we love her new family. We also have Minnie: at best guess she is a Chihuhua Papillon mix. She's little, tiny and has an extra loud bark. She's not called Buffy of Barkington for nothing! She guards me at all cost against any tiny little cricket type noise, and since the trucks that go by the house on a minute to minute basis she takes her job extra super seriously.

Duke was the one who saved her. He's the kind of dog who never barks. I mean Minnie has to seriously hear the coyotes or something for him to bother. He saw her wandering on the sidewalk alone one winter day in a city area, and barked voraciously in the car. I pulled over and opened my door, and for some reason I had the presence of mind to say here puppy come here in a high pitched voice... and she ran to me and leaped into my arms and shivered the whole ride home. It was a day like no other for my family. I had looked high and low for Duke it literally took months and months to find him. Then all of a sudden I've got 2 kids and three dogs living with me, and my husband is sleeping on the couch wondering what freight train just hit him and took away the love of his life. Things have settled down now and everyone has their place. Hubby has been let back into the big bed & the dogs have their own. In the case of Minnie, she sleeps right next to my feet now. She's trained me well. I'm happy knowing how safe I am. No one in the neighborhood will even talk to me when I'm out walking her and Duke. Unless they wanna go deaf from her barking that is.

Do you have any future plans for your shop?
I'm working on a collection of my photography for a coffee table book to sell in my shop. I'm also hoping to do some poems and uplifting sayings superimposed onto my photos. I also am working on editing letters into some of the 8x10's in my shop, so folks can buy the prints for their children's rooms. Like for example "J is for Jellyfish." They will be able to buy them in sets to spell a name, or a word, or singly. I'm looking for a new printer for printing my artwork myself, and working on a set of cards with letters. Just like the 8x10's with letters on them I'm also looking to make a set that kids can hold & learn their letters with. Or perhaps parents can hang them on the walls to decorate the playroom. I'm never at a loss for ideas. I'm always at a loss for time. Plus, since I research everything to death, I wanna find the most eco-friendly way to do things... I stress out over this sometimes.

What is the vegan community like in your area?
The Worcester area is great for vegan folks. Worcester itself can be user unfriendly though, so do check out where places are online first, before heading our way, and get good directions from a map. Be careful to go at least 5MPH above the speed limit or you will get beeped at. ;) It's really great though, even after living in this area for most of my life. It can be confusing. I've just barely tapped into the vegan community here. I'm slowly getting out there, and meeting more folks. We have lots of things going on from eating together for a cause, to donating time on local farm sanctuaries, to helping grow the fruits and veggies we consume. There are a lot of like minded folks living here. Lots of information and help. Folks are all very nice and helpful. We take the kids wherever we go eating out here, and even get the surprised "Ohh vegan kids??" from time to time. We talk about it all the time. My kids are little vegan awareness drones. They remember conversations we've had and tell others when we're out and about. My kids are totally unafraid to tell folks that they are vegans and why they are vegans. One son will regularly spot a Mcd's and DD (Dunkin Donuts) and start rattling off the no-no's about those bad places. He has no issue telling folks the truth. Mostly, I think he's sad he cannot get a vegan donut at Dunkin Donuts. I think the same way he does. I should be able to go anywhere and get a GF vegan item. I mean come on it's 2010! I explain it to them on their level and they already know a lot of larger adult words... they scare me sometimes with their knowledge and words used. Nothing is to hard for kids. I think the earlier you start them on the road to understanding the better it is for all of us in the future.

When did you learn your craft, and how did you become interested in it?
I've been making and crafting since the tender age of three. Crayolas and homemade play-do was what I began with. I learned photography in high school and loved it. My photography teacher was the best person. The most amazing lady I've ever known. She was awesome, and so supportive of me and the kids in class. She was also a willing participant in taking me and others to local ecological gatherings I was also involved in. I remember the best idea I had for a photo in HS. I was on the bike in my downtown and saw the train headed in. I stood on the tracks. Right in front of it and snapped the shutter. Moved off the tracks and let is pass by. It was a cool photo. Unfortunately, I was a klutz and ripped the negative. It came out OK, but not as good as could have. I was never adept with 35MM and got turned off of it for a while. My next camera was a APS camera, and I loved it for a really long time and spent a ton of money on film. When I got my first digital cam and began shooting and never had to worry about running out of film, the magic came back. When I began learning about macro photography I fell hardfast into love with it. So interesting the world seen up close. I love photo taking. I never run out of new ideas, I'm constantly seeing new photos that I need to capture. It's a sickness I tell ya.

Why do you think it's important to buy handmade?
I think it's very important to foster the handmade community and buy from it. Because it's the people. The people you see on the streets, people you love and have things in common with. People who learn and do things differently. People who are growing and evolving like I am that I'm contributing to and then letting them contribute to others... it's a people to people thing. I think we need to do more of that, and less of the plunking pennies into the big corporations' pockets. I think the people running big business have forgotten themselves. People come first. Big business can sink or swim, IMO. They don't treat us or the planet right; the people do better on their own. In a word it's the people. ;)

If you could choose to have any one superpower, what would it be?
Saving the world... and making it greener and having folks' care more about it. Is that a super power? Or perhaps to get the corporation CEOs to realize it's them being greedy taking 15M per year, and not the Unions or workers doing the same thing, seeing how that same amount of money that one person is getting is going to feed 1,000's of families, instead of just one person who cannot possibly ever use that amount of money in their lifetime. Maybe my superpower should be to give common sense back to those in power...

If you could come back as a ghost, who would you haunt and why?
Can I pick one bad person per week? Probably, I'd wanna haunt Rush Limbaugh or some other person who spews nonsense and rhetoric... to get them to think & change and be a better person. But really just pick any bad doobie. I'll put them on my list. ;)


Vegan Girl (Roni Seabury) said...

Awesome interview. Heather is the best. I love her work.

Heather said...

Aww thanks Roni! Luv yours too. :)

heather said...

ditto to roni's comment! :)

Krug's Eco-Logic said...

Such a talented artist and fabulous person! Awesome, Heather!

silentlotus creations said...

A passionate, inspiring person, and a great friend! :)

SSheilah said...

Wonderful interview - wonderful artist!

mvegan said...

So awesome, loved reading this and Heather, you're awesome too! :) I love the letter prints idea! Great getting to know you and work with you in Vegan Etsy/EFA!

dolls like us said...

Took a sneak peak at your artwork real good thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

Awww thanks everyone! Love you all!! XOXO :)

Lucy - Lunique Jewellery said...

Great article! Lovely to learn more about you Heather :-D

pipcake said...

You Rock Heather! You are sowing good seeds :)

Veganosaurus said...

Heather rocks!! Great interview! :)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview, Heather. I'm the very proud owner of several of her fantastic photos and love all her work which just seems to get better and better :)