Today we’re chatting with Stuccoloco artist Cindy Monro about her love of the American Southwest, and how she got started with her second career as an artist.
Zazzle: Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from/where do you live?
Cindy: I grew up in Wyoming and majored in Business Management in school. With that, I eventually got the opportunity to have my own business, and I owned and operated a Mexican restaurant. I’ve always loved everything Southwest and Mexican, and I always wanted to live in Arizona. So, after 20 years at my restaurant I finally moved down to Tuscon, Arizona and I just love it here. It’s a magical place.
Zazzle: What kind of background do you have in art or design?
Cindy: Not a bit! I don’t have a formal art background, but I’m a very visual person. I’ve always collected images that I thought were especially beautiful and colorful. I actually have folders of inspirational images I’ve cut out of magazines. Art had always been an interest of mine, but I had never contemplated pursuing it as a career.
When I first moved here, I realized that I just couldn’t find what I was looking for to decorate my new home. So, I started doing some simple paintings and batik, and got hooked on it! I’ve also been trying to improve my drawing skills over the years, and I learned enough to start selling some of my art online and sharing it with friends and family. That really encouraged me to keep going – I never thought others would want to see it!
Zazzle: What is the inspiration behind your designs?
Cindy: Recently, I invested in a good camera and it has really opened up a whole new world for me. We, as well as some of our other friends, adopted dogs and I started taking pictures of all of them and making fun designs with the photos for my friends and relatives.
I’ve also been doing landscape photography, and worked with those photographs to teach myself so that I now have a pretty good working knowledge of Photoshop.
From there, I started combining the different elements and I’ve been having more fun than I could imagine! Both the environment and animals really inspire me, so I like trying to put them together and seeing what happens. It’s fun to be surprised by my own efforts.
Zazzle: How would you describe your artistic style?
Cindy: If I had to describe my art, I’d have to call it “southwest animal collage”. My main goal in making my designs is simply to amuse myself! I ask myself what I would like to send to a friend, or what I would like to receive myself. What you find funny or amusing is very personal, of course, but if someone else out there also thinks it’s cute, then that’s great! I just like to have fun with it, and I love doing it.
Zazzle: How did you get started on Zazzle?
Cindy: I found Zazzle around the time that I had been doing a lot of paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I had heard of places where you could make art into cards, so I created a couple cards on Zazzle just as options to think about for my own holiday cards. Then one day, I got an email saying I had actually sold 100 copies of one of my own cards! It was such a nice surprise, and I was so thrilled that I immediately went on to do more with it.
I really love the store layouts for Zazzle stores, so you can bring people there to show off what you’ve been doing. You can be proud to be associated with a professional company.
Zazzle: What are your favorite Zazzle products to design?
Cindy: I really love the postcards of course, but I think the coolest products are the electronic cases. They’re awesome products. I’ve bought one for myself, and bought them as gifts for others. The printing on them is beautiful – they look even better in person.
Zazzle: Are there any particular designs in your store that seem to be especially popular?
Cindy: I’ve done a lot of paintings of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and I find that those designs are pretty good sellers. My favorite painting that I’ve done, of a “tree of life” Christmas tree, tends to sell well for the holidays. It was actually a painting I did as a commission, and I was able to get a good enough photo of it to turn it into these prints. I’m so glad to have a good camera now so that I can incorporate images like this of my real-life artworks on my Zazzle products.
I’ve found my owl and eagle designs are also rather popular, and I get requests from my family members for my Native American themed calendars.
Zazzle: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start out with their own Zazzle store?
Cindy: I would say create for yourself. What would you buy? Also, focus on quality. If it doesn’t look quite right, don’t post it! If your design doesn’t fit well or doesn’t resize properly, don’t use it on that product. Really try to make your products look the best they can, and create products that make sense for your store. Just keep doing it! You’ll be surprised, the longer you stick with it. If you’re truly loving it and having fun with it, you’ll be rewarded.