Artist Thaneeya McArdle talks with us about her nomadic lifestyle, her vibrant artistic style, and how Zazzle brings both together in one colorful store.
Zazzle: Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from/where do you live?
Thaneeya: I grew up mostly in Florida and now I enjoy a rather itinerant lifestyle. I love to travel and explore new places and cultures, and to discover things I’ve never seen or experienced before.
Not long ago my husband and I sold most of our stuff, put the rest in storage, and embarked on a nomadic journey that so far has taken us to San Francisco, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Each of us only has 1 wheelie bag and 1 carry-on bag to hold all of our material possessions… and we are loving it! We both work from our computers which means we can live/work anywhere in the world, as long as we have a good Internet connection. Having a Zazzle store helps fund our nomadic lifestyle!
Zazzle: What is your background in art/design? How did you get started in creative endeavors?
Thaneeya: I’ve loved to make art for as long as I can remember. I remember being in kindergarten and fantasizing about drawing huge chalk murals that would cover the entire chalkboard in our classroom. When I was 14, I drew pencil portraits, and everyone praised them for their realism and called me an “artist” and encouraged me to keep drawing. That’s when I started taking art seriously and enrolled in more art classes at school.
I went on to get a BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Painting. I then moved to England, and later France, where I created a lot of paintings and drawings and sold them via the Internet to collectors all over the world. Although I was pretty much a starving artist in the beginning, I wouldn’t change it for anything because I learned so much from the experience, both in terms of art-making and also in terms of running an art business. I paid my dues, and I’m happy to say that all the hard work has paid off!
Zazzle: Where do you find inspiration for your art/designs? How would you describe your artistic style?
Thaneeya: My style is typically colorful and highly detailed, full of whimsical shapes and patterns. My style is usually tight rather than loose, yet it is also free-flowing and spontaneous as opposed to carefully planned. I find inspiration all around me – the world is so full of fascinating people and places, diverse flora and fauna, natural beauty and man-made marvels!
I like to observe patterns in nature, from the details on leaves or seashells to the motion of the clouds or the effect of light on water. I’m also deeply attracted to folk art from around the world – whether it’s Peruvian retablos, Tibetan thangkas, Aboriginal dot paintings, etc. Those forms of art also tend to be highly detailed and stylized, and often colorful, which is such a visual treat.
Zazzle: How did you hear about Zazzle? What made you want to start a store with us?
Thaneeya: I can’t recall exactly where or how I first heard about Zazzle – probably on an art forum many moons ago (I joined Zazzle back in 2005). After hearing about Zazzle, I decided to start a store to see if I could make money by selling my art on products. As a starving artist at the time, I was seeking any revenue stream I could get! I appreciated that the store was free and that there were no listing fees or hidden costs. The only cost was my time and energy in putting my art on products.
Zazzle: What is your favorite type of Zazzle product to design?
Thaneeya: That’s a toughie, because so many Zazzle products are fun to design! I like making phone cases because they sell well. I also enjoy making newly-released products, because it’s fun to see how my art will look on a new product, and to figure out the best way to present my art on the product.
Zazzle: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own Zazzle store?
Thaneeya: Starting a successful Zazzle store begins with image quality, so be sure to upload good, high-resolution digital files of your art. Use a scanner or a digital camera to capture your artwork, and be aware that even if you use the best quality scanner or camera, photos and scans can often appear washed out and less vibrant than the original artwork. To correct this, don’t be afraid to tweak the file using image-editing software. This editing process can be essential to recreate the true appearance of the artwork.
Another important tip is to carefully choose your title, description and tags for each product listing. Use keywords that accurately describe your image in each of those sections, as that will help potential customers find your product.
Zazzle: Can you give us an idea of what’s next on your horizon?
Thaneeya: In January 2014 my first book will be published by F+W Media. It’s called Draw Groovy and it features 64 pages of fun, easy step-by-step lessons that demonstrate how to draw cute, whimsical things like cats, owls, paisley, abstracts, and more. It was a lot of work to create the art and text but it was such a thrill to see the finished copy! I’m currently working on my second book for F+W which will be published in August 2014, but I can’t divulge any details about it at this time.
I’m also beginning to get more products into stores, such as calendars, wallets and skins featuring my artwork. I have fabulous licensing agents who are actively pursuing licensing opportunities for my artwork and we’ve already signed several deals.