Monday, June 7, 2010

Meet STE Member Malina of AtlantisAK!

It's time to meet another Steel Town Etsian and find out more about them! Introducing Malina Bowen of AtlantisAK Jewelry on Etsy. So glad to have you on our team, Malina!

Tell us a bit about yourself, name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
I’m Malina, aka Lee, and I make and design jewelry. I am hoping to expand to other projects shortly to further expand my creativity. I currently live in the McKeesport area East of Pittsburgh with my FiancĂ©e, John. I grew up on a farm in Austin, Pennsylvania. The population in Austin is about 600 people maximum, so everyone knew everyone. My back yard was 10+ acres of land and forest and there was always something to do. This gave lots of room for creativity. I hold Austin dear to my heart and am hoping to move back some day. Coming to Pittsburgh to further my education has been a great experience and journey.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I keep to simple things, such as reading, watching movies, shopping and baking. My favorite genres of books are fantasy, such as Stephen King and Anne Rice. For movies, it’s gotta be action, adventure or an awesome horror. 3D makes it even better! I’ve also had a lifelong love for cooking and baking and use my grandmother’s old Betty Crocker cookbook for old home-made goodies. .

What first made you want to become an artist?
Well, most of my family has some sort of artistic talent, so you could say that it runs in my blood to be creative. My grandmother (father’s mother) paints, my grandfather (father’s dad) owns his own woodshop, my mom quilts and has done a lot of cross stitch. It’s a long list of what my relatives do, so I think they’ve all kind of inspired me to do something.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.
Honestly I can say that there isn’t an organized ‘creative process’. I like to call it a ‘creative mess’ because when I start making something, it rarely looks like the original idea, if there even was an idea in the first place. Typically I’m more creative and energetic around 5pm through 3am…so this is when most of my work gets done. The materials that I use vary greatly, from sterling silver, to brass, to glass, gemstone and occasionally plastic or Lucite beads. I make sure to keep a variety of materials because not everyone has the same tastes. Re-using or up-cycling things tends to be the most interesting for me because it’s always great to make something new out of something old. There’s also that destructive process involved too, which it’s always fun to tear stuff apart.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
There are actually two hand-made items that I cherish the most. The first one is what my grandmother (my mom’s mom) had hand quilted for me. My grandmother passed in ’95 when I was 8 years old, so I didn’t get much of a chance to know her. The memories I had of her were always nice and happy. What she made for me was a baby quilt of simple squares and design that I’ve had since birth. It’s now an ugly ragged thing that’s been loved to death over 24 years and has always been close to me wherever I’ve gone. It’s one of the things I brought with me from my home town. The other item was made by Raven, a Native American Spiritualist who was a very close friend. She helped me out when I needed her the most and put me on the path coming to Pittsburgh. Raven passed about 3 years ago due to cancer, so I still miss her greatly. I didn’t get to say goodbye. What she made for me was a large table doily of my favorite, white and black. I also have this with me in Pittsburgh.If I lost either of these items, I don’t know what I’d do.

Name your top five places to be in the Pittsburgh area, books/authors, movies/TV shows, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.
Places: Station Square, Point Park, Chop Sticks in Squirrel Hill, Michaels and Starbucks in the Waterfront.Books/Authors: Stephen King, Anne Rice, R.A. Salvatore, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey.Movies/TV Shows: Lost, Ice Age, Interview with the Vampire, House and medical shows.Songs/Musical groups: I can’t say that I have a set group of favorites here…I just love to listen to anything from Big Band, Rock, Pop, Metal…I’m not too much of a fan of Country or Rap though.Websites: Regretsy, Netflix, Craftgawker, Torrid, DeviantArt

What advice would you give to artists who are new to the Pittsburgh craft scene?I’d say:-Do what you love. Because, if you do what you love then it’ll be inspiring to continue for many years.-Make friends join a Team! Friends help out and are great for getting word out about your projects. Teams are great for meeting new people and getting information.-Be patient. It takes a lot of work, patience and time to become successful with crafting.-Don’t burn yourself out…if you feel yourself losing interest, take a break and start again later. I find myself going a few days without crafting only to have a sudden creative streak that lasts for days on end.

What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?
One of the features I’m really wanting to see soon is managing multiple shops on one account. It’s incredibly hard to start a new store with no feedback, no friends, nothing. I’m hoping that when this feature comes around, that when you make your other shops, the feedback and hearts you have on the first one will be reflected on the others. It’s hard starting from square one again with no feedback or ‘trust’ in the community.

How do you promote your work?
I use Twitter, Facebook, CraftGawker, my Blog and word of mouth to promote myself. I paid once to get exposure but never made a sale and hardly any hearts…It didn’t seem worth it when, for free, at the right places I could get sales and many more hearts for no cost.In five years I'd like to be...Ideally, I hope to marry a dark, handsome prince and live in a fantasy land castle far, far away... But if that doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t mind to be able to either have my own brick and mortar store for my creations and/or supplies…or be able to support myself from home off of my Etsy sales and never have to travel to work a 9-5 job again.

Thanks Malina! Please check out Malina's beautiful creations in her etsy shop here: