Laurie LeBlanc Rickaby – Made By SwirlyGirl

Laurie LeBlanc Rickaby
Laurie LeBlanc Rickaby

Laurie LeBlanc Rickaby is a former ballet dancer, ballet teacher, and choreographer, who’s always loved making things. She creates beautiful photo art and handcrafted blank note cards. Her creations are available through her online shop, Made By SwirlyGirl, at Etsy. It’s been my pleasure to get to know Laurie. She’s  a part of  a wonderful group of artists that I recently joined that provides advice, support, and friendship to each of our members. She’s a delightful, kind person whose grace and creativity shine through her work.

These great interview questions were written by jbEbert, another member of our group. I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about Laurie, her family, and her craft. You’ll find a list of links for Laurie’s writing and her work at the end of the interview. I hope you’ll check out her sites and bookmark them for future visits. Enjoy!

Q1: Describe your product in 25 words +-.

One card  from White Roses Plein Air Collection
One card from White Roses Plein Air Collection

LLR: Handcrafted photo art blank note cards and matted photo prints.

Q2: Why do you produce this product, and not some other product?
LLR: I have tried many different art forms and crafts and this is the first one that has kept my attention long enough for me to consider making a business out of it! It is easy and quick from idea to finished product, and yet I feel like I possess a unique way of creating something pleasing to the eye. I also feel that my work has room to evolve and change as my world does and that I’m not locked into any particular style or method of creating my art.

Q3: How much of your day do you spend working on it?
LLR: Since attempting to make a go of this in any serious way (January of 2009), I have spent many hours every day working on it in some way, however the actual creative time I spend is minimal. In fact, the majority of my shop listings were created long before I joined Etsy! I really need to start carving out more time to create.

Q4: Is this how you make your living?
LLR: Not yet! I am a ballet teacher in my “real” life (and even that is part time) while raising 2 wonderful daughters and keeping a moderately tidy home for them and my husband.

Grande Jete Blank Note Card
Grande Jete Blank Note Card

Q5: How much of what you produce in your product, did you learn in “school” (define this as you wish)? How much is self-taught? How do you self-teach… books, trial and error, etc?
LLR: I’ve had no formal training in anything in regards to my art or business. I taught myself how to operate my digital camera and various software programs and I continue to learn about the art of photography from looking at other photographers work, online resources, library books, etc. When I look at the photo art I started making cards with, I cringe, but I think that is a good thing. It means I’m learning and growing and am not becoming complacent.

Q6: When you aren’t working on producing, marketing, shipping, your product, what to you do? What are your other fascinations and passions?
LLR: Hmmmm…I love being out in nature–especially forested mountains with rivers or streams! There is so much inspiration in natural settings and it’s when I feel most in touch with myself and able to take my best photographs. Other passions and fascinations include ballet, reading (fiction, non-fiction, inspirational, philosophy,…), watching live performance of any kind (especially if any of my very talented friends are performing), looking at the creativity and imaginings that have sprung to life through other artists, great conversations, cooking, EATING!, traveling…

Q7: How do these other interests affect, or influence the choices you make in your product design?
LLR: Although I’ve chosen an art that can be replicated a million times and look the same every time, I think that my images have a lot of movement and drama in them. I tend to favor images that give me a feeling as well as please my eye and colors that excite rather than soothe. Much of my life was spent on the stage and in the ballet studio, and I think that my images reflect the “visual music” that ballet is to me.

Q8: What kind of space do you work in? How big? Is it separate from your living space?
LLR:In my dream home, my space is huge and separate from my living space with tons of storage created specifically for the odd shapes and sizes of my materials and it is on the same property of my home, if not actually connected.

Granite and Marble Kaleidoscope Blank Note Card
Granite and Marble Kaleidoscope Blank Note Card

Alas, I am not living in my dream home yet! In reality, my computer is in one room of my house, my work table, when set up is in our bedroom, as are all the materials, cabinets, boxes, chests, cutters, etc. We are fortunate to have 2 closets in our bedroom: one for my husband and I to share and one for my craft supplies and various other miscellaneous boxes and items. And gratefully, my husband doesn’t seem to mind this invasion and sacrifice! This is a fairly recent (8 month) development, having finally given each of our daughters their own room, which necessitated giving up the guest/craft room. I miss that room very much, but I’ve got a teenager now, and she needs more privacy than her 8 year old sister was willing to give her when they were sharing a room!

Q9: What is your marketing approach? Are you “in person” at art fairs and shows, or are you a big online presence? Do you tweet or blog; are you on facebook; how about flickr? Do you have a website? List all your URL’s and visibility addresses.
LLR: Word of mouth is really the only marketing I do that is not online. I would love to do shows, but the fees, the time commitment, and the inventory requirements make it difficult for me to entertain the notion of at this time. I would love to try to do some in the future, though. There is something so rewarding about watching people as they look at your work and respond to it. I have been online developing a presence since the end of last January and although I have quite a time keeping up with all of it, I have a website, an Etsy site, I’m on Soopsee, I blog, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as various other sites that I’ve joined and done little more but hope to get back to some day to take advantage of the marketing opportunities that they enable.

Urban Legend Blank Note Card
Urban Legend Blank Note Card

Here are my various URL’s:
madebyswirlygirl’s Etsy shop
madebyswirlygirl’s side lines (blog)
madebyswirlygirl Facebook Fan Page
MBSG on Twitter
madebswirlygirl on Flickr
madebyswirlygirl on Soopsee

Q10: How does the act of creating affect your view of life?
LLR: It is one of the main reasons I am on this planet! Love/relationships are the number 1 reason. Creating is number 2. I’ve known this since I was a little girl. I feel closer to my higher power when I am creating than at any other time. It is part of my essence and I think I would just shrivel up and die if I couldn’t create something—anything! This is the medium I am working with right now, but it might not be next year. The medium is just a vehicle. Creating is my most basic need after my physical needs and the universal need to love and be loved.

Many thanks to Laurie for her wonderful responses and the chance to get to know more about her and her work.

Please take a look at her links (above) and be sure to visit her shop, Made By SwirlyGirl for more of her beautiful work.

All images used within this interview are ©Laurie LeBlanc Rickaby – Made By SwirlyGirl and are used with permission.

Describe your product in 25 words +-.

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