Ink and watercolor. Sounds simple enough, right? Therein lies the beautiful complexity of Kimberly of Lacelit. I got to know Kimberly via Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters, or AHAS for short. AHAS is an exclusive handmade community of makers that provide education, support and opportunities to meet other artists and makers.
So often, we sit and create. Living with our work can be a lonely business, not to mention an intimidating one if you are just starting out (ahem, me). I joined this community in January and they shared new members on Instagram. Kimberly was one of the people who immediately welcomed me. I commented on her lovely work, and she on mine. I was so taken aback by how humble and lovely she was (still is). I knew I had to share her with you. Let’s meet her.
How did you get started with ink and watercolor?
Ink and watercolors are a relatively new form of artistic expression for me. I grew up in the performing arts and for most of my life it was dance, choreography and music that made up the core of my identity. Other than a freelance photography hobby that I started back in college, I really hadn’t explored much with visual art until a few years ago.
I remember a summer day when I was in a particularly whimsical, I-wish-I-were-an-artist sort of mood. I started doodling with fine-tipped Sharpie pens in an old sketchbook and created a tiny, six-pointed flame. I discovered that I could then use the flames to draw a variety of freehand geometrics and patterns. The name Lacelit combines the words “lace” and “lit,” which characterize the delicate nature of my work and the little flames that started it all.
From there, I began devoting more intentional time to explore with ink and watercolors. I launched Lacelit in January 2014 and have been making up for lost time ever since.
What do you love about ink and watercolor?
I have long admired watercolors and the way they illustrate so vibrantly without feeling heavy. I’ve seen delicate florals, landscapes, portraits, lettering—all created with watercolors that blend into each other in such a way where depth and gentleness exist at the same time.
I use watercolors in a slightly different way, yet their lovely traits are still evident. I first draw tiny geometrics with ink and then fill them in with drops of watercolor using spotter brushes. You may wonder why I don’t simply color them in with marker pens, which would certainly be faster. Yet, it’s quite amazing to me how the watercolors are able to add such texture and movement even in the smallest quarters. They hold true to their gentle, gradient-like blending, and without them my geometrics become flat and still. I love creating small, delicate things with touches of moving color.
Since I’m still so new to my medium, I’m having fun exploring new areas. I have a growing interest in simple illustration that seems to compliment my geometrics and lettering styles well. I’ve always been drawn to clean, imperfect lines, and you’ll see this reflected in many of my new card designs launching this summer.
What craft would you like to try other than ink and watercolor?
Embroidery, hands down. I took my first embroidery workshop with Lisa Solomon this past April, and wondered how it was possible that I had waited this long to try it. Since I started Lacelit, many embroidery and quilting artists have commented that my designs would lend themselves quite well to stitching mediums. I’m anxious to explore this area more and your work has been inspiring me to do so.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wanted to open an online handmade shop?
Take the time you need to start your handmade shop as a legitimate business. When you have a product ready to offer, it can be tempting to jump straight to selling without laying a foundation. It may not be the exciting part of launching your work, but a strong set up will help your business run smoothly and grow steadily without running into trouble along the way or having to back-track.
Research the requirements for your city and state, acquire your business license and seller’s permit, and set up a bookkeeping system so that you won’t be scrambling to file your sales taxes. When I first started, all of this sounded so overwhelming, but once it was done, it was empowering.
When you take your business seriously by setting things up the right way, it’s also inevitable that you’ll feel more ownership and confidence as a business owner. Doing this helped me establish a deep commitment and responsibility to building Lacelit well and viewing what I do as a real business. This in turn, helped customers and fellow artists to view Lacelit as business rather than a hobby.
Running a small business also requires you to make wise decisions and take calculated risks, and doing so with integrity and a learning posture is really valuable.
What inspires you, or how do you keep your creative mojo going?
I have always been drawn to the intentionality that resides within a handwritten note penned from one person to another. I love the quiet moments when you sit and think about what you want to say to someone. Forming those words into sentence-strings and sharing them with someone you love is one of the most beautiful things I have encountered.
When I sit down to design a new card, I dwell on these instances and think about the sentiments I wish to share with those I care for most. So, I am often inspired by the people to whom I write, and when I create, I imagine the many others who would love to say the same sorts of things to their loved ones. This keeps me focused on intentionality over trends, and helps me discern which words and what imagery will convey these sentiments in a meaningful way.
Where can we find you?
Let’s be chums!
You can also subscribe to my e-newsletter at bitly.com/lacelit to be the first to know about my new collection of 30 cards launching this June. See sneak peek below!
Now, how did you enjoy your trip through Lovely Town? Didn’t I say she was absolutely lovely? People say that, but Kimberly truly is a lovely person from her interaction with others on social media (yep, I pay attention to that stuff), to her interaction with me and the logistics for setting up this interview. She is such a pleasure to work with! I am so glad I was able to snag her for this and share her work with you.
My favorite part of this interview, aside from the artwork, was her advice for anyone looking to open a shop. The business side of running your own shop is, admittedly, not sexy – BUT, as she noted, it’s really empowering. Don’t be scared to get your ducks in a row. Am I talking to myself here, maybe. But I’ll never tell! I love this post by Danielle of Merriweather Council on this titled 6 Signs You Might Be Playing Biz Rather Than Running It, have you read it?
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