Monday, June 27, 2011

An Interview With Geritom71

Welcome to the third in my series of Sydney Etsy Team member interviews. Today I'm featuring the lovely Geritom71 who makes the most adorable cards and notebooks! 

Who are you?

My name is Kathryn - I have been told I am a good listener, reliable, judgemental, moody, funny, sarcastic, demanding, easy going, crazy, well balanced and secretive. All are true.

What do you do?

By day I sit at my desk cutting paper, by night in bed, electric blanket on with my trusty stable table!

I love paper, everything about it so I am willing to give just about any paper craft a go except origami, I can't do it and trying makes me angry!

What is your background in making?

I studied Fine Art at the National Art School for 3 years and majored in Photography, I also did a further 3 years at Sydney College of the Arts, also in Photomedia. Somehow by the end of my SCA years I had moved more towards writing and all of my photographic work now is based around text and books. I still work with my photography but through making my artists books and working in the art store I discovered a whole crazy world of paper.

Who or what inspires you?

My books, I have about 4000 of them and yes I rent, so moving is a little back breaking. I have an amazing home library.

My flatmate of 17 years, who is a multi-media artist and a freakish computer brainiac, he is great at reading manuals and then demonstrating how to use things. Oh he also cooks I haven't cooked a meal in 17 years, unless I am home alone and even then he has left a suggestion (occasionally even a prepared meal). That sounds lazy, but trust me, he is an amazing cook.

My Nan, she passed away when I was 12 but I spent all of my time with her making craft, sewing, playing with her huge basket of buttons, making collages out of her box of old cards and drawing on A2 pieces of paper she would sneak from my uncles room. If we weren't making craft we were playing Canasta.

Chance - at the moment I am busy making books and cards using vintage childrens book illustrations. I found a giant pile of books in the corner of a country charity store and found out they were being thrown away because they were too damaged to sell so I of course took them all, I mean honestly who throws away books! But I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them all. Then I discovered another etsy seller JamboChameleon and bought some of her paper punches and have been punching out circles ever since. I still buy her punches, and just bought some of her buttons from I Heart Gallery in Newtown.

What themes do you explore in your work?

I have a few different styles or themes I work with.

My vintage illustration cards and books, there is something so amazing about the illustrations memories of the books I coveted from the school library, the Golden Books I browsed through at the supermarket checkout with my Nan - yes, in the town I grew up in at the end of the checkout were Golden Books, Womens Weekly magazines and cordial bottles shaped like koalas and kangaroos with built in straws you had to bite the end off to get to the cordial.

I also have a series of books and cards with a paper cut cloud design, I started making these after my Grandfather passed away. I kept finding myself cutting small clouds out of paper, I suppose it was a bit meditative. I really love the act of cutting the paper, quiet time when your brain can wander.

What mediums do you work in?

Paper, paper and more paper. I have a slightly out of control collection of paper - so out of control that I have opened a second Etsy shop called Geritomsupplies to try decrease the slightly crazed hoarder level it is currently at.

Why do you create?

I have always had to make things, I can't think of a single moment in my life where some sort of art or craft project wasn't on the go. It is as natural as breathing.

How did you come to open a store on Etsy?

I first started shopping on Etsy, and then thought maybe I should have a go selling there too. I am a crazy Etsy shopper, sometimes I have to temporarily ban myself from looking.

How do you feel when you make a sale?

I always excitedly rush to tell my flatmate, it still makes me excited.

What are your top Etsy tips?

I don't know that I have any specific tips really, just give it a go - what do you have to lose?

Where else can we see or buy your work?

I sell my work at I Heart Gallery on King St in Newtown, One Earth Cafe in Willoughby, Incube8r Gallery in Mosman, soon at Spacebar in Hobart. Plus I have a market stall the first Sunday of each month at the Eveleigh Artisan Market.

How did you learn your trade?

I learned my trade literally on the job.

I grew up in a country town and wanted to move to Sydney and go to Art School, but needed to have a job so I wrote letters to every art related shop or gallery in Sydney and out of the mountain of mail I sent I received only two replies. Both were Art Material stores in Chatswood, one store to say although they had no positions to let them know if I was really stuck and the other saying come down so we can meet you. I was given a chance even though I had no experience, was 17 and so shy I barely spoke. I still have regular contact with my boss from then, 23 years later without her I may well still be back in that town.

So, I was thrown in the deep end and I loved it. I am still working at the same store with a different owner, and am now the manager. They have let me leave to travel and come back, take time off to study, and are part of my family.
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

My pearl of wisdom is this - if you are doing what you love you are a happy person. So do it.

Creativity sure can chase the blues away! Thanks Kathryn, it was lovely hearing your story. It makes me enjoy your work even more...especially your beautiful cloud cards.

You can add Geritom71 on facebook here and find her Etsy store here!

If you're a Sydney Etsy Team member and would like to be interviewed, featured, or do a guest blog post, please convo me on Etsy at I'd love to hear from you!


All photos used in this post are copyright to Kathryn and Geritom71 and used with her kind permission.