Hi, please introduce yourself and your business.
I’m Julia, the artist behind Folk and Fan Woodburning and Art. I create unique one-of-a-kind pyrography. My artwork combines a traditional folk art with a rich history, with something I am personally very passionate about, fan art and geek culture. I have been a lifelong nerd, and love combining an old art-form with a contemporary concept to create unique pieces of fan art for fellow nerds to celebrate their fandom.
Why did you start crafting business and how does your passion still drive your business today?
I have always been an artist, working in many mediums over my life. Personally, as a youngster, I never much felt that my artwork was anything special – mostly, I just made handmade gifts for loved ones. Things sort of changed with my pyrography hobby when I shared a Star Wars themed cutting board I’d made as a gift for a friend – it received a lot of positive feedback from friends and strangers alike. I realized people could be into it, and loved the idea of creating nerdy artwork in a unique medium for all nerds. The thing that keeps me passionate about this is seeing eyes light up, excited jumping and pointing, a good laugh, a big gasp – all common reactions from nerdy folks who see my artwork. As a fan of geek and nerd culture myself, nothing is cooler than connecting with other nerdy people, and creating something that is particularly special to them as a fan.
At what point did you realize this is what you wanted to pursue and that the potential to make a living from it was there?
I am still at a stage where I am pursuing my artwork as a side gig, but I am so inspired by creators who have taken their small passion and hustled like mad to make it a business. The ‘starving artist’ moniker is no joke, it is hard to make a living as an artist. I hope to get there one day (after all, you never work a day in your life when you do what you love), but for now, I’m so grateful that I can share my talent and passion with others, celebrate nerd culture, participate in a beautiful and blossoming handmade scene in Saskatchewan, and be involved in Handmade Saskatchewan, which has been instrumental in helping me grow my business and client base.
What brought you to selling your products with Handmade Saskatchewan?
I came to Handmade Saskatchewan in a rather specific way – many years ago, Handmade Saskatchewan was hosting a holiday craft sale which I attended when I was new to selling my products. The crowd was huge and the variety and quality of the makers was wonderful. I knew then that I had to get involved, and signed up from the Spring show. From there, I stuck around, attending as many Handmade Saskatchewan sales as I could, both as a vendor and customer. Every step of the way, Handmade Saskatchewan’s fearless leader, Nell, has gone above, beyond, and to the moon and back, for the community of vendors. She’s dedicated so much to bring the vendors success and clientele. Through Handmade Saskatchewan, I’ve made friends, met so many exceptionally talented Saskatchewan makers, and grown my business. If asked in 2017 if I would have imagined my little nerdy art in an actual store, I would have laughed! But here we are, thanks to Handmade Saskatchewan.
What do you attribute your success to?
I wouldn’t say I’m terribly successful, but for what successes I have, I attribute it all to my supporters. I have been helped and supported along the way by my wonderful mom, my dear friend, Justin, and many more friends and loved ones who have bought my artwork, come to all my sales, helped me at shows, and more. I am also so thankful for Handmade Saskatchewan, and the fine folks at Sask Entertainment Expo. I believe in working hard, doing your best, putting your heart and soul into your artwork, and letting the universe do the rest. I am also incredibly grateful to the super excellent nerds and fans in Saskatchewan who have supported my business.
If you could speak face to face with yourself when you first started, what pearls of wisdom would you impart?
I would let myself know that I am doing better than I think I am. Also, no, you’re not going to pull an all-nighter to get everything done, you’re not 19 anymore.
What new products have you been working on? Any you would like to highlight?
Lately, I’ve been working on a lot of custom commissions, as comic conventions have been cancelled. I am open to all commissions, nerdy or not, and love bringing people’s ideas to life. My favourite thing that I have been working on lately is artwork inspired by the Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. I mean, Baby Yoda, come on! How cute. You can check out lots of Star Wars themed artwork, including a giant Baby Yoda painting in the Handmade Saskatchewan store.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
It has been a little rough. I am very lucky I have a job, and have not lost all my income with closed retail and cancelled events. Every craft sale/event I was registered for in 2020 was cancelled. These are my biggest source of income and support. Also, being technologically challenged, I struggled with adapting to the digital age of sales. Handmade Saskatchewan acted at lightning speed to set up an online version of our store, where I was able to continue selling my artwork. This helped carry me, and I am sure, other vendors, through this very tough time.
Thank you for your time! Any last closing comments?
Thank you to Nell and her team once again for doing all they could to stay innovative and continue to connect handmade artists to the community.
You can contact Folk and Fan Woodburning and Art through the links below.