It has bee a while since I’ve blogged and it’s been a while since I introduced any artists. Golly…with my temporary blogging break due to our move (which HAPPENS TODAY!!!), I may have lost all of my readers. Let’s hope not! I found some awesome contemporary art pieces for the home on Etsy and I’d like to share my discovery of a WONDERFUL new etsy artist and his DELIGHTFULLY REFRESHING work with you. It is a long introduction, but I hope you enjoy reading it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. :) He’s truthful, real, comical, and quite enjoyably genuine. Introducing…Jalex Studios.
The artist’s name is Jeff Alexander. He is a 36yr old resident of Houston, TX, who is originally from a small town outside of Rochester, NY called Scottsville. Jeff is an electrical engineer by day, and currently by night,an aspiring entrepreneur, trying to share with the world his designs and ideas. He is married (let’s congratulate him on just reaching 10 years of marriage!), and he and his wife also have a very active 5-year old boy. They have no pets (although, he says he keeps teasing his wife about the day their son asked for a dog)….so perhaps, no pets “yet”. :)
To characterize his artistic style, Jeff says it is modern design. I would agree and say it’s the new wave of modern design because his creations are modern with an up-cycled twist. In his own words on his style, Jeff says, “I like to create things that have clean lines that convey a simplicity. I also like juxtaposition. What I mean by this is I like to use material that vastly different from one another (i.e metal and wood) to create some texture to my designs. I am also interested in using recycled material unique ways.” So, what are Jeff’s favorite materials to use? Wood, recycled material, found objects.
We know that every artist has inspiration, so where does Jeff get his? “…from everyday life.” On thought of this topic, he adds… “It’s kind of funny — I would always ask my wife, why does she buy so many shoes? I would always say to her, “You don’t have an outfit to match those shoes so why buy them!!” My wife would respond – “Honey, if you buy the shoes, the outfit will come”. Needless to say, she was right (did I just admit she was right? Hmm… must be getting late). So you may ask, what does this statement have to do with my inspiration. Everything, because many of my inspirations come about in this manner. Whenever, I find an object that intrigues me and I’m hesitant to use it, I go back to what my wife said but change it to “if you use it, the design will come”. So, many of my inspirations come from ordinary objects that I feel have a unique quality that can be fused together to create designs that are intriguing and thought provoking and hope that someone might say “Wow, I never thought of using that object that way”. I’d say that Jeff’s wife is a genius…on shoes and on artistic development. :) And I agree that, if you can find ONE element of what you want to do and you branch off of it for inspiration, it will all come together in the end.
So, what about this town that Jeff lives in? I often wonder about artists and the places they live, and whether or not I ask, I’m curious to see how different areas impact artists differently. I’m a firm believer that the energy you surround yourself with has a large impact on the many facets of your life. As mentioned previously, Jeff lives in Houston, TX – the fourth largest city in the U.S. According to Jeff, “Houston is a great place to live (if you can stand the summer heat!!)” — He also adds, “I love it here. Houston has a small town feel to me, but yet is a large city…with great style when it comes to modern design and living.” I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there (myself included), who when they think of any Texas city, they can’t help but think western, but Jeff reminds us not to focus on the common correlation…”Houston is an undiscovered gem when it comes to modern design/lifestyle. Most people associate modern design/living with New York, or California, but Houston has great modern design/lifestyle that makes me proud to call it home.” Judging on Jeff’s designs, I’d have to agree with him. Even if he was the only modern design in Texas…I’d say his art is quite an undiscovered gem of modern design!
So, what about his beginnings? How did Jeff come to start making his modern art/craft(s)? What is his story ? I think you’ll enjoy reading what he says about how it all came to fruition. “I think initially I started my craft the first year my son was born (2003). The prior Christmas, my wife and I made a resolution for the next Christmas, to not go out and buy gifts, but rather make something. We felt that it was too easy to just buy something. To make something by hand — now that would make for a memorable Christmas that would never be forgotten. Well, needless to say August rolled around and my wife comes to me and says — So how’s my Christmas present coming? I, with a look of horror andfright claim amnesia (don’t worry, if your husband hasn’t given you this look by now, in time he will!!). So, I hastily began to design a modern armoire for my wife. Well, I held up my end of the bargain and come Christmas day, my wife got her handmade modern armoire. I think at that point, the seed was planted. When we moved into our new house, we were pretty much broke. We had this beautiful brand new house, but no money to furnish it with the style that we loved. So through necessity, came creativity. One of my first endeavors was to try and furnish our guest bedroom. Many of the items in that room I hand made (bed, side table, shelves…). After finishing that room, someone told me that I should post my work on HGTV’s rate my space page (http://ratemyspace.hgtv.com/SNC/GroupSearch.aspx?pguid=6db6be3f-1720-4ba3-a081-999042c09b6b&username=jba4718). After posting my work, I was so overwhelmed by the positive responses back from people, that I began to realize that people had an appreciation for my ideas and designs. So, I got enough courage (as well as finally getting off my butt) and decided that I would no longer sit back and wonder what if, and change that to “And If” !! — Pretty cool story, ay? To me, Jeff’s story is a testament to the serendipitous moments that probably happen to us all. I like to think of it as God and the Universe urging us toward our destiny and life calling. Lucky for Jeff, he had his ears open! :)
So, we know Jeff is a busy guy. He’s got a full-time job, andhe’s a husband, and he’s a dad, AND he’s a budding artist on Etsy. It’s different for all Etsy artists, but how does Jeff balance his Etsy shop with everything else? “Well, I am a fairly new to Etsy (I opened my shop in May, 2008). As far as balance is concerned, ever since I discovered Etsy, I have
been so focused on getting my portfolio out to the world in my Etsy shop. The weird thing is, I feel rather balanced. I know this sounds odd, but the moment I discovered Etsy, something clicked. This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me. I work in a technical field that is very demanding, but at times lacks any real creativity. I have always had a creative side to myself, but never knew of a venue to show it off in. When I discovered Etsy, I knew that this was the place that I needed to be. I am so passionate about the opportunity to show off my portfolio, that it has crept into my day job (Oops, guess I shouldn’t have said that, but it is true). I would love to ultimately be able to sustain my lifestyle with my shop on Etsy, but for right now I am content with the adventure of getting my name out there.”
True to form, Etsy artists love handmade. For everyone, it is different, so I like to know what element(s) of handmade really attract people to love it so much. I asked Jeff about this and he said,
1. “I love that fact that it comes from the heart and mind. What I mean by this is that
in your heart is where your passion lies, and in your mind is where your creativity comes from. When you combine these two (heart + mind) you get handmade from the heart.”
2. “I love the fact that there is a face to the product. You get a sense of what that person has created and why they created it.”
3. “The uniqueness of the experience.”
Of course, after knowing those things, I’m curious to know about Jeff’s own favorite piece from his shop. After cornering him on the topic (he really likes them all because each one has a piece of him), he finalized that he likes the Doors Collection of Wall Art (Introspective, Juxtaposition).
Now, with all of that, how does Jeff promote his work? As an artist, it is great to know because it could open your eyes to a new avenue you had not thought of. As a reader/supporter, it’s interesting to know how much additional work goes into getting a successful business off the ground. Exposure is everything, and with today’s day and age, technology and the internet is key. Jeff maintains a Website, blog, Etsy shop, and myspace. His shop was also featured on Fresh Shops (http://www.etsy.com/storque/section/spotlight/article/fresh-shops-jalexstudios/1847/) on May 22nd (“I found this out a week later. Guess that explains why my views on some of my items shot up so fast”).
He’s also on Flickr and on Squidoo: www.squidoo.com/jalexstudios
You know? I’m writing about all of this business and well, after getting to know all of that, I wonder what Jeff does for fun when he isn’t busy with all else… Jeff’s response was…”What do I do for fun? Hmm, that’s a good question. I love to spendtime with my family. I also findmyself spending a lot of time at Hardware Stores (I’m doing the Home Improvement growl as I type this :) ). I also love going to Modern Home Furnishing Stores to see all the great designs (this gives me lots of inspiration). Most times you can find me in my garage/studio, tinkering with new ideas/concepts that I have in my head.”
Lastly, Jeff would like to share some encouraging thoughts with my readers, “Over the last year before I opened up my shop, I was in an artistic slump, self-doubt, etc.. (if you will). What I mean by this is that, I felt something was missing in my life, there was a hole somewhere, but I didn’t know where. One day scanning through the channels on cable, I ran across the movie RENT, and was mesmerized by the message of this movie. So I submit to you what I would like for your readers to take away, whether they are fellow Etsians, or contemplating becoming future Etsians — “Forget regrets, or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way. No daybut today”. I think this says it all, have no regets, do it your way, and sieze the day!!”
Thank you, Jeff! I’m certain your words of encouragement will speak to at least one reader other than myself and I would venture to bet that they’ll reach far more than that! Jeff’s story is an encouraging one, an inspirational one, and hopefully to anyone reading my introduction, an enjoyable one!