Hey followers! Check out our latest Creator’s Corner with the lovely Krissy of Black Out Art!
First and foremost, could you tell me who you are, where you’re from and a little bit about yourself and your store?
Hello, friends! I’m Krissy, and I’m a illustrator, graphic designer and tea-blender who runs Black Out Art. I’m based in the South Shore of MA and I have been drawing since I was a kid. I started taking it seriously when some of my teachers in middle school really liked my work and pushed me to explore more techniques and art mediums. I took honor art classes in high school and ended up getting a Studio Art minor in college. I’ve done everything from silk screening and printmaking to drawing and painting. I’m always looking for new media and mediums to play with and I love accepting a challenge.
My love for fan art has really helped me contribute to fandom. I started making Harry Potter fan art 8 years ago, and I think that has triggered a lot of imagination and inspiration for the pieces I currently make. I’ve created art and donated it to raise money to help causes (like Help Haiti, or the tsunami in Japan). I also occasionally take commissions.
I am constantly making new illustrations and art so I can turn them into merch like prints, buttons, notebooks, magnets and more! I originally launched Black Out Art almost four years ago as a way to brand myself as an artist and to display my work via portfolio. This small business kind happened within the last year and a half, and I haven’t looked back since. My journey of learning how to be my own business-owner has let me sell at craft faires and my very first Artist Alley.
And lastly, as I became a tea-blender on Adagio Teas almost a year ago, thanks to a couple of friends. I have had the opportunity to celebrate fandom by making custom tea blends and also the label art to go with each one. I currently have over 50+ blends available, and it has been awesome to meet new friends and fans in this community!
How long have you been making stuff and what made you want to start?
So, I’ve technically made stuff since middle school. But I haven’t really considered making things and giving them to other people or displaying my work in galleries until high school. So just when I started making the fan art. Me making geeky stuff into merch…I started that in 2012, but it got wicked popular in 2013. So I’ve been pretty busy with that.
I first started out with an Etsy shop (since it was something I thought about opening a couple of years back but I never had the guts to do it). Finally, when I heard there was going to be a craft faire at the Harry Potter con Ascendio, I decided that I would get a table and sell my stuff. I knew I had the talent to draw, and I have always been a person to figure out how to make my own things if I wanted to save money. My experiences from silk-screening and printmaking showed me how to get creative with every day items that are available, so I got to work making stickers, bookmarks, magnets and notebooks. It’s all about doing your research and knowing what you can do.
For my first craft faire at Ascendio, I did decently well. And getting my stuff up on Etsy was definitely cool…a lot of my friends have supported me over the years and my products were pretty well received. And thus, I decided that this could definitely turn into something! When it comes to the tea…Adagio pretty much rebooted my love for loose-leaf tea. I’ve always liked tea but having the ability to make blends that taste good to me and are geeky was unique…so yeah.
Where do your ideas come from?
Fandom for the most part! Ideas flow from what I like and also what I haven’t seen much of. For illustrations and prints, I might be going through random photos for references and something might spark from there. Fandom friends are a great influence. But I also do my research. I like to see what people have been making and what people haven’t thought of yet. And if I just see something that would be cool for a piece of art, I let myself think it through before getting to work! It goes this way with original creations too.
Especially for the teas, I am constantly seeing what’s out there, and I’m always looking at fandom in a new perspective to make things that people will like. I always tell me myself that there might be Doctor Who teas, or Sherlock art…but what makes MY stuff cool and different? What would make people want to buy my stuff? Using that logic gets a lot new projects going.
Do you use your own products?
Well, I’d say yes. Some of my buttons are actually decorating my cubicle at my day job. My magnets are on my fridge and some of my art is hanging near my studio space. For the most part, I actually enjoy giving some of merch as gifts to friends, and occasionally I host giveaways for my fans. So some love to me and others.
Have you ever seen something you’ve made out in the real world?
Yep! For my senior year in high school, I was able to use my last semester to do a senior project and make a HUGGGE mural for the local middle school. It took a lot paperwork and back and forth, but I took 6-8 hours every day working in this thing in the art classroom. This was on large wooden panels and put together it was like 12’ x 8’. It was a lot of work. But now it’s being proudly displayed at the school. So that’s something. I’ve also had some work displayed for a few galleries, and have had some of my graphic designs turned into merch at events (cons and Muggle Quidditch tournaments). :)
Do you find selling products that you know others enjoy satisfying?
YES! I love it, because I like talking to my customers, and knowing that we have common interests is cool. But knowing they like my products lets me know I should keep doing what I’m doing. When I sell samples of my teas, it’s really interesting to have conversations with folks because they’re interested in the whole process and the ingredients. And I get to hear some cool stories from them.
What do you think about the online community?
It has been wicked helpful in regards to promotion. Social media, and word-of-mouth through family and friends have gotten me to where I am today. A lot of my sales come through Etsy, so being able to understand the online community and the tools available it vital. Most of my fandom friends an experts I talk to via the interwebs, so they’ve been wicked helpful that way!
What are some of your favourite or most popular items?
I think right now, my buttons are wicked popular. Sometimes they sell out fast online and at events! I have buttons for a lot of fandoms, and I’m probably going to be making a lot more this year! A lot of people seem to also like my name tag stickers, Hogwarts houses bookmarks and postcards.
Where do you hope to take your store in the future?
Gosh, I have no idea. I’m already planning out my 2014 schedule to see if I can balance my time between day-job and going to cons. If I can swing it, I’d like to go to 3-5 cons to sell in the Artist Alley. I think I can do pretty well selling my stuff in person and getting my name out to more people. We’ll see how things go!
A huge thank you to Krissy for the interview!
Be sure to check our her merch at the following links:
Etsy | Redbubble |Society6 | TeePublic | Adagio Teas
To view our past Creators’ Corner posts click here, and if you’d like the chance to be interviewed for a future Creators’ Corner, click here!