I love when I am looking through shops and something really catches my eye. When I came to Into The Wilds, by Sarah MacDonald, I found the art to be very unique. She sells watercolor prints, made up of colors and vines, of all different wildlife animals. I can see these prints being used in a nursery, children’s room, given as a shower gift, wall art for animal facilities, or gifted to an animal lover.
Below are questions I asked Sarah MacDonald about her shop and passion. I hope you enjoy. Please come back and visit me for more up and coming Etsy features!
Why did you choose your shop name?
I wanted something that represented myself and my art. I felt it was whimsical, like something from a fairy tale, and I am a bit of a whimsical person myself. More than anything though is that it ties into my inspiration and art! I grew up and live in the countryside of Canada and have always loved nature, with a big backyard of fields and forest I am always seeing animals big and small and love it, I enjoy going into the wilds and wanted others to get that from my shop.
When did your store open?
While my store technically opened on August 2013 under the name SarahMacStudios but it wasn’t working, it made two sales in two years and I wasn’t enjoying myself. In August 2015 I changed my shop name to ‘IntoTheWilds’ and had a new focus with my watercolor art.
What do you sell?
I sell watercolor art, postcards and prints. Its a bit hard to describe my style because it isn’t any conventional type of art! The feature of my art is animal silhouettes, mostly wild animals like bears and wolves, but it is more than just a silhouette, within is winding vines and vibrant flowers. There are a few of my photographs from my previous shop uo too, along with my little book of poetry ‘Small Town Wilds’ but the focus is on my watercolor art.
How did you learn to make the art in your shop?
Trial and error, and persistence… lots of persistence! I taught myself how to paint and it did not go well at all, I kept experimenting with styles and techniques, trying to follow tutorials and how to books but it got me nowhere… so I just stopped being so formal about it, threw away the books and just painted! Next thing I knew I found my own style and niche, and am loving the experience!
What is something unique about your art?
These are no ordinary silhouettes! I take hours and hours to carefully paint vines and flowers that end up creating the overall silhouette. I try to carefully consider the placement of each flower and leaf, thinking about what will draw in the eye, create a sense of movement and interest. It ends up making for something completely unique!
Explain a few things that inspire you
My own backyard is a fount of inspiration, with a big field surrounded by forests there is always inspiration lurking. We have wild apple trees that tend to draw all sorts of animals, bears and deer in particular like to munch on them!
Which leads me to my next source of inspiration, wild animals. Some nights I fall asleep to the yip of coyotes or the howl of wolves, snowy owls have passed through along with sandhill cranes, we’ve even started seeing elk just munching on leaves. Most of the silhouettes I paint are inspired directly from my observations of them, and the colors are drawn from the natural world and my impression of what color best represents each animal.
What is a challenge you have faced and how have you overcome it?
I am my own worst challenge, constantly doubting myself. I didn’t think what I was doing was all that great, I just did a few paintings for myself because I couldn’t find what I wanted out there and then people saw it and liked it. I kept thinking ‘what can a person without any art education do?’ and putting myself down. After making a few more paintings for local people and seeing how much they genuinely liked them I had to stop myself. I liked them myself, I enjoyed painting them and other people were responding well to them so what was I doing being so negative?! After making my first etsy sale I felt even better, I still have those moments of self doubt and likely always will, its just how I am, but at least I can feel proud of myself and what I am creating!
Can you give new Etsy sellers some advice?
Be persistent! It helps to keep making and creating even if no one is looking or buying. I know it can be discouraging but eventually people will find you, and when they do you’ll have a wealth of items to offer them!
More importunely though, have fun and enjoy what you are doing! It can’t just be about money, you need to enjoy yourself and enjoy creating. I know I wasn’t enjoying myself the first time around and I am sure that is a big part of why my initial shop failed. After a month IntoTheWilds already beat my previous store in sales an income, and of course, fun!
Lastly, make use of the etsy community. The forums, teams and wealth of information out there is VERY beneficial and helpful! Read up on the guidebooks, ask questions and take part in discussions, join a team and be a part of the community – you will learn a lot this way!
Please visit Sarah MacDonald’s shop by clicking —> IntoTheWilds