This month, CatPrint is excited to present the fourth installment in our Customer Q&A series. Artist and entrepreneur Colleen Attara spoke with us about her business, Colleen Attara Studio, and inspirations. Read her story below:
What does your business offer?
I have a line of greeting cards and prints. I am very good at tapping into feelings and truths that others feel. My cards are my stories. They are pieces of conversations and thoughts that go through my head. These stories become other people’s stories, too. My words are bridges between people expressing joy and sometimes sadness. I love creating cards that have the words others have been trying to say. I also teach people how to heal through altered book pages and I script words that are cut from salvaged material that I ship across the world as part of the One Little Word movement.
Could you describe your background and how you got into design?
I have been a full time artist for several years. I started out creating original three dimensional art created from repurposed business signs. I created small pieces for private collectors and then started working on larger commissions in public spaces. Prior to that I was pretty corporate and worked in television selling commercial airtime.
I launched my card line at the National Stationery Show in 2014. My card line is a lovely collaboration of everything I adore doing: photography, writing, painting, and reusing. This definitely is the truest work I have ever done.
How would you describe your style of design?
There is a nostalgic quality to my work. I love to reuse materials in different ways. I take my photographs, tear them, change the composition and then sew them back together again. I add in bits of found and collected ephemera and some little words to emphasis a part of my message. And colorful thread is a big part of my esthetic.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everywhere! I have to pull over when I drive to write down thoughts that pop into my head. To write greeting cards, you are a student of everyday life and conversations. I am able to capture those basic moments and thoughts and get them on paper. My family and friends are big inspirations. Sometimes the words are there. Other times a picture is a huge inspiration.
Where are you located?
My studio is on a historic farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I create in a stone cottage dating back to the early 1800’s. It is where I play with paint, paper and ideas. My computer and printers are in my home studio. My cottage just has a coffee pot, a microwave and a typewriter.
What outlets do you use to sell your work?
I am in about 55 retail outlets across the country, such as bookstores, boutiques, mailing stores, and card stores. I license my designs as well.
How long have you been printing with CatPrint?
Since the very beginning. Working green and earth friendly is really important to me. I love the paper my cards are printed on. And I love the shipping cost and edible shipping peanuts that they use.
What is the biggest difficulty you’ve encountered in starting your own business?
I always looking to find the balance between the creative part of my work and the managerial part. I hire others to do the work that I do not feel passionate about, like the bookkeeping. But you need to be really organized before you can hand everything over. I am always balancing studio time with office time. I share an assistant with a close artist friend. That has been wonderful. I also have a design company who oversees my website, branding, and my shop. That really helps so much. And it keeps me in my studio more, where I want to be.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists looking to start their own business/sell their art?
Raise your hand high. Put yourself out there. Take risks. Use social media to connect and promote, but do not look at what everyone is doing and compare yourself to others. Show up often and just be the artist you are in your studio. Whenever I am doing a show, I am always attempting to bring my studio along with me. I move the furniture in. I show up as me and recreate the surroundings I am comfortable in. I support and love the art community around me, but I am not looking at their work for inspiration. I am always looking inward for my own inspiration.
I would also add that is very important to partner with people who share your values.
Where can people find more about your work?
My website is www.colleenattara.com and all my cards, prints and eco-friendly art can be found there. There is also a list of stores in the U.S. on my site that carry my cards. I love Instagram and my studio is also on Facebook.