Circle Talk....Linwood Avenue

I've decided to start a new blog series called, "Circle Talk".  I'll be interviewing some of my favorite artists, crafters, store owners, friends and more!  I have so much to be very thankful for in regards to my creative business.   Sharing this journey with you right here in my blog is a huge part of what has kept my momentum going, even when there were only about 10 of you reading!  And now, well I am ready to share with you the lives of people who have inspired me along the way......some don't even know how much their kind words and thoughtfulness have meant.  So look for monthly "talks" right here!

First up, an entrepreneur I met this time last year at a local craft show.  It RAINED so bad that weekend (It flooded actually...like Noah's Ark flooding), but we all hung in there the two very long days and in the end, found that the weekend was not about sales, but rather gathering  friendships.  Here she is:

Tiffin Mills of Linwood Avenue

So let's start this interview off with the basic stuff:  Who is Tiffin?
i grew up in pittsburgh, pa in a very artistic family, so when it came to college, there was never any choice to do something that didn’t include art. i graduated from ohio university in athens, ohio with an art history degree but started searching for a job as a graphic designer right after graduation. back then, it was more about your “book” than it was about your degree. i still support myself as a graphic designer, but have sadly lost all my ability to talk the uber intelligent “art speak” that i was trained to do in the art history world. it was definitely a fun party trick ;)

i knew i didn’t want to go back to pittsburgh after graduation, so i started applying for jobs in atlanta and boston, for no reason other than i liked those cities. an ad agency in atlanta was the first to call, so i packed up and moved here 2 weeks later. after that, my life went from dating to marriage to children, then a move to the suburbs with 3 ad agency jobs sprinkled inbetween. as a city girl at heart, the suburban move was tough on me, but the silver lining is that i get to drive a golf cart around as my main mode of transportation. yep, you read right, a golf cart. the community i live in was planned as a golf cart community and has more cart paths than roads. kids get golf carts on their 16th birthday and i drive one to the grocery store, the bank, even to target.

Have you always been a “Crafty” person? If so, tell us about your favorite childhood crafty project.
yes, my childhood was filled with many creative projects. i have memories of sewing clothing for my cabbage patch kids - particularly a pair of white fluffy bunny slippers with my mom. we also made people from empty pringles cans with Styrofoam balls wedged into the top as heads. the one i remember most was a native american indian girl for a project at school. she had a fringed coat and long black yarn hair. i still have hopes of making pringles can people with my own munchkins.

I noticed you started creating these beautiful botanical drawings. Can you tell us about the materials you use? Did you take any classes to inspire these?
thanks for the compliment, i love them too! i use prismacolor colored pencils for the initial drawing. then i embellish the flowers for a more whimsical look with a fine tip black pen. prismacolors have always been my favorite pencils because, in my opinion, they blend the best which gives you a lot of flexibility and control over the end result.

i have always had a knack for drawing, but never ventured into colored pencils until this past spring. callanwolde is a large art school in atlanta and for years i wanted to take a class titled “botanical illustration”. finally my munchkins were in all day school, so i had the free time to drive into the city. it was great to have dedicated time to work on my skill and get other artists input. from the first day of class, i was hooked and knew i would have a life long love affair with colored pencils. i plan on expanding the line to include a flower for each month and turn the work into a calendar.

I just have to ask, since I just went through an identity crisis, where did the name, Linwood Avenue come from?
linwood avenue was conceived in the first home i shared with my husband sometime around 2002. when we were newlyweds, we bought and renovated the cutest corner lot red brick bungalow which sat on, you guessed it, linwood avenue. everything i make centers around making a home beautiful, so i thought the name i chose was the perfect umbrella to house all my home goods under. hence my go to line “make your home a linwood avenue home”.

It says you are also a graphic designer, a Mom of two boys, make lamp shades, lamps, sew all sorts of things like vendor aprons, love estate and yard sales......how do you balance it all?? Guide us through a typical day in the Linwood Ave Studio.
ha ha, sometimes i wonder that myself. i really can’t sit still anymore, even when i am watching tv at night, my hands are working on creating something. at this stage in my life, i have finally realized that i am my happiest when i am creative. some people take prozac, i craft!
a typical day goes something like this...
7am: wake up and get the munchkins out the door to school
8-9am: catch up on blogs and facebook
9-11:30am: complete work for my graphic design clients
11:30-12pm: eat lunch with my husband (he works 5 minutes from the house and comes home for lunch everyday)
12-2:30pm: put on a netflix movie and start crafting. that can range from sewing, to crocheting, to drawing - you name it.
2:30 - 4pm: get the munchkins off the bus and work on homework.
4-6pm: more design work
6-11pm: dinner, munchkin bedtime and possibly more design/craft work until my bedtime
that’s pretty much it, day after day after day, i told you i don’t sit still!

What can you not live without in your studio?
that’s a toss up between my pile of vintage sheets and a red uni-ball onyx pen! the beautifully worn patterns on the sheets make me smile every time i look at them. whenever i sew using the sheets, the end product has that wonderful mix of whimsy and a feeling of home. the graphic designer in me is addicted to the red pens for marking up changes and writing to-do lists. i buy them in packs of 30 because it puts a serious damper on my day if i can’t find one to write with.

What is the best find you’ve bought at an estate or yard sale? And can we see a photo of it?
a four foot round off-white coffee table. i love it and shed a tear each time one of my munchkins leaves a stray pen mark on it. but i guess that’s what is great about decorating your house with older pieces. the more stains and scratches they get, they better they look!

As you gear up for the fall show season, what product are you most excited about receiving feedback on? I always find that when something feels really, really right....I am right it sells!
definitely my botanical prints! i am so excited to have something to sell that was created solely from my own hand from start to finish. they are so near to my heart and i can’t wait to see the public's reaction.

What are your dreams for Linwood Avenue?
i work so hard in building linwood avenue because i have hopes of it one day becoming my main source of income. i come from a long line of entrepreneurs and i have great expectations that i can and will make this business thrive!

short term goal: become published in a national magazine
a long term “dream big” goal: license my botanical artwork for stationery, calendars, wall art, etc.

thank you, so, so much for taking the time to interview me. i can hardly believe all the amazing artists i have met through this online world we live in. it is a constant source of inspiration, encouragement and opportunity for me and i don’t know where linwood avenue would be without it.


linwood avenue said...

looks great! i am honored to be your first interview :)

Isabel said...

What an awesome interview:O) Thanks for sharing her botanicals are gorgeous:O)

Trish @TheOldPostRoad said...

Enjoyed that interview! Her flowers on her Etsy site are beautiful!

gypsysticks said...

circle talk ... great idea, jenni. it will be a treat to meet someone new each month. thank you for sharing linwood ave with us.

Lorrie Everitt Studio said...

great post ... thanks for sharing!
I'm heading over to Linwood Avenue to see more!

Suzanne said...

What a great interview. I love her botanical prints. Very original.

Anonymous said...

good start

Anonymous said...

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- David

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