Friday Feature: Andy Pratt Design September 10, 2010 13:56

Happy Friday, everyone! This week you're all going to get to know the talented Andy Pratt from New York.  Here at Craftland we're lucky enough to sell some of Andy's journals, as well as some of his cards.  Even though I didn't discover if he was a fellow Buffy fan (those vampire journals of his were around long before Twilight) I did learn what a crunchy milkshake was. I hope you enjoy the interview, and have a great weekend!   

When did you start your business?
I officially started my business--meaning I filed all my paperwork and whatnot--in the summer of 2006.  In the few years prior to that, I designed a new card each holiday season, and sent them to my family, friends and clients.  Using that as my base, I was able to start my company.  My mother-in-law was actually the one to suggest I sell the cards.   I've gone from about ten designs to over 100 products now. 

Describe your studio space for us.
I really have two studio spaces.  The first is my apartment in the East Village, which my wife, an interior and production designer, has made into an efficient live and work space despite its small size.  Our fourteen month old son forces us to constantly shift things around though, as he absolutely loves to get into my stock.  Apparently greeting cards are delicious.
My second studio space is my office at work, Funny Garbage, the interactive agency where I am Creative Director.  Both spaces have my main tool of choice these days, a Wacom tablet monitor, and I have stock and supplies stored in each place. (Thanks FG!)

How does living in New York influence your work and business?
Well, living in New York often means living without much space, so that creates certain logistical difficulties, as I have to store product in multiple locations.  The flip side is, though, that I get to live in a city that is always inspiring.  Not only is New York an obvious direct influence, as it is the subject matter of a good portion of my work, but even my other designs derive a certain energy from the City.  This can be seen in the playfulness of the designs and the boldness of the colors. 

Describe for us the process behind your location collection.
My process for the Location Collection has evolved over time. I used to sketch and ink exclusively on location (this is true of Brooklyn, Nice and London).  However, with a family it is harder and harder to find the time to ink the final drawing on site.  Lately I've been doing quicker and rougher sketches and taking photos to fill in the gaps (Queens and Manhattan are good examples of that.)  Thus far all the cards are of places I've been, but that is going to change in the near future, as I've been getting requests to do cities I haven't yet had a chance to visit.  For those cards, I'll rely on photos taken by family and friends.

What are some of the tools you've found most useful for getting the word out about your business?
I've found that the best tools are craft fairs, like Craftland, flea markets, and even just selling on the street.  I think buyers respond to meeting the artist behind the work, and I love witnessing their reactions to it.  Sometimes my cards that get the best reactions aren't my biggest sellers!  One thing I found that wasn't helpful was mailing out press packets.  I did that at the beginning without much result, and finally asked one of my favorite card companies if they did them.  Their advice was to just do what I like to do and let the press come to me.  As I have very limited time and resources, I was glad to hear this, and now I can enjoy creating more, which is what I like to do best anyway.

What advice would you offer to artists and crafters who want to take their art from hobby to business?
My advice is to constantly reevaluate your process and look for ways to make it more efficient without sacrificing quality.  Ask yourself: do I need that extra ribbon, or that handwritten note in every package? It's one thing when you only put together products every now and then, but when you have to put together a couple hundred or thousand items, every step quickly adds up. If you are too close to your process, have someone else look at it to see if there are ways to make it more efficient. 

How did you first become involved with Craftland? 
I was lucky enough to begin participating in the Holiday craft fair in 2008, I believe. I only wish I was closer so I could be part of the events more and volunteer a bit.

Guilty Pleasure?
I have a major love of sugar. I am getting better--I used to be really bad--but I still look to up the ante with my sweet treats. A good example: Crunchy Milkshakes.  When I was in college, I used to visit my favorite diner and get a vanilla milkshake. I would then add enough sugar to make it crunchy. In retrospect that seems like a little much :)