Friday, May 8, 2009

Sonja Ahlers - Make It Awesome

"Fierce bunnies" crafted from angora sweaters by Sonja Ahlers of Make It Awesome

1.) What do you enjoy most about having an Etsy shop?
That I can send my work all over the world. I’ve sent my wares to Ireland, all over Europe (Paris, especially), and Asia. This was especially perfect for when I was in the Yukon in a fairly remote location. I can be anywhere and do this.

I love dealing direct with the customer. I love corresponding and I love sending out beautifully done up packages. I’ve always been a pen pal type so this is a great medium. I wish Etsy was around 10 years ago. It was something I needed back then. I was constantly making things and giving everything away (which one can only do to an extent). There weren’t many options in the mid to late 90s as far as alternative craft fairs go.

The other thing I love about Etsy is the feedback. Out of every art endeavor I’ve undertaken, I have received the most positive, heartfelt feedback ever. Etsy members are a very generous demographic. I love that it is lady-centric and basically a cultural phenomenon. I view it as baby steps toward an incremental shift in the global economic model.

2.) How did you come up with your shop name?
Kind of by accident and kind of as a joke. A few years ago I couldn’t think of a name for my website and was agonizing over it. My friend Brooke said on the phone, ‘Oh, just make it awesome’. I thought it was funny. I’m a wee bit on the fence about the name right now. As things keep evolving, there is a bit of clash with ‘fierce bunnies’ and using my actual full name as more of an umbrella. I’m open to suggestions.

3.) What is your inspiration as an artist/designer?
My friends. Especially observing their actual work process. I learn by observation and osmosis. Watching my friends work helps me immensely. I’m going to make what I make no matter what but learning how to go about that and work smarter rather than harder in a timely manner is my ultimate goal.

4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background as an artist/designer/crafter?
I’m self-taught. I have had many mentors and sporadic education. I’ve participated in many workshops. I’m from BC and was very active in the whole west coast underground DIY movement making zines, having bands and such. I’ve been making my bunnies since the mid 90s using recycled angora sweaters. My family has always recycled. We’re pioneer types that way. I have a lot of hippie and punk rock in my blood, which is an interesting mix. Probably some preppie in there too for good measure.

5.) Tell me a bit about your creative process.
I am always making things. I have little installations going on all over the house. I do a lot of writing. Hand-sewing itself is a very meditative process for me. Quiet time. I keep a notepad beside me and write while I sew. I’m enjoying the sewing machine a lot lately. It’s like driving a car and takes up all my attention. I love that. When hand sewing I tend to watch a lot of movies but only with storytelling dialogue. I also burn thru seasons of good TV. I’m a pop culture buff of sorts in a super nerdy way. Mostly I listen to music and/or enjoy silence. Sometimes I work with friends. I’ve been up in the Coe And Waito ceramics studio a lot lately.

6.) What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I want to finish my book!!!! It’s a tome of visual poetry. I’m also meant to do a colour book with one of my favorite publishers but I’m too scared to talk about it because I don’t want to jinx anything. I want to get some ribbon printed with my name on it. I’d love to do a storybook with the bunnies. I want to go to Niagara Falls. I also need to upload more stock to my Etsy store. I’d love an intern. I might do the Christmas One Of A Kind Show. I need some capital for a secret project I’m working on.

You can also visit Sonja Ahlers
on Etsy or at her website

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