This is our latest post in a series of featured makers. We are introducing our makers one at a time and giving you a bit of a behind-the-scenes story and insights to their practice. This week we would like to introduce:
First up. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Josh, I’m from the UK originally but I have been here so long I must be a Kiwi by now.
I have been a doodling wannabe artist since school and about 6 months ago started cutting up paper to make interesting shapes. I sell under the name Treehugger Studios which is just myself and my wife who also does some arty things when she has time.
How and why did you get started (instead of getting a proper job like your mother told you)?
Uni lead to work in hospitality and then retail. Time well spent obviously. A few years teaching English abroad then back to NZ. Meeting my wife, an art graduate in print making re-sparked my artistic tendencies. After years of “I could have done that.” I decided to actually do it.
What was the first thing you made?
First thing I made ever? Probably something out of play dough or mud. First thing in the field of paper cutting was an advert for a gig I had (still have actually) on Fiverr. It was supposed to look cool and retro but it was a bit lame and only sold 2.
Who or what influences you or inspires you?
The things I see around me every day constantly give me ideas. It can get annoying at times. Patterns plants buildings cars movies etc. The list of things to do is bigger than I can keep up with and keeps expanding.
Comic art fascinates me in particular Mike Mignola.
What is your favourite part of making?
Researching a design is always interesting, getting photos and images together and sketching things out to see how things progress. I like to see how my original idea and what I end up with differ.
There is a moment of satisfaction in having the final design all done when I say “Yes, I am going to do that.” Then comes the cutting which I often prefer to the end result. Process is very important to me. When I am happy with the finished cut its great but I am pretty picky about which things I make are good.
How do you market your business?
Treehugger Studios is pretty new and nearly all marketing is done on Facebook in local area selling groups. Not actually working that well but craft groups and paper cutting groups have got a little exposure.
What tips do you have for others starting out in this game?
I’m only a few months in really so my advice is probably a bit limited. I guess firstly you need to actually like what you are doing. If you are going to do something you don’t like for money you might as well get a normal job as I have a suspicion that it might pay better.
You also need to treat it as a business otherwise it ends up as an expensive hobby. You need to make what sells too. You can do this by making something that sells or make what you like and find a market for them. I am pretty sure you can make almost anything and there will be some one who will buy it.
I read Seth Godin for my marketing advice, worth a trip to the library at the least.
Do you have any new ideas on the drawing board?
I do, I am working on a chess piece series. I like Go as a game much better but the pieces have less character. I have taken a liking to steam trains and old cars recently so there may well be more of that on the way too.
World Domination! How will you achieve it?
I have not really thought of it. It might involve tiny ninjas climbing out of little bottles … ooh that gives me an idea…
What is next for you?
Next is really consolidation at The Department. I would really like this to replace my part time job at some stage so I will need to get some steady orders and build up my stock a little for craft fairs and the like. Still really planning that out at the moment.
Thanks for sharing your time and giving us an insight to your brand. We look forward to seeing your development and growth. Treehugger Studios can be found on Facebook as well as in-store at The Department of Curiosities and Fine Things in Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.