This week’s crafter profile features Jessica Bourque of Some Fine Folks. Jess is yet another talented artist with whom I shared the Hartford Art School and Delta Zeta experience, and most recently I was able to collaborate with her on the new Some Fine Folks business cards (pictured below)! Her answers are a pleasure to read, plus I’m sure any of you thinking about turning your love of art into a small business will find some insight and encouragement! Learn more about Some Fine Folks through Jessica's Etsy, Facebook, and Blog.
First, tell us a little about yourself… Where you’re from? Art background? Why you started Some Fine Folks?
Hi Designosaurus! First off, my name is Jessica Bourque hailing from small town CT. I must really like CT because I grew up here, went to school here (Hartford Art School) and now work here. My background is in printmaking but I simply love to do anything and everything creative. I started SFF because I needed something to pour myself into creatively. It also helped that I would wear/give away the things I made and have people say, “Wow, you could sell this!”
Lets get the important facts out of the way first — where can people purchase your pieces?
This summer I got into the craft show scene. I have done a handful of SOWA, Boston dates and also the Providence Open Market. You can find some of my products on my Etsy site, www.somefinefolks.etsy.com. I also sell at http://silvercirclestudio.com/ in Putnam, CT and http://www.aticcshop.com/ in New London, CT.
Why the name Some Fine Folks?
People ask me all the time how I came up the name Some Fine Folks and I’m starting to think I should just make up a really great story about it. I wanted a vintage feel to it and just started jotting down words. Can’t you just picture some black and white movie star drawling out the phrase, “those are some finnnne folks, there they are.”? Ha ha.
Tell us about your creative process?
Well my creative processes are very mixed because I tend to work with so many materials; whether it is silk screening, fiber work, or just drawing and painting. Even though I do work in many materials my aesthetic is definitely translated across the board. I love bright colors, patterns, delicate details, etc.
What are your influences?
My influences come from a million different things. I love, love patterns; patterns on vintage hankies, lace, paper, whatever. It’s sort of become an obsession collecting objects that I have taken a visual interest in. Whenever I am in need of inspiration I tend to work through my piles of stuff and something comes from that. It’s interesting that certain images such as flags, trees/bark, maps have come across in many of my pieces since the beginning of my really beginning to create more thoughtful artworks.
Favorite materials to work with?
I can see myself getting more into creating mixed media work to try and integrate both my love of fiber materials and printmaking/drawing.
Favorite places to buy supplies?
FLEAMARKETS! Can’t get enough of them!
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve made since starting SFF?
It’s a dangerous job, because I tend to love mostly all of what I make. I have a hard time not keeping things on my dresser. The nice thing about doing shows is that I get to wear a different piece each time! I love bold colors and buttons that have a story. I have found so many great vintage ones with horses, anchors, or monstrous gems on them!
Have your techniques & aesthetic changed much since the beginning of SFF?
Absolutely! In the beginning I was still sort of experimenting with creating a product. Over time my natural gravitation towards vintage pieces of trim, buttons, sequins got intermingled with my getting the hang of simply assembling something that was pleasing to look at and wear.
What does your creative space look like?
A Disaster! My roommate is luckily pretty easing going, because I really do have piles and piles of boxes stacked in our living room/office/art studio. I need a Martha Stewart makeover asap!
Any other jobs?
My “real” job is an art teacher at a small, private high school nearby. Technically it’s a job, but I still get to create all day, which is awesome!
Way to many…living on my own has awoken my domestic side; I now read cookbooks and am learning to can!
Favorite childhood craft project?
I don’t know about craft, but I have always been hands-on. When I was younger I would spend hours sitting at the kitchen table taking apart answering machines and other unused electronics. Monotonous work; dissecting each screw and wire. When I had finished, that would be it, I would put everything in a ziplock bag and find something new to work on. Again, shows the collector in me!
What are the most fun, and the most difficult parts of running a creative business?
It is exhausting! I have spent hours scouring the internet sourcing materials, finding craft shows, packaging products, taking photos and updating etsy, etc, etc, etc. It truly is eye opening how much work goes into owning a business. I definitely appreciate now so much more handmade goods in boutiques or craft shows. The most rewarding parts obviously are seeing people wear your product. I love what I make so when you get to meet people who also do, it’s an amazing rush!
This summer you’ve really kept yourself busy with craft shows, almost every weekend it seems! Favorite experiences? Lessons learned? Advice you’d give to others who want to sell at shows?
Pack lots of snacks, water, caffeine yourself (as long as there are available port-o-potties – bring extra tp too!) Being able to create while you are sitting at your booth is also a huge plus! You keep busy and also shoppers can get a peak at your process. I have been so lucky to have family and friends support me and tag along to shows with me to help set up and entertain for the day. Meeting and seeing vendors each week is also great; you get great tips from veterans and sometimes make longtime friends! If you are interested in doing shows, go for it! It can be hard not to get discouraged as shows can be completely unpredictable; one week you’ll sell a ton and the next maybe nothing. I look at this still as a hobbie, something that I enjoy doing. If you become unhappy in it, it’s time to find something new!
And finally, a look into the future — you already sell a variety of things between all your accessories, cards, and home goods… any plans to expand & create/sell new items?
I have been thinking a lot about this as the Some Fine Folks year anniversary is coming up! It’s amazing how much I have learned about being an entrepreneur for your craft in such a short amount of time. I am looking forward to slowing down a bit, hopefully doing a few holiday shows and then really looking at where I as an artist want to be. Grad school may be in the future for me, so that could lead to any number of new avenues for Some Fine Folks. The great thing is that Some Fine Folks is totally ambiguous so it can always follow me wherever I decide to go!
(interview has been edited)