interview with mary kate mcdevitt

I had the pleasure of meeting Mary Kate McDevitt last June at a craft show.  We were both vendors at the PDX Day of Craft & Shop Hop.  We passed the time chatting about crafting and selling on Etsy.
I've become a huge fan of Mary Kate's Mini Goals Chalkboards and adorable illustrations.  Her name immediately sprung to mind when I was thinking of who I wanted to interview this month.  She took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Where do you draw your inspiration? 
Kind of anything really, which is why this list will be sorta long but let's see... Vintage typography and old signage, childhood, animals, peppy mew mew (my cat), parks, gardens, David Sedaris, rainy days, chalkboards, collections, globes, coffee and tea, bikes, lazy days, jeans, little boots, patterns, seeds, old photos, old tin toys, humor, interior design, vintage shops. I also look at a lot of design and art blogs. It's amazing how many there are out there!

Tell me a little bit about your process.
I do a lot of drawing and sketching and when I'm ready to start a new painting or chalkboard I look back to my sketchbook for ideas. I like to laugh at my really ridiculous sketches which weeks later sometimes spark a new idea. As much as I would love a sketchbook that is a work of art, my sketches are pretty rough and silly. I draw a lot letters for the chalkboards thinking of new ways to draw "Today." I think I have about 200 different versions all together. I also try to push myself to turn out some new work that people can use and get excited about. Sometimes I look at my shop and think it's pretty sparse but I have some new ideas, like the bookplates, that will hopefully end in a unique and charming shopping experience for rad people.

What inspired you to sell your work on Etsy?
I opened my Etsy shop in 2008 but didn't start adding until 2009. At that time I was working full time as a graphic designer and after work, I was so antsy to make something with my hands and be creative on my own terms. I was making paintings on wooden plaques and looking for new things to paint on which is a little how I started Mini Goals Chalkboards. I started giving them out as gifts but found myself making more than I knew what to do with. Realizing I had my Etsy shop I photographed them (I cringe at those photos now...), posted them and I got some good feedback! One of the first blogs I was featured on was Design*Sponge and with all the sales that came after that I pretty much had to be active on my shop which really inspired me to think of more designs.

What are some of your favorite tools and materials?
A nice sharp pencil, it's the perfect way to start an idea, you know having an eraser and all. Then I have fun with the fountain pen, slate chalkboards, wooden plaques, I would like to say silk screen since I do have hand printed items in the shop time to time but the whole process always seems to stress me out. But when I pick up a pen dip it in ink and start drawing, that is relaxing to me.

Your chalkboards were recently featured in ReadyMade Magazine. How did that come about?
When I released my Mini Goals Clockboards they were featured on several design blogs and they caught the eye of an editor at ReadyMade magazine. I was asked to send over a sample for a shoot and just over month later the issue was out! I was really surprised how quickly it happened. 

(all images are courtesy of Mary Kate McDevitt)

When you aren't creating things, what do you enjoy doing? 
I'm really trying to be better at this, doing things outside of creating. Plus, I'm now working a lot with the business side of creating, which is less fun. So, for the most part the things I do besides creating inspire my creativity! I like taking bike rides, sitting in parks, picnics, browsing the adorable shops in Portland and going to galleries. There are a lot of fantastic openings going on every week.

Can you share a few of your favorite places in Portland?
I love that I have been here for almost a year and I'm still discovering new places but my favorites so far are; Together Gallery, Land, Bagdad Theater, food carts on 12th & Hawthorne, Laurelhurst park, Flutter, Porch Light, Presents of Mind, Noun, House of Vintage, Pony Club Gallery, Sword + Fern, Hippo Hardware, Buckman Farmers Market, Ink & Peat. There is too much goodness really. 

Thanks so much, Mary Kate!

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1 comment:

dirtbike said...

those chalkboards are too cute!

you realize this only makes me want to move to portland more!