Interview with Everyones Favorite Weird Bug Lady

If you haven't check out Weird Bug Lady (or WBL for short) and her wonderful shop, you really should! WBL can be found hanging out in the ETC forum on Etsy and she is great fun to talk too. Intelligent, analytical, thoughtful and creative, WBL is a great mix of science, art and a whole mess of fun!

My name is Brigette, I’m currently in my fourth year of university studying Applied Zoology, and am applying to graduate schools for Entomology and Evolutionary Biology. I have a wonderful boyfriend and lots of pets including cats, a rabbit, a parrot, a giant millipede, and several snakes and lizards. My favorite color is lime green and I could spend all day crawling in the grass looking for bugs.

How did you find Etsy? How long have you been selling on Etsy?
I found Etsy using stumbleupon for firefox, I believe it was the colors application. I had been selling handmade things on Ebay but found it expensive and difficult to work with, so in May of 2007 I set up my Etsy shop with a few items and promptly ignored it. A month later I had my first sale! Since then my work has evolved greatly and Etsy has gradually taken over my life.

How would you describe your style?
My artistic style has always been bold. I like bright colors and sharp lines – as a kid I preferred markers over colored pencils, acrylic paints over watercolors. I’ve developed a sharpie marker habit, which has infiltrated my shop alongside my plushies. I’m inspired by animals with unusual body shapes and bright colors, but just about anything is fair game (except puppies and kittens).

How long have you been creating?
My whole life! I’ve always had an artistic streak, I love to draw and make things with my hands. My entrepreneurial attitude started young, I remember in 3rd grade selling my drawings to fellow students for 25 cents each. I find selling to be a necessity, as otherwise I would have no room for everything I make.

What is about bugs, snakes and other 'creepy crawlys' that you love?
Absolutely everything. There is so much variety in nature, and I want to experience as much of it as possible. I believe “hands-on” learning is the best way to learn about the world, a philosophy passed down from my father. He taught me how to correctly flip over rocks and wield a butterfly net – to me, it was natural to catch things and examine them. I’m still amazed at how little people know about the things happening all around them. Humans might think they rule the world, but in reality, it’s the insects.

Have you had any mentors, or are you self taught?
When I was young my grandmother taught me the basics of embroidery, knitting, crocheting and sewing. But since figuring out how to thread a sewing machine, I’ve been on my own. I don’t use patterns and make up everything as I go along. To me, sewing is a process of artistic expression and overcoming spatial challenges. I don’t have any secrets; I simply envision the final product and keep working until it appears.

Do you sell more at one time of year than others?
Sales are quite variable each month, and depends on how many custom orders I’m able to take on. I have to purposefully put my shop on hold for lengths of time due to schoolwork and final exams, which puts a damper on things.

What kind of custom work do you do most often? What has been your favorite custom order?
Somewhat surprisingly, aquatic invertebrates are extremely popular. I had no idea so many people love tardigrades! I relish the challenge of custom orders, and it’s hard to choose a favorite. I’ve particularly enjoyed making the fouling community and Glaucus atlanticus nudibranch.

Do you have a favorite item you have made?
Cedric the centipede! He’s the mascot for my shop, as seen in my banner and avatar on Etsy. He’s over 7 feet long and curls up with me at night. He gets a lot of attention when I take him to craft shows or go for walks around campus.

What is the best reaction you have gotten from one of your pieces?
Hahaha, I love the puzzled “what is THAT?” reaction. One time a preteen girl and her father were browsing my booth at a craft show, and asked about a plush chiton. It’s a rather odd looking mollusk, and so I explained what it is, where it lives, etc. They had never heard of chitons before, but after my lesson, the father bought it! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing my little nature lessons can inspire others.