Interview with Elf518

 I remember the first day I saw some of Elf518's work in the ETC forums on etsy. The work just blew my mind. Everyone was just in awe. I figured that there had to be some way to learn more about the artist. It seems all I had to do was ask!

I live in Schenectady, New York. Schenectady is one of those burnt out, crumbling little cities that are scattered around this part of upstate New York- it used to be a bustling place but is now sort of a burnt out skeleton of industrial decay (ie- I love it). I’m an elementary school librarian, although I’m looking to quit my day job…. I’m married, and I have a fat, dumb, happy cat.

How did you find Etsy? How long have you been selling on Etsy?
I first found etsy as a shopper… probably via a blog, although I don’t quite remember. I made my first purchase in 2007. I’ve been selling on etsy for 10 months.

How would you describe your style? Has any other artists etc influenced your style?
My style changes with whatever I am interested in at the moment, but I think the one thing that is consistent is the mash-up- something traditional and something odd. I love contradiction. I feel like there is something sinister and strange underneath everyone’s skin, someplace.

How long have you been creating?
My whole life! I’ve always loved to make things- when I was a little girl I was nearly obsessed with paper dolls and clothes, and I’d sew clothes for my dolls. My grandmother is a painter and my mom is pretty crafty, so there were plenty of people to encourage me and lots of materials around. When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time making wacky jewelry and sewing ridiculous outfits for myself. And I made a LOT of ugly paintings!

Have you had any mentors, or are you self taught?
I guess I’m self taught? I learned to knit from a book. I draw a lot of inspiration from digital images and things I can’t afford to buy. And all things Japanese.

Do you sell more at one time of year than others?
I haven’t been selling long, so… I don’t really know. I sold a lot of patterns during the summer- I think because people would like to get a jump on holiday knitting,.

What is one thing about your creative process that you think most people don’t know?
I think most people don’t know I have a creative process. I am really shy about talking about anything creative in a face-to-face way.

What kind of custom work do you do most often? What has been your favorite custom order?
One buyer had some yarn sent to me with instructions to knit her something- anything I wanted. That was just great, and it led to the development of the owlie cowl pattern, which is my most popular pattern. I am happiest when I feel like a customer is giving me the freedom to be creative- a really polished knitted item, like anything else, often requires drafting, a “first version” is so unpredictable, and when a customer has very specific parameters…. I get really nervous.

Do you have a favorite item you have made?
My black and white robot mash up sweater.