Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Zazzle products and an interview from artist Troy Aaron Ratliff

Mouse Pad Space Octopus by Troy Aaron Ratliff

Zazzle is a website for any number of people, from a person wanting to custom design their own greeting cards, calendars, or picture books, to the artist wanting to reach more people with their photos, painting, and sayings.  You can design several different kinds of products here, such as shirts, mouse pads, kindle cases, iPhone cases, bags, ect... But if you're more in the market for selling your own art than this site is just what the doctor ordered. They give you a mega listing of blanks products you can apply your art to and sell. What artist wouldn't feel like a kid in the candy store here!

One such artist by the name of Troy Aaron Ratliff is doing just that! Every piece of art in this blog is from his amazing collection. And like every artist he has a very unique style. Two of my favorite works from him is  his Space Octopus and his Turtle art pieces. If you're more of a Dali fan you may like his L.A. Awakening piece. He has a little something for everyone and his motto on a few of his pieces it "Try Harder". A bit of positive inspiration for anyone purchasing his work. I would recommend his art to many people in a heartbeat.

A Quick Bio:
Turtle Laptop Skin by Troy
Troy Aaron Ratliff was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio and self-educated in writing, art, photography, and voice impersonations. When he's not not reading, writing, and cooking up his next monstrosity, you can generally find him defending the galaxy from the forces of evil, feeding hippopotamuses, dinging with foreign dignitaries and zen masters, waking up to his supermodel wife, alternating the space-time inter-dimensional warp or, more than likely, stuck in traffic somewhere in southern California on his magic carpet.

He was kind enough to allow me to interview him and here's what he had to say about his work and working with Zazzle.

1.) You have a very unique style.  Where did that come from?

I think every artist - like every writer and musician - has their own style to offer somewhere inside them, and I think they’re unique because of combining what they've learned along the way and where they came from.  Picking up a style here, mixing it with some of your own personality there, before it begins to take on a life of its own.  The thing with art is there are no rules.  Not really.  The mistakes are part of the art just as mistakes are a part of living.  You learn along the way.  Like with my writing and my photography, I’m auto-didactic, but with my art I can let loose my creative side completely.   Eventually, everyone will find mistakes in everything and want you to change them.  It’s living with what you feel is right that’s important, and that goes with writing too. 

2.) At what point did you begin to express yourself and begin drawing?

As far back as I can remember to tell you the truth.  My whole family is artistically inclined, but no one ever did anything with it.  None of them took any serious classes or pursued it beyond a casual hobby.  So, I can’t say that it comes completely natural to me, but I do feel that some shred of my talent comes from blood.  I think what really sparked the desire and the passion for art was - don’t laugh - Bob Ross.  That guy…  That guy rocked my world.  The first time I ever watched him on PBS I was about seven years old.  I remember being awestruck by his talent and how he was able to paint this stunning, eye-candy of a picture in just 30 minutes.  I was so entranced by it that I taped the show and brought it into art class to show everyone.  They were just as blown away as I was.  Whether he had the same effect on them as me, I don’t know.  But I’m still in awe of him.

And don’t get me wrong, I had self doubt for years.  And, again, the same goes for my writing.  I've surrounded myself with art and writing my whole life because they were natural interests of mine.  When I finally decided to try my hand at it - drawing and art being first, followed by writing, which I started when I was eleven - what I came up with was pretty much what you’d expect for a seven year old.  My craving to draw actually laid dormant for years afterward because I became so focused on my writing.  I didn't start drawing again until I was about nineteen or twenty.  And it comes and goes in waves.  Now, at thirty, I try to infuse some form of creative expression into my everyday life.

3.) Do you produce you art in one sitting or has it taken a few days?

Oh, it takes a few days.  I’m not at the point where I could whip out my pen and produce something of any worth.  I’m not at Bob Ross level yet.  I have two pieces that I’m very proud of that I’m probably going to release sometime this year.  One of them took me twenty-four hours over a course of two days.  But if I stick with a project for a long time, I’m fine with that.  I like getting lost in the work and watching where it takes me and what I can take from it.  I’ll say it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: Give me a notepad and my pens, turn on KCRW in Los Angeles with a big cup of coffee between 8:30 and 9 am and that is absolute heaven for me.  It’s the start of a new day open for my creativity.  With that being said, I like to take my time with what I’m working on and let the music, the coffee, and the feel of the morning take over.     

4.) Working with the website Zazzle, has it been a positive experience?  What’s the pros and cons of the site if any?

Absolutely!  I’d say the biggest pros are the incredible amount of items you can put your work on.  Some art critics or purists would call it selling out, but I have to eat.  With all of the options it doesn't come off as over saturation but just more exposure, and in this digital area, the more the better.  As far as the cons, using the back end of it for my store is a little clunky, but I’m sure after enough time I should have to a better handle on it.  Usually, though, it doesn't take me very long to get the hang of a layout, which is why I mention it here as the one drawback.

5.) What advice would you give up and coming artists who want to step into the market using this site?

Do your research and build buzz about it long in advance.  I still kick myself because I was still getting the hang of it when I launched the store.  I felt rushed and thought I would have a handle on it once I set the date to open the doors, but that kinda goes hand-in-hand with what I said above.  I’d also say that any artist should feel like they have a lot of work to offer.  In the end, like your writing, it’s about the art.  The roots go back to the blank page or the canvas, not online.  I've heard a lot of New Years resolutions from writers that they are going to spend more time writing and less time online.  Well, this is nothing really new.  Hasn't that been the goal for every writer for the past decade?  There’s always some promotion, some YouTube clip, some game, some podcast that distracts us from creating.  Well, the same goes for your art.  Write, draw, and photograph what you want to see more of in the world and learn new tricks along the way.  Words I live by: Big plans will find you.  Know where to look for them.  Usually it’s on the white page.

L.A. Awakening clock by Troy
Follow Troy Here:
View or purchase his art:
Books by Troy:

Blog by Brenda Franklin

1 comment:

  1. Troy you are so talented. I really enjoyed getting more than 140 or the facebook post on your process and your work. Keep it up! Big things are in store for you!