Saturday, June 27, 2009

INCrowdteam Interview 6/27/09 - laktjohnson a.k.a. MadrinDesigns & MadrinPhotography

I just woke up from a sound sleep thinking, "How did this happen? It's a summer weekend and I've got no plans!" This got me to wondering what the rest of the INCrowdteam is up to. Then I remembered from my Blogger reading list that Kristin is doing some shows; let's hit the road (after you read the interview, of course)!

What’s your REAL name? Kristin Trautmann Johnson. Age: 28. Married with two children, 4 and 16 months and two beagles, both 7 years old.

Where are you from? I was born and raised in Greenfield, Indiana. After leaving for a few years to go to Purdue in West Lafayette, a brief stay in Los Angeles, and living in Irvington, we returned to Greenfield and have lived here again for three years.

What brought you back to Greenfield? We moved back here to be closer to my family. I have lupus and need to be close in case I have a flare. Sometimes I need extra help from my parents and grandparents to care for my children. It's hard to know that I have to be dependent on others when my disease flares, but it’s much better than trying to struggle through it myself. That's also the reason that selling on Etsy is perfect for me. I can have my bad days and it doesn't affect my job. I can't imagine if I had a 9 to 5 job; I would use all of my sick days in the first three months.

What's the origin of your shops’ names? My shops' names are MadrinDesigns and MadrinPhotography. The commonality there is "Madrin," which is a combination of my childrens' names, Maddox and Marin. Sometimes it takes people a few minutes to get that after I tell them. It makes perfect sense to me.

What types of creations do you sell in your Etsy shops? In my MadrinDesigns shop, I sell several different types of jewelry. Some is beaded, some use vintage components, some use semi-precious stones. I like to mix it up. When I sit down to make things, it just depends on my mood as to what is produced in the end. I have a hard time saying I'm going to make this or that before I start. I just let my creativity and imagination wander. In MadrinPhotography, I sell photography; they are all my original photographs, of course. I sell them matted and in all different sizes. I use an online lab for printing and they do such a wonderful job. My focus has been on nature with my photography. I try to catch the things that people overlook every day. Sure, you may see those flowers in your backyard, but have you really stopped to examine them? I try to show that detail, the things people miss. This year I hope to work on some architectural subjects. I like lines and geometric patterns. We'll see what I come up with.

What's your educational background, as it relates to your work? I didn't discover I was either artsy or crafty until about two years ago. I've always sort of been "intellectual." I never really explored any part of creating anything until after I had children. During college, I studied child development and psychology with plans on being a marriage and family therapist. I'm so glad I didn't go get my Master's. I couldn't imagine doing anything besides what I'm doing now. I NEED to create at this point.

Does creating stuff run in the family? Were you taught things on purpose or by osmosis from prior generations? If you asked my mother, creating and craftiness do not run in the family, but this isn't her interview. My maternal grandmother is a true artist and craftsperson. There is not one thing related to sewing, crafting, quilting, etc. that she cannot do. She's almost 75 years old and teaches classes on various craft and sewing projects in Florida. I am amazed with the things she comes up with. I spent a lot of time with her growing up, but I don't remember there being any real instruction. We just kind of played with things to see what we came up with. My mother believes all of this talent skipped a generation, but she's got it in her too. She just chooses to do other things that she's better at.

How'd you get started creating? Well, photography is something I've been interested in since I was about nine years old. I took a class that was part of a summer program for gifted children. I learned darkroom techniques and all about the basics of 35mm cameras. I actually won the contest at the end of class and have loved it since. A few years ago, I purchased a "real" camera, a digital SLR and have been obsessed ever since. I make my husband stop the car on the side of the road and travel all kinds of strange places to get great photographs.

The jewelry has been a different story. I kept seeing all of the beautiful materials when I was in Arizona a few years ago. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to make my own jewelry?" So I picked up a few books, some simple beads, etc. and taught myself how to do it. I save myself so much money by making my own, plus I'm actually making a living by selling to others.

What's your muse, or what turns that little creative light inside you on? Ooh, this is a good question. Good materials! That's what lights my creative fire, if you will. With photography, I study things around me. I observe and might go back a few days later and capture the photo I want after I've had time to contemplate the way I want the light and the angle I want to shoot from. I also draw lots of inspiration from other photographers. I see little details in other people's photos and I remember that I saw something like that somewhere. Whether it is certain lighting or camera angle or depth of field, I go find what I want and start shooting. Good materials make me so excited to create jewelry. I'm constantly on the prowl for great stuff. I scour Etsy of course, but I also look just about everywhere. I study what people are wearing. I go to the bead stores. I go to antique stores. I find certain pieces at Michael's or Hobby Lobby. If something catches my eye, I bring it home and see what I can do with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the thrill is in trying it!

Do you belong to any Street Teams (other than the INCrowdteam)? I also belong to POE Team, Photographers of Etsy. I am in awe of the quality of work that the members of this team do. If you want any type of photograph, type “POE team” into the search box on Etsy. So much talent, I'm hoping some of it will rub off on me!

What's your favorite thing about selling on Etsy? I love selling on Etsy because it allows me to be home with my kids! That is of utmost importance to me. On the weekends, when my husband is home, I do craft shows and art fairs, but Etsy is so much more convenient. Plus, I feel like I've made some good connections through Etsy. Whether it is from one of my customers or someone I have bought from, I always feel like it's a personal transaction. I convo every customer with thanks and my name and email, so they can find me if they need anything else. I also include free gifts and little notes to my customers. Most of the sellers I've purchased from do the same thing. There is just something special about that.

Recommend your five favorite shops from all of Etsy. So hard to choose! I have so many!
1) citefuzz - I get compliments on my kids' hats every single day. They are warm and adorable!
2) dazeychic - Fabulous artist! Her "Reading Is Cool" poster is hanging in my daughter's room. I love everything she does!
3) trendysupplier - I'm obsessed with all of the materials I've gotten from this shop. Good prices and excellent customer service!
4) artandphilanthropy - Another superior artist! My daughter's room is also decorated with some of her work. Amazing!
5) refindoriginals - items made from recycled, reclaimed leather and other materials.

Show us three of your own favorite pieces, from your shops and work.

Soothe Photograph This was taken at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis of the Chihuly Fireworks of Glass installation. As its name implies, I find it soothing, which is wonderful in moments of stress.

Chloe Necklace This is my favorite new design from my Whimsy Collection and I can't wait for someone to snatch it up.

Louella Earrings in canary yellow, from my Spring Collection.

Do you sell on consignment? If so, where? Right now I do sell on consignment to a salon called Far Beyond Beauty in Greenfield. I've done well there, so that's exciting.

Do you blog? If so, where can we find your blog? You can check out my blog at

Do you Tweet? Yes, I do use Twitter!

What are you doing this weekend? Saturday June 27: selling at the Pennsy Trail Art and Music Festival in Greenfield from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday June 28 at the Wanamaker Street Fair/Old Settler's Days & Classic Car Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How about next weekend; where can we see your work up close and personal over the Fourth of July Weekend? At CarmelFest 2009 Friday, July 3 from Noon to 10 p.m. and Saturday, July 4 from Noon to 10:30 p.m.

Anything else to brag on? I have an amazing opportunity to do a one artist show this July and August! Greenfield Banking Company, 1920 North State Street Greenfield, IN 46140, has a wonderful gallery where they feature local artists for two months at a time. My photography will be showcased this summer! Can't wait! [Edited by Stockannette to add the photo of Kristin below, courtesy of GBC!]

Last question: what’s the best piece of advice you’d give a new Etsy seller (like me)? My best piece of advice for a new seller is keep listing new things. And if you have a bunch of new things to list, stretch them out over a few days, so your shop continues to receive interest.

Thank you Kristin; that's great advice! Good luck with sales at those festivals, and congratulations on the one-woman show!

Alright, I’ll get my travel mug filled and ready to go; who's up for a road trip with Stockannette?


  1. Thank you so much for allowing me to be featured on the INCrowdteam blog!

  2. How cool of the Greenfield Banking Co. to take a photo of you and your work and send it to us!