Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Interstate Interview 9/9/09 - Michael Phipps of phippsart

You may have heard about this month's Interstate Interview subject in a recent Etsy email. Here's a little more about Michael Phipps, a kind and generous Etsian who created a phenomenon called the Sneak Attack!

Where are you located? Is this where you were born and raised? I’m currently in Orem, Utah, but grew up 45 minutes north of here in Salt Lake City. I’ve also had the chance to live for a year or two each in England, Qu├ębec and Connecticut, which were all tremendous experiences!

What types of creations do you sell in for your Etsy shop? I started out selling prints of my artwork, but soon decided to sell screen printed T-shirts. People are usually able to find more room in their closet for art than on their walls, so the T-shirts have done a lot better.

What's your educational background, as it relates to your work? I took a lot of art and music classes in high school and continued this trend on into college where I graduated in Illustration.

What’s your real-world job? I work from home as an artist, which includes my Etsy shop as well as freelance illustration jobs. My current projects are a privately commissioned oil painting, a painting for book of a Swedish version of Hansel and Gretel, and a 16’ x 33’ mural on canvas that will be going to Los Angeles. It makes it hard to fit in new shirt designs, but I’ve got about three or four I’m working on.

How'd you get started creating? Is everyone in your family artistic? All my life I have loved to create. As a kid, my friends and I used to draw, make marble chutes from cardstock, do origami, and all sorts of creative and artistic things. I still miss doing a lot of those things now that I have to try to make money off of it! My mother paints as a hobby and has always been very supportive as has the rest of my family, but not all are very artistic.

Who are some of your favorite artists? I really like Escher even after all these years. His art became very trendy while I was in high school, but I think he’s deserving of the recognition. I like many of Dali’s works (but not all!), as well Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I enjoy illuminated manuscripts and other ancient ornamental artwork, have been inspired by the album covers of Roger Dean, love good children’s books (especially Dr. Seuss) and much more.

Tell us a little about your creative process. I like to find inspiration from lots of sources so my ideas and work will vary. I have no interest in doing things like portraiture or landscapes, because my favorite part of the process is using my imagination. I’m aware that even creating from life requires a certain type of imagination, but I guess I like to do something a little more “out there” for the most part!

Please recommend five of your favorite shops from all of Etsy. In no particular order:

Please share three favorite items from your own shop.

Instrumental Oddities Shirt This is my personal favorite shirt and therefore the one I wear the most. I love odd music and the bizarre instruments that help make it! I was a little worried that the design might have a limited appeal, but it’s done pretty well!

SNIP Shirt The other shirt I wear a lot is my SNIP shirt (I’ve linked the women’s version for variety, though). The power in the design is that it gets the viewer to picture what will happen to the birds in the near future and to use a bit of imagination.

Maternity Fetus Shirt I can’t say that I’ve ever worn this one, although I have had two or three guys request custom versions of it!

Where else can we find you on the internet?
On Twitter, Facebook, and

Do you sell anywhere offline (consignment, retail, craft shows, etc.)? I’ve done a few shows and have items selling on consignment at about seven or eight places across the country.

We've got many new INCrowdteam members - some of whom have just opened up shop. Can you share a tip or two, some advice, on how to make our shops successful? I do better when I am advertising somewhere off site. The more specific it is to my shop, the better!

So, what’s the deal with the Handmade Movement? Tell us why you started, how you got people to participate in the first few Sneak Attacks, etc. Remembering how great it was to make that first sale on Etsy, I started threads in the Etsy forums one day entitled “Make Someone’s Day,” encouraging people to buy from people who hadn’t had any sales. It was so successful that I decided to take it a step further and do a “Sneak Attack,” where multiple buyers would “gang up” on an unsuspecting shop (that had few or no sales) and buy things at a given time. The idea caught on quick and in a few days we had already done four! So I started
a web site
where all this could be coordinated and it has grown to this day. To date there have been 144 Sneak Attacks on a total of 233 shops, resulting in around 2700 sales!

The Sneak Team's one-year anniversary must be a pretty big deal; let our readers know about the promotions and celebrations going on in September! We’re very excited that the Sneak Attacks are still going strong after a year, so we are having a big party on our one year anniversary. We’ll get together in a thread in the Etsy forums (which will be announced on and party, and throughout the day there will be three giveaways, followed by a mega-giveaway in the evening. Over 15 Etsy sellers have contributed items towards this last giveaway so far, and the number continues to grow. Some other fun things are planned for that day, so make sure to stop by and have some fun. Once again, details will be found on the web site as that time draws closer.

Anything else to brag on? I’ve been featured in a number of juried publications, including Illustrators Annual, Communication Arts, Spectrum Fantastic Art and Luerzer’s Archive 200 Best Illustrators Worldwide.

What have I left out that you’d like to mention or talk about? Forget everything above; the best part about me is that I have a wonderful wife and three great kids. I feel very fortunate! If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Thank you, Michael - I will "see" you for tomorrow's Sneak Attack! --- Stockannette


  1. Lots of interesting information on the Godfather of Sneak Attacks. It was a great read. Thanks stock!

  2. I feel even warmer and fuzzier toward Michael now! He is an amazing artist, and I loved having this chance to peek a little further into his big ol' brain. A wonderfully creative mind with a heart the size of Texas? Us Sneaks are reeeeaaal lucky!

  3. I find that the more I know about Michael, the more amazed I am with him. He has so many facets in his life. Shrek compares himself to an onion, and I think Michael is the same, he has MANY layers!

    Thank you for contributing so much to the Etsy community! Getting that warm fuzzy feeling of the first sale, is greatly enhanced by getting 18 sales in a few minutes! Wonderful!

  4. Great article. It is always nice to get an opportunity to know a person and their work better.

  5. What an amazingly sweet person - and a tremendous artist too!

  6. Great interview and amazing work. Thanks so much for including me in your top 5!

  7. Thanks so much for featuring me, and to all of you for your kind-hearted comments. :-)