Dudes Craft, Too; The Justin Averill Interview

Hello, hello! I’m so happy to be back bringing you new interviews for my Dudes Craft, Too series. Today I’m interviewing a crafty guy I’ve only recently become aquainted with but whose work I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of. I absolutely cannot think of a better artist to kick off the revival of this series.

I’ll have all of his links listed down at the end of this post. Make sure you check him out!

What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Justin Averill and I live in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, Illinois.

What type of crafts or art forms do you do?

I primarily make cards but I also enjoy occasionally making other paper crafts like bookmarks, gift tags, etc.

What do you enjoy most about card making?

There are two things I love most when it comes to card making.

The first is that I love sending cards to people. I have a handful of friends and family members that I send cards to as regularly as I can; which is usually every month or two. Most of them get such a big kick out of having a card made and sent to them. I get joy out of seeing others express joy for something I’ve done.

The second is that card making provides a creative escape for me. I love to play around with different color palettes and patterns and this art form is great for that. I’ve had a knack for both blogging and photography that began before I started to craft on a regular basis. Card making has allowed me to meld all these different interests together.

How did you get started with card making?

I love this question because I love background stories. My grandma turned 70 in August of 2016. I was browsing through one of my favourite stores, Paper Source, to pick up a card and gift bag for her birthay gift. Their stores have a section called “The Paper Bar” which is an area where the walls are lined with shelves containing envelopes, paper in a wide array of colors, wood mounted rubber stamps, inks, and embossing powders.

I bought two stamps that day, thinking that they would be the only stamps I would ever need. One stamp bore the image of an elephant and the other a bunch of balloons; one of which read “happy birthday”. I thought that this was perfect because I would be able to save money in the future and could just keep creating with those two stamps. Well, I can promise you that while thinking that those two stamps would be my only craft purchase was extremely naive I haven’t looked back since.

Have you always been creative?

Looking back I would definitely say yes but I was creative in different ways. I always loved creating with Play Doh when I was younger and finger painting was a favorite activity as well. As I got older I made time for art classes when they were offered as electives; taking a drawing and digital art class in high school as well as an art class in college.

I started to see my creative juices start flowing more when I was in college; particularly in my three year term as a Resident Advisor. Part of being a Resident Advisor included creating door decorations for my residents four to five times throughout the school year as well as designing and creating three to five bulletin boards on a monthly basis. I got really creative with both the boards and door decorations.

Card making is considered by some to be a hobby in which only females participate. Have you ever experienced any judgement or discrimination based on this outdated stereotype?

No, not at all. I’ve never received any sort of recognition; positive or negative, for being a male in the crafting industry.

What has been the highlight of your card making journey thus far?

I am currently on the design teams for Kindred Stamps and The Rabbit Hole Designs, LLC. I am so incredibly proud of myself for those accomplishments; especially taking into consideration the fact that I’ve only been documenting and sharing my card making journey since December 2018. To be on the design teams for two companies I love for not only their products but also admire for their teams and practices is a huge honor.

What changes, if any, would you like to see happen in card making industry?

This question is tough because I’ve seen constant changes occuring in the industry with the introduction of many new products that we can use to create.

As much as I’d like to say that I’d love to see the creation of more masculine designs I don’t find myself drawn to a lot of the products that present themselves as being masculine. I love gender neutral approaches and I’ll admit that most likely you will not find me ordering a stamp set with a bunch of floral imagery and what some may label as more feminine designs. That’s just not my personal style. However there are many people out there whose style does consist of floral imagery wih a feminine flair and I would never want to discourage that.

My suggestion would be for companies to ensure that they are offering at least some products that can be considered gender neutral and cater to everyone.

Also the thing I’d really love to see is less of people ripping off existing stamp designs and selling them as their own products. That’s the number one thing that grinds my gears the most. I believe that that begins with those of us who understand the issue of bootleg stamps educating those who are making purchases of the counterfeit products.

What changes, if any, would you like to see happen in the card making community?

Being on design teams and seeing both the business and the consumer end of business practices I would love to see more patience on the consumer side. I’ve seen many people comment and complain about how long it’s taking to get an order or being frustrated about missing out on a limited release item. This industry consists of many small businesses which means that sometimes there are only one or two dedicated individuals to pack orders. It takes time!

I also hope that the community will keep showing a diverse presence. I want to see men, women, younger and older individuals, American and International artists, all ethniticites, etc getting crafty. I think this will allow all of us to see different perspectives on crafting which we can grow and learn from.

What experiences, attributes, or perspectives shape your card making?

Social media is huge. I’ve found while scrolling through Facebook or Instagram that there are sometimes projects that tend to stand out entirely. I try to jot down ideas; whether it’s a way to combine stamp sets, an amazing color palette, etc.

In crafting I try to reduce clutter. Many of my projects have mimimal embellishments because that’s in my personal nature when card making. This in no way, shape, or form means that my crafting desk is not cluttered, though.

What is the best thing about being a male card maker? What is the most challenging?

The best thing about being a male card maker is that I believe it’s adding diversity into the crafting community. As I stated seeing more diversity in the crafting community is something I feel is important. Being in the community’s gender minority is helping in terms of achieving more diversity.

The most challenging part is seeing so many beautiful projects that use floral stamps, admiring the projects, and having no interest in purchasing the sets. Seriously, ya’ll, flower sets are just not my thing. I don’t know if this is a male card maker thing or merely a Justin thing.

How would you describe your creative style?

I tend to use vibrant colors to make attention grabbing cards. My style lends itself more towards a clean and simple creation rather than an ornate and very detailed end result. I gravitate towards cartoon styled animals and humans and will sometimes create a background and feature a single sentiment. I love stylized sentiments and especially enjoy when a single stamp set includes sentiments in multiple fonts and sizes; bonus points if those sentiments are sassy!

What is something that you struggle with in terms of creativity?

The obvious is not letting my projects have enough time to dry which usually leads to me smudging a Nuvo Drop or getting an ink smear in an undesirable location. I also struggle with sticking to a “less is more” mentality. You know when you think to yourself, “I can add a little bit of detail here” and then afterwards you add detail somewhere else and then ten minutes later you look at your project and think, “I actually liked it better without the detail”? Yeah, those moments.

Another thing I struggle with is that the moments in which I tend to feel the most creative are also the most incovenient. I’ve dedicated entire mornings and afternoons to crafting but when I sit down to work on projects I have felt completely stumped. Other times I’ll be doing something like sitting down to eat dinner and I’ll get the perfect idea for a project. I’ll scarf down my food and rush to start working on my card before the idea disappears.

Where do you draw ispiration from?

Oftentimes I will think of fun color combinations that could be used to create a sky. I’ve had red skies, rainbow skies, blue green skies, purple skies, night skies, etc. I’ll try to remember those combinations to use in the future, but not necessarily just for creating a sky.

Similar to the way some people listen to music while crafting I occasionally enjoy listening to crafty YouTube videos while I craft. I love videos from Kindred Stamps, The Rabbit Hole Designs, Lawn Fawn, Jennifer McGuire, Rina K, and Simon Hurley for starters. I’ve found myself pulling little bits of inspiration from the videos and incorporating them into my own projects.

I need to be budget conscious while crafting. This has led me to getting inspiration just by figuring out how to get the most out of products I’ve found on a clearance rack or on sale online.

What words of encouragement or wisdom do you have for crafty guys or anyone else?

Join Facebook groups, follow Instagram accounts, and get as involved as you’re comfortable with. It can be intimidating to share your projects for the first time but just remember that we’ve all been there. If you have any questions just ask.

Also, I implore you to have a dedicated space for your projects to dry entirely and without interruption. There is nothing worse than spending hours on something only to end up with smudges!

Justin, it was a real treat getting to know you a bit. I think you bring up some really important points; particulartly the bit about how we need to educate people about the damage that is being done by counterfeit stamps and dies. In fact I have a blog post about this very thing right here.

If you would like to see more of Justin’s work you can find him on the following:

Until next time,

Samantha

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