Written by WonderRoot Intern Courtnee Miles
Creature is a line of art, jewelry and apparel featuring original designs by Atlanta, GA based artist, Sara Lehtman. Her jewelry pieces are fabricated with the use of metalsmith and lost wax casting techniques. Using high quality metals and earthy stones such as Agate and Jasper she is able to transform her illustrations into wearable art.
Q: What’s the origin of Creature?
A: Creature is a line of Art, Jewelry, Paper Goods and Apparel with designs meant to inspire the adventure seekers and magic makers. Along with Creatures own lines I carry a collective of artisans inspired by the same ideals. The term “Creature” is often used to describe a being that is not confined by any preconceived notion of what it should be. I wanted my business to express the same beautifully flawed, wild, unusual and mystical properties. I create all illustrations with ink and acrylic, using a mix of cross hatch and stippling to invoke those Creature characteristics. My jewelry line acts as a wearable form of these illustrations, with earthy stones and rustic textures.
Q: What inspired you to use your art to launch a company?
A: I graduated from SCAD with a B.F.A. in Illustration and like many artists I found myself stuck in the loop of safety net jobs. After many years of working in retail and visual management it started to weigh on my creative soul. I wanted to be creating art again and I wanted to open the shop I had been dreaming about. 4 years ago I moved to Atlanta and shortly after decided it was time to make the leap. I started planning and sketching during my time off and 2 years ago Creature launched!
Q: What outside influences inspire your work?
A: Nature, mystical elements and strong women are a great source of inspiration for my work. I love incorporating mythical symbols and nature both in my illustrations and jewelry. I find that when I’m experiencing a creative block I need time in nature to jump start that creative energy.
Q: What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
A: There have been a lot of hurdles along the way. I opened Creature with no business loans and a strict budget so figuring out how to keep product flowing and getting the word out with advertising was definitely tricky. Over time I have found the right practices and printers to help me be more efficient, but it took time and a lot of mistakes. In the beginning I also found myself focused on growing the collective artisans more than my own work. This began to feel like a safety net as well and it hindered the growth of my business, not to mention my own creative work. Creature is currently in the process of making a big change. Over the last year I have been focused on developing my own work and brand and Creatures lines will be available for wholesale later this month. Now my own lines will take up at least 80% of the business instead of vice versa.
Q: How did you build a consumer culture around your product?
A: That came pretty naturally. I don’t do anything that isn’t authentic to me, so it was easy to have a clear image of who my customer would be because I am my customer. I take all the product photos myself and style everything to be specific to Creatures aesthetic. I also make sure to share my inspirations and process, such as my nature adventures and time in the studio. I find that as long as I am authentic, then my customer finds me. The moment I try something that doesn’t feel like me is when I fail.
Q: What do you want the take home message people get from Creature Shop?
A: My hope is that my work inspires others to find their inner Creature. That it inspires them to be themselves whatever that may be and to grow and appreciate their own imperfections and unusual parts. I am about to launch Creature’s first line of greeting cards and many of them feature strong uplifting messages meant to help others support and encourage each other to be their authentic selves.
Thanks Sara! We’ve enjoyed having you in the artist market!
Creature’s Website: https://www.creature-shop.com/
Interested in becoming a vendor at our Artist Market? Applications are open!
Click here: https://www.wonderroot.org/artist-market-at-ponce-city-market/