Oct 15, 2015

An Interview with Cath Edvalson

As an editor for Paper Crafts magazine and the writer of its Moxie Fab World blog, Cath Edvalson played a significant role in the paper crafting industry.  When Cath left those roles, there was a hole in the industry that hasn't really been filled.

When I saw that Cath was blogging now at Hip & Hooray,  I was curious to see what she was up to, and I'm glad I did.  She is now designing stamps and dies for Technique Tuesday and continues to keep an eye on trends.

Here are Cath's first two stamp sets:

I think you'll find this conversation with her fascinating.  Cath, thanks for taking the time to participate in the interview! 

Q.  It seems like every month a new stamp company pops up and an established one folds.  What are your thoughts on what makes a company succeed in what appears to be a saturated market?  How many pineapples can the industry juggle?

A.  Having watched this amazingly creative hobby for over ten years now, it has been quite a ride seeing what companies have emerged as product forces and which companies have struggled. I think the first quality of staying power is adaptability. Making sure that products meet the customers' ever-changing needs is perhaps an obvious challenge, but not one that all companies have been able to embrace effectively.

It has definitely been interesting to see so many different stamp companies, in particular, rise up in the last few years. While I think it's awesome that so many folks feel inspired and empowered enough to give it a go, there definitely is a limit to how many products the market can support, as your question suggests. The best always rise to the top, and I think those that achieve that position do so because they focus on quality--of the artwork itself, how well-made the products are, and the customer's experience with the product from the transaction to the ease of use. And let's face it. With social media being such a key factor in the equation these days, building a positive community around a companies' products has become just as important as all the rest.

Q.  From the customer side, there is an avalanche of new products every day.  Many of us joke about the expense of inks and stamps, etc. and our attempts to stay trendy without going broke, but it is a real issue.  What advice do you have to stampers in terms of staying fresh and trendy without breaking the bank?

A.  When I was at Paper Crafts writing the Moxie Fab World, my main job was to inspire people to create, whether that was by showing our readers inspiring projects in the magazines we published, by featuring innovative artists in all realms of the world of arts and crafts, or by showcasing leading edge trends. Over the years, I started noticing that the most inspiring trends tend to last far more than just a season. For example, I first featured the watercolor trend in the Moxie Fabs column of the March/April 2013 issue, and hosted The Wonders of Watercolor Challenge on the blog on April 17 of that year. Keep in mind, we had a 7-month production schedule ahead of the publication date which means that we were seeing the watercolor trend take off early in 2012. Here we are near the end of 2015 and the trend, especially as a technique, is as strong in paper crafting as it ever has been.

Some trends are definitely more inspiring than others, and I think the key to staying fresh lies in first being aware of what the trends are, and then embracing those that speak to you personally. If you are a lover of all things gold, then by all means, buy the product that really revs your gold-loving engine. It goes without saying that if you like a trend, you will probably utilize it well in your designs. If geometric styles are not so much your forte, however, then feel free to give them a pass. At the heart of our creative journey is the need to express ourselves authentically. In my opinion, that should come ahead of all else.

Q.  In connection with your crafty life, how much time do you spend on the internet v. sitting down with paper?  Do you have crafty friends that you spend time with  (in person – not on line)?  What are the effects of the internet on the creative process?

A.  When I saw this question I chuckled a little, because it gets at the very heart of a battle I'm waging with myself at this very time in my creative journey. When I launched Hip & Hooray at the end of July, I was spending a lot of time online looking at and gathering inspiring images to share with others. But after a few weeks of that, I realized that I wasn't spending time creating the way I had grown accustomed to doing before I launched my blog, so the frequency of my posting has dropped off significantly--which has perhaps been as much a surprise to myself as it has been to my audience. When I was working for Paper Crafts, I spent all my creative energy inspiring others. Now I want to spend more time creating for myself (and for Technique Tuesday!), and that takes away from the time and energy I have to write my blog.

I don't have a lot of friends here in New Hampshire with whom I create. I do spend time with my 15-year-old niece who likes to make cards, and recently I've been picking up some photography tips from my 19-year-old niece who is studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology, but mostly I am left to my own devices, which is honestly where I feel the most at home when inspiration hits.

The Internet has been an amazing resource for creative communities of all types and varieties. Not only is it an astounding resource for idea-gathering, but my goodness have I connected deeply with a lot of inspiring, creative, funny, loving, kind, supportive, and all-around good people through my interactions with them online!

Q.  Your new blog, Hip & Hooray, is an opportunity to get personal.  How comfortable are you talking about yourself?  Do you think it is important for a blogger to get personal in order to connect with readers?

I am, by nature, an off-the-charts extrovert, though I suspect that has changed somewhat, especially since I left my job at Paper Crafts nearly two years ago. I have always been more willing to share quiet parts of myself than others have been of themselves, and even though that sometimes catches people off guard (especially here in emotionally guarded New England), it is also what helps others trust that it is OK for them to be vulnerable with me. I don't think it is necessary for a blogger to "get personal" with his or her readers, but I do think that it helps us all connect on a deeper level with one another. I truly believe that in spite of our differences, we really are all the same deep inside. We all have hopes, dreams, fears, and shame. In the end, we are all just doing our very best to find happiness in this world, and by being open and honest with one another, hopefully we can learn how to get there--together.


Hope you all enjoyed reading Cath's thoughts as much as I did.  Stay tuned for next month's interview!


~amy~ said...

Such an excellent interview. Love Cath and her fabulous style.

Annette Witherspoon ♥ said...

What a great post! It's nice to see Cath on the other side of the interview. I remember reading Moxie Fab World religiously back in the day. Loved that blog. Joan, you asked some great questions!

Anonymous said...

I've never been part of the "industry" and am always slightly puzzled by the buzz of it all. I LOVED reading this interview. You ask good questions and Cath sounds very interesting.

I Card Everyone said...

Just wonderful, J.B. Cath is definitely someone I like knowing more about!

Sara G said...

Interesting interview. I wondered what happened to cath. nice to read this.

jenn shurkus said...

fab interview!! :)

Gina K. said...

Wonderful interview! I just adore Cath AND you! So nice to read her inspiring outlook on our industry!

Vicki Dutcher said...

Joan - you rocked it! Nice interview and catching up with Cath -- she has been missed for sure

Sarah said...

Fantastic interview, Joan and Cath!

LauraJane:) said...

Enjoyed the inside scoop on Cath!

Karolyn at Paper Therapy said...

Cath is like E.F. Hutton for me . . . when she speaks, I listen. Thank you so much for sharing this super fun interview, Joan! It's always inspiring to get Cath's perspective on things.

Unknown said...

Cracking Interview Joan!

Deepti said...

Fabulous interview !! I always loved her articles from the time of Moxie Fab world:) she is so inspiring :)

Leslie Miller said...

Good questions. Makes me want to read the answers, and glad I did. Great interview, Joan.