This week we are honored to have Tiffany Zal at Upcycled as our featured First Friday artist. Below is her Artist Summary along some follow up questions
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Tiffany Zal, I’m an artist, a collector of beautiful things, nature lover, and artistic skill gatherer. My part time job is at Bathing Beauties Beads, but I bring home the bacon by splitting my time between collecting/selling vintage on Etsy, and making recycled jewelry to sell in Upcycled and at craft markets. I’m a native New Yorker with the classic story of coming to Missoula and falling in love with the mountains, people, and place. Aside from making jewelry, I work in a bead store, I sell vintage clothing, décor, and knick knacks on Etsy, and spend my days blogging, sipping coffee, and thrifting. I’m inspired through and through by the environment, nature, and the Montana mountains which is evident in the things I make and surround myself with.
I love the challenge of reusing before buying first hand products or materials. Upcycling is not only ethical, but pushes you to be creative in new and different ways, and brings a meaning and story into your creations. This jewelry you see is made with as much recycled material as possible; with wire from Home Resource, and beautiful rustic and distressed bike parts found in the bins of Free Cycles.
With each purchase you are making a statement of support for sustainable transportation, Upcycling, local artists, and your community bike shop, not to mention a statement of Missoula swag!
How did you get started?
I got started making this jewelry through a variety of factors. Upon moving to Missoula, I started fixing my bike at Free Cycles which my Uncle Bob owns. Being attracted to rusty things, I started collecting whatever bike part eye candy around there with the intent of making something, although I was unsure of what. Jewelry was a natural result; I’ve always been an artist at heart, while having a pragmatic business savvy mind. Jewelry is the synergy of those two things; practicality and creativity. The final catalyst to getting started was Donovan Peterson’s encouragement and providing a way for me to put myself out there with my product and price tags.
What's the best part of owning a crafting business?
It’s really rewarding to feel like you’re investing energy into something that’s so reflective of your ideas and taste, and is meaningful to you. I love the connectivity of being a crafter. Being connected to what you make, the materials, the people who buy it, the stores you sell in. It certainly adds fulfillment to your work.
What's your biggest challenge?
Deadlines. Having a time limit can stress me out quite a bit. It feels like it limits the amount I can experiment artistically etc. But I guess they’re motivating to get stuff done, so it’s not all bad.
How are you growing your business?
I’m trying to grow my business by networking, getting my name out there, selling at every craft fair/market I can make it to, and exposing myself to as many inspiring people and creations as I can.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would like to be selling my jewelry in stores across the country, making enough money to experiment more and refine my craft.
Any advice for up and coming crafters?
My favorite advice is from artist/writer Austin Kleon: “do good work, then put it where people can see it”
Random musings, interviews and other prose...