Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Your Story? Weekend Edition: Heather Vitticore

Hey RNESTers! Hope everyone is enjoying the warm temperatures. I know I am.  This weekend, What's Your Story?  Weekend Edition is not only featuring another super multi-talented local artist, but it's her birthday today! Happy Birthday Heather!

Heather mentions Zentangle as one way of breaking through creative block. I was on the Zentangle website this week poking around and it is an intriguing concept. I can envision this being useful (or at least a fun diversion) for many of us.

She also gets my own personal thumbs up for her simple and elegantly stated view of the art/craft distinction.


Name: Heather Vitticore

Business Name: Merv And Dolores / Heather Vitticore Designs

Etsy Shop: /

Blog/Website/Facebook/Twitter: /

Age: hitting 30 on June 25th

Profession/Day Job: Art teacher / substitute

  "Perhaps art means creating with purpose and craft is creating something that has a purpose"

Craft(s) of Choice: This is tough… I seem to dabble in anything I can. My Merv And Dolores line includes illustrated greeting cards, prints, custom artwork, and plushes. I am also working on my Heather Vitticore Designs line, mixing my hand-drawn illustrations with sewing. I was determined to learn how to sew before I turned 30.

Besides your main craft of choice, do you enjoy any other crafts? Drawing, painting, crochet, baking when I’m inspired and craving sweets, attempting to plant a vegetable garden, and I really enjoyed learning glass fusing, metal smithing and PMC jewelry.

Is there a craft you've always wanted to try, but never got around to learning? I would love to learn how to use resin. Oh and glass painting looks fun.

Did you go to art school or are you self taught? I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art for Illustration and did freelance illustration work for a couple years. Then I went to The School of Visual Arts for my master’s in Art Education.

What’s your first craft-related memory? Remember those kits where you poured plaster into little molds and then painted them and turned them into magnets? I vividly remember a pretty life-like sparkly watermelon slice on our fridge.

How did you get started with Etsy? I taught art the last 4 years at a middle school outside Syracuse. After my husband and I got married last July, I relocated and moved to Fairport where he teaches (phys ed). I decided to use my new free time as an opportunity to focus on my artwork and set up an Etsy shop. I really didn’t know what I was doing per se. I just decided to jump in and try it out.

How did you first hear about Etsy? I think I came across an Etsy item I admired in either ReadyMade or Domino Magazine awhile back and looked it up on the site.                       

In your creative life and work, of what accomplishment are you most proud ?  I feel like art is a gift I have been given, though I am always challenged by it. Picasso said it best when he was asked in his eighties, "Of all your paintings and sculptures, which is your favorite?" He answered, "The next one." This is something I relate too, as I’m sure a lot of creative types can. What I am most proud of is the work I have put into teaching students. My hope is that the lessons I have taught them, beyond how to hold a pencil, will last with them longer than my artwork will.

In your creative life and work, what’s “the one that got away”? Well, I have to admit, I am a little bummed that MICA now offers classes that focus on Etsy! I wish that was on the course list when I was there.

What inspires you, or makes you want to go dashing off to craft? The challenge of creating something new. Using the skills I have and trying to learn new ones. 

What influences your creativity? Other artists, home décor, nature, music, travel, students, friends and family.

How to do get past a creative block? I like to bounce ideas and struggles off other people, especially my mom who is an artist as well and my husband who is always supportive and encouraging. I’ll also flip through books, magazines, Etsy, past artwork/sketchbooks. Go outside. Music. Zentangles is a good exercise too.
What does your workspace look like most of the time?  I tend to be really organized and cleanly, but once in the midst of a project that tends to go out the window.

What (if anything) do you like to watch/listen to while you create? Pandora (Favorite stations: Adele, Bon Iver, Glen Hansard, Jack Johnson) or my husband when he’s playing his music.
Do you craft with anyone, such as your kids/grandkids/friends? I used to craft with friends in Syracuse, but since I am still new to Rochester… craft night anyone? [Ed.-Yes please!]

Have you had an "a-ha" moment related to your art or craft? When I started realizing I need to practice what I preach to students, which is to allow yourself to make mistakes, explore, experiment, and have fun! 

Did you have a "crafty" childhood? Yes. I always loved making art and crafting. My mom is also an artist and went back to college to become an art teacher when I was in junior high. My parents have always been supportive of my creative endeavors. Some random childhood craft memories: doing illustrations of my friends, holding a play for family members with cousins using characters drawn on paper plates and popsicle sticks held up behind the couch, beading friendship safety pins and bracelets, puffy painting sweatshirts (hello 1989!), decoupaging boxes with magazines, Fimo clay miniatures, dying friends hair (creatively), knitting and crocheting scarves (lots and lots of scarves, since I can only make a straight line)… really, I was not the most athletic kid (I still get a bit anxious when I see a red rubber ball), so art is where I found my bliss.

Did you always want to be an artist? Yes… I was tackled in gym class senior year during an intense game of ultimately Frisbee, and broke my index finger on my drawing hand. I had a moment of panic wondering what I would do if I couldn’t create anymore and I thought I would go into counseling (not for myself, to help others). I should note that I was tackled because I caught that Frisbee and it would have been a goal!

What do you think is the difference (if any) between “art”and “craft”? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects. Craft is a skill in planning, making, or executing; an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill. …So they are one in the same, though I know there always seems to be a fine line between them. Perhaps art means creating with purpose and craft is creating something that has a purpose… I don’t know that you can truly have one without the other.

What are your creative goals for the future? Because I do find myself continuously inspired and interested in learning new skills, I would like to ultimately create an Etsy shop where I can showcase and sell a variety of things. I am working on building that now with I would also like to continue to get more involved in craft/art shows.

If you could add to your craft/art line, what would you like to add? I am adding illustrated textiles at the moment. I hand draw illustrations, have them printed on linen and sew them into one of a kind pillows. I would like to get into a similar method with stretched canvases and making wall art.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in selling your work? Balancing what I think people will be interested in buying and what I am interested in making. It is difficult when art crosses the lines of becoming a potential financial income. 

What has helped you the most in developing your creative business? Observing and learning from others. I have found the crafting world to be wonderful and welcoming. Most people know how hard it can be to start from scratch and are happy to lend advice. (Thank you fellow RNESTers!!!)

What kind of people do you envision your customers to be? Happy handmade supporters.

What advice do you have for RNEST members who are new or not yet successful on Etsy? Give it time… there are a lot of people out there who want you to succeed and have fun. Try different things. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it is in those “failures” you learn the most.

What do you love about your craft  ? It challenges me.

What do you hate about your craft ? It challenges me.

What craft sound or smell do you love? The sound of my pencil on the paper, and the tinging of my brush as I tap it against the water jar.

What craft sound or smell do you hate? 2 part epoxy. I don’t even know how to describe the horror.

Glue gun or a soldering iron? Tough, but in a fight I would place my bet on the soldering iron.

Knit or crochet? Crochet… the knots hide my mistakes.


  1. Oh wow...zentangles! I've dabbled in zentangle myself (
    Loved reading the interview Heather! Feeling inspired to answer the interview questions myself for a future "What's Your Story?" post!

  2. I've followed Heathers work since she's joined RNEST. This one of the best in-depth interviews I have ever read! Both interviewer and interviewee were entertaining and these were the questions I myself would have asked. The questions were relevant, and the answers interesting and thought provoking. I really feel like I can relate and "know" Heather as a fellow artist. Well done :) I feel inspired by this article to create. Cheryl