When I first came across Natalie’s Instagram, I couldn’t stop swooning. Her work made me wish I was an artist. It’s amazing how a custom map, a coaster or a stamp can put a smile on your face and that it did. So, I was over the moon when she agreed to answer a few questions for us!
Favorite project to date? Since a lot of the work I do is custom, I have lots of great stories to choose from! A recent favorite is a girl who contacted me to make a custom map of Ireland, outlining all the places she and her husband were going to see on a big trip the coming year. Except, the husband didn’t know they were taking a big trip — his wife had planned it as a surprise. The artwork I created, outlining their trip of the island with various markers, illustrated landmarks and travel details would be the visual she’d use to surprise him. She hasn’t given it to him just yet, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes over
If you could create any custom map right now (that you’ve never done before), what city would you choose? I’ve always been interested in learning more about Japan — that’s once place I haven’t mapped out and drawn before.
Tell us about the process in choosing what historic landmarks to include in a skyline? I tend to ask friends and family who are familiar with certain areas what their top 5 landmarks of a particular city would be, and then I compare notes to see what would make the best “skyline.” If I don’t know anyone who’s familiar with a certain place, good old fashioned Google paired with a little research usually works well
Most popular item in your Etsy shop? My custom maps and New Orleans items seem to be the most popular right now — everyone who lives in New Orleans is very passionate about their city, and they love having items that show off what makes New Orleans special!
Where do you find inspiration for your work? Many of my products are inspired by travel, nostalgia and “home.” I love exploring and discovering new places and finding out what makes a place unique — landmarks, history, restaurants, bars and shops. Learning about a new place is one of my favorite things to do!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a full-time artist/designer? I always dreamed of owning my own business, but I didn’t consider it very seriously until I lost my advertising job before the holidays in 2009. Losing a steady paycheck was the push I needed to try and make a business of my own happen. I started out very slowly at first, not taking too many financial risks. I worked out of my home, opened an Etsy account, and started selling a few of my notecard sets online. My business really started to pick up when I added custom artwork to my Etsy site, like house portraits, pet portraits and custom maps. Thankfully, as orders started coming in more steadily, I didn’t need to continue looking for a 9-5 day job anymore. As time went on and I made more money, I slowly started investing into my business and bought new equipment, new printers and better art supplies. I grow every year, slowly but surely — greatly thanks to the support of my family and customers!
Favorite 3 places in Athens, GA? Ohhh, that’s a tough one. Athens has SO many gems, but if I had to choose, my 3 current favorites are
- Treehouse Kid & Craft: A whimsical toy store that also serves as a place for adults and kids to create.
- Broad 9A and the Broad Collective: An innovative co-working office solution for artists, makers, entrepreneurs, and mobile professionals in a beautifully restored warehouse. Archie’s having his 1st birthday there in December!
- The World Famous: A bar and restaurant with awesome cocktails, delicious menu (chicken waffle sandwich — yep) and a cool environment.