Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists
Please welcome our first Featured Maker of 2015- Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists! Tamara is an artist and card maker from Portland, Oregon. A true ‘maker’ at heart, Tamara enjoys creativity of any kind. The cute characters she draws for her digital stamps and greeting cards are bursting with joy and humor. I hope you all enjoy learning more about Tamara’s work, life, and creative philosophies. Also be sure to check out her website and Etsy shop!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

All my life I’ve felt the need to draw. In my early years I was able to use my creativity as a way to work through some tough situations. Drawing was an escape, helping me deal with my troubles and learn how to persevere. Drawing became my “happy place” which is still true today!

My journey is typical of a creative person; always searching for purpose and meaning in my creativity. The difference I try to achieve is fearlessness in my work. I’ve never met an art project I haven’t tackled. I’m always ready to try new things. I’ve been involved in teaching art lessons, Art Literacy programs, art culture events, theater set design, mural painting, arts and crafts bazaars, web site design, graphic design, photography, illustration, graffiti events, pottery, calligraphy, watercolor, soap making and more. On my journey I have been a featured artist in various galleries including an art reception at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe. My fine art work is currently featured at the Coffee Station in Aloha Oregon.

I married my high school sweetheart Paul and we’ve been together for almost 30 years. We have two wonderful teenage boys. We are lucky to have a lot of love and support from each other and family. When I’m not doing something artistically I try to get my boys out of the house. We go hiking, fishing and camping. Living in Portland Oregon we are surrounded by diverse landscapes and culture. I especially love the beach, searching for sea shells and walking with my Corgi, Heidi. Oregon is such an amazing place to live I could not imagine living anywhere else. In fact, a friend of mine has recently moved into a gorgeous property not too far from my own home so I cannot wait to catch up with her soon. The last time we spoke she was busy sorting out her home insurance and browsing websites like https://homeownersinsurancecover.net/oregon/ so I hope that she managed to find a good policy. There are so many things that you have to think about when moving house, but insuring your new property is incredibly important.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Greeting cards handmade by Tamara.

What do you make and sell?

Currently I’m working on digital stamps for card making, clip art for digital scrapbooking and web design. I sell some of my designs on Etsy. I also give away digital stamps on Card Making Artists and I’m looking forward to growing my website. I’m also excited to be working for various graphic companies.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

One of Tamara’s adorable digital stamps! Available for purchase in her Etsy shop.

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

My brother Tim and I have always had the entrepreneur gene. We inherited it from our grandpa. After many years of dreaming Tim and I decided to start our online businesses. We have different objectives but similar goals and we use each other to encourage and inspire. We push each other toward the next step. That being said, we are both rigorous goal setters. Furthermore, when it comes to business, we are both particularly fascinated by the OKR approach to goal setting. To learn more about setting business objectives, measuring results, and to discover how OKR software could boost your business, check out this guide that explains what is an OKR.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

I started my website, Card Making Artists in 2013 with the help of my brother Tim. Tim is a web designer and helped create the Card Making Artists website. I love card making; handmade cards are such a fun and diverse medium to showcase all different kinds of art techniques. I was interested in tutorials, tips, tricks, tools and featured card making artists. Plus handmade cards make people happy! Through the launch of Card Making Artists I discovered digitals stamps and graphic design.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

I try to make the card making process fun. I want to help card making beginners feel less overwhelmed and seasoned card makers inspired. I want Card Making Artists to be a resource for all different skill levels and I try to always make it fun and humorous.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I find most of my inspiration comes from the Oregon Zoo. A lot of my designs are little animals. I love going to the zoo and finding specific characteristics that stand out in each animal. Then I will often take an ordinary object rooted in reality and “twist” it to my imagination. Most of my little characters are a result of my “skewed” point of view.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Tamara’s home studio space.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

My studio is located in the dining room next to the kitchen. We have a big nook area off the kitchen which is a central location in the house. I read an article once that explained how you need to have your art space located in a central part of your house. Otherwise, you will have an “out of site out of mind” feeling about creating art. Well, I didn’t want to ever feel like my art was out of my mind so I slowly took over the dining area. I have two kitchen hutches that are now totally dedicated to art supplies. Lucky for me, none of the boys seem to miss the dining area. I always feel like I’m in the middle of the action when I’m in my art space. I even have a comfy chair in front of my table that all the boys and Paul will plop down and chat with me while I’m working.

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I love Gimp and Inkscape, free editing software for my digital stamps. My favorite tool for card making is nail polish. I know it’s stinky and not an art supply. BUT for “glitterizing” my hand made cards there’s nothing better for me. Nail polish dries fast and there are so many gorgeous glitter colors!

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

Tamara loves using nail polish to add glitter to her cards!

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

Where to begin? When you read all those quotes about not giving up when things look bleak or those who fail the most are the ones who succeed. ALL TRUE! I’ve failed many more time than I’ve succeeded. I’m still pushing, with the help of Paul and Tim, to be a successful professional artist! It’s a real rollercoaster ride. One day I get a “yes” and I’m happy. The next day a “no” and I’m bumming. The point is to keep moving forward. I’m particularly concerned at the moment with the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak and how that could affect my business. Financially, things will be tough. But a friend sent me this page which has Coronavirus Financial Assistance Programs by state, so anyone in a similar position to me should check that out.

Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

Yes! I am lucky to be able to start this business as a full time job with the complete support from my husband Paul. One of the top reasons people aren’t able to follow through on a business venture is because of an unsupportive spouse. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty when starting a business venture. It’s hard to make guarantees or know exactly where the journey will take you. Nothing will take the wind out of your sails like a spouse that can’t wrap their head around the process and isn’t on board with the risk.

Featured Maker: Tamara Hess of Card Making Artists

What does a day in the life of Tamara look like?

For one thing, I do a lot better if I have my calendar up to date. Calendars of events and goals are amazing. If I sit down and check my calendar, I get all my goals met and my week feels fulfilled. The problem is I don’t get that dang calendar up to date so half the time I’m meandering from the computer to the work table.

On the computer I will edit my drawings in Gimp and Inkscape, then I will work on a post for Card Making Artists and last I will chat with people and work on social media and marketing, such as increasing my potential audience I’m reaching, normally by trying different methods to get instagram followers so they’re all able to see my work posted on Instagram. At my work desk I will make some cards using my digital stamps, then I will sketch some little illustrations and last I will paint images to use as clip art.

Learning to prioritize your business is tricky. When you are working on a business you need to make sure you have your eye on the big picture but you need to make sure you are always focused on the details too. It’s like wearing a bunch of different hats. One day I will put on my marketing hat, then my writing hat, then my artists hat (that hat is rainbow colored), then my accounting hat and so on. Where is that calendar of mine?

Be sure to visit Tamara’s website and Etsy Shop!

Thank you so much Tamara for sharing your story with us! Want to be our next Featured Maker?
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