Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seller Spotlight: Peanut Butter and Yelly | The Fashion Dungjen

I guess when I promised I would have another contest posted last night I really meant it wouldn’t be until the next day. Oops. I was busy working on my bulletin board (which, by the way, is going to be kind of awesome … I think.) I was working on painting the Cincinnati cityscape and decided then which “Seller Spotlight” would go up next. With that, I present to you: Peanut Butter and Yelly.

Amber Reis is a screen-printing wonder. The projects in her Etsy store are multi-dimensional, colorful and a little out of the ordinary. Perhaps even a little eerie.

Her unique artwork is inspired by history. Or, more specifically, and actually a little cooler, her family’s history.

Growing up, Amber lived on a farm in Grant’s Lick, Ky., a small town in Campbell County. The farm now belongs to her, but before that, it belonged to her parents and her grandparents.

“Whenever I visit [the land] it’s as if I am surrounded by all the people in my life that have passed on,” Amber said. “I feel like they are still connected to the land and it gives me an unexplainable sense of fulfillment to walk and work the same fields that they did. Aside from that, I love history. My husband and I collect antique photos and I get these out often and use them periodically throughout my work.”

Aside from the nature and the land her family has owned for generations, another one of Amber’s greatest influences are her parents. Her mother, also an artist, “was always working on something” and is where Amber “picked up a lot of my artistic interest and skill.” Her father, who was slightly more practical and always worried about what kind of job Amber would have after earning an art degree and how she would make ends meet, was an imaginative man, always “making up some wild story and telling to it was completely believable.”

After earning her Bachelor’s of Fine Art from Northern Kentucky University, Amber’s work was part of her senior show.

Her parents both came to see her work. They hung back, talking quietly to Amber’s sister, while Amber entertained compliments from strangers.

After several people had approached her, her father came to introduce himself as Amber’s father.

“My dad was never a man to show how he felt about anything,” Amber said. “But I knew at that moment he was proud of he and he had confidence that I could make something out of myself through my artwork. That was the greatest compliment I have ever gotten.”

The next year, Amber lost both of her parents: her farther to lung cancer and her mother to a stroke.

“It gives me comfort to know that they had confidence in me and my work before they died,” Amber said. “Their confidence in me keeps me going from day to day.”

Locally, Amber has participated in a number of art shows and also sells her work at NVISION in Northside. Although she’s done well at shows and NVISION, Etsy generates the most business for her. Only one of the items in her Etsy store has been sold locally; many of her pieces travel overseas.

“The very first print I sold on Etsy went to Australia,” Amber said. “I was shocked, I never expected that. After that, many of the items I have sold have shipped overseas. Places like London, Ireland, Norway, even Portugal.”

Currently, Amber resides in Covington, Ky. with her husband and her 16-month-old son and two “rowdy, yet lovable, dogs.”

Since opening Peanut Butter and Yelly in October 2007, she has had 53 sales and has opened a second Etsy store, Dusty Moustache to accommodate her love for thrifting and estate sales. Dusty Moustache, which opened approximately one month ago, has already sold five pieces.

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