Exclusive with The Artsy Craftsy: Unleash Your Inner Artist!

by Aiman Aminudin

Any one of us can be artists, with the right amount of passion and motivation, your creative side might just flourish in a sea of colour as you express yourself in new ways!

The Artsy Craftsy wants to bring out your creative side with the wide variety of creative workshops they have on offer.

From intuitive painting to fabric painting, wood painting and other decorative crafts, there is surely a class ready for you to come and express yourself!

We have managed to get an exclusive interview with Shia Lynn, Toh, Founder & Creative Director, along with Justin Victor, the company’s Managing Director. 

Here is what they had to say about their spectacular arts and crafts company.

What’s it all about?

Shia Lynn:

The Artsy Craftsy started of as an arts and crafts blog, and sometime in 2015, we decided to expand into a creative lifestyle business. We provide our own classes and creative services for corporate companies as well as corporate activities. At the same time, we are very much involved in the local creative community; we connect with the community because networking is also part of our job and at the same time, we also involve ourselves in events. They are all mostly arts and crafts related.

Where did the idea come from?

Shia Lynn:

Originally, I started The Artsy Craftsy as a blog in 2008 because I noticed there were no local craft blogs at all. My objective was simply to encourage people and empower people to be creative. I spent a couple of years creating content, promoting the local craft scene and networking with local makers.

The Artsy Craftsy became a pioneer craft blog in our local community back when arts and craft scene was still small. I eventually decided to change the direction of it; instead of just sharing craft tutorials, we added on craft classes to get people to come and experience arts and crafts in person.

So in 2015, when I left my full time job as a copywriter to expand The Artsy Craftsy, Justin joined me in the transition to expand the blog into a creative lifestyle business.

Fun fact: In 2014, The Artsy Craftsy joined the DiGi WWWOW Awards, and was shortlisted top 10 in content category

Justin:

It depends on the trend, like recently the trend was pouring art and sometimes it may depend on festive seasons like Deepavali, for example, people might want to do something like Mandala.

But generally, we found a lot of great responses from people of a certain age group, let’s say for working adults, it is the Intuitive Art Jam. Intuitive art jam is an expressive art session where we get participants to meditate or be alone with their thoughts for a while, and then express themselves creatively afterwords on canvas.

Shia Lynn:

There is a lot of creative visualisation involved, you see there’s this whole myth that you have to be a professional artist to paint, we are trying to break that myth.

We are trying to encourage people who tend to look at art in that form, to join us and get in touch with their inner-self through mindfulness and creative visualisation.

There is nothing scary about it, it’s just tapping into your inner artist and to paint intuitively.

This philosophy is not just for the art jam sessions. We apply this philosophy to our other classes, be it fabric painting, painting on wood or decorative crafts.

Which method of art is your favourite when it comes to expressing yourself?

Shia Lynn:

As an artist, I started off with fabric painting originally, and then I expanded to mixed media art and discovered art journaling and intuitive painting. Personally, it has always been mixed media, because I enjoy exploring different types of arts & craft, and combining different forms of mediums, tools and supplies to create a piece of work. So i would say mixed media which can be done on canvas, fabric, wood.

What were the difficulties you faced when setting up your business?

Shia Lynn:

In the beginning, in 2015, there was a spike in the creative scene where people started hosting a lot of workshops.

But this spike of creativity was just starting, and we thought it was just nice because we had a vision that it would make sense to include this direction when we decided to expand the blog into a business.

Not long after that everyone was doing the same concept, and eventually became an oversaturated market. It became competitive, but when it comes to business, there will always be competition. I think one of the biggest challenges is to stay ahead in an oversaturated, competitive market.

Justin:

We also have to deal with the trends that tends to slow down. When something becomes less trendy, less people will come and our economic condition slows down as well. 

When the trend first started in 2015, workshops were priced between RM190 to RM250 and above. It does set a certain standard, but after awhile, it became way too expensive for people to afford on a frequent basis. That’s when the competition begins, similar types of workshops everywhere with prices thrown and slashed. We have decided to take a step back and focus more on other things such as our creative services, craft activities for corporate and our private classes.

Tell us more about Your Corporate Activities.

Shia Lynn:

We enjoy providing activities for corporate companies. We recently started a service called Craft Buffet by The Artsy Craftsy, designed to cater to corporate companies with our creative activities.

These days you have companies engaging in team building activities, corporate events like family day, or just corporate activities to get their staff to engage in creative activities and so on.

It is good to know that more and more companies are encouraging balance at their workplace, as we are able to introduce this feature to adapt to the changing work environment. 

What problems might you be facing now?

Shia Lynn: 

As trends change, there will definitely be new problems, especially if you are running a creative business.

Some businesses have a plan to what sort of directions they will take in the coming future, but with creative businesses, we have to learn the latest trend and roll with the changes.

At the end of the day, when it comes to business, there will always be problems, but it is about how well you adapt to it and how you reinvent the wheel. 

Would you say that Malaysian are very art driven?

Shia Lynn:

Overall, I personally think that Malaysians are becoming art driven, thanks to our growing arts and crafts scene. But it would depend on the lifestyle of each individual. It is all about the level of interest.

When people come to our workshops, we noticed 3 types of participants: they’re either hobbyist, individuals who are keen to major and invest in a particular craft and experience-seekers; people who come just for the experience, to try something new on their own or with their friends.

In a way, the more creative  platforms & workshops are set up, the more people will learn to appreciate arts & craft / handmade, and increasing the income opportunities for artists, crafters and makers.

What are your main methods of Marketing?

Shia Lynn:

Mostly through social media, as it is still a big thing and effective for small businesses. We also believe in networking, it is one of the oldest tricks in a marketing handbook and it is proven to be very effective. Sure, it takes longer, but with the right amount of energy and time put into it, it helps build connections. We also ensure that we have a very good online presence through our website, which needs to be presentable and readable.

What plans do you have for the Future?

Shia Lynn:We are looking at expanding more into our creative services. We hope we are able to add more to our list and offer different types of services eventually! 

As of now, we already have people signing up for our services such as guided DIY sessions, personalised services or collaborations with corporate brands and companies. We are also focusing more on private craft sessions, where they can book us by appointment. 

Justin:
Overall we have moved from an arts and craft blog to a creative lifestyle brand. One of the reasons why, is so that it gives us room to expand and explore different things under The Artsy Craftsy name. As of now we are focused on mostly arts and crafts, but we do plan to move into more artisanal crafts in future, perhaps something that involves food or coffee. Who knows! That’s the beauty about running a creative lifestyle business.

What tips can you give to new business owners?

Shia Lynn:

Firstly, don’t be afraid to try it out, because you never know what might happen! If you believe you can turn something into a business, do it. Give it a shot!

But if you are still not confident about it, start online or start small. Make sure you study your market and the trends.

Secondly, have a good online presence, with a presentable social media presence as well as nice pictures taken. For crafters, your brand image and products have to be appealing. 

Feel free to come to me for one-on-one consultation!I actually do offer sessions for small craft business owners who are starting up.

And that was Shia Lynn, Toh and Justin Victor of Artsy Craftsy! 

Our inner creative self is there, we just need to find ways to unleash it! We at Sterrific are delighted to have interviewed Shia Lynn and Justin, getting us to see that and we wish them all the best!

Want more exclusive interviews? Then check out our blog!

Sterrific Agency is a creative digital agency with a range of services we provide that are web designbrandingSEOcopywriting and more!

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