Hello! Who are you? Give us the 411 about yourself.
My name is Diane Koss and I am the founder, designer, creator behind the one (wo)man monster army that is Cutesy but not Cutesy based out of the Philadelphia metro area. I have a fine arts degree in photography and mixed media, but have always been much more of a 3D artist.
When/how did you start your business?
I have been stitching my way along since the discovery, or rediscovery, of my childhood obsession with stuffed creatures and all things soft to the touch. I started hand-stitching creatures from old clothing I had been hoarding around my tiny shared apartment and began selling them on Etsy in 2007. I have since refined my designs and my materials (still hand-stitching everything) and have been selling on Etsy and at various craft shows along the east coast.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I have very little life outside of creating things. Since this is my full time job, I seem to always be working on something or planning the next big project. I guess when your hobby becomes your full time job and you love what you do, it's pretty natural to feel the need to work all the time. When I do find the time to get away, I love a good long hike or other outdoor adventure. I also have a massively overgrown organic vegetable garden that takes up a lot of my time, and when the harvest season comes around I love to cook up delicious meals with my bounty!
What first made you want to become an artist?
I don't know exactly what made me first want to become an artist. I think the creative urge has always been inherently running through my bones, I just finally found a way that works for me to get it out in the open. I've always known I never really wanted to work a 9-5 job and I knew I'd probably never have a "normal" career, so starting my own business, making money from my art, and doing what I love just seemed to fit.
What inspires you?
I'm mostly inspired by people who are doing what they love. People who have started from the ground up and who aren't afraid to put themselves out there and work as hard as they possibly can to continue to get their creative voices heard whether it be through art, music, writing, etc. The internet makes finding constant inspiration rather easy (and sometimes distracting). I am always following a new blog and discovering a new site for inspiration. I have always loved the work of Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane. Her blog is a constant source of inspiration in both plush and non-plush related things. KitLane is another huge inspiration. She's incredibly productive and her work is so quirky and adorable which is right up my alley! I also have a not-so-secret obsession with vinyl toys and my collection is ever growing. Non-plush/toy related, I recently discovered the work of Nava Lubelski which nearly brought tears to my eyes. I learned of her on this amazing blog... talk about inspiring! I'll stop there because my list of inspirations could go on forever!
What's your favorite thing about your craft?
My favorite thing about my craft is the sense of the community that I have felt because of it. Not only have I met so many wonderful crafty people through the internet and at shows, but I have also met so many people who may not be artists themselves but who are in full support of the handmade movement. I'm a member of the Etsy Plush Street Team and can't express enough what an amazing group of artists and people they are and have been. It's so wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who help support and promote one another. I also love to see people's faces when they see my monsters. They seem to bring out the inner child in almost everyone and before I know it they've named them, given them personalities, and voices and made them dance around with one another. It's entertaining (and heartwarming) to say the least.
Where would we most likely find you working?
I work from home in my two bedroom apartment with my single black cat, Baby Wonderful. Although one bedroom is designated as the studio, I find myself stitching in the living room on the floor. And if I'm not there, I'm probably stitching on a train somewhere or huddled behind my monsters at a craft show.
What's your favorite music to listen to while you work?
I find myself listening to a lot of the Avett Brothers, they're the perfect combination of city and country for my heart and my mind these days. I'll mix in a little Iron and Wine, Andrew Bird, and Feist every now and again but the Avett Brothers station on Pandora is pretty consistently streaming into the monster workspace.
What's your favorite thing right now?
My favorite thing right now is planning my possible relocation, eating fresh tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwiches from the garden, strawberry rhubarb pie, and hunting for new cold weather faux furs at the fabric stores. Ok, so that's more than one thing but if I could do that all at once or all in one day... it'd be a "thing".
If you could have one wish granted for the craft community, what would it be?
If I could have one wish granted for the craft community it would be that more and more people would understand the importance and value of handmade and the love and energy that goes into creating each product. I'd also love for there to be a giant convention where we can all meet, hang out, and talk craft... maybe even a Craft Island.
See more of Diane's super-cute work in her etsy shop, or see her in person at Crafty Bastards!