We've had the pleasure of interviewing Alyssa Ruggieri from ALR Designs, we've shared our conversation below.
Hi Alyssa, let’s start by talking about what inspires you.
Inspiration is such a crazy thing. My inspiration usually comes from all of the usual places you would think of, but also such random things too. Growing up and now living on the Cape, obviously the ocean, beach, and just nature in general has always been a huge source of inspiration for me. Going to the beach at sunrise is my favorite time/place for inspiration. Honestly the seconds before the sun comes up, when everything is bright and ethereal looking, is my favorite time of day. It grounds me and clears my head enough to finally make sense of all the random thoughts of inspiration firing around my brain all day. But I also love finding inspiration in the most random things, even if it's the color of a mailbox I like or a cool line pattern in the dirt. My inspiration photo album on my phone would definitely not make sense to everyone that looks at it, but I think that's what’s cool about inspiration. I told myself when I first started painting and sharing what I painted that I would only paint what makes me feel happy and inspired, not what people wanted me to paint or what I thought I should paint. Some days it’s nothing and some days it's everything.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business?
My business is a watercolor art business. I paint pieces that range from serene landscapes to whimsical sharks. I offer products that range from frameable greeting cards to unique shell art. I would say that most people know my business initially for my greeting cards because that is how I started, by selling a small collection of Christmas cards. My mom always framed the cards I would make her. So I started making cards that would look good framed and not like an ordinary card. From there things just snowballed and I started exploring watercolor more and more and really fell in love with all parts of it as a medium. I previously created pieces for fun in all different mediums. But watercolor was the first medium that stuck for me. (Fun fact: in college, I took one intro to watercolor class and hated it. I couldn't tell you one thing I learned and didn't paint with it again for another 8 years at least). In 2020 during lock-down like many, I was laid off from my other jobs and decided to put all of my effort into my art and art business, which at the time was just a side hobby. I now sell online, and at in-person markets. I also have my work in an artist co-op shop as well as various shops around the country. Through selling online I've been able to sell my art world wide to over 10 different countries and almost every state in the U.S. It's still crazy for me to imagine my art that I paint on my little desk, in different homes around the world. A well known and niche part of my business are my “Shell Ladies”. They’re my ongoing collection of shell art combined with watercolor in what I like to think is a very unique way. I still find them hard to describe to people who haven’t seen them in person. I just genuinely love to create pieces that people will smile at or laugh at (sharks in sweaters) when they see them. There’s so much darkness in this world, if my art can bring even the tiniest bit of joy to someone's day then I’m happy. I now offer a wide variety of products featuring my artwork from stickers to cards, prints, ornaments, mugs and more! I also print 90% of my products to order, this cuts down on inventory waste, and I do all my printing in house, in my studio which is currently the back room of my house.
Have you experienced any failures during your journey, and how did you recover and move past them?
What would this journey be without any failures? Of course, I’ve released pieces or a collection and had no one buy them that always stings at first. But I’ve become pretty good at shrugging that one off. I always tell myself that when a piece is ready to make its way into the world and into the right home it will. Starting my business through Etsy came with quite a bit of failures or hurdles. I learned to take peoples reviews with a grain of salt. The first four star review I ever got, really gutted me at first. I think like a lot of makers, I put my blood sweat, tears and hours and hours of energy into my work and my business. Your pieces become like your children, and seeing someone not absolutely love or rave about it can sting at first. It’s such a vulnerable spot to share and sell your art, which is essentially a piece of you. But even though in an ideal world everyone would be over the moon happy with their purchases, I worked in the service industry long enough to know that you can’t make everyone happy. As long as I can say to myself that I gave and offered the best product I could, then I’m happy and that’s all I can do.
Is there someone in your life that deserves some recognition or credit?
Honestly my whole family and boyfriend do. They have been supportive of my business since the beginning. They help me set up at shows in the early hours of the morning, and break down when it's 90 degrees in 100% humidity or 30 degrees and dark out. They help me package cards and prints when I'm running around like a crazy person trying to finish paintings for a show. They keep me fed and sane when I’m running on zero sleep or spending all day at a market. They help me frame and nail, put displays together, you name it, I’m lucky to have so much help from my family. I know not everyone has parents or a partner that are supportive of an art career or business.
Is there something coming up that you'd like to share with our readers?
Yes, I'm live painting hand bags at Ashley Irene Boutique in the Mashpee Commins on April 30th and June 4th from 10am-5pm. You can find more info on Alyssa’a Live painting here
Find ALR Designs at https://www.alr-designs.com/ and instagram at @alr.designs
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All images and artwork are copyright by the maker, unless stated otherwise.