It’s that time of the month again! I’m so pleased to introduce you to this month’s maker Alyssa Fendall W. and her custom art business, Lissaspiff Fine Arts – Graphics – Design and Spiffypits Pet Portraits & Illustrations! I first met Alyssa during my time in Oregon—her husband and I were coworkers (along with Christy from last month’s profile) at a music shop! She’s an incredibly kind soul and just the most amazing artist! I am proud to have her artwork on display at my house, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about her process!
Before we dive right in, the usual disclaimer! *This is not a sponsored post, and I did not receive any compensation to feature Alyssa Fendall W. or Lissaspiff Fine Arts – Graphs – Design and Spiffypits Pet Portraits & Illustrations. I’m just very passionate about supporting small businesses and wanted to share her delightful work with you!*
APFE: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
AFW: I had been involved in various aspects of art lifelong, alongside working with children, but really felt the urge to branch out more into the art world. I had always freelanced when someone came calling for it, and I simply thought, why not do this full time? I could work from home, be with my beloved son and pets, and have the freedom to set my own hours. Plus, I wanted much more time to create, and the hours after family and working elsewhere did not provide that flexibility to do so. Lissaspiff was an old pen name, known to many of my friends and earliest clients, so I kept with it for easy recognition. I started picking up more work, and adding products like handmade cards, pendants, original portraits and prints that I could take to markets and shows. As more ideas came about, I added new creations to what I offered clients.
Specifically, with Spiffypits: Five years back, I had done a few pen and ink graphics for a farm in Corvallis, OR by the name of Afton Field Farm. I found I really enjoyed creating this type of work. The pieces were so well received, it made me want to explore that direction further. It is easy to observe that people love their pets and farm animals, and there is a decent market in providing custom portraits and products to animal lovers. I loved animals too and wanted a direct way to give back to shelters and specific dog rescues that were needing rescue funds, like those who rescue heavily abused bully-breeds. I intertwined all these ideas together and launched Spiffypits on Instagram, alongside displaying pre-made portraits (and offering my contact for ordering custom portraits) around town at shows. Both of these outlets spread the word, and the rest is history. Spiffypits is where most of my work generates from. Clients love their pets!
APFE: What sets you apart from other makers?
AFW: Spitting-Image Realism, and full customization. Plus the ability to create stunning works of art by hand. A lot of art right now is digitally created, of which there are a great deal of short cuts to make the production easier (especially for pet portraits.) While I do use digital for some artwork and graphics when needed or requested (think vector art or logos), I offer all artwork by hand too. This boasts the classic, handcrafted appeal. The realism portraits look just like the animal(s) being drawn, and that is a wow-factor that my clients are always so happy with. If a client has a favorite photo, sure. If a favorite photo is damaged, I offer ways to work around that (including photo restoration) and still provide a beautiful portrait too. On the cartoon and storybook pieces—even logos or other products—the client is in full control. Whatever the client can imagine, every detail, can be made possible. I love to build lasting relationships with clients and get to know their furry friends and enjoy providing a wide variety of customizable options. I end up having return customers because they know they can count on me for a variety of projects.
APFE: Tell me about your background as a maker/artist and your education and work experience.
AFW: I have been a natural artist lifelong and took classes throughout school and college to gain perspective and sharpen my skills. Art has always, in many ways, been a part of my daily lifestyle. Commissions and freelance work started way back when I was still a student and have continued to this day. I have owned my own business for several years now. I have offered various types of artwork over the years for businesses [and] individual clients, and [I] used my artistic abilities heavily when I worked with children. This accumulates to over 20 years.
APFE: How would you describe your business?
AFW: Lissaspiff Fine Arts – Graphics – Design and Spiffypits Pet Portraits and Illustrations both offer professional fine art and custom graphics. The fine art side
ranges from pen and ink realism portraits, custom cartoon-like illustrations, pendants, greeting cards, watercolors, and more (completely customized media and subject matter can be requested.) These pieces are open to both human and animal subjects. The digital side ranges from full color storybook-scene illustrations, stand alone graphics, vector art, logos, digital stamps, and other various requests. Fundraising from the digital stamps benefit various animal rescue organizations and are available on heyjudecards Etsy page (an affiliate of mine).
APFE: How do you advertise/make people aware of your products?
AFW: I have advertised locally by making promotional posters showcasing my work and have participated in various craft and artisan shows over the years. Having local clients makes the word spread nicely. Spiffypits on Instagram has been the most productive marketing tool to reach clients globally, with Etsy spreading the sales of digital stamps. I have a personal website in the works too.
APFE: Do you have a separate space for making?
AFW: Not currently. I used to have a huge room dedicated to art and music when we lived out in the country, but we moved into town for a number of reasons. My work space is now in a bright, open area of the house. I may decide on a studio in the future, but it would be built on home property, so I can continue to balance work and home responsibilities (see: mom life and aging pets). I can say that my best space, no matter where, consists of a bright room next to a large window, with speakers nearby for music. (Which is exactly where I currently create!)
APFE: What do you do when you’re not making and creating?
AFW: Adventuring in the great outdoors with my husband and son, plus spending time with our two dogs, three cats, and (my son’s) hamster. I also enjoy hiking with dogs (I do this on the side) and occasionally creating music. Nature, four-legged critters, art, and music sum up my life quite nicely.
APFE: Do you have a mission statement for your business?
AFW: My hope is to meticulously bring my clients’ ideas to life, which in turn earns their appreciation and trust and brings them joy. Secondly, to always give back to animal rescue efforts.
APFE: Who is your business inspiration? And creative inspiration?
AFW: I suppose some creative inspiration comes from observing animals, specifically those abused in rescue (like bully-breeds) and their resilience through everything that knocks them down. When something alters their existence, damages them physically or generally creates obstacles, they keep on living, loving, and following their pursuit. I can apply the same mentality and discipline to pursuing my talents, keeping in mind that a portion of my earnings fuel these rescued animals to survive and find a better life. I don’t really have a business or an individual that I model after. I simply moved
forward with what I was talented in and did my best to keep at it.
APFE: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
AFW: I would say that my constant forward plan is to keep creating, giving, and working, consistently. Add new products at clients’ request while launching some new ideas of my own. Add to the amount of funds I give back to shelters and rescues. I tend to live accordingly in the Present Moment because that is all I know I have—the future can vary so much, especially with kids, pets aging, and traveling. So I strive to be steady and constant while also being available to my family, at any given time.
APFE: What do you do with your profits?
AFW: My profits support my family, pay my bills, and fund more artistic tools. As mentioned before, a portion is donated to animal shelters and rescue efforts.
APFE: Do you have employees? If not, do you plan to?
AFW: I do not plan to have employees, but that is simply because the type of artwork I create is a solitary effort. Plus, the finances and business keeping can be handled by myself.
APFE: How would you describe your customers?
AFW: Kind-hearted souls with fun ideas! Predominantly, animal lovers looking for a variety of needs. I find a lot of my clients are also very creative themselves and love to collaborate on projects. Especially when it involves helping animals. “I have an idea… can you do this?” is something I hear a lot, and I love it!
APFE: Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
AFW: Again, I think it comes back to the variety and customization I offer across all artwork. Secondly, and specifically, how life-like the realism portraits turn out. I am often told I captured the subject’s personality completely (either human or pet.) This is typically when I hear the most praise and referral, when a client was excited about their custom idea coming to life, or when their beloved was immortalized so realistically. I also am able to produce in a very timely manner (unless the commission line is very long, and naturally the latter slots have to wait a bit.)
APFE: Related to the previous questions, why choose handmade goods over fast-fashion/mass produced goods?
AFW: I think it all boils down to supporting talented artisans who directly support
their families, instead of huge corporations supporting their greed for money (and usually, not very sustainable production methods.) Supporting local business is key. Local business is your neighbor, your friend, your hometown. Adding to that, there is no individuality in mass produced goods. My fine artwork, for example, is tailor made to reflect the individual characteristics of the family and their beloved pets. The design on a logo, illustration, or graphic piece is the end result of careful planning, collaboration, and creativity. When a client commissions Lissaspiff or Spiffypits, the client speaks to me directly, and their idea goes straight to paper. The client is always involved. Time and hard work is invested in a handmade good, as compared to the quick, stale mechanical process of mass production. The final product that emerges from handcrafted excellence is a unique piece of work that is carefully and lovingly produced for the client. It is not a cheap product for a million people perusing a department store. It is a quality that you cannot mass produce. You know the hardy feeling when someone has made something special for you… You can’t replicate that.
Thank you so much to Alyssa for being May’s ‘Meet A Maker!’ I can’t wait to see how Lissaspiff Fine Arts – Graphs – Design and Spiffypits Pet Portraits & Illustrations grows in the coming years!
Are you a maker? Do you run your own business? Would you like to be featured on APFE? Leave a comment below, or head on over to ‘Contact’ page, and send me a message!
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