Happy Feature Friday!
We could not stop adoring the Dragonlings created by Emizart and are so happy we get to share them with you today! We love how Emily created each of her majestic creatures with such distinct personalities showing through their faces. They also all have their own names, from Julep, Shmello, and Paisley to Kringle if you’re looking for a Dragonling with Christmas spirit! We think these would make such a fun desk companion, and they love to hold dice — so an added bonus! If you’re a dragon lover or know someone who is, we found the perfect present for you right here. Keep reading to learn more about Emizart and her fantastical creations!
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: I’m 26. I like being outdoors, working out, reading, cooking, making art, and spending time with my dog and family. I read almost every day, and my work is definitely influenced by books.
: Describe your current work and why you were inspired to create it.
: I’ve always been much better about working on my own time with my own rules (who wouldn’t be?). But I decided to take things to the next level in starting my own business. I began painting murals when I was 14, and that lasted a long time. Unfortunately, it was always a side-gig, and I had to hold down 1-2 other jobs in order to make ends meet. At one point I was working at a board gaming shop and started sculpting little dice holder dragons just for kicks. I’d always been more of a fantasy nerd (i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire [Game of Thrones], The Lord of the Rings, Eragon, Harry Potter, Arthurian Legend, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.) Some of my friends and family suggested I try selling the pieces, and that really took off. Suddenly I had a lot of extra work on my hands filling orders and coming up with new designs. I decided to try selling at a convention and did very well there. I was amazed at this possibility for a new job where I was my own boss and I got to be artistic and creative every day. That all began in December of 2014. My first convention was in March of 2015. Now we’re rapidly approaching 2017 and things are still getting better for me and my business. I’m also happy to say that my sculpting skills have drastically improved over the years!
: What goes into making one of your polymer clay creations?
Each piece is completely unique, as I don’t use any molds. They all start with an aluminum foil core which helps provide structural support and also helps promote even baking. The core gets covered in the base color of polymer clay before the details are added on in the complimentary colors. The whole piece bakes for about 45 minutes and then cools for around another 15-20 minutes, I paint the Dragonling’s scales with acrylic paints, and finally seal the whole piece in an acrylic varnish.
Most of my Dragonlings have clay eyes, but I’ve also introduced a few with hand-painted acrylic cabochon eyes. This gives them a bit more of a realistic look, and also captures the light in a really neat way. Aside from Dragonlings, I’ve been working on “Fantasy Fish,” Griffins, and occasionally a Phoenix. I’d love to explore more possibilities with other fantasy creatures, but the demand for Dragonlings keeps me pretty busy.
: Where do you see your work going in the coming years?
: When I started sculpting, I was creating hand written Adoption with a unique four line poem I would come up with for each Dragonling. That got to be far too much work for the volume of orders I was receiving, so I dropped it. In 2017, however, I intend to bring those certificates back (in a more streamlined manner) so each Dragonling will have its own story once more.
I’ve also been working with another artist, Robert Coppage, to create some molds for my Micro Gem Ornament Dragonlings. These pieces have traditionally been hand sculpted, but they are nearly always in the same pose, so it makes more sense to have a faster production method. The molds produce cast resin pieces that would then be hand painted. Ideally, I’ll still be offering both methods in 2017.
I’m also hoping to develop some sort of Dragonling Collector’s Club as well as a Dragonlings board game… but those are still in the early idea stages!
: What is something you’ve learned or grown from since you started your Etsy store?
: I really knew that I wanted this business to work for me as a full time job, and that’s been a fantastic driving force to help keep me motivated. I’ve done countless hours of research on running an Etsy shop and also on craft sales in general. I know that marketing through social media is essential to a successful business model, but that’s always been a weak point for me. I’m trying to branch out a bit more with not only how I advertise, but where I advertise. Word of mouth is still one of the best methods of gaining followers and making sales, so I always give it my 100% in terms of customer service. People are extremely grateful for transparency and strong communication skills. I’ve recently learned that I need to have almost 3x as many designs available in my Etsy shop to maximize sales, so I’ll definitely be working on developing some new pieces in 2017!
: Do you have a favorite piece? Or a customer favorite?
: Nico is definitely a customer favorite. He was one my original favorites as well, but really, Trinity is my girl. She’s sort of like a mascot because she’s named after my emizart logo (the trinity knot) and she embodies the three colors in the design. There’s one more Dragonling named Titus that I really like too, but he’s not even listed in my shop yet. He definitely will be soon!
: Any advice?
: Yeah, of course! All too often I run into people at conventions who talk about how they wish they could make money off of their art/ crafts. I say do it! Maybe not everyone has the lifestyle or resources available that I do, so making the transition to a full time livelihood isn’t practical. That being said, I absolutely support anyone who wants to turn a side hobby into money. And furthermore, definitely price your work according to its value. At one of my earliest shows in 2015, I met some other artists who were sort of appalled at my pricing. I was charging $25/ Dragonling- and that was before any overhead costs. So I was making roughly $12 for every 4 hours of work. Even now I’m still a little low on my prices, but I think my customers are happy with the rates and I don’t want to disappoint. I will be bumping prices up slightly next year, but nothing to drive away potential buyers. I want my work to be accessible while still allowing me to make a living. I also try to be pretty generous about giving discounts, coupon codes, and occasional freebies. My craftsmanship is improving with each piece, and my expenses are growing right along with my business. Having no formal education on how running a business, I’m constantly reading up on tips, tricks, methods, and necessities.
Last words: Shop handmade, shop local, and don’t give up before you try!
Follow Emizart by clicking the links bellow and see what she’s up to next! And why not get your own Dragonling!?