Featured Friday: Cowboy Goods

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Wondering who to check out at I Made It! Jr. on April 21st? The answer, of course, is “everybody” – but make sure you don’t leave without saying hello to Daniel of Cowboy Goods! We recently had the chance to ask him a few questions about his work – here’s what he has to say:
1) Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I’m Daniel Shapiro and I’m originally from the DC area. I came to Pittsburgh about 8 years ago. I have three cats and a dog.

I like to work with my hands and learn new techniques and creative methods, which has led me to make all kinds of art and craft. I like to paint, screen print, collage, upcycle, sew, design and photograph, sometimes all at once.

2) What inspired you to start a small craft business?

I went to grad school in Savannah, Georgia and began selling handmade products and art in an amazing shop, called shopSCAD, developed by two friends. They were very enthusiastic about my work. A while later I discovered Etsy. I didn’t really do much with it at first, but then I started vending at Pittsburgh indie craft shows and this motivated my online selling. In the last year or so I’ve increased my sales from when I started, but I still have a long way to go to make a living of it.

3) What keeps you motivated?

New ideas. Feedback and encouragement from family and friends helps keep me motivated as well, as do sales and other artists’ work.

4) Can you tell us a little bit about your creative process?

I jump around from project to project. I don’t necessarily finish one thing before I start something else. It keeps me interested and it’s also a good way to keep creative even if I’m frustrated with the progress of one particular project. Not all projects start with a clear end point, I find it helpful to step back and pause if necessary.

Materials will also inspire me. I’m a big fan of assemblage and mixed media and I really enjoy going to yard sales, estate sales and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Resuse where I can find all sorts of interesting, idea-sparking materials. Sometimes a material that initiates an idea will not make it into the finished piece, but was instrumental in getting it started.

5) What has been your favorite experience about working with I Made It! Market? What are you looking forward to at your next I Made It! Market?

This will be my second experience with IMI. I think the organizers are great at promotion and they have a genuine enthusiasm for the vendors. Unlike some of the other local indie markets, I like how IMI has remained focused on local artists and how it will move around the region with various themes and opportunities for artists and the public.

It’s also great to meet other artists and swap ideas and resources. I’m looking forward to offering new screen print designs and mixed media works at the upcoming I Made It! Jr. show.

6) Who are your favorite artists, crafters, musicians, etc? Who do you turn to for inspiration?

Henry Darger, Lori Nix, my friend Summer Wheat, Andy Warhol, people who repurpose materials like Zac Freeman, Michelle Stitzlein and Tom Deininger. I’m very much inspired by and love art made by people who do not think of themselves as artists, untrained artists or “visionary” types (like Darger).

I’ve been known to turn to Pee Wee Herman for inspiration. He doesn’t feel the same about me, but no one’s perfect. Popular culture in general has always been a big influence on my creative work.

7) If you could be any crafting supply, which one would it be and why?

I think I’d like to be a basic Crayola watercolor set because they’re simple, fun, versatile and anyone can make art with them.

Wondering how you can get in touch with Daniel or buy some of his fantastic handmade wares? He’ll be at the I Made It! Jr. Marketing, but you can also catch up with him on Facebook and Etsy.
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