My name is Erin McKenzie and I am the voice, vision and person behind an online store called 'The Littlest Bookshop'. I started creating upcycled art when a family member mentioned they had some floppy disks they were going to recycle and wondered if I could use them. I had been recently introduced to the subculture of steampunk, which had driven me to read classic adventure novels more frequently, as well as considering the multiple uses that objects can have. Coupled with this, I have grown up in a home environment where recycling and crafting have been equally praised and often related.
I chose to create books out of the floppy disks because, as a reader and an academic, creating book products allows me to share my passion for reading while also creating a product that I am interested in. Since the creation of my first books, my store has grown to include other products such as my 'winged key brooches'. With new products, I try to stay true to my passion and original vision of recycling, while stretching my own creative boundaries.
I have not received formal training for the products I create in the Littlest Bookshop primarily because no one else, to my knowledge, creates products like mine! My process has been one of combining what general art training I have had with a lot of determination, trial and error. I think that this hands-on process has given me the advantage of knowing my materials on a deeper level.
I am fortunate to be able to live in my family home while I complete my university degree, however, this also limits my work area. I have recently moved all my materials from a guest bedroom into a more specific craft/ tv area. Thankfully, because my creations are quite small, I don’t require a lot of room for storage. It is amazing how much room is taken up with vending displays and photography props, not to mention packaging materials!
When I do my art depends on my schedule and my mood on any given day. Sometimes I will spend an entire day working on my art, and then go days without picking up a paintbrush! The environment in which I do my art also varies. Some days I will dabble at art while watching a movie, while other days I will work for hours on end in complete silence.
The toughest challenge I have found in marketing my work is demonstrating how unique and relevant my products can be. While I certainly embrace the label of “cute”, I find this label also creates hesitation as to how much the product is worth. For example, the three products below show how varied my books can be:
An ocean playroom themed book inspired by 20,000 Leagues under the Sea
A summer flag themed book:
An elegant monster:
I think buying handmade is important because it opens up a whole world of products which are often not available for mass purchase. Most of the gifts I buy for family and friends are handmade as I can often find a product that fits the recipient's personality much more closely than a mass-produced product would.
My main goal for the future is to continue to challenge myself to make products that I find relevant. I have recently become a fan of the tv series “Dr. Who” and so am creating books around that theme. While I would like to increase my sales, I realize that in such a competitive market, passion for my craft is very important when sales may not immediately follow.
Creator and Owner of 'The Littlest Bookshop' on Etsy