Mission Statement:

The Muse Behind The Mask is a blog publication that offers a creative look into the lives of the people who create the art we love to lust over. Through interviews and inspiring topics the Muse Behind The Mask will awaken the muse within you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

That Time Again

Hello All!

About that time that we chose a new muse! I have delayed because we need more people nominated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So stop over tell me who you would like to know more about and then we can start the voting!

Tell you friends,


Monday, June 1, 2009

Interview: Things With Wings / Giveaway

Laura, Jill, Connie, Emily

AKA: Things With Wings and Other Things

I am very excited to introduce the ladies at Things With Wings and Other Things blog. These ladies are a hoot and we are all lucky enough to have a little peak into the lives of these zany creative women. The coolest part about this interview is we get 4 for 1 that is right each lady was nice enough to give a little input to each question (thusy why it is so wonderfully long!). Now if that isn’t a deal I don’t know what is. So, with-out anymore of my rambling let us all welcome the Wingers:

Connie: The artistic dynamo is the mother of Jill (the oldest), Laura (middle), and Emily (youngest). This busy lady is part time preschool art teacher, part time artist, and a fulltime wife, mother, and grandmother.

Jill: Is a mom to three boys with the youngest at 21 months! Now tell me she isn’t busy. She lives in Iowa City with her now husband former high school sweetheart. Jill started creating art about 7 years ago and hasn’t looked back. Her favorite book is the bible. I will now make mention that religion plays a huge role in the beautiful work they create and it makes it all that much more beautiful.

Laura: Is a stay at wife and stay at home mom of 3. She is a part time artist living close to her sister Jill and mom Connie in Iowa City, Laura is a self proclaimed lover of cheesy 80’s music and has admitted to have shop-a-holic tendencies while in Target.

Emily: The baby of the bunch seems to be the traveler and now lives in Austin Texas. We are lucky in that this is our first Muse who doesn’t create fine art; she is a singer/song writer. During the day Emily is an admin thusly why she calls herself God’s 3 hole puncher. “I could go on. I started singing and playing the piano when I was really young, wrote my first song when I was a freshman in high school, picked up the guitar at the end of high school. Started leading worship my senior year of high school. I’m the youngest sister of the group.”

(above)Jill's Work

1. Can you briefly describe the types of art that you do and maybe a little bit about the medium/s you choose to work with?

Jill: Guess I’d fall under the category of mixed media. My business name is Paper Prayers My work is whimsical, funky, and unique. Everything I create has a fun, positive, or spiritual message to it that reflects my faith. I use acrylics, paper (new and old) and other found objects. I recycle wood, frames and other thrift store finds. Everything is one of a kind.

Connie: My business name is Creative Works. I make art dolls and paintings using cloth, paper, mat board and paint that are whimsical and colorful. Often, I'm described by others as "funky".

Laura: My business name is Green Girl Designs. I stick to painting (on anything). I've tried sewing. It doesn't like me. Mom, I can't believe you forgot to mention Sharpies!!!

2. Where do you find your greatest inspiration?

Jill: I totally appreciate and acknowledge that my inspiration comes from God. He is the Creator of all good things and the most creative Guy out there! He’s blessed us all beyond measure. Therefore we hope to inspire other people and be a blessing to them with the messages in our work.

Connie: I'm not ashamed to say it-Jesus! I see Him in kids, nature, colors and in people who cross my path. My late husband and my present husband have been the best encouragers. Am I blessed, or what?

Laura: I'm greatly inspired by other artists. I'm a blogstalker. I admit it. Also, different color combinations speak volumes to me and I often come up with my colors even before I know what I'm going to paint. Obviously, everything I do comes from what God has put there in the first place.

Emily: When I write songs, they are usually inspired by personal life experiences. God usually does the unexpected, and out of that comes true life. I love capturing what God is doing through song. I also love God's word. It is alive and rich and I love reading it and letting the Spirit move to create lyrics that speak truth.

(above) Connie's work

3. I know you recently took the jump to Etsy and you ladies seem to be doing very well. Any pointers to fellow Etsiers out there?

Jill: If you’re a mom and looking to make a little money doing something fun, and you love to create, Etsy can be great. But don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Those people who you’ve heard about who’ve quit their jobs and do Etsy full time put A LOT of time into it - much more than we have to give as wives and moms who already do most of their business at art shows. We’re in it to have fun. If it becomes stressful and takes away from your real priorities, then don’t do it, or take it very slowly!

Connie: As far as Etsy goes-sorry. I can only do computers in small doses!

Laura: I'm still trying to get the hang of it. Some weeks will be really busy...then nothing. I honestly don't know any 'secrets'. But if anyone knows any-let me know!

4. Every family seems to have 'an artist' but all the members of your family are artists! How does this happen?

Jill: Oh, they just like to copy me. :-) I grew up with a dad who was a professional photographer, a screen printer and a graphic designer. Mom’s been doing arts and crafts for over 25 years and went to school for fashion design. She’s also made lots of clothes and incorporated sewing into her art over the years. It’s all evolved and matured. Since we grew up surrounded by all this creativity, it was bound to rub off!

Connie: I married a guy with the same 'restless something' inside him that I had. We mixed it up a little and those crazy genes went haywire, I guess. You asked how does this happen? It took me awhile to figure it out, but it's really quite simple-it's a God-thing.

Laura: I have no idea how this happened. It's a whole lot of fun, though.

Emily: I am learning more and more, that even though I don't create beautiful pieces of artwork like my mom and my sisters...God has designed me as an artist in a different way. It comes out through my music, it comes out through my wardrobe. It's fun to even see the differences in my mom and sisters and know that God designed each one of us uniquely.

(above) Jill's Work

5. Not only do you ladies sell on Etsy but you also do craft fairs. Which one seems to be the bigger revenue driver and most rewarding? I know that I sometimes want to take the leap to craft fairs but am nervous about not being accepted; have you ever felt this way?

Jill: Us girls grew up watching our mom do craft fairs and art shows, and to get to be a part of it was and still is a thrill! We’ve been doing them as a group for the last 6 or 7 seven years, long before etsy! Show weekends are always exhausting – the set up, the weather, the driving, the snoring (if we stayed overnight together) but we’re a ‘well-oiled machine’ after all this time! The best part is getting to talk to people and see their reactions to our work. Some people don’t ‘get it’ and that’s fine, others spend quite a lot of time looking at everything and laughing or oohing and aahing- just the reactions we like to receive! We never win any awards at the shows we attend; some people might not consider our work ‘serious’ enough, whatever that means, but that’s ok. We know we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing!

Connie: It's most rewarding for me when someone buys something to give away to someone who needs encouragement or hope or love. As far as being rejected, yes, I've been nervous, but when you've been rejected enough times, you realize it means nothing.

Laura: At this point in time, art shows are definitely more profitable. The most rewarding part of selling at a show is you get to meet who your art is going to and sometimes if you're lucky you get to hear tidbits of conversation about how people perceive your art. Its funny how something you intended to mean a certain way, can be totally saying something different to someone else. God uses it all! The cool thing about Etsy is your art is going all over the world.

6. Since there are four of you can you take some time to help us understand the family dynamic? I know you all don't live in the same area so how does that work for you while you are creating?

Jill: the three of us mixed media artists live in the same town, and Emily is in Austin. Despite the distance, we’re all very close, and when we get together WATCH OUT! We recently returned from our first visit together to Austin and it was AMAZING!!! As for the actual creating of the art, we do that separately in our own homes, but really bounce ideas off of each other and sometimes incorporate elements of each other’s work into our own while still maintaining our uniqueness. Some of the best times have been when we’ve gotten together to collaborate on special projects – usually for our church or for fundraisers – those pieces are especially meaningful.

Connie: Jill, Laura, and I live 15 minutes from each other in the Iowa City area. You could call it the "Things With Wings Triangle" We create independently and bring it together for shows. We keep Emily close through blogging, cell phones, web cams and prayer.

Laura: I think sometimes we get lumped together as one unit and we're actually all quite different and have different talents. But, we certainly work well and complement and inspire each other.

Emily: We are all very close. Even though I am the oddball and moved far away, we remain close. It was so hard to move away, but I knew that God was calling me to Austin. When the four of us are together, we get goofy, LOTS of laughter, and we really feed off of each other. As far as creating, sometimes they make me paint black and white checkers...that is the extent of my painting!

(above) Connie's work

7. With selling your art work what are the positives and maybe some of the negatives.

Jill: It’s really hard to know how to price stuff. We’ve certainly realized that there’s a “sweet spot”: a price point that gets the most out of a piece, yet is still attractive and reasonable to buyers. Our goal will always be to keep our prices affordable. The positives – it’s a wonderful outlet, so it makes me better at everything else I do in my life.

Connie: Positives? $-not gonna lie! The negatives? People who ask, "Do you have this in another color?" because they want it to 'match' something.-I don't get that.

Laura: Gotta agree with Mom on the $. But, I do know that all of us are committed to making art that is affordable for anyone. Negatives? There are times when I make something that I really have a soft spot for. It sometimes hard to put it in the bag and hand it over, but I remind myself the reason I'm doing this and it’s certainly not for myself.

(above) Jill's work

8. Pertaining to your life in regards to art what is your greatest success and your greatest regret.

Jill: Very soon after starting to make things for shows, I was invited to be a featured artist at downtown Iowa City’s Gallery Walk. It was a great honor, and a great boost to my confidence as a new artist. Anytime we’re featured on someone’s blog I’m thrilled and honored. I don’t think I have any regrets when it comes to my art.

Connie: Biggest success? Being the Iowa Arts Fest Artist of the Year 2000. My design was on that year’s posters and t-shirts! Biggest regret? Too few to mention.

Laura: I would say my first Etsy sale was pretty fun. It came at a time when I was feeling pretty critical of myself, so it felt like a gift. Regrets? Nah.

Emily: I would have to say that some of my "successes" have been getting to work with some amazing Godly people and musicians, who I have learned so much from. I have had the privilege to lead worship alongside some incredible speakers such as Louie Giglio, John Piper, Jen Hatmaker, and Matt Carter. Worship leader Chris Tomlin set an amazing tone for our worship at my church, the Austin Stone, and it has been amazing to follow behind him and carry that on, now that he has moved to start the Passion Church in Atlanta, GA. Aaron Ivey and Andy Melvin have incredible hearts and have been amazing to sing with. I have also gotten the privilege to lead worship with Christian artist Todd Agnew. I have done some recording and will be on Aaron Ivey's new CD coming out June 23rd. This past winter I had the honor of getting to record a Rich Mullins song on a documentary called "Malatya" that is being distributed by The Voice of the Martyrs all over the world. Regret: When I think of how much I have let fear hold me down.

9. If you could give someone one piece of advice (non-art related) what would it be?

Jill: Don’t waste your life being fearful.

Connie: Let the Son set you free.

Laura: Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

Emily: The gospel of Jesus. It's life changing, completely satisfying, and it has radically changed my life. If you don't know it...question it...ask us about it...read your bible (start with the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) PRAY and ask God to show Himself to you. Live it. Cling to it. Do everything you can to let it take every part of you. There will be a sweet joy that is amazing, even in the midst of junk and hard stuff!

10. How do you seem to balance your personal life and your art life?

Jill: I have an amazing, supportive husband and family who recognize that my artwork is an integral part of who I am. That said, it’s always good to be mindful of balance. There are times when I just have to ask God to help me maintain my true priorities and I need to be receptive and humble enough to get back on track when I fail.

Connie: Balance: old age+empty nest+part-time job+understanding hubby=lots of art time

Laura: I try, but often fail. My kids let me know if my art addiction has taken over. My family comes first. Art is just a fun bonus.

Emily: It's difficult, sometimes, because I work a full time office job (office job = NOT creative or artsy) But I'm thankful that I have an outlet to do music stuff. It's a good balance, even though I would rather be doing music stuff full time. But God has purpose in my office job. THREE-HOLE PUNCHER FOR THE LORD! YEAH! Someone once told me that I was a "Receptionist by day....rocker by night..." Amazing.

(above) Connie's Work

11. Please use question 11 as I question you wish I would have asked. I know there is something that you have always wished people would ask you so here is your chance!

Connie: Q: What other kind of talent do you have besides being artistic? A: I'm funny.

Laura: Wow, Mom. Q: Where does your business name come from? A: One day, my boys and I were contemplating what our super-hero names would be and I was quickly dubbed "GreenGirl" because of my well-known obsession with the color green.


Well folks thanks for taking the time to stop by. I think we are pretty darn lucky to read about what makes these ladies tick. I think we can also related to them in that they are family women who all have a lot on their plate but still find the time for creativity!

I personally want to thank Thing With Wings because they have been great inspiration and a special shout out to Connie who I met almost a year ago through blogging! You are killin’ it ladies!

Oh yes and remeber you can find all links and shopping links over on the right hand side MUSE column!


This giveaway is SUPPPPPPPER special. Laura is the giver and the prize is definitely a treasure. In fact, it was on the front page of Etsy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOWOWOWOWOWOOAAAAA … I know everyone is going to run over. The rules are posted on Thing With Wings Blog so you have to stop over there to enter.

Things With Wings and Other Things

Thank you all again for another successful interview!

Don’t forget if you want to nominate yourself or a fellow artist of any type please email me your nominations ASAP fantasticfigments@yahoo.com.


About Stephanie Mannuci

My photo
My name is Stephanie Mannuci, I am native to the North East United States. I am the publisher of The Muse Behind The Mask and Fantastic Figments/Plumes Ami on Blogger.com. I have been painting for as long as I can remember. I love the power to be able to create and to bring a smile to a persons face. I don't do art because I want to, I do it because I have to. Something that is deep seeded in me makes me create. I am a self proclaimed Ultimate Crafter. And I work with almost any material or medium. I have a love for the funky, a soul for the macbre, an eye for the whimsical, and a heart for all the love that goes into each piece I do. Please enjoy and PLEASE contact me anytime!

Fantastic Figments

Plumes Ami

Paint By Numbers

Where The Inspired Live