LL: Hi RAWRmonster! Can you tell us what your craft is?
Rm: Greetings! By day, I’m just an average math teacher, but by night, I am a video game crafter extraordinaire! Kind of like Batman, but my gadgets aren’t nearly as cool. I started with Perler Beads as a way to make holiday presents for friends of mine, but quickly picked up cross stitching and painting as well. If I can make it look pixelated, I’ll try it!
LL: Your probably best known for your perler beads. Unlike most perler bead enthusiasts, you tend to keep to pretty small sprites. Why is that?
Rm: The majority of pieces I bead are either gifts or for sale. As much fun as it is to make big pieces, they typically don’t sell as well and are harder to transport safely. Plus, I live with three cats. Works in progress have a high mortality rate around here, so I keep my work to 4 boards or under. That way, I can have them beaded and ironed in the same day.
LL: A lot of your store and past projects are jewellery of some kind. Is this how you prefer to show off your craft?
Rm: I do! I started off strictly with magnets and coasters. I love them, but they only get attention whenever people come over. With jewelry, I can show off my geeky side anywhere I go. I get stopped all the time whenever I’m wearing my NES controller necklace or Pokeball earrings. People are surprised when I tell people that I actually made the jewelry I’m wearing. It’s a great conversation starter. It can be tempting to use premade chains, but I take pride in knowing that the jewelry I make is completely assembled by me – I measure and cut the chain, thread the jump rings, and attach the clasps or hooks, all by hand.
LL: You also seem to do a far amount of custom pieces. Is this something you much prefer, or are custom items on an interesting thing only basis?
Rm: You really get to know people by knowing what their favorite video game is. For me, Mario and other platform games consumed my childhood, so that’s what I stick with when I’m crafting for myself. When I’m creating for someone else, I want to give them a little piece of their childhood. I love seeing the joy in people’s eyes when they are holding a tangible piece of happier times. Plus, I get to discover games I may have never heard of or played before.
LL: You’ve also done some cross stitches in the past, but tend to shy away in most cases. What makes you choose which medium a pattern should be made in?
Rm: When I first started cross stitching, it was all about size. A 1up Mushroom on 14 count Aida is WAY smaller and more transportable than a 1up Mushroom made from Perler Beads. The trade off is that stitching takes much longer. It was easier to stitch while still in school, because there was a lot of down time between classes, and Perler Beads don’t exactly travel well. Now that I’ve joined the “real world”, my free time is practically nonexistent. I have half-completed stitchings stashed away in every corner of my room, begging me to complete them (including an Android that I was supposed to give my fiance’ last Valentine’s Day!).
LL: You’re also known by some as a pixel artist. You’ve also dabbled in a bit of pixel painting too. The seem to keep this on the low, any reason why?
Rm: I don’t know if I’ve ever considered myself a pixel artist. I look at creative geniuses like Crausse or Doctor Octoroc, and to me, they are the real artists. I just kind of tinker around with pixels now and then, and occasionally the results aren’t horrifying. Unfortunately, painting falls under the same category as stitching for me these days – time consuming. I can typically knock out a painting in 10 hours (not including drying time in between coats), but I have to prep my work space, shoo the cats away, grid the canvas, shoo the cats away, paint the first layer, shoo the cats away, find a safe place for the first coat to dry, shoo the cats away… you get the idea. This summer, I plan on locking myself in my room and crafting until I can’t see straight.
LL: So for any piece, how long does it take to go from idea to finished product?
Rm: I create all of my patterns in Paint, which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours. For a typical bead sprite set (16 px by 16 px), I can have three or four beaded, ironed, cooled, and assembled (either with jewelry, magnets, or cork) in 2 to 3 hours. The glue I use cures overnight, so they are ready to go the next morning. Paintings usually take about 10 – 15 hours of time on the canvas, including gridding and painting, depending on the complexity of the sprites and how many colors are required. I can usually stitch a 16 x 16 sprite in an hour or two, again depending on complexity and number of colors. My Samus-Luigi challenge piece from many moons ago probably clocked over 50 hours of stitching time. I’ve been working on a massive Space Invaders screen shot on and off for the past year. 10.2″ x 11.8″ on 22 ct hardanger.
LL: How do you get inspiration for your pieces? Something most people have some trouble with?
Rm: The bulk of my inspiration comes from the many hours I sat mashing away at my NES controller. Every once in a while, I’ll think about something from a favorite video game, and it will consume my thoughts until I make a pattern for it. Whenever I’m putting together a set or collection, I try to stay as true to the game as possible. Other times, I’m inspired by the insanely talented people I’ve met online from different video game craft sites. I can’t tell you how many patterns I have from Sprite Stitch members sitting in a “To-Do” folder on my computer!
LL: Is this more than just a hobby then? I know you have a store. Do you intend to make money from your work, or is it just a nice income from a hobby?
Rm: It all started from the original batch of holiday presents I made for my friends. People starting coming up to me, asking me to make coasters or magnets from this or that game, and offering to pay me for them. A good friend recommended Etsy to me, where things really took off. I started by just posting my (terrible) pictures of the presents I had made. I joined several “trade” teams, and instantly got requests. I still can’t believe how many wonderful things I’ve received in exchange for doing something I enjoy. I’ve come a long way since then, especially in my pictures! A good picture can really make or break a sale on the internet, since that is really all your customers have to go off of. Every cent I make goes right back into buying more thread, or more beads, or more pegboards, and I’m perfectly happy with that.
LL: Do you intend to take your store somewhere? I’ve noticed you have rather professional looking packaging.
Rm: I actually have a table in the Artists’ Alley for UltimaCon in New Orleans, May 23 – 25. This will be my first time selling “in-person” to people who aren’t my friends, and I’m incredibly nervous! Occasionally, someone will contact me about bulk orders so they can sell my stuff in their shop. Other than that, I’m happy with the random order here and there from people who stumble across my shop. I definitely don’t have any intention of making a living from my crafts.
LL: Anything else you want to add?
Rm: Come see me at UltimaCon! I poke my head around the forums once in a while, but I can always be reached through my Etsy store or at MissRAWRmonster@gmail.com. With all my monster love, RAWRmonster.