Thursday, September 1

Mark Montano Interview

Mark Montano must not sit still long. You can't walk into a book store, turn on your TV or scour the crafty blogosphere without running into him. I first saw Mark when he was hosting shows like 10 Years Younger on TLC. Next his name was appearing on the crafty bookshelves with his epic Big Ass Craft Books. Once he was on my radar I kept seeing him pop up at craft conventions, Yudu infomercials - you name it he was there.

Mark is one busy and one extra crafty dude. Just a peek at his blog, flip through one of his books or browse through his Etsy store and you quickly realize this guy has his finger in a lot of crafty mediums. I began to wonder if there was anything he couldn't do, and so I asked him.

Through the years I’m sure you have made countless projects for your books, blog and what have you. Lord knows I’ve made stacks in my time. We can’t display them all. What are a few of the things you have made that are proudly displayed in your home?

Wow, too many to mention. Since I photograph all of my projects in my home I end up leaving the items in the last place they were staged! Part is laziness and part of it is that they have found their optimum home. Ok, mostly it's laziness! My seashell encrusted bust is proudly displayed in my living room as is my chicken lady sculpture in my kitchen. Those two are my favorites.

You have become quite the prolific craft book author. I see there is a Big Ass Book of Crafts 2 coming out in October. Out of all the books you have authored, been featured in or contributed to what is your favorite project?

That's tough. It's like asking a mother to name her favorite child! But, in keeping with the tradition of my family, I will name my favorite child and it's probably My Magic Mojo Dolls which are in The Big Ass Book of Crafts 2. They are creepy and they freak people out! BTW, I have 5 brothers and my youngest brother Nate is my mom's favorite and she's not afraid to tell us.

Speaking of ‘Big Ass’, I’m curious did you have any negative reactions to that title? I know some people and stores might think ass is a four-letter word. When my book The Naughty Secretary Club came out I had several big box stores refused to carry it because of the word naughty.

Isn't that the dumbest thing?! I mean really! Yes, there were a few stores who refused the book because of ASS, but I'm happy to say that JoAnn's Fabric just picked it up. There were some people out there who didn't like the title, but over the years I think we've won them over. You know, if you have cable TV you're going to hear words much worse than ASS! We all have one, we all sit on it, we all need to get off of it more! Besides, what else can you call craft books that are almost 400 pages?!

How has your experience with the world of Etsy been thus far? Why the decision to open an Etsy store? I love the rings you have listed.

I love Etsy. It's easy to use, there is a wonderful community of creative people out there and I'm meeting some fantastic artists through it. For me, I create out of necessity. In all seriousness, I get depressed when I'm not creating. Etsy is great because I can sell all of these things I make to keep myeslf sane! Then they don't pile up in my house.

Do you come from a long line of creative people or are you an anomaly? I noticed on your blog you have a nephew that you craft for. Are you trying to encourage him to be crafty and in what ways? I just had my 6 month old finger painting with his feet this weekend so I’m a firm believer you can never start too early.

I have 5 brothers and countless nephews and nieces so Uncle Mark is a busy man. My entire family is creative and I have to say that I'm the least talented of all of them! My aunts can sew like crazy, my uncles are painters, cabinet makers and sculptures. My dad is a master mechanic with a background in architecture and my mom is a painter and published poet. My brothers are wonderfully talented and all business owners.

Is there any creative medium that you have not conquered and always thought you would like to take classes on or give a whirl? Dreams of being a black and white photographer, pastry chef or quilter?

Hmm.........I'm fascinated with blowing glass, shoe making and casting metal. I have no hopes of ever being able to cook something edible so I gave up on that a long time ago. Thank you Trader Joe's for your prepared meals!

What is your favorite social media outlet? I’m on a big Pinterest bender these days myself. Which social media outlet do you feel helps you promote your blog, books and Etsy store the most?

I'm terrible on the computer. I look at these blogs and they have thousands of followers and I have 300 and it always makes me sad. Oh well. Truthfully, I'm consumed with creativity and I find the computer gets in the way of it. I get resentful when I have to be on there for more than an hour! I do love Face Book, though. It's easy and I've met some really wonderful people through it.

I’m always interested in talking to crafters about marketing. I occasionally teach classes on running on a small crafty business and the marketing end of things is my favorite section. Do you handle your own publicity? If so do you have a few tips you could share with crafters dreaming of one day making a living out of their hobby. If you have a publicist why and how do you think that helps you?

I have a publicist but I only use them for special occasions like book launches and when I start a new major project like a TV show. They can be quite pricey but totally worth it if you are focused. I think the key with marketing is having something to market! Otherwise you're spinning your wheels. FB, Twitter, and your blog are great ways to start. Being as real as possible and letting people know that you need their support is key. Returning that support is also key. Hey, we all need support!

Like several other big name crafters, Cathie Fillian and Vickie Howell for example, you straddle the line on working for large craft corporations but still have a firm grasp, roots and understanding of the Indie craft crowd. How do you think the gap between those two groups is getting bridged?

For me, it's more important to keep creating from my heart. I create like I've always created, with stuff I have around the house and with items that we all have access to. I buy basics like paints, glues, scissors, and things that are available to everyone. When I do use something special, I want to believe in it and KNOW that it works. I don't talk about products unless they truly work with what I'm doing. I won't promote a product that I feel is inferior because it's unfair. Because of that I feel that people trust my projects, my results and therefore I can keep my credibility. I also make sure to encourage everyone to make their own version of what I do. I'm not the end all beat all in creativity and I love how much I learn from other people every day.

What is on the crafty horizon for you? Are we going to see you on TV again soon? Any more book plans?

You know the saying about plans. We make plans and God laughs! I will write more books and we're currently working on a few TV pilots. It's never a sure thing and it's always a challenge, but I wouldn't change anything in my life. Well, maybe I could be a few inches taller. Just sayin'.

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