Q & A with Coastal Creator, Rissa

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Rissa, the creator behind Etsy’s successful ‘The Coastal‘ Shop, has been on a roll! Recently gracing the homepage of Etsy and endless Etsy collections, Rissa took the time to answer some of MSD’s questions!

Where/What do you gather inspiration for your designs? And what is your inspiration for your color palette?

I’m mostly inspired by my architecture background. I’m a softy for geometries, and simple geometries definitely are my biggest inspiration. 

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How long does it take you to paint each coaster?
Typically I spend anywhere from 10-30 mins to paint each coaster. Right now, since I just started out, I can devote that amount of time to each set, but when things pick up in the future, I’ll definitely have to rethink my process.
What type of paint are you using? Do you create a stencil before, or are just that awesome that you are ‘eye balling everything? 
I use water-based non-toxic acrylic paint on all of the coasters. Some designs are done freehand, but the majority of them are painted with the help of stencils that I cut out of thin vinyl. Due to the intricacies of my designs, it’d be virtually impossible to paint freehand and still make them look clean!
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Did you experiment with materials before you found the right combination? 
I actually didn’t have to experiment much before I found the perfect materials. I knew that I needed to use ceramic bisque because I wanted a natural color and feel, so it was just a matter or narrowing down the ceramic by examining the quality and durability. For the paint, I chose acrylics because the ceramic is very porous before it’s sealed, and I needed to use a paint that wouldn’t bleed or cause a big mess. The only thing that took some time was finding the right sealant. I needed it to be waterproof, heatproof, and fade resistant, so it took some testing. My husband and I spent a lot of time trying to destroy some coasters, but I’m pretty confident that I have the perfect combination now though. 
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Do you come from an arts related back round?
I actually do! I studied architecture at the USC (University of Southern California), and have been working in architecture since I was 16.
I see that you just opened up your Etsy shop in May, what made you decide to do so? (And why did it take you so long to, your pieces are amazing!)
Thank you so much! I decided to open the shop kind of on a whim. I was talking to my husband one evening about how neat it would be for my designs to be in people’s homes, and he encouraged me to give etsy a shot. I work full time at an architecture firm, so I just never felt like I could devote the time. It’s definitely working out so far though!
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What type of camera are you using to take your product photos? They look great! I feel like such an etsy-photo-snob, sometimes I won’t even like look at something if the photos aren’t awesome!!
Thank you! I use a pretty basic DSLR, and then do a bit of retouching in Lightroom to make sure colors are spot on accurate.
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What type of ‘custom’ pieces have you sold? Does the client have the design already and you go wild with it?
So far, the only custom orders I have received have been for different color schemes. I’d love if the opportunity to do custom designs came up in the future though!
I love your branding, was your location the inspiration behind the brand name ‘The Coastal’?
Thank you! Pacific Grove definitely played a part in the name. I wanted the name to relate to my product, but I also wanted it to have some personal meaning too! 
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And lastly! Do you have a favorite set you’ve created?
Definitely the coasters I’ve made for my parents. So far I’ve stayed away from having any text in my designs, but for Mother’s and Father’s day, I painted personal messages on their coasters.
Thank you so much The Coastal for answering all of our questions!
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