Meet the Original Painter of Antlers

You have seen them all over Etsy and Pinterest, and here she is ladies and gentleman – the originator…

I love, love LOVE your antlers. You really started an online antler frenzy! After seeing your pieces on Etsy, they were all over Pinterest! Does it bother you that your art has turned into something that people try to take on for themselves?
Thank you for the kind words about my work! I love that people get excited about what I am creating and want to try making their own DIY painted antlers. I am all for people seeing ideas and re-creating them for their personal use. It does bother me, however, when I see people copying my ideas and trying to sell them. That is endlessly frustrating.

What attracted you to the idea of painting antlers? And what type of paint are you using?
I had been doing large scale installation in college and a few years after, and I wanted to start working on something faster and smaller. I also love animals and natural objects, but the expense and inhumane-ness of working with taxidermy was wearing on me. Once I learned that shed antlers are completely humane they just seemed like a natural fit. The first antlers I made were a mix of paint and sequins (a natural progression if you see my older artwork), but the sequins kept popping off and I realized that using just paint would be more versatile. Now I use predominately acrylic craft paint.

(Click here to see more of Cassandra’s portfolio)
 How do you decide a color scheme and pattern? In your Etsy shop I see that you accept custom orders, do people just send you color schemes and you decide the design?
 I have a HUGE selection of paint now, so I just play with different colors until a combination stands out to me. I love pairing coloring together, it is one of my favorite parts of the process. Each antler has its own unique shape, so the designs I paint are inspired by what patterns fit best on each antler. Custom orders are all over the place and are super fun! Sometimes someone just wants me to recreate an antlers I have previously made, but other times people have wild ideas. The craziest antler I have ever painted was a Texas flag antler that a woman wanted as a birthday gift for her husband. I was apprehensive at first, but it turned out pretty awesome!Cassandra Smith Esty
And it seems you have moved onto painting the entire bust of a deer – what made you decide to tackle the entire head? And where did you get the whitetail deer bust? (It’s gorgeous!!)
The painted deer mount (that I made recently for a show at Sky High Gallery here in Milwaukee) was actually a throwback to my older work. I used to paint and sequin entire pieces of taxidermy, but moved away from it because it was so time consuming. That White-Tailed Deer head was obtained from a friend who wanted to get rid of it. I have always gotten my taxidermy from previous owners who no longer want it, I have never bought it new.
Painted Deer

Do you look at your pieces as more art, or home decor?
I definitely look at my work as a mix between art and home decor/design. Coming from a fine art background, I tend to create my pieces like fine art (ie. they aren’t indestructible, they need to be treated like fine sculpture and handled carefully) but I know that they fit more into a design aesthetic and I am perfectly fine with that. A good amount of my work is made for wholesale orders to home decor boutiques, not fine art galleries.
I love how you incorporate natural materials, animal taxidermy and those small wood slices, what made you decide to include hatchets and those new knots? (I included one of your knots on a previous blog post – they are so cool!!)
After the antlers became successful, I wanted to come up with other items to paint so that I didn’t get bored, and also to prove that I am full of good ideas, not a one trick pony. I saw a post on Pinterest of old sailor knots and that is where the inspiration for the Monkey’s Fist knots came form. The hatchets were a suggestion from a friend that I absolutely loved.
Cassandra smith knots
How did it feel when Anthropologie, Better Homes, Crate and Barrel and Us Weekly – all started raving about you?! 
It was fantastic! Last Fall the press and opportunities just kept rolling in! Two of those featured, Crate & Barrel and Us Weekly, I didn’t even know about until a friend saw them in person. (Read more on Cassandra’s Press Page).
And lastly – Where do you see your work heading in the future? An entire animal? Any other animals you would like to get your hands on? I bet a white mountain ram would like AMAZING with a splash of your neon colors! 
That would be amazing! I think I’m going to stick to the smaller items for a while though. 🙂 I’m still loving how relatively quick I can produce one item, it is so satisfying! And I have more ideas for painting the antlers that I haven’t even had time to experiment with yet!
Thank you to Cassandra for taking the time to answer all Munro Shea Design questions – for more information about Cassandra check out her website here.

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