T.E.S.T. interview: theDADproject

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 20th in our series, an interview with sisters Serena and Emily of theDADproject.

One of the great things about being part of an Etsy Street Team is meeting locals with something in common. Many (possibly most) of us on T.E.S.T. may have our own experiences with cancer in our own families, and would be happy to help raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society by doing something we love - namely making handmade things. This is what theDADproject is all about. You can follow the discussion thread about the D.A.D. project in our team forum and join other teammates in participating.

First, a little about you. I think you may be our only sister act on T.E.S.T. How did you both become illustrators? Were you competitive growing up, or is this something you enjoyed together?

As kids, we were both constantly drawing and finding ways to be creative but, surprisingly, were never competitive about it. These days, we continue to encourage each other in our separate artistic pursuits — we’ve both been lucky enough to include illustration in our careers. With The D.A.D. Project, we have found a collaborative and creative way for us to work together while dealing with the loss of our father.

You both have a sort of whimsical style, featuring animals, humour and kid-friendly illustration. Why do you think that is?

We both have pretty good senses of humour (or so we’d like to think!) and a love for animals and most things kid-related (maybe because we’re both still young-at-heart). We’re definitely glass-half-full types, and we both enjoy a good play on words.

What are your favorite media for creating?

Emily is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, and uses her Wacom Cintiq 21UX regularly, most often with Corel Painter. Her specialty when she studied Fine Art at university was printmaking, which she still revisits by silkscreening clothing for her other side business, m chen wears.

Serena does most of her D.A.D. drawings using a Wacom tablet and stylus with Adobe Illustrator; however, when she gets the chance, she still loves using traditional media such as pen and ink, watercolours and pencil crayons.

Do you do illustration full-time?

As a freelancer, about half of Emily’s projects are illustration-based. She’s currently on a break for maternity leave but hopes to get back to the grind by early 2012.

Serena does her illustration work part-time (including drawings for The D.A.D. Project), in the evenings and on weekends, when not at her full-time job.

Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

Tell us about The D.A.D. Project and how you came to collaborate together and with other artists.

We lost our father last October after his year-and-a half battle with metastatic colon cancer. In June 2010, we launched The D.A.D. (Drawing A Day) Project — an ongoing, online, art-based fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). It’s our way to give back to an organization that was helpful to our father, as well as to others fighting cancer, and a way to do something proactive to deal with our feelings of helplessness.

Every weekday, we take turns doing a Drawing A Day (hence the project’s name), which we then put up for sale in our etsy shop. Ten dollars from every print sold of our drawings is donated to the CCS. In addition to this, we also do a weekly “Feature Friday” post on a different artist or craftsperson who has kindly donated an item of theirs to our cause; all proceeds from these sales are also donated to CCS.

How have you found the experience of using art to fight back against cancer? How have people responded?

The support and encouragement that we have received from the get-go (and that we continue to receive) has been overwhelming and incredibly rewarding. Our first orders came mainly from friends and family who wanted to support our venture. Word has spread about our project and orders now come from friends and strangers alike.

We’ve also been touched by the number of fellow artisans who have donated their work to support our cause.

What are your goals for The D.A.D. Project?

Originally, we told ourselves we would be happy if we could sell one print per week, which would have amounted to $500 in donations in our first year. As it turns out, we raised more than $4,000 through our sales in that first year, and we have also collected $1,200 in direct donations through our Canadian Cancer Society Team website page.

We are looking forward to continuing this tribute to our Dad as long as we can.

How can T.E.S.T. artists help?

We have been fortunate enough to have had a few fellow T.E.S.T. members already make donations of their wares to The D.A.D. Project (thank you for all those who have participated!), and there are a couple more in the works.

As part of being one of our “Feature Friday” participants, we list the donation in our etsy shop and include a write-up of the artist in a related blog post including photo(s) and links to their shop/sites. We also post the donation and links on our facebook page.

For anyone who is interested in making a creative donation, please let us know (through etsy or our blog) and we would be more than happy to coordinate with you.

You can find more of The D.A.D. project work and news on the D.A.D. project website, in theDADproject Etsy shop, theDADproject Facebook page, and you can follow theDADproject on twitter. You can follow their fundraising or donate directly at their Canadian Cancer Society Team page.

Serena's artwork website can be found here. Emily has her freelance art and illustration website and a second mchenwears website and Etsy shop for screenprinted teeshirts.

Interviewed by minouette in August, 2011.

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