made by cassandra smith

painted antler by MadeByCassandraSmith

Today's post is a bit of a departure from the theme of this blog, as of late, but I really want to share an interview that I did with one of my favourite artists, Cassandra Smith of MadeByCassandraSmith. My questions are italicized below. Thanks so much for reading, everyone!

 Sarah: First of all, let me say that as soon as I saw your work I knew that I had to have one of your pieces and I used my husband's birthday as an excuse to buy one of your painted antlers. It now lives on our fireplace mantle with a few other handmade pieces. You were the first to make painted antlers on Etsy, what was your initial inspiration?

Cassandra: I have actually been working with animals in my art since 2006, and the antlers became a way I could work smaller, faster and cruelty free.  I have made a few large, time-consuming installation pieces, and I really wanted to come up with a project that was more immediate and sell-able.

Where do you find inspiration for the colour palettes and patterns you use on your painted antlers?

I tend to work best when I give myself limitations.  In this case, I have settled on a certain brand of craft paint that I really like working with and I am limited to the colors they make.  Within those color options, I just pick colors that I enjoy and prefer to have around me.  You see a lot of blues and metallic because those are colors I really like.  It is mostly just my preference coming out.

I have always been interested in pattern, ever since I started making art. Some of my antlers have detailed patterns that are part tribal inspired, part pysanka inspired.  A lot of the designs for my antlers are more simple than I normally do, but in that regard it is a way of challenging myself. I wanted to force myself to do some simple designs along with the more detailed stuff.

What is the story behind the antlers themselves? Do you know where they come from?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.  I actually get all of the antlers from commercial venues, so if they give back story on the antlers that is how I get it.  I live in Wisconsin, and even grew up in Northern Wisconsin, and I have never once found a shed deer antler, unfortunately.

Since discovering your work I've noticed a few other sellers have started making painted antlers. What advice do you have for Etsy sellers about making your work stand out from the crowd? How do you keep your work fresh and ahead of the trends?

The first thing I ever sold on Etsy was these deer antlers, and nearly a year later I am still making them and the demand is still growing. I think it was all about coming up with something original that people hadn't seen before.  My work has been featured on lots of blogs and even in print, because it was the first and people respect that.  Not to mention that I have a consistent style and quality that other sellers don't always have.  It's easy to keep it fresh when the idea is yours, I have a passion for it that people who copy me can't possible have.

Very well said, Cassandra! I know that you are also the co-editor of Fine Line Magazine, a fine arts magazine based in Milwaukee, WI. What kind of work are you most excited to showcase?

All of it!  Really.  We are working on our fifth issue now and I love all the work we have featured.  It is so satisfying to be able to bring a collection of contemporary artists together and be excited about each and every one of them.  I work with my business partner, Jessica Steeber, and there are times when an artist's work is more to her taste than mine, but by the time the issue comes out I have always grown to love their work as well.

What themes are explored in Fine Line?

We have a loose theme for each issue, based around a title that we come up with.  Our last issue was called "Subject To Change" and we dealt with artists whose work reflected some idea of physical or emotional growth and change.  We work with loose themes because aesthetics are very important to us.  It's just as important to us that the artist's work all looks good together as it is that it fits the theme.


How does working on Fine Line influence your own art practice?

It keeps me constantly inspired.  We have yet to feature a 3-D work in the magazine (although we are open to it), and all of my work is sculptural, so the art we choose for the magazine doesn't directly inspire my work. But just constantly being surrounded by amazing contemporary art keeps be excited about making art and being involved in the art community.

Above all, it seems that you are a multi-faceted artist/designer. Do you find that having a lot of different things on the go keeps things rolling for you creatively?

Absolutely. It is so refreshing to have more than one creative outlet.  I think I would get burnt out if I had to focus on just one thing. It's nice to be on both sides of the spectrum, making my own art and working with other people's art.  I also nanny for a 3-year-old part time, so that keeps me inspired and refreshed in a whole different way.

What upcoming projects are you looking forward to in 2012? Where can readers find Fine Line and your work?

The next big thing is our fifth issue of the magazine, titled "High Expectations".  We have made some significant changes for this new issue.  The best place to fine Fine Line is on our website: www.finelinemag.com  I am also working with several new stores on wholesale orders of my antlers, along with custom orders on my Etsy store.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Cassandra

Please head over to Cassandra's Etsy shop, MadeByCassandraSmith, to see more of her beautiful handpainted antlers and axes and be sure to check out Fine Line, too, for a bit of inspiration! I know you'll all love Cassandra's work as much as I do! Have a great week, everyone!


  1. We in Milwaukee are so very lucky to have Cassie as a part of our art community. Thanks for the great interview.

    1. Thanks for reading and tweeting, Faythe! So glad to be able to share this today!

  2. Wow, Cassandra's work is amazing. I'm so glad to know about it now. More things to covet :-)

    1. I know, isn't her work beautiful? I just love the colours and patterns she uses!

  3. Gah, I've been wanting to buy one of her pieces for so long. I mean, someone w/ that cool of a name has to do some pretty awesome work...if I do say so myself. ;)

  4. Thanks for this awesome post Sarah! I really appreciate your support. :)


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