An from The Useless Crafter on Pursuing Passion for Crafting
After working 22 years in the banking industry, An the inspirational crafter decided to leave her day job to pursue her passion for making crafts. Now she creates crafting tutorials on her YouTube channel, The Useless Crafter, and teaches people how to craft with Cricut on CF Fans.
In this interview, An tells us about her beginnings in the crafting world and offers advice on selling crafts.
Hi An! Could you please introduce yourself to our community?
I’m An, but better known as The Useless Crafter these days. I make crafting tutorials on YouTube and in general create really fun projects. I’ve been crafting for 3 ½ years and my first crafting machine was the Cricut Maker (I got it about a month after it was released). So you might say I’m relatively new to the crafting scene. When I first started, for whatever reason I stocked up on a lot of HTV (heat transfer vinyl). I bought enough to make t-shirts for everyone I knew, their kids, and their dogs. Then I moved onto vinyl cause I was personalizing everything for my family. And then I finally got into paper. Turns out I’m a paper crafter.
‘The Useless Crafter’ is such an interesting name. How did you come up with it? Is there any story behind it?
Useless is such a good word for me cause it describes everything that I love – stickers, marshmallows, ribbons, glitter. It’s all things wonderful, but completely unnecessary. And that’s what I make: beautiful, useless things that we don’t need but also can’t live without.
How would you describe your crafting style?
It seems like many crafters are either card makers or scrapbookers. I’m actually neither. I love to browse to get ideas and then I want to make it more. Add moving parts, add lights, make it gigantic. Please let me know if there’s a word for this type of crafting!
Why and when did you decide to make a living out of crafting?
You always hear ‘do what you love and you will never work a day in your life’ and ‘follow your passion’. To be honest, that wasn’t really an option for me. I was born during the Vietnam war and so my family came to the United States as refugees. Growing up, it was all about studying to get into a good university, and then get a good job. And I did exactly that. But after working 22 years in the banking industry, I had the opportunity to walk away and pursue a passion. I had an idea that it was going to be crafting related because I’ve always loved to make things. But it’s been quite the journey – from maybe blogging to being an Etsy shop (many versions of this shop) to finally making videos. In the end, it was my passion from when I was really young – to teach. And now it’s uncomfortable every day as I grow and learn how to do this. There is no roadmap that I’ve grown accustomed to. But when I do make something beautiful or amazing, I absolutely love it. It’s so rewarding and fulfilling. Although I have to admit, the more I love something, the more useless it actually is. No one needs a Pringles chip can decorated with foam balls moving inside a dome. Literally no one!
What was your most recent favorite crafting project you made?
A recent favorite was a big paper project of the famous singer Selena Quintanilla. It was for a huge fan and we worked so hard together to make it happen (from finding the right image to the colors to the materials). And the project was so difficult. But it’s the journey! And I absolutely loved how it turned out.
What does your craft space look like? Do you have any tips to create an inspiring craft space?
I absolutely love my art studio. My center island is 4ft x 7ft where I have 3 monitors, my cameras set up for easy recording, a laptop, and space to assemble all my crafts. I love being able to just start working – as opposed to before where I would have to locate all my supplies and then clear a space. It used to take hours just to get ready! But my absolute favorite is all my storage space. The deep and wide drawers are great for storing all my supplies. I can’t tell you how many duplicates I had accumulated by the time I moved into the art studio because I kept buying the same thing over and over not being able to remember where I stored it!
What tips do you have for people who want to start selling their crafts?
It’s important to take good pictures. Invest in a photobox so you have consistent, well lit photos. It will set you apart immediately. Find your niche. There are many people doing t-shirts, tumblers, stickers, etc. But there’s always a market for original, good, and unique work. And lastly, just get started. You can wait a lifetime to perfect it and never get started. I felt that way about YouTube and wondered why someone would watch my 1 video, then it became 2 videos, and then 100 videos, and now I’ve stopped counting. Every day is a new day to get closer to your dream. Sending positive vibes your way!
Could you please explain what you offer through your CF Fans subscription?
There are so many tutorials out there (mine included on YouTube), but not everyone learns well that way. I just remember starting out and knowing that what I wanted to do was simple, yet still not being able to figure it out. So I want to be accessible and help you translate what is in your head, into Cricut Design Space, and then putting it all together. So through CF Fans, I want to have working sessions and coffee chats. In the working sessions, I want to show you the step-by-step with projects and how to apply these skills to other projects. In the coffee chats, it’s like office hours when you were in college. If you need to drop in for help on your specific project, I’ll have set times. I’m a shop owner, a content creator, Room Parent for my kindergarten daughter, and mommy – so chances are that what you want to make, I’ve probably already made it. Let’s do it together!
Why did you decide to join CF Fans and what do you hope to achieve on the platform?
The crafting community has shown so much love for me already. Through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, I’ve made many friends and have grown as a creator. I’ve learned so much from the feedback and I think it comes full circle. When we work together, we come out better, more knowledgeable, and create beautiful things.