Friday, 23 October 2009

Blog Interview: Bastiano

Name: Sebastian Alvarez

Company/Etsy Site:


Location: Sweden

How long has your Etsy shop been open? Since December 2008.

How did you get into crafting? I have always been surrounded by artists and crafty people and I grew up with a curiosity for making things, experimenting. When I was a child, I used to play with my father's tools and tried to invent kind of abstract toys with movement and involving some mechanism, using pieces of wood. I was also making small bags with left over pieces of leather from the time when my parents were making sandals, belts and bags in the hippie times.

How did Etsy come into your life? I started with making a notebook for my own use, just because I couldn't find the kind of a notebook I like. Then some of my friends saw it and liked it and started ordering notebooks from me for themselves and in the end, they advised me to open a shop in Etsy. So really, it has been a bit of a snowball effect.

What was your involvement in the crafting world before stumbling upon Etsy? Before opening my shop in Etsy I was working in Argentina and later in Spain with my father who is an artist and a sculptor and makes a living with stained-glass (some pictures of my work are available at by assignment for architects and other clients. Also, with my father we made many other kind of crafts with different materials like wood, metal, polyester, etc for interior designers and architects. Since moving to Sweden I've been working on my own, trying to create a job for myself rather than struggle finding a so-called regular day job which is incredibly difficult here for a foreigner like me.

Do you have a day job? No, currently I only work with my notebooks and am starting now with shoulder-bags.

Tell us about your shop: Does anyone help you? At the moment my shop is very small, I have a few listings only because I've been taking my time for with each and every notebook and this summer I was quite inactive with my crafts due to travelling and then moving flats. At the same time I sold all the notebooks I had in the shop, so it's currently a bit empty but I'm trying to update it as soon as I make new things. I'm obsessed with details, so I give each creation the time that it requires. Also, I've started making shoulder bags, using recycled materials as much as possible - that is a line of crafts I want to add to my shop.
My girlfriend Redi is helping me to keep my shop and craftmaking going. Without her encouragement I wouldn't be making crafts today. She not only supports my desire to do crafts, but also helps me with commercial advice, marketing, sales and editing my texts in English because my English is not very good. Also, very often she gives me very good ideas when I get stuck in the process of making or sometimes helps me see details from the aesthetic point of view, notice things that I didn't see before while being immersed in the process of making a notebook. She has a degree in English Language and Literature and is now doing her PhD in Gender Studies. She is passionate about photography and sometimes also helps me with taking or editing photos of my notebooks. As a researcher she writes a lot and takes notes all the time, so she is really my most loyal "customer" because now she only uses bastiano notebooks:)

What advice would you give to newbies on Etsy or in the crafting world? Make your crafts in the way you like it for you, not thinking so much about how the potential client may like it. Keep it personal, experimental, weird and simple to find your niche. And try to communicate with the materials in order to find out how to show the beauty of their natural properties to the people, in that way crafts have life and character and this is what the people like.

What's the most challenging part of your crafting? Discipline and focus. I'm always also interested in other topics that are not in direct relation with my crafts, like philosophy or learning about geeky IT stuff like Linux, so it can be challenging at times to balance all these interests.

Do you show your work locally? I haven't participated in any fairs yet but I do show my work to interested friends and friends of friends, thus relying on word of mouth quite a lot.

Famous last words? “If there were only one truth, you couldn't paint a hundred canvases on the same theme”.
Quotation of Pablo Picasso

How did you get interested in bookmaking? Making for myself a notebook that I wanted to have but couldn't find in any store and by any other crafter. I love the challenge of experimenting with making new things.

How long have you been crafting? Bookmaking? Crafting, since my childhood. Bookmaking, since the springtime of 2008.

What is your favorite stitch/technique? I don't know the names of techniques. I started by trial and error, analyzing how different kinds of books are made, experimenting and improving my techniques little by little.

What is the one tool or supply that you couldn't live without? Creativity. This is the main tool that gives you ideas and can help you make anything you need to realize your ideas.

Materials you use for your books? Papers, recycled envelopes, thread, glue, recycled fabric, coffee from my breakfast, eggs.

What inspires you? Many things inspire me for my crafts, some of them are constant things, like properties of materials, everything vintage, art, even music, and other things are temporal, at the moment I'm very inspired by two concepts I want to develop: one is the "fusion" I see between folk styles from North of Europe which is where I live at the moment and folk styles from South-America where I am from. And the other concept is my ongoing research about the link between Eco-friendly habits and the Open Source Software philosophy.

Who is your crafting hero? My father. Everything I've learned about art, crafts, and the sensitivity for all these things is thanks to him. He is very talented and his skills are with such a level of perfection and beauty that I cannot reach. But I try anyway.

Guilty pleasure? Learning about Linux operative system since it takes a lot of time, but I don't really feel guilty for my pleasures, they are part of what inspires me too.

1 comment:

Feltbug said...

Wonderful interview - I love these notebooks - thankyou for the introduction.