top of page

Handmade Seller Interview: Joël Penkman

Since I very much enjoy reading interviews with artists and craftspeople, I’ve decided that after a 4 year hiatus (where did that time go??), I’m going to start posting some Q & As with Etsy sellers again. If you’d like to see the previous interviews on this blog, please click here.

First up is Joël Penkman; a talented painter of a wide range of objects, but mainly food and nostalgic confectionery.

(I had to put her Blackpool rock painting at the top of the post since I live in the home of this famous sweet …and well-known tooth breaker!)

I hope you enjoy the interview. How did you get started in your handmade business? I kind of stumbled into it; it was always something I wanted to do but didn’t think was possible. I was working as a freelance designer and I painted a little in my spare time. It began when I entered one of my paintings into a local art competition. It was well received and from there a local gallery owner asked me if I’d like to have an exhibition in her gallery. I spent a few months off freelancing to get some paintings together. Afterwards, I put the paintings online and sent them to the Design*Sponge blog. Thanks to the internet, people from all over the world could see my work and I began to get a lot of enquiries for giclee prints of the paintings. From there things have slowly built up. Now I no longer do any freelance design work; instead, I paint and sell originals, prints and take on a number of commercial commissions. I feel very, very lucky to be able to do this.

What first made you want to become an artist/craftsperson?

I’ve always been happiest when I was making something. I studied graphic design at the School of Fine Arts in Christchurch, New Zealand, because I enjoyed it and I thought I could make a living this way. In reality it wasn’t always as rewarding as I’d hoped it would be, so I tried to find another way to use the skills I had.

Apart from crafts, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love baking, gardening, collecting and cooking hedgerow food, renovating old furniture, and hanging out with my best buddy (and husband) James.

How long have you been creating art/crafts and how long have you been selling online?

Since 2011, I began selling online in July that year.

How many different places do you sell from?

I like to deal with customers directly when I sell original paintings as they are a big investment for them. People can get in touch with me directly from my website

I sell giclée prints and small originals on Etsy.

There are also a few galleries in the UK that sell prints and occasionally originals.

In ten years, where would you like to be?

Probably doing what I’m doing now but much better. I’d like to be happy! I don’t have a big plan as I think it’s better to make the most of what life offers you. But a larger house would be good as my work is slowly taking over every room.

Do you have any pets?

A little tabby called Molly whom I love so much! She really only loves my husband James, but I keep trying.

What is your favourite part of your handmade business?

Not having to get up and travel to work each day and being my own boss. I love it so much.

If you had the opportunity to learn one more craft you don’t already do, what would it be?

I would learn to make ceramics / pottery.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why? Tricky. Maybe to not need sleep so I could have an extra 8 hours every day to do things.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Joel Penkman for answering my questions.

Stay tuned for more interviews soon 🙂


bottom of page