Vendor Highlight – The Wild Wander

Spring Bada Bing is less than two weeks away! We will be highlighting two vendors a day until the big day so you have the chance to get to know some of the awesome makers who will be with us at the show.

Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

April 29th 10am-5pm

Meet Clara from The Wild Wander

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How did you get started making your products?

I’ve drawn my whole life, but five years ago I started a line of illustrated greeting cards as a way to cope with the drudgery of my day job. It took a couple of years and a few iterations of the product line (and it’s still always changing), but I’m happy to say that The Wild Wander is a full-time endeavor now.

Do you have any new products debuting this Spring?

I do indeed! I have a couple of new black and white botanical screen prints, as well as a chart of climbing knots that a craft show customer had recommended – I was so excited about the idea I went home and immediately started on it. I also took a couple of my boy gang logos and made them into tote bags, so you can tote your rocks to rock battles.

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Tell us about your process.

I do quite a bit of reading and research, and call The Wild Wander my cabinet of curiosities because it’s a collection of things that have piqued my interest along the way. Whenever I come across something I find interesting in my reading I add it to an increasingly long list of things I’d like to draw one day, and I tend to revisit it every once in a while to get direction. Most of my work starts as pencil sketches, then I generally work with micron pens for the final illustrations. I used to do most of my own printing, but since having a baby I’ve decided to pass it on to a few local screen and letterpress printers so I can dedicate more time to illustration.

Do you have any long term goals for your business?

I used to have really grand plans for my business, but the realities of working for myself have tempered them a bit – I just want to keep exploring, keep making things that make people happy, and keep the lights on.

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Of all of your products what is your favorite and why?

That’s so hard to say! I’ll always have a soft spot for the Virginia field guide – it was the first time I really honed in the type of work I wanted to make.

What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?

The star chart is by far and away my most popular print, and I think it’s probably because whenever Carl Sagan opened his mouth, science and understanding and poetry flowed out. I thought it was just such a beautiful and haunting message, and it immediately made me think of star maps – we can try to chart the way, but we’re still just wandering in an endless expanse.

Which of your products is most time consuming to make and why?

Field guides are always quite a bit of work – between researching the flora and fauna of the region, and having 12-15 fairly detailed illustrations per chart, they end up taking quite a while. I’d love to do more of them, but between each one I need some time off to work on other projects so I don’t get burnt out.

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How much time do you typically spend making each product?

It varies quite a bit – sometimes I’ll get on a roll and can finish an illustration in a couple of days, sometimes it’s drawn out for weeks.

What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration?

This is going to sound like a shameless plug for people to come to craft shows, but I always feel a huge rush of creativity after a show. Working for yourself can feel like a little bit of a vacuum sometimes, and it’s the best feeling to meet new people, see old crafting friends, and have new sets of eyes on your work.

What other Spring Bada-Bing vendor(s) are you most excited about?

I’ve been itching to get an apron from Lineage for a while now!

Tell us about your most memorable day as a maker?

Outside of prints I do quite a bit of chalk lettering, and I landed a job doing all of the chalk lettering for a Lolli & Pop’s store in Annapolis. It was really overwhelming to walk into a store and see every surface covered in chalkboard knowing that I had to complete it in two days, but I somehow pulled it off. When I finally finished and could stop to take a breath, I felt so crazy accomplished and proud in a way I never had before – it was such a tangible moment of recognizing that I had taught myself a skill and could apply it in full confidence.

What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?

I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my work, and working for myself has been an exercise in moving past that and getting things done. I used to be devastated when prints didn’t come out exactly how I wanted them, but I’ve learned to just move past it and learn the lesson for next time.

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What makes your product different than other similar projects?

I guess I’d say that I hand illustrate everything. One difficulty I’ve had with my work is people thinking that it’s pulled from vintage illustrations, which it’s not. I’m certainly very inspired by antiquarian layouts and botanical charts and things like that, but I draw everything by hand.

Do you support any important causes with your business?

One of the greatest aspects of working for yourself is being able to direct your business for good. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to work with non-profits, and have had a few prints with some or all of proceeds going to charity. 25% of sales from my Nasty Cat print go to the Richmond YWCA, and I’m currently working on a series of Revolutionary War flags that will benefit several non-profits including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood

What do you watch or listen to while you are working?

This will probably give away what a creature of habit I am, but when I first started drawing as a job I was listening to a lot of Fleet Foxes, and it’s still the only thing I listen to when I’m drawing – it’s kind of a comforting white noise for me now. When I’m doing more rote work like packaging orders or packing prints I listen to Stuff You Missed in History Class – it’s an amazing podcast covering history that may have otherwise been overlooked, whether because it’s about women, people of color, or just a weird ephemeral story like a Christmas tree ship wreck.

What is your favorite thing to do in Richmond?

It’s a tie between walking around the trails in Forest Hill Park, and eating at Edo’s.

Do you have any pets?

YES. I have two cats, Panda and Frankie, and an Australian Shepherd named Pike. Pike has been a faithful companion through many a late night during the holiday seasons, Frankie prefers a more dynamic management style and specializes in knocking over stacks of prints at inopportune times, and Panda is just waiting for dinner.