A: Hello! My name is Natelle (“Na-tell”). I was born in Malaysia, but moved to New Zealand when I was 10 years old. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. On my 18th birthday, I was gifted a jewelry making kit by my sister, and my crafting addiction grew from there. Despite my love for art, I actually ended up graduating from university with a Masters in Biotechnology. My postgraduate years were spent doing research in a yeast lab (the kind of yeast you use to bake and make beer with!), primarily focusing on drug discovery. During this time, I met James, and it turned out that we were sort of kindred spirits, as cheesy as that sounds! Fast forward a few years later, we moved to Gainesville, Florida for his work, and here we are!
A: I draw a lot of my inspiration from animals and plants and food, because they are pretty much my favourite things, hah! I need to surround myself with animals. I have my parents to thank for that; As a kid, I grew up with dogs, chickens, terrapins, guinea fowls and fish at home, and we visited zoos, National parks and reserves regularly. I also like to load myself with a lot of imagery as often as I can; paintings, tattoos, textiles, ceramics and sculptures, graffiti, movie stills, even old postcards, flyers, and posters. I try to channel my experiences into creating something.
Q: Your work features a lot of adorable cats. Do you have a cat of your own?
A: I do have a cat! Just the one (although I would love more!). Her name is Patch, and she will be 6 at the end of 2016. I had never owned a cat until I met James. I used to volunteer at a cat rescue shelter in New Zealand, where I did varying tasks, from cleaning the cages, to designing posters and merchandise, and doing street collections to help fund-raise for the shelter. Patch was handed over to the shelter while I was still a volunteer there, and at that time, James and I had lost our first cat, who had died from a tumor mass pressing against her lungs. One day, James came home holding one of the rescue shelter’s boxes; a surprise for me, because I was in a really bad state from the death of our first cat. That’s how Patch became part of the family, and when we moved to Gainesville, we bought her a ticket to come with us! It took her about a month to adjust fully to life in Gainesville; she is still flummoxed by the squirrels that visit our balcony daily (no squirrels in New Zealand!).
A: When I’m not crafting or making art, I like to bake, go on hikes, bike around town, and just go see stuff. James and I like exploring the surrounding nature because even the tiniest lizard can surprise you with a brightly coloured dewlap under its chin!! Our local pet store also holds pet adoption events every weekend, where all the animals are from local shelters from within Gainesville and its surrounding counties. We like to stop by most weekends to give the animals a cuddle, and wish them good luck for the day!
Q: What made you decide to start an Etsy shop?
A: I had always wanted to start my own Etsy store for a long time. I joined Etsy in 2007, and opened a shop in 2009, but never filled it with anything!! I got the idea of opening up my own Etsy store during a brief period of time where I was making and selling jewelry at a local boutique back in New Zealand. After moving to Gainesville, I started painting and crafting quite seriously. In October 2015, I opened up my Etsy store for real, fingers and toes crossed that I would be able to finally start my own little business!
Q: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: This is a really hard question to answer, because I would love to go EVERYWHERE! But definitely on my top 10 would be; Bulgaria, Hungary, Eritrea, Cuba, Greenland, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Ecuador, and Norway.
A: Owning my own business forces me to be more confident, and to believe in myself and in my art (cliche, but true). More importantly, it has allowed me to connect with so many amazing people.
A HUGE thank you to Natelle for sharing! I loved learning more about the person behind the art. If you enjoy Natelle’s illustrations I definitely suggest checking out her super-cute shop. I own her cat ice cream sundae pin and absolutely love it!!! The quality is amazing and just the perfect size.