Focusing on the foods we eat and the body we inhabit, Artery Ink shares a message of health and wellness with a creative and artistic lean. Their pun filled imagery and intricate design speak to a broad audience and provides fact based information about the most important vehicle we drive, our bodies. Collaborators Mara Natkin and Gloria Ramirez of Artery Ink took some time to explain their origins, concept, and secret love of Katy Perry.
Maker Market- When was Artery Ink born?
Mara Natkin and Gloria Ramirez- Artery Ink was an idea in our heads late 2013. We didn't have a name yet or anything and it wasn't official until the spring of 2014.
MM- What kind of creative backgrounds do both of you come from?
Mara- I grew up in a very artsy family so I was always encouraged, even at a young age, to do whatever kind of artwork I enjoyed. I ended up in Milwaukee because I attended The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design - and I graduated in 2009 with a BFA in Illustration.
Gloria- I have always loved to draw since I was young and would make gifts for all my friends and family- clay sculptures, drawing and any craft project I could get my hands on. I later went to school for graphic design in Mexico City and then moved to Milwaukee for family reasons.
MM- How did you ladies meet and what brought on your business partnership?
MN/GR- We actually met because we both worked in the service industry. One thing that attracted us to one another was that we were both artists. Myself (Mara) was doing freelance illustrations on the side, but had to keep working at the restaurant for some steady cash flow. We began dating 6 months after we met and fell into bad habits of eating a lot and staying up late. It wasn't until around 2013 that we had some pretty big life changes. We had some family deaths and realized we wanted to start taking better care of ourselves. So that in the event of a disease our bodies would be healthy and ready to overcome anything that came our way and hopefully prevent many diseases from even happening. We really got into learning about food and finding new recipes. We did so much research that we were paying way more attention to that than doing any sort of artwork - and that's what we both had gone to school for! We thought: what are we doing?! Maybe we can relate this new interest towards our artwork and so, we dove in and Artery Ink is the result of that!
MM- How has your line grown and changed?
MN/GR- We started out with mainly concentrating on food and we slowly introduced more and more body parts and those have become extremely popular and we have had a very big interest from people working in the medical field, as well as the organ donor community. We didn't expect that when we started - so it was a wonderfully nice surprise to see that!
MM- Can you describe your creative process as a partnership? How are the ideas formed and then realized?
MN/GR- We have a lot of brainstorming sessions! We make lists constantly of different foods, different body parts, we even want to expand into different kinds of exercise and other types of wellness - meditation, yoga etc. We make lists of items and we make lists of different occasions and different funny sayings. As mainly a card company, we need to have all the basic occasions, birthday, graduation, etc and we are still growing our main line. Once we get an idea, one of us will get to drawing. I (Mara) mainly stick to the food illustrations which I do on Adobe Illustrator and Gloria will do the body parts which are pen drawings. We will then research within our stack of books for facts as well as use the internet. When we get all our facts organized we send them over to our naturopathic doctor Sarah Axtell. She checks them and then sends back any corrections or adds anything on she thinks is important. We then send the fact over to my grandma for a spelling and grammar check and then we print from home! It's a process - but we want to make sure we are giving out correct information! We turn some of our cards into prints because we like the idea that someone could get a nice piece of artwork and easily hang it up without spending a fortune. Our shirts are not the main focus of our business, but who doesn't like a cool shirt?! And if it supports the message of loving and appreciating your body we are all about it and want to encourage it in any way possible!
MM- How and why did you decide to combine your artistic vision with a message of health and wellness?
MN/GR- We both really felt passionately about what we were learning about when it came to food, health, wellness and happiness. It's amazing that we as human beings barely eat any REAL food these days and we wonder why we are unhappy? Almost everything comes out of a bag or box and it's making people sick! We were so amazed by how we started feeling once we changed our diets that we had to share this information with whoever wanted to hear it. We felt like it was our calling to help or encourage others to make some changes in their lives. What you put into your body can change SO many things! We also wanted to encourage some self/body love - our bodies are amazing machines that are constantly working over-time. They never stop and they are always doing their best. We should just appreciate that and love them more! What better way to get a message across than artwork? Everyone can relate!
MM- Has your own individual relationship with food and the human body changed since you started Artery and what is the message you would like to send to your buyer?
MN/GR-If anything having this business is a constant reminder that in order to stay positive and enjoy life to the fullest, you've got to eat right and treat your body with a lot of respect. With all the research we do, we are learning new things about staying healthy every day. That gives us new material to draw and gives us new ideas. Every day we are more amazed by what the human body can do and how eating the right food can make you feel. We want to give off that impression to our buyer - that there are so many LITTLE ways you can become healthier. It doesn't happen overnight but we want to give little facts and tid-bits about things so it won't seem so overwhelming. If you can have a laugh or share a laugh with a friend when you give them a card that's good too! Because laughing, smiling and sharing are all things that make people happy.
MM- What benefits do you see in selling your wares directly to the customer?
MN/GR- We love to sell our cards, prints and shirts ourselves because we LOVE to talk to people! That is why we both have been working in restaurants so long. We like the experience of talking to people. Our concept brings out the best stories in our customers and we love to hear them! We've heard stories about people's near death heart surgeries, liver and kidney donations, and a true story about how watermelon saved someones life! We could go on and on.
MM- What is currently inspiring you? Artists? Makers? Music? IG feeds?
MN/GR- We have a lot of inspirations. One being Kris Carr. Reading her book "Crazy Sexy Diet" was one of our first and biggest inspirations. She is a cancer survivor who has basically turned her life around through changing her diet. We recommend her book to anyone. It's a very easy and funny read. She has a great sense of humor and is living proof of the power of good food. Another inspiration for us is nature. We love to spend time outside and we have a lot of our best ideas when we are taking walks or enjoying nature. In a lot of ways that is why we love the human body so much. It's made of so many intricate pieces that all work together much like nature and the universe. Another unlikely inspiration is the pop star Katy Perry! To those of you that know us, you're laughing right now, but it's true! She has some great girl power going on and we love the message of self love, going for it, keeping it real, and making your dreams a reality that she sends out to her fans!
Meet and greet Mara and Gloria of Artery Ink at the upcoming Maker Market at the Discovery World Theater at 2:30 pm. For more information on Artery Ink check out http://www.arteryink.com/