Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Evolution of the Dirt Road Artists

I have been a photographer for over 10 years. My sister got me started in photography and I fell in love immediately with capturing wildlife in action and landscape photos. Nature and wildlife is my passion. I love wildlife because they do not care how much you make a year, what you wear or if you are having a bad hair day, they just accept. Nature is the most sincere and pure form of life. I rarely feel like I fit in anywhere, accept when I immersed myself in nature. There I am calm, inspired and most of all feel accepted for who I am. In March of 2010 I took the HUGE emotional leap into showing and possibly selling my art. A dear friend of mine suggested Etsy. I created a shop immediately but did not start seriously selling on Etsy until November of 2010. I found a team called the Dirt Road Artists, applied and was accepted. Here I have found another rare place that I feel accepted. The Dirt Road Artists are a talented, diverse and supportive group of artists. Please read below the evolution of this team and the fearless leaders that have given many artists a place to promote, grow and support each other.  I am so grateful for the new friends I have made.

(written by:  Phyllis Lucas)
The Dirt Road Artists team is a group of artists who live in small towns world-wide and sell their wares on Etsy, an online site where you can purchase all things handmade or vintage. Sharing the common bond of rural small town life, we promote our art as a team through contests, sales, and other promotional events – mostly we have fun, exchange ideas and enjoy one another’s company.

The Dirt Road Artists team, or as we refer to ourselves, DRATs, was started by Jude, aka azJude, and her two daughters, Connie and Phyllis in January 2010. The story behind our beginning is really quite simple and humble.

Let’s go back to early February 2007, when Phyllis, Montezuma Mudd Pottery, desperately needed a venue for selling her wares. Her basement was stacked floor to ceiling with her handmade pottery, piles teetering in every corner, leaving her no place to work. During a phone conversation with her daughter, she mentioned her dire situation and asked “What am I going to do with all these pots?” Her daughter replied quite matter-of-factly, “I know the perfect solution - Etsy. You can sell that mountain of pottery without leaving home – you can even wear your pajamas.” Intrigued by this idea, Phyllis ran to her computer and introduced herself to Etsy. She liked what she saw and immediately set-up shop, joined a team and immersed herself in everything Etsy. Jude, being her biggest fan, was there with her – not as a seller, but as a promoter. Jude created treasuries featuring Phyllis’s pottery, helped promote contests in which Phyllis was an entrant, and posted links of Phyllis’s work on her blog and Facebook page. It was a great partnership – Phyllis created, Jude promoted, and promoted, and promoted some more! Phyllis quickly sold the mountains of pots, and had requests to make more. Life was good!

Friends and family began urging Connie to show and sell prints of her amazing pencil drawings. She had recently returned to drawing after a decade long hiatus and wasn’t sure about selling her art, let alone selling on Etsy. After much thought, she reluctantly decided to give it a whirl. LifeShades opened for business in September 2009. Jude was thrilled – more promoting, more treasuries, more contests – oh my! But wait … Connie did not belong to a team! Without a team, there were no contests for her to enter, no contests for Jude to promote! It became clear – Connie needed to join a team: not just any team but one that would accept all of them, Connie, Phyllis and Jude, would be super and make promoting much easier. So the search was on. They looked high and low, kicked tire after tire, and even tried on the glass slipper, but could not find a perfect fit. Then, just as they were ready to throw in the towel, Connie was struck with an idea – one could almost see the cartoon light bulb light up when she said, “Why don’t we start our own team and put Jude at the helm?” Brilliant!

The decision to start the team was the easy part; the details of the team were more difficult and evolved more slowly. After a short brainstorming session, the team concept and name were set – Dirt Road Artists, a team for artists living in small, rural towns with populations of 25,000 or fewer (not to include livestock or dogs). With the team name in mind, membership requirements were discussed, drafted, rewritten and finalized. Connie designed and drew the barn for the team logo and e-mailed it to Phyllis, who created a banner and avatar. Armed with all the necessary components, Phyllis applied to Etsy for team status, which was granted on January 8, 2010. We were officially a team! Jude immediately set to work recruiting, accepting, and greeting new members – six in the first month! The team was growing slowly but surely, and each member brought new talent and personality to the team – painters, quilters, photographers, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, storytellers, veterans, rock collectors – you name it, we have it! We come from all over the world and are diverse in talent and personality – a great team!

The Dirt Road Artists team celebrated our 1-year anniversary in January 2011, and along with Connie, Phyllis and Jude, three other team members marked one year with the team - Pam of pworiginals, Natasha of GreenhouseGlassworks, and Cheryl of cherylzmillerArt . Congratulations! We have had a wonderful year sharing stories and laughs, and supporting one another in our Etsy journeys and in life. We look forward to many more fun-filled days and “back porch chats”.


  1. Awesome story! As a new member of this team, it's cool to learn about it began! Great work ladies :)

  2. Love the DRAT's they are a great bunch of artist and "neighbors" they have made Etsy fun.

  3. Thanks for looking into the history of the DRAT's! You did a great job!
    This is a great bunch of folks!