For one young woman in Halifax, Nova Scotia, creativity is more than a profession – it is a passion. Recently we spoke with Angela Dawn MacKay, owner of Knotted Words Celtic Art, about the challenges and rewards of doing what she does.
What is your own heritage?
I am part Irish, part Scottish, and part German, but 100% Canadian.
What are your roles and responsibilities there?
Knotted Words Celtic Art is a one woman show. I create the artwork, design the products, design and maintain the website, go to art and craft shows, engage in social networking, and interact with customers.
What are the challenges involved?
The biggest challenges in working with Knotted Words Celtic Art are probably similar to what most people struggle with in life in general: time and balance. As the mother of a young child, a psychologist who works in private practice, and a writer of young adult fantasy manuscripts, it can difficult to give as much time as I would like to create Celtic art. I love the whole creative process of getting my Celtic artwork out there – creating the art, designing the products—I even enjoy maintaining the website, but it can be a challenge when I wear so many hats that are all very important to me. My beloved husband Angus has been very supportive, as well as my friends and family, helping me to have the time and space to create my art.
What are the rewards?
The reward of creating artwork is the creative process itself. There is something beautiful about having an idea, a vision, and working really hard to execute that idea, bringing something into being that didn’t exist before. It’s amazing to be able to look at my portfolio and see my creative footprint, the mark I’ve left on this world—it’s really something. What’s also rewarding are people’s responses to my work. My art is meant to be inspiring, to help people see the magic, joy, and beauty in this world, even in our darkest moments, and it’s lovely to hear back from customers that I was able to connect them with some sense of magic and inspiration.
What is the company’s history and current mandate?
I first conceived of Knotted Words Celtic Art shortly after the birth of my first child. While I was pregnant, I had taken online Celtic art classes with Cari Buziak of Aon Celtic Art. At the same, I was also looking for artwork to decorate my baby’s nursery. I wanted art that was traditional yet modern, depicting nursery rhymes and fairytales with both text and illustrations, but pieces that also reflected my son’s Celtic heritage. I found little in the way of Celtic art geared towards children, so I used my newly learned Celtic art skills to create my own designs. The Man in the Moon was one of my first pieces—it still hangs in my 3 year old son’s room today, as well as The Truth about Humpty Dumpty and a Celtic Jack in the Beanstalk. I realized that others might appreciate my work, and so Knotted Words Celtic Art was born. Knotted Words Celtic Art seeks to unite Celtic art and literature, image and word, in an aesthetically pleasing, brain teasing, heartfelt experience, selling Celtic art, clothing, and gifts for babies, children, teens, and literature lovers of all ages.
What are your core products?
Knotted Words Celtic Art has two main online storefronts, each with different products. At my Pixels/Fine Art America store, I sell Celtic framed art prints, canvas prints, and other kinds of wall art, greeting cards, throw pillows, shower curtains, duvet covers, phone cases, totebags and pouches, bath and beach towels, battery chargers, clothing for babies, children, men and women, and coffee mugs. At my Zazzle storefront, I sell journals, keepsake/jewelry boxes, commuter bags, clocks, water bottles, mugs, flasks, porcelain plates, computer sleeves, iPad cases, as well as clothing for babies, children, women and men.
Who are your core clients?
Parents, grandparents, fans of Celtic/fantasy/gothic/inspirational art, and literature lovers.
How do you reach them?
I reach my clients through art and craft shows, my website, and social media – mainly through daily posts on Facebook and Twitter.
How do you differ from your competition?
Uniting Celtic art and literature has given my work both a focus as well as an opportunity to explore and expand the Celtic tradition, using Celtic art not only to decorate and illuminate, but to illustrate as well. By using photography, digital manipulations, and vibrant colour combinations, my work has an edgy, modern feel yet maintains a classic, archetypal essence. My work can be divided into three main bodies of work. In the Celtic Fantasy and Fairytale Art Collection, you will find Celtic mermaids, Celtic dragons, Celtic fairies, Celtic princes and princesses, and more, with literary quotations from the Brother’s Grimm, Lewis Carroll, Mother Goose, Rainer Maria Rilke, e e cummings, and others. In the Celtic Inspirational Art Collection you will find Celtic butterflies, Celtic Dragonflies, Celtic peacocks, Celtic birds, Celtic Goddesses, Celtic Oceans, Celtic trees, and many more, with literary Quotations from Rumi, Henry David Thoreau, the Buddha, Mark Twain, William Blake, and other great writers and poets. In the Celtic Gothic Art Collection you find the Celtic witches, Celtic skulls, Celtic monsters, Celtic pirates, Celtic vampire bats, Celtic spiders and more, with literary quotations from Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft, Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Shakespeare, and many others. I have most recently launched a photography series called Naked Knotted Words — no knots, no words, just Nature in the buff, which showcases the photographs that I have taken that are part of my Celtic art pieces or will be in the future.
Is your creative process more ‘inspirational’ or ‘perspirational?
I would say my creative process is both inspirational and perspirational, for it’s passion that drives me forward, but it’s hard work that completes the art piece. I always try to do as much as the piece calls for—nothing more, nothing less. Some of my pieces are very simple, spacious, with just a touch of Celtic knotwork, such as Celtic Twinkle Twinkle Others, like the Celtic Sleeping Beauty Part III – The Journey , are very elaborate and labour intensive, but worth every moment of effort in the end.
How has the internet helped your business?
While I have attended some art and craft shows, all of my products are available online and so the internet is the main medium that carries my art into the hands of customers. I have also recently added links for mobile apps for both my Zazzle and Fine Art America/pixels.com storefronts to my website, making it easier for customers to browse my work.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the ‘Celtic economy’?
I think it is wonderful that the Celtic tradition is celebrated and appreciated in a plethora of ways by people from all traditions.
What are the company’s future plans?
I would like illustrate more traditional Celtic fairytales, mythology, and folklore. I am open to commissions, requests, and suggestions, providing that the literary quotations in question are public domain and therefore, not a violation of copyright.