It’s a very good thing that self-taught artist Edward Todd Britt moved to Wisconsin with his husband during the summer months.
“I started walking along the Lake Michigan shoreline,” says the Alabama native. “I really started to feel inspired by nature and by the driftwood that had washed up along the shore. It really was that simple.”
Britt started collecting the driftwood, which he brought home, cleaned and started turning into art, which he sells through his business, Drifting on Water.
“Every single piece that I’m able to collect is unique,” he says. “It’s not easy to find in public areas like Bradford Beach, which is kept clean. You have to go to the areas where the public doesn’t normally go. When I pick it up, it often doesn’t smell great and it doesn’t look great either.”
But after a little TLC, a synergy takes place between Britt and his raw materials, which inspire him. Once he has an idea in mind, he takes his pieces to the workshop and creates his art, which ranges from small candle and wine holders to larger wall pieces, such as crosses and anchors.
“It’s a very organic process,” he says. “I’ve really been able to hone my skills on smaller pieces, and eventually I want to work my way into furniture and other larger items.”
As an artist who works with organic materials, Britt is inspired by Michelangelo’s stonework.
“I find it so incredible that he could take a simple rock and create such art of it, not just in the creation itself, but also in the craft of not chipping it or damaging it,” he says. “I find that very inspiring. On a much simpler level, I like to do the same thing: Take a natural material and make something out of it that others can enjoy.”
As a small business owner, Britt has created a logical business plan: He spends the winter months creating his pieces and his summers are devoted to selling, though Drifting on Water sells items year round via Britt’s website, Facebook, Etsy and eBay.
“It’s interesting that most people think of Etsy as the place for artists to sell their work, but many of the pieces I’ve sold have been through eBay,” he notes.
In fact, Britt says that all small businesses should take advantage of the free marketing and advertising they can do online to help promote their businesses.
“There’s a huge free market on Facebook,” he says. “I’m just a sole proprietor that’s been in business less than a year, but I already have 1,300 followers on Facebook. Every time I create a piece, I can upload a photo and have 1,300 people looking at it. It’s a great way to show products to your customers.”
Britt’s work can be seen at his website, www.driftingonwater.com or by following him on Facebook. This year, Britt is also expanding his presence throughout the Milwaukee marketplace. He has 18 art festivals/cultural festivals on the calendar for the Summer 2013 season.