i first met sara selepouchin, the brains behind girls can tell, through handmade in pa. her work is oh-so clever in both design & execution. using her background in architecture, sara dissects everyday objects, diagrams their parts, and turns them into detailed screen-printed images on other everyday objects. her work embodies the adage “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
i had to find out more about what drives sara’s deep passion for craft & community.
you’re a crafter, a teacher, a lover of everyday objects, a creative community advocate… what are your other passions? what’s really getting your creative juices flowing right now?
well, in all honestly, during the holidays, it’s more a matter of cranking out everything i designed during the year. when i am in design-mode (which i’m looking forward to for january!), i’m inspired by just the amazing little machines and things we surround ourselves with. how things come together to form new things is so intriguing to me. i like to try to make people see everyday things in a way they might not have thought about otherwise. i also really love connecting with other people in the handmade community.
tell me about an obstacle you overcame while turning your passion for craft into a business.
it was actually something of an obstacle that really allowed me to pursue my line full time. i was, slightly infamously, let go from my previous job (as the Etsy Teams coordinator for Etsy.com) quite unexpectedly. since i was completely submersed in the handmade world anyway, and had been printing my wares part time since early 2006, i took the plunge and decided to just work as hard as i could to make it happen and to build girlscantell into a real job. it seems to be working pretty well so far, though it is without a doubt the hardest job i’ve ever had, and completely life-consuming.
your work is based on the beauty & detail of everyday objects – function & art seem to be considered equally. tell me about your process in visualizing & designing a new product.
these days, most of my diagram ideas come from suggestions of other people (you can suggest a diagram at
girlscantell.com!). i do a lot of research in drawing up the illustration (fact checking!), and i’m actually very careful that all of my illustrations are similar in size and scale so that i can print them somewhat uniformly across my line of products. when i’m considering a new product, sourcing materials takes a long, long time – there are a lot of considerations to balance – environmental sustainability, durability, uniqueness, aesthetics, consistency, availability, and of course, cost. i’m always considering what i might want to do next. it’s fun to consider that the possibilities for my line right now seem pretty much endless.
tell me about something you struggle with on a daily basis living out your passion for craft, design, & community.
it’s difficult because i’m constantly battling this need i feel to do more to create a network of professional artisans, especially in philly, where there is so much talent. i’m kind of a ‘grass is always greener’ kind of person in that i’m just about always convinced that i could be doing more or changing things to make drastic improvements – it’s always ‘what’s next?’ with me. i think about opening a storefront. i think about opening a handmade business center. i think about hosting round table discussions. i think about expanding my line into more boutiques. i think about ways to teach more people to print. i think about how my business can contribute to the development of my neighborhood. that kind of thing. it’s a good quality to have (most of the time), the drive to constantly improve, but it also makes for some sleepless nights. it’s exhausting, but exhilarating.