Award-Winning Designer & Crafter Amy Tangerine Says Getting in Touch with Your Creative Side Will Change Your Everyday Life

“Creativity gives any person the opportunity to affirm their humanity, express themselves in a way only they can and embrace their mistakes in order to create something unique, meaningful and beautiful.”

Amy Tangerine with Avery products

Born and raised in Chicago, award-winning designer and craft expert Amy Tan (aka Amy Tangerine) literally wrote the book on how the power of creativity and crafting can change your life. (Psst…it’s called Craft a Life You Love.)

In the early 2000s, her love of design led to the creation of the popular handcrafted Amy Tangerine t-shirt line, which was carried in hundreds of retail outlets including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.

In 2007, her business expanded to include another one of her passions: scrapbooking. With boundless energy and a bright outlook, Amy continues to teach creative classes all over the world and she loves sharing her latest tips and tricks to her hundreds of thousands of fans on social media.

We caught up with the gifted crafter, mom and wife to talk about her latest collaboration with Avery and why it’s important to get in touch with your creative side no matter how much—or how little—time you have.

Hi Amy! We all grew up with Avery products, from labels and folders to binders and dividers. Tell us about your new collection with the brand and how their products inspire your creativity.

It really is amazing how many Avery products there are. For this collection, we have a fresh and fun set of binders, dividers and folders with my designs on them. It’s an eclectic mix of staple products that can be used for school, office or around the home.

I really wanted to create something that I would have wanted in junior high, high school and college. Hopefully people will feel uplifted and inspired when they see the colorful designs with the positive, hand-painted messages on them. I also hope it puts a smile on their face and makes them feel more creative and special when they put them to use.

Products from Avery + Amy Tangerine collection
Products from Avery + Amy Tangerine collection; Photo courtesy of Avery

Where can we buy the products?

It’s the first time Avery has collaborated in this way with a capsule collection, and it’s available exclusively on Avery’s website and Amazon.

What are your favorite products to use when crafting and scrapbooking? What are the essentials to get started?

I love using patterned paper, stickers and ephemera for scrapbooking. One of my first scrapbooks I made was just 8.5×11″ pages with magazine cutouts on them. It’s funny because it was years ago and I am certain I used an Avery binder and page protectors!

If you want to get started, I have plenty of YouTube videos sharing various techniques and favorite supplies. I would say some essentials are: paper trimmer, adhesive (glue stick is fine for paper, but I prefer a tape runner for photos), scissors, card stock, stickers and a good pen.

Remember, it’s more about enjoying the process and documenting the memories. Just have fun with it! You can even check out my Pinterest and copy some of the layouts you like. We even have a term for that, which is “scrap lifting.”

Craft a Life You Love by Amy Tangerine
It’s possible to craft a life you love

In your book Craft a Life You Love, you offer ways to create a positive mindset through crafting and getting in touch with one’s creative energy to make things … and make things happen. Why do you think creativity is so important to being happy?

There are so many reasons. I believe fostering creativity gives any person the opportunity to affirm their humanity, express themselves in a way only they can and embrace their mistakes in order to create something unique, meaningful and beautiful. It’s an opportunity to express your truest self.

Creativity is something you have to give yourself permission to invest in—especially in today’s fast-paced, results-oriented culture. That is why I have art time everyday with my own child. Seeing him light up when he is in the midst of the creative process is happiness in itself.

You’ve been a designer for some time now. Do you see a growing interest in scrapbooking and DIY craftiness these days or has it essentially stayed the same?

As much as I want to believe that scrapbooking is growing, I think it’s actually just staying the same. People tell themselves they don’t have the time or creativity to accomplish projects like this and because there are fewer and fewer arts classes in schools, I think many people don’t really know where to start.

That said, a lot of scrapbooking and DIY project ideas are shared and admired on sites like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. That’s one area where I’ve seen growth and interest. There’s also magic that happens when I pull out my bullet journal or planner in person somewhere. People love seeing the tangible in person.

Amy Tangerine gets creative with Avery
Get creative and have fun; Photo courtesy of Avery

When it comes to crafting, it can seem overwhelming because there are literally millions of cute, pretty things and you end up wanting them all! How do you balance those urges and encourage others to make sure they don’t end up with clutter?

I think focusing on what you actually want to do really helps. In my book, Craft a Life You Love, I talk about cultivating mindfulness and positivity when it comes to crafting a life that you love. That means sometimes setting aside the urge to do too much or nothing at all.

It’s important to build a sense of contentment and gratitude for what you have to work with right now—with what’s right in front of you. Pick one project that inspires you and try your best. See what happens! If it goes well, great! Move on to the next thing. If it fails, that’s even better because now you know what not to do in your next endeavor.

What do you say to those who aren’t sure they have the time or energy to create something, whether it’s crafting a handmade gift card or decorating a picture frame?

Give yourself permission! Even if it’s only 10-20 minutes in your day, remind yourself that it’s worth the investment. Many of us give ourselves permission to do things all the time—whether it’s that cheat meal at the end of the week or a three-hour Netflix binge. We just usually aren’t conscious of those decisions.

Enjoying the process is key and so is the appreciation for something handmade. If you are willing to budget your time in the realm of creativity, I know it will pay off!

Browse all the fun and colorful products from the Amy Tangerine + Avery collection. 

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Written by Mar Yvette

Mar Yvette is an on-air host, lifestyle expert, writer and editor with 10+ years of experience working with some of the world’s most recognized media companies.