As Ashley Ruiz has proven time and time again on her YouTube channel Paper Pastels, everything is cuter in miniature form. Ruiz, an arts and craft guru turned YouTuber and businesswoman, has built her channel on her love for everything cute. Always interested in arts and crafts, Ruiz began making a name for herself in high school as the girl who could make anything into a miniature. But as the demand for her crafts became larger, Ruiz had a hard time balancing both her craft creations as well as a full college schedule and decided to use YouTube as a way to show people how to make her crafts. Now three years later, Ruiz has created a community of crafters on her channel and in each video walks them through how to make a new project. And if can you name it, she can make it: mini Starbucks Frappucinos, check; newspaper ornaments, check; mini sushi erasers, check. With a pot full of resin in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, there is nothing Miss PaperPastels cannot create.
Just to start off, how would you describe your channel to someone who has never seen it? When and why did you originally begin your channel?
Ashley Ruiz: My channel is based around everything cute – I have a focus on arts and crafts but I do anything from Japanese candy kits to polymer clay miniatures. When I was in high school I had my own little business selling my miniatures, and eventually when I got to college I just didn’t have time to sit and make them for hours. I was an avid DeviantArt user and people started asking, “Well if you won’t sell them, why don’t you show us how to make them?” Fast forward years later and here I am! It’s funny how you can find success in the most unexpected places.
What originally attracted you to crafting? What were some of your first projects?
I actually can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t working on something. Everyone in my family has always been very artistic and creative. My parents have a painting business and they often paint murals and change their house. My grandma was also really big on crafts. She liked knitting and sewing the most. I grew up around them and developed my own interests. My favorite medium to work with has always been pastels (hence the name PaperPastels!); later on I expanded to other crafts. My mom also had lots of polymer clay around when I was younger; she used to make canes and beads. I’ve always had more of an interest in the cute and kawaii style the Japanese capture so well, so I feel like I didn’t really get into it when my mom worked with clay. In high school, I took a ceramics class and my teacher actually suggested I make things out of polymer clay, and before long I was hooked again.
Why focus specifically on making miniatures?
Well, I do a lot of things on my channel, but I think people really love to watch those kinds of videos even if they don’t make anything. A lot of people have really told me they enjoy the process of watching me make miniatures and are amazed at how realistic something so small can be. It’s really time-consuming but so rewarding when you’ve finished making something. Even more now that I have thousands of people cheering me on!
When you’re not crafting, what do you love to spend your time doing?
Playing video games! I actually have a smaller video game channel where I play games with my boyfriend. I also have an online business I run with my boyfriend so I’m pretty busy throughout the week. Video games are my stress reliever after a long week. My current favorite game is “League of Legends,” but I really play just about anything.
If you could travel to any time period in any country, where would you go and why?
If I could travel anywhere I would probably go to Europe or Africa. I really just like looking at landmarks, and there’s something about looking at older pieces of art that can make you feel so inspired.
What are you afraid of?
Okay, so this is the typical girl answer, but I hate bugs! Any kind of bug, I hate it. I don’t discriminate. I am terrified and I really can’t think of any logical reason why. I will literally run around my apartment screaming and waving my arms around until the bug is outside again.
What is one activity that you will never be trying?
I’m actually pretty open to most things so this is a hard question. The only thing I actually get pretty nervous about is racing, and here in Orlando they have a place where you can race cars and go as fast as you want to basically. I have a lot of friends who love this rush, but you will never get me in one of those cars.
If you were to get a tattoo, or have one, what would you get?
If I got a tattoo I would probably get “Mischief Managed.” I’ve actually thought about this before! For one, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I was one of those dorky kids with a homemade Marauder’s Map, and wand. This phrase also reminds me a lot of my childhood. When I was younger I had big plans, and I feel like I’ve had a lot success at a young age and I can truly say “Mischief Managed!”
You’re stuck on a deserted island and you have one thing with you. What would that be?
Oh god, I’m always so indecisive! If I could only have one thing with me it would probably be … my laptop? Well I suppose we wouldn’t have chargers so I’ll take the second best thing: my sketchbook. I love sketching pictures and jotting down little ideas.
Why did you originally decide to apply to the NextUp program, and what have you learned along the way?
I decided to apply to NextUp on a whim. I had been following the program since the first class that participated. I had one of those “that will never be me” thoughts but decided to apply anyway. I was pleasantly surprised when I got the email. I’ve definitely learned a lot and I’ve been trying to step up my game. At the camps we learned a lot about editing, lighting and cameras. Even though I had been making videos for so long I really had no idea what I was doing. Working with other YouTubers and getting insight into their creative process has also helped me with what direction I see my channel going.
About the piece:
Out of YouTube’s thousands of creator channels, 30 promising creators are picked every season to participate in the YouTube NextUp Creator program — a sort of Hogwarts Academy for the very best of the YouTube best. They spend a week training at the YouTube Creator Space in Los Angeles, attending seminars, learning advanced filming techniques and interacting with some of the YouTube greats. In short, it’s a pretty cool honor. Since YouTube thinks they’re worthy, NMR thinks you should know about them.
So we’re featuring the Winter 2013 class of Nextup participants — 2 a day for the next 15 days. Learn about these fresh faces, love their content and then subscribe to their channels, because these are the next generation of YouTube innovators.
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