30 articles Articles posted in Interviews

Artist Interview: WoonHung

Yvonne contacted me a few weeks ago to share her work and I was so taken by her designs and aesthetic. She was so incredibly generous to send me one of her most popular items, a beautiful braided necklace in my favorite color-turquoise. The quality of the piece is so amazing, down to the wooden gift tags inscribed with her brand name. She also answered some questions for me, I hope you enjoy hearing from her as much as I did.
Website // Shop // Flickr // Facebook // International Shop

Tell us a bit about yourself. A visual merchandiser trainer turned jewellery designer. A designer by day, housewife by night. A curious introvert driven by ideas, experiments & adventure, who also enjoys cooking, photography & moving things around the apartment. It’s my informal “window dressing”. And hopefully soon,  go back to illustration to hone that skill again. I live a small simple life. But I like it to count for something. I spend 1 day in design school, 1 day teaching in a social community. 1 day in church & the rest of the days on my business, projects & what matters in my life.

Photo by evie s.

What does art mean to you? Art has come to mean many things & lately, I feel this word is used frivolously in the wrong context. I am very old-fashioned. I go back to basics when defining art. Art lies within pieces of work that requires toiling, deliberation, intensity, effort. The love for art produces great art. Art requires time, depth & maturity. And demands independent thinking to originate compelling ideas. I see that in simple pencil-line drawing. I see that in some of the most amazing work students do using apple’s illustrator application. I see that in high fashion where there is strange mixture of obsession & devotion to fashion.

evie s. for WoonHung

What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? It’s hard to pick 1 challenge. There were several along the way that shaped my thinking. Dry spells, heavy criticisms, self-doubt, hard decisions on design vs business, evolving as a designer & list goes on. But if I had to pick 1 that mattered most & shaped me forward, it would be overcoming self-doubt. I am my harshest critic. Unlike other brands & designers who made careful decisions on building their portfolio or presence in the market right from the start (by properly incorporating brand consistency & techniques etc), mine happened organically. I didn’t think brand. I only thought product. If the product is reliable, price focused, great in design & functional, that should do.

Along the way, I just kept experimenting & learnt from mistakes. I found out what worked & experimented further on the small successes & tried stretching it. It was incremental. Alot of what I do isn’t always calculated. It can be seen as somewhat random & irrational. In other words, I don’t always make popular obvious choices. I decided after long periods of self reflection, not to let the business & emphasis on jewellery determine my personal path. I maintain that I am 1st & foremost a person with many things going great in my life. Jewellery design shouldn’t consume me negatively & drive me into a narrow self-gratifying awful person. Once I got that figured out, it was much easier to evolve as a designer & person. I don’t take it too seriously.

How have you evolved as an artisan? I’m not sure if I can call myself an artisan. I take this word very seriously. I think I am more a person driven by curiosity. Embracing change helps me evolve. Today, there are so many designers, if I were to disappear today, I won’t be missed. So therein lies the truth. I thrive on stiff competition. I prefer to constantly challenge myself with new ways of thinking – New ways of working, new Visual Merchandising standards, new & improved functional packaging, new ways to please customers. I guess its thinking holistically.

Thank you Yvonne for participating in this interview, your generous gifts, and for your incredible insights!

Artist Interview: Anja Mulder

As soon as I saw Anja Mulder’s collection photographs last year, I was taken. There is something about the way she arranges ordinary objects together that draws you in. She was so kind to answer a few questions for me…and we get to soak in the beauty of her work for a few moments.

1. What does art mean to you? What art is, everyone feels for themselves. For me it is a personal experience, based on instinct, something that can be shared and enjoyed, the expression of the maker makes you feel, art work provokes emotions. Art is about awareness and spirit.


2. What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? It is a challenge to combine creativity (things that come from the inner world) with business (make a living out of the pictures / illustrations).

 


3. Describe one thing or person that has influenced your art the most. For me, that changes by the day.

 


4. Name three artists that inspire you. Friends inspire me & give good creative energy. I will name three: Louis Reith, Mara Piccione & Nathan Williams.

Thank you Anja! Your work is so inspiring – best to you!

Interview & Giveaway: Nancy Straughan

It’s been a while since I posted an artist interview, but when Nancy, a textile designer based in London contacted me, I just knew I had to have her thoughts on art. She recently graduated from art school and has launched a beautiful line of printed textiles that are so alluring in their simplicity. Check out her blog, website, and shop for more on this lovely lady.

Also, make sure you don’t miss the giveaway at the end of the post to win a risograph printed notebook specially made for our winner with one of Nancy’s designs. Enjoy!

1. What does art mean to you? Art means a few things to me but I think the most important is that art should stir something up inside you. I think good art and design should make you think, feel, ask questions, or solve problems. I’m a big fan of the aesthetic movement and in my slightly vain outlook art means the most to me when I consider it beautiful, I find beautiful art very peaceful. I remember seeing the Monet exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland when I was still in school. I was blown away at how beautiful his paintings were, that was enough for me!

2. What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? I suppose being the sort of person that I am means I come across daily challenges. I try to have a good work ethic, and set my self lots of tasks. I do think however most of the time I end up giving my self too much work, but those manic moments make the little successes feel so much better! If I have to pin point the biggest challenge I have had to face, it would be the moment after I graduated art school, realising that you have to face the world with just you and your skills is a very scary concept. However there is something magical about being a creative, the fact that I am a textile designer is a wonderful thing and doing what I do feels very natural for me.

3. Describe one thing or person that has influenced your art the most. This is an easy one! Without a moments doubt I have to say its my Father. He was a wonderfully talented artist, photographer, designer, in fact everything. Not only was he incredibly creative but he was also a wonderful person. I doubt I’ll ever meet anyone else like him. I think he has influenced pretty much every thing I do, the good and the bad! Him and my Mother made the greatest power couple ever, and I think my brother and I owe them a lot for how they brought us up.

4. Name three artists that inspire you. This is a really tough one and I think I may have to cheat a little! The two main influences with regard to textiles would be Lotta Jansdotter and Lena Corwin. Both of these ladies are very talented textile designers, their books have been invaluable to my textile education. My talented creative friends are also very important to me, somehow I have managed to surround myself over the years with a great collection of extremely hard working and talented designers and I am very lucky to have them as my friends.

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Thank you Nancy! Now it’s giveaway time. To win this beautiful notebook, perfect for storing your thoughts for the new year, just leave a comment below on what kinds of amazing things you might record in these blank pages. A comment will be randomly selected one week from now. Good luck!

UPDATE: A winner has been randomly chosen…congratulations ESTHER comment #23! You will be a proud owner of a NS notebook. Thanks everyone for entering!

Artist Interview + Free Download

I remember seeing these amazing book sculptures by Lisa Occhipinti a while back – they were everywhere in the blogosphere, and I loved them. So I was delighted she emailed me recently to let me know about a new book she authored called, “The Repurposed Library.” In it are 33 projects to transform books into works of art. She is generously offering a project as a free PDF download from her book (located at the end of this post) and she even agreed to answer a few of my questions. I hope you enjoy!

1. What is your background and how did you get started doing book sculpture? I have a degree in fine art and taught college art for many years, while always maintaining studio practices. I am painter first and foremost and have always loved books since I was a child.  My book work began with studying traditional handmade binding techniques at the School of the Musuem of Fine Arts, Boston. I started to merge the processes in my painting with the structure of books by making artists books. This in turn led me to where I am now: transforming books. It is essential to me to maintain the integrity of their forms while venerating their attributes. Where others may see a stain on a cover, I see a story.

2. What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? I have learned not to take criticism too seriously. It is a large task, putting your work, which is highly personal, out into the world and accessible to opinion.  But if you’re going to commit to art professionally you have to detach and continue to believe in what you do.

3. What does art mean to you? Art is a means of communication. The forms and processes are a physical platform which allow me to convey to the outer world what I think and feel is beautiful and important. As I am working art is the inner dialogue I have with myself, where I explore the things I think about. Whatever I make is a bridge between outer and inner. And when someone sees my work and is moved by it that is success.

Thank you Lisa! It was wonderful hearing from you. Readers, you can Download the free PDF here to make your own sewing box out of a book!

Passionate Creation: Whimsy & Spice

I love talented husband and wife duos in business. Not everyone can do it, but the few I know that do, really knock it out of the park. So is the case with Jenna and Mark of Whimsy & Spice, Brooklyn Confectioners. Jenna is behind the design/branding, Mark is the creator/maker of the sweets. They have their brand image down pat and their entire line of handmade confections is beautifully created. Jenna was so gracious to answer a few of my questions. If you don’t already, give her blog a read – it’s beautifully written and curated with tons of gorgeous photos.


lemongrass marshmallows

1. First, tell us a bit about you and your husband and your backgrounds.
I’m an Art Director/Designer and freelance for design firms, agencies and tech start ups. Mark used to work as a restaurant Pastry Chef before we opened our business. He still does some consulting for restaurants here in NYC.

2. As artists and entrepreneurs, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
We value flexibility in our lives immensely and we’ve worked hard to build a life that can support and sustain that. It’s really the only way we’ve been able to work full time and balance childcare for our kids, despite weathering instability and ups and downs in income. Our kids are also an obvious motivation factor. We’re not only responsible for ourselves, but also for these amazing little people. It keeps your life goals in focus.

3. What are you most passionate achieving with your artform?
I’m very into photography and that’s the way I’ve been enjoying creativity at the moment. It’s very satisfying right now and that could be because I do it only for myself and not as my job, which design is. I also find it challenging as I still have much to learn technically, but I’m very interested in telling stories with my photographs, so I don’t let myself get too bogged down by that stuff. The most important thing for me is to keep shooting.

4. With both of your backgrounds, how did you find your niche of making confections?
I don’t do any of the baking – Mark handles all of that for the business and he’s been cooking all his life, professionally for 16 years. He began focusing on pastries mid-career after he discovered that he liked the precision of baking and he apprenticed under a few pastry chefs before becoming one himself. Incorporating different spices into cookies and baked goods is a natural extension to the way he approached desserts when he was working in restaurants.


kitchen conversions print

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
For a business like ours, the kitchen is the heart of the company. We cobbled together commercial kitchen space to bake our products for the first 2 years and it was often stressful and hectic. It wasn’t until last Fall that we found our permanent space. Not only is it exactly what we’ve been looking for, but it’s shared with a handful of other amazing food businesses like ours.

Our main obstacle at the moment is figuring out how to grow without burning out. I think we’ve got a good balance going most of the year, aside from the holidays which is crazy time, but we know that we need to kick it up very soon and expand if we want to see the company grow beyond what we are today. Still, it’s hard to commit to any big leaps and I actually find this phase more challenging than starting up the business itself.

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
Art is a form of expression that shouldn’t be judged or graded – this coming from someone who did go to art school where art was judged and graded. I realize we live in a world where everything that you share with the world is reviewed and critiqued and sometimes it can be harsh, but if the piece has meaning for you, then that’s all that matters.

Passionate Creation: Something’s Hiding in Here

I’m pleased to share the next interview in the passionate creation series – with Shauna Alterio of Something’s Hiding in Here. She is half of the two part duo running a creation business, with their most recent popular craze being their Forage Bow Ties. I’ve been a fan for a long time, so I was thrilled to have the chance to ask some questions. Here you go!

1. First, tell us a bit about yourselves and your backgrounds.

we met in art school while studying for our BFA’s from the kansas city art institute. we both attended cranbrook academy of art for our MFA’s.

we’ve had quite a collection of jobs: prototype engineer, teacher, gallery director, environmental designer, merchandiser, museum proprietor, product designer, display director… the list goes on and on. a few years ago we began collaborating under the name “something’s hiding in here.”

2. As artists and entrepreneurs, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
we’re always excited to find out what our next unexpected project will be. that’s truly what inspires us – new experiences and working with new people from magazines to retailers to editors etc.

3. What are you most passionate about achieving with your art?
with each project we take on, we’re always looking to communicate our own point of view. we’re passionate about balancing aesthetics with clean construction and function.

4. With both of your arts backgrounds, how did you find your niche of designing handmade goods?
we’ve always collaborated on gifts for friends and started our business by accident. we had a booth the renegade craft fair to raise money for a new computer and ended up taking wholesale orders on our very first day.


Martha Stewart Living feature

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
accepting that we were running a business what the most difficult part. we spent years saying “this is not a business, this is for fun”. creating our own business model that fit our diverse goals was another breakthrough. we’re the only ones who can set the standard for our measurement of success.


Photos via Apartment Therapy

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
for us, art is a way to express our point of view and connect with other people.

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Thank you Shauna! It was great to pick your brain, and congrats on all your success!

Passionate Creation: Paloma’s Nest

We survived our move, and I’m ready to jump right into the swing of things with a great lineup of artist interviews on a topic that I’m really interested in right now. The intersection of art + passion, a place that surpasses the need for money or fame – a place where their is simply the passion to create. First up is Caroline from Paloma’s Nest. This husband and wife duo has been passionately creating their artform for about 4 years, and are such an inspiring set of artists. I hope you enjoy!


Photo credit – Carla Ten Eyck

1. Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am an artist/ designer/entrepreneur, born and raised in Mystic, Connecticut, now living in Austin, Texas. I began Paloma’s Nest in late 2007, and over the years it has blossomed into a family business that my husband (Jose, from Buenos Aires, Argentina) and I run together. We started as an online Etsy shop, and now sell our wares there as well as through palomasnest.com and our new brick & mortar locations in Austin and Chattanooga. I focus mainly on our ceramic and textile designs, while my husband is the woodworker. Paloma’s Nest is named after our daughter Paloma, who is almost 5 years old. “Paloma” means “dove” in Spanish.


Photo credit – Craig Paulson Photography

2. As an artist and entrepreneur, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
The absolute privilege of living my dream everyday is what keeps me going. I see running a business and making a living from my art, with my husband by my side doing the same, as a great joy.

3. What are you most passionate achieving with your art form?
Creating pieces that will be passed on to future generations is what I am most passionate about. Just imagining a piece that we craft today being in the hands of someones great-great grandchild, years from now, is what drives me to create timeless designs that will look as elegant and pure in 100 years as they do today.

4. You create beautiful handmade “modern heirlooms” – how did you find your niche or have you always worked with ceramics?
I discovered ceramics while studying art and design in college, and was immediately drawn to the medium as a way to create tangible pieces that one could interact with in daily life. I have always been fascinated with the concept of heirlooms, and I have always collected antiques and vintage pieces. I am fascinated with pieces that hold their history, things that seem to have a story to tell. By working text into my designs, I am able to add an instant element of story telling- whether it is a clients’ love poem, or a piece commemorating a special day.

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
Fear. I think anyone who has made the commitment to make a living from their art, or to be an entrepreneur of any kind, has to overcome an amount of emotional concern or self-doubt. Can we really do this? Will it work? Can we raise a family this way? Fear can be paralyzing, and a real hurdle in the creative process. For me, I try to balance this natural fear by keeping busy- always having a new project, developing new ideas. Action breeds action. This lifestyle is a leap of faith, but once you take that leap you never look back. We have no regrets!

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
“My art is my life. My life is my art.” – Henri Matisse

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Thank you so much Caroline for taking part in this series. I absolutely loved hearing from you. The best to you and all your endeavors…and your new little one on the way!

Artist Spotlight: Judy Kaufmann

A couple weeks ago I got an email from Barcelona based artist, Judy Kaufmann, sharing her beautiful illustrations. She was so sweet to send me one of her prints to enjoy. The Peacock and Friends print is now cozily framed in my dining room. I absolutely love it, and it’s just the pop of color I wanted in that space! She also graciously answered a few of my questions. You know how I love picking artists’ brains! Her beautiful home was recently featured on Design Sponge – I always love seeing a peek into creative spaces. Check out her blog and etsy shop too!

1. You are an artist. That title means many things to different people. What does it mean to you?
There are lots of artists that adopt some ridiculous personality I don’t share at all, so if someone calls me “artist” I try to escape automaticly from that label. I like people who live the normal life inspired by things that maybe others don’t see or don’t ask, busy on things that are out of the ordinary. Those are the artists I like.

2. What challenges have you overcome as an artist?
To discover exactly what I didn’t like to do (more than what I would like) and from that, live from what I most like to do in life!

3. Tell us something random or quirky about yourself.
I’m an identical twin and some time ago I dedicated a print to my sister. My sister once met the twin sister of a friend. They talked a bit but they were confused, none had ever seen each other. Apart from drawing, I love swimming.

[Thank you Judy! ]

Creative Mom Interview: Michelle Dupont

Michelle and I connected online a couple of years ago. I was immediately drawn into her work. She’s an amazing photographer, probably my favorite…and I don’t say that lightly. I had a lot of trouble narrowing down images to go in this article! This mom of six (yes, six!) is also a very gifted crafter, knitter and writer. Her blog is one of the few I read every single word of. I hope you are as inspired by her as I am!

1. Does motherhood fuel your creativity? If so, in what ways?

Motherhood definitely fuels my creativity.  Although my mother taught me at a very young age to knit and crochet, it wasn’t until my first child was born that I totally fell in love with making things by hand.  My first project was a hand pieced and stitched quilt for my son’s bassinet – to be able to make something for someone I loved was an amazing feeling – I was hooked!  That feeling has stayed with my over the years – each piece I create is make with love, and knowing that someone else is wearing and enjoying my is simply wonderful.

My children are a constant source of encouragement and support – they give me feedback about new ideas and prototypes.  I get lots of “oh, you’re so clever mum” and “that’s so pretty mummy”!  They make me smile.  They are also gorgeous  models too :-)

2. What challenges have you overcome as a mother? As an artist?

My biggest challenge has been time management.  First and foremost my children, and my role as a mother is my priority.  As an artist I have had to find creative ways of satisfying my need to create and indulge my passions without neglecting my other responsibilities.  I’ve also had to make a choice to keep my ‘twoandsix’ business relatively small for now.  Because each piece is totally handmade, it’s incredibly time consuming and if I didn’t set limits it could easily take over my life!

3. You have six children, how do you find time to create?

The majority of my creating happens after the sun goes down and little people are snuggled up in bed.  During the day I (try!) to balance taking care of my children and home, and working on my photography business.  However, I am constantly being inspired by the simple, precious things in my life.  I make lots of notes, take lots of photographs, and collect treasures -  then develope and work on those ideas during quieter moments in the evenings.  My hands are never idle, i can’t bear to sit and do nothing!

4. What are your mother’s day wishes?

A sleep-in would be divine!!  Followed by a long brunch, and then a relaxing day at home with my family.  A little bit of chocolate would be nice too :-)

Thank you Michelle! I hope your mother’s day wishes come true.

Creative Mom Interview: Suann of Simplesong

I’ve long been a fan of Suann’s simple and beautiful aesthetic, and she has such impeccable taste. So I was thrilled that she agreed to answer my questions about creativity and motherhood. Be inspired!

1. Tell us about yourself.
I’m Suann of SIMPLESONG Design. I write two blogs, simplesong and Hip Hip Hooray; I have a letterpress and design studio; and I’m a wife and mom to our son 4 1/2 year-old son, Ike. We live near Washington, DC and in the last four years I’ve been pretty much living my dream – becoming a mom and also having a thriving, creative business. Though at times I wish for a little more sleep and less craziness of running around, I really wouldn’t change a thing!

2. What is your favorite creative activity with your son?
We love to draw together – sidewalk chalk, little scribbles on napkins or creating a big poster. He’s getting to the age (4 1/2) where you can see him really express himself in his drawings. Its so fun to watch.

3. What are some ways you stay inspired?
Fortunately, I share my studio space with some very inspiring friends and business collaborators (The Hive at 1511). They are a constant source of inspiration (and energy! : ). Blogs and sites like Pinterest are also a great source. But mostly I just try to take some time to look around. That’s when I get most inspired — I just have to remember to jot it down so I don’t forget!

4. What are some challenges you’ve overcome as a mother? As a designer?
As a mom, the biggest challenge is juggling everything and doing everything well. Its not easy and is a constant struggle. As a designer, staying inspired can be tough. Especially when a lot of work time comes at the end of the day. Some times those quiet nights can be inspiring but often times you’re just tired. So, I make it a priority to not work past a certain time and always take little breaks. It helps!

5. What are your mother’s day wishes?
No big wishes – just a little down time with my son and husband. A lot of my work revolves around weddings — and we’re at the height of wedding season (!) so its hard to take time off around this time….so, a quiet picnic or an afternoon out sounds just perfect : ).

Thank you Suann!