Happy Local Talent Tuesday! I'm really excited to bring you this new feature here on Crafty Mishmash. I'll be gushing about a different crafty Austinite every Tuesday (or possibly only every-other-Tuesday; we shall see). I've written up a few questions that I thought would make for interesting interviews, and I hope you'll agree.
Curlin & Laurie are local gals I've had the pleasure of meeting, and both are absolute sweethearts. They've recently been collaborating on the lovely new things pictured here - so perfect for spring! So without further ado, here are today's crafty supah-stahs:
Curlin Reed Sullivan
of Pippingtooth Studio
& Laurie Wisbrun
of The Scarlet Fig
of The Scarlet Fig
Beth: First, please give us a little background on your studios.
Laurie: My background is in advertising (on the business and strategy side, not on the creative side). After nearly 20 years of doing that, I decided last year that I really wanted to make some changes and explore some of the creative things that I really love doing. I was living in Brooklyn at the time and working in Manhattan and really wanted to stay there. But when you want to quit your day job, that’s really not a realistic place to be and be able to not have a “real” job. I went to school here in Austin and before I moved to Brooklyn I had lived here for 15 years. So it made sense for me to come back here. Austin is such a creative town and I knew I could integrate myself into the arts community and still be able to rely on my marketing and advertising network for project and freelance work when I needed it. And it’s Austin after all!
So I really scaled my lifestyle back and rented a tiny little apartment over on South Congress. Where a dining room should be, you’ll find my “studio”. Which is really just my fabric stash, my sewing machines and all of my supplies. It’s cozy for sure!
A few weeks after I moved back, I took a surface design class with Kat McTee at Art Cloth. And Curlin was in the class. She and I met and it was like creative sisters separated at birth. Since then, we’ve been working to find projects to collaborate on and spend a great deal of time together brainstorming and working to leverage each other to grow each of our businesses.
In terms of where I sell my work, I rely primarily on my Etsy site. I’ve just recently started to build my plans for targeting wholesalers.
Curlin: I work in my sunny treetop Pippingtooth Studio overlooking my garden. I also have a clay studio w/kiln downstairs. I'm so lucky to have such nice studio spaces at home because I toggle between motherhood and Pippingtooth biz-gal all day long. I started Pippingtooth almost 10 years ago. Collaborating with Laurie this past year has been a blast. We work very easily together because we share a similar aesthetic and we both worked in advertising for many years (I was a copywriter). I sell my work online from my website. My cards have been carried in stores across the country and Laurie helped me relaunch the wholesale side of Pippingtooth this year. I've exhibited at trade shows in NYC and have had success licensing my art with different companies.
Beth: Where do you find the inspiration &/or motivation for your creative work?
Laurie: In terms of inspiration for the textile designs, I have a love for pattern that goes way, way back. I was always that kid who was wearing too many patterns and throwing together things that traditionally didn’t ‘match.’ And in my book, a chair or a sofa is a real marvel. To have something utilitarian like a chair that serves a purpose but can take so many shapes and have so many personalities... I just love that! Lots of the designs I’ve been working on really celebrate my love of simple patterns, modern colors (that maybe go a bit against the grain) and the beauty of chairs.
Curlin: Golly... I find inspiration everywhere... plant shapes, flowers, leaves, stones. I work with them to create my botanical character studies, so a blossom can make me swoon; a twisty vine can send me into the studio in seconds. I love wonky shapes and imperfect lines, how clay slumps, how watercolors wander their own way. I'm drawn to any work that shows the hand of the artist. I'm interested in first instincts and works that have not been fussed over too much. I think that's why folk art inspires me. I love when art is accessible and available to anyone in terms of price and venue. I'm not inspired by art scenes that are self-important, exclusive or snobby.
Beth: Describe how a really productive day of making art goes for you.
Laurie: For the first few months of starting out, I really worked without a schedule and without a plan. I just did whatever felt creative and fun. I initially thought I would be hand sewing many of my products but found that [the] design process was what excited me and the production wasn’t nearly as rewarding. So I shifted my focus a bit and really dove into the design side of the business. Since I made that realization, that’s the area I have really been focusing on and dedicating the most time towards.
Once Curlin and I came upon the idea for the paper tabletop, that was a great way for she and I to be able to collaborate and bring our two styles together. Curlin’s style is really folksy and celebrates natural materials. And mine is more focused on pattern and color. The paper table top has been lots of fun to design together.
A really productive day would look like:
-Wake up and drink coffee, walk the dog, check emailAnd then of course there are days when none of this happens and I’m doing freelance marketing work. The name of the game these days is flexibility. But I love it because I am finally doing something that I can be really, really excited about!
-Spend some time working on designs working solo here in the Lilliputian apartment
-Head to Curlin’s studio and have fun gabbing and working on some new product and on marketing/PR plans for the existing stuff we have collaborated on.
-Head home and fulfill Etsy orders.
-Work on marketing/PR plans for the textiles. Lately I’ve been doing research and compiling my list of targets to approach for wholesale.
-Read blogs and see what else is going on in the design world.
Curlin: up at 6:30. boys off to school with hubby. coffee. email. NY Times online. coffee. blogs. studio. noodle around with new ideas, old ideas, clay, paper, new product ideas. more coffee.
The days Laurie comes to the studio are some of my favorites. I love collaborating. It's my oxygen (I created my 2009 calendar this year with another talented artist & graphic designer, Kristy Battani).
pencils & computers up at 2:30ish when i realize it's time to pickup my kiddlins. after dinner, the studio often beckons. I love being up there and creating things that make me smile.
Beth: What are your big-picture goals for yourself as an artist & your art-related business?
Laurie: Frankly, I’m still figuring that out. But I know one goal is to explore licensing some of my designs. I’ve always wanted to be a textile designer and would love to get Scarlet Fig fabrics out on a much broader scale. I feel like I’m off to a good start as people have been so receptive to the designs. I’m still figuring all of that out but really loving the process.
Curlin: Big picture: have fun everyday. make things that make me happy. work with other talented folks often. design and create new products with Laurie. make some money. have fun. have fun. grow. learn.