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Meet Ali Simmel

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Meet Ali Simmel

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Ali Simmel! I'm 24 and a mother of two young humans, a pit bull, two cats, a tarantula, and a snake. I also have a partner I'm married to and that's kind of like having another child sometimes. I am in school for Psychology and work with children that have autism and down syndrome as an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist. I am an Aquarius sun, Pisces moon, and Scorpio rising meaning I'm a free-flowing, aloof but highly sensitive empath with a fiery side who loves the color black. I spend most of my time outside, and though I love my apartment and all of the plants in it that make me feel naturey, I get anxious when I'm indoors for too long and prefer to be by bodies of water. I was born and raised in the Fort Worth, Texas area and moved to Austin in 2017. As a result I have a country-western soul and a love for the heat.

Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

I have been drawing my whole life. I used to get in trouble for drawing on furniture, and the first piece I remember creating was a sad bunny when I was 3 or 4. I was really upset with my parents, so I slipped the drawing under their door and packed up a handkerchief tied to a stick horse and walked to the end of our land. I have always loved drawing faces, doing my best to capture expressions and body language. But I never took drawing seriously, it was just something I did. In 2016 my best friend came over to paint and ended up leaving her supplies at my apartment. I had never really owned acrylics, most of my art had been created with BIC pens and school pencils or the limited art supplies bought for basic art class in school, but my friend had left canvas, brushes, and big tubes of primary color acrylics. After she didn't come back and get them for a few days, I texted her and asked if I could use them. That's how it started. I fell in love and was painting all the time. I would invite people over just to sit and paint with me. Eventually, people started asking me to paint stuff for them. After a while, I started charging them--very little though because I had no idea what I was doing. Two years later it had become a full-blown business complete with a website and clothing design. Now my sister and I are combining our talents to start an actual fashion line! It won't be here for a while though.

Are there any artists or companies that inspire you or your work?

Honestly musicians mostly. I have never been very educated about art, though I have been obsessing over discovering visual artists I love over the last two years. I listen to a ton of Elliot Smith when I paint, he activates my sad soul. I also listen to Johanna Warren and Bob Dylan. I listen to other musicians when I paint but those are the ones I have on repeat most of the time. You can ask my partner, he makes fun of me. As for visual artists, I would say that Kerry James Marshall is my most modern inspiration. I absolutely adore his work. He captures everyday life in such an enticing way, and seems to really bask in the souls of his characters--plus I love the deep contrast of his coloring.


What is your creative process like?

My creative process varies. My favorite is this thing that happens with writings, songs, fashion, and paintings alike where I'm quiet and still (usually right before falling asleep) and I just have this vision. Its always a flash, like a camera flash, of a vivid but instant "video" of the thing I need to create. I keep a notebook and sketchbook by my bed for this reason. However, not all of my creations are made this way. In fact, my favorite paintings were created just because of a mood. I have this mood that settles over me, it feels kind of magical but melancholy, and I go into my garage and pick up a brush and just start painting. Then the painting just kind of appears. My third process is actually more of a process than the other two, and it’s when I create a sketch in my sketchbook I like, or a series of sketches, and it gives me an idea for a painting. I then create the painting based on the sketches, but these are less fun than the first two.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

The hardest part is having the time to paint. Between all of beings I have to entertain and keep alive and happy, school, and work, it's really difficult to find the time to paint. I function best in the evening/late night but I can't really stay up late very often or I don't have the energy to wake up at 6 am with my kids. Plus, in order to get into the creative mood and actually get work done I usually need at least 4 hours, but 8 more ideally and it's especially hard to find that kind of time. The second hardest is finishing big projects. It’s easy and fun when it’s an inspired act that takes me 1-3 hours real quick in the day and it’s done. But when it’s a detailed commission or even just a huge original, it's hard to find the motivation to keep coming back to the same painting and working it, because then it becomes just that, work.

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Some advice I'd give a young artist is to find art that YOU like. Not art that people tell you is good, not just the classics, follow artists on Instagram, go to art shows and find stuff that speaks to your soul and just makes you stare--take sketchbooks with you! In fact, take a sketchbook with you everywhere and draw/write stuff that stands out to you. And then sit in your spot and create. Don't worry about what you're going to make, don't worry about the end result. Don't worry if people are going to like it. Put on music that puts you in that mood, that creating mood, turn it up loud and just do some shit. And if you keep at it, and keep doing what you love and what you're good at, success will happen. Just keep networking and doing your thing. Also, don't worry about having a style. Even if you don't think you have one, your art will automatically have a flair that is uniquely "you".

Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

I love Absent, one of my most popular pieces and the one that Rowan is sporting on her sweatshirt. The original hangs above my fireplace and I love looking at it. Sometimes it makes me want to cry, and that's how I know it's good.

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What is your workspace like?

My work space is messy. I try to keep it organized, but even organized it's pretty messy. But it's like my brain I guess. I keep things in my workspace that I like, little trinkets and odd things that give me a certain feeling, a feeling of connection to myself. I have a shelf next to my work table that has an old 1970's Coors Light can I found wedged in some rocks on a mountain in Colorado, it holds an old shriveled up rose I got while working a gardening job years ago. I have some sea shells from Iceland my partner collected for me on a trip. I have snake skin and a tarantula exoskeleton that my babies gifted me when they molted, both in old baby food jars. I have a couple of dead insects perfectly preserved that I found on hikes or by my apartment. I have incense I love and sage and a lighter. On the walls I have posters of bands I like, a Sigmund Freud poster, a Van Gogh poster, and lots of my own artwork as well as some of my kid’s artwork. Then I have a straw carpet on the ground I found in someones trash as well as a bed for my dog and a cat tree for my cats and tons of art supplies and garage junk.

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What are you working on right now?

Right now I'm working on a lot of stuff. I have a huge canvas I've been working on for a while called "Caught off Guard". It's a painting of a green humanoid laying strangely on a purple couch holding a book with their toes to the light of a pink lamp sitting on a nightstand with coffee stains and burning incense. The face is made of shapes, but have a 3D humanoid face popping through I made with wall plaster. I've been working on this one for a long time and I'm excited to finish it and see the end result. This one was made with that "mood" process. Every time I've sat down to work on it, something just happens. I definitely did not plan out this super weird painting, but it shows me who I am. Another one I'm working on is a giant painted version of a sketch I did called Martyr. It was originally a quick sketch in my tiny sketchbook I did during a series of quick sketches when I was pregnant with my youngest. It was a really hard time for me so I did a sketch a day to process my thoughts and feelings. Then I did a more detailed sketch, and then attempted a digital rendering (which I still wanna do) but now I'm bringing it to life on a 5 foot tall canvas. Another one I'm working on is this old TV i found in the trash. It's really big and one of those fatter ones. I painted a person screaming on it but the eyes and mouth aren't filled it so if you plug the TV in it just shows static through them. I'm going to do a lot more with this one, but it's basically a statement about commercialism/consumerism/technology. Lastly, I have a few clothing projects. I busted out the old sewing machine and am making a Halloween-spider shirt for my oldest human (she's obsessed with spiders and reptiles and Halloween, Nightmare Before Christmas is one of her favorite movies), and I'm trying to create this pair of shorts I designed for a Forth of July release for the clothing brand I'm working on with my sister. Oh and I'm also working on recording an album. Man, when I lay it out like this it's a lot.

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Do you have any insight or tips on how to write about your work for other artists who may be struggling with that?

How to write about your work? Like I'm doing now? If so, read. The best way to learn how to write is to read. Anything. You don't have to read novels or poetry if you don't want to, but even just reading articles that interest you or recipes can teach you how to write. I'm reading this book right now called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. It's a great book for any creative but it has amazing writing advice and funny anecdotes.


Is your creative work your full time job? If not, can you share a little bit about other work you do either full time, part time or on the side?

My creative work is not my full time job. There has been a few and far between times that it has been, but honestly it stresses me out when it's my only job. Too much pressure. But like I mentioned before, I am an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist for kids with autism and down syndrome. Essentially I have a few kids in my clinic that I am specialized in there specific needs and goals, and I work with them/play with them and try to get them to accomplish their goals and leave happy.

If/when you find yourself in a creative rut, what do you do to help push you out of it?

When I'm in a creative rut, I wait it out. I will change mediums sometimes, like if I can’t draw or paint I might turn to music for a while or vice versa. Or if I feel like I can't do anything I'll just do things that inspire me, like yoga and hiking and visiting art museums/shows or just seeing new and interesting places. Sometimes your soul just needs to rest. Especially after you've created something that took a lot out of you. Something huge and/or super personal can drain me for a couple of weeks and I will just rest a lot and take care of myself.

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Meet Molly Jones of Nuditee & Illustrations by Molly

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Meet Molly Jones of Nuditee & Illustrations by Molly

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, my name is Molly Jones. I work as a freelance illustrator under the name Illustrations by Molly and I’m from England. I started freelancing a little over a year ago and began by painting murals and sign writing to help tell the story or ethos of a business. I also have a clothing brand that promotes body positivity called Nuditee which consists of nude people painted on tees, plant pots and other bits.

Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

I’ve always enjoyed drawing. I find it really therapeutic, especially drawing detailed scenes featuring people from eras like the 80s, pop culture and politics. I began to sell prints of my designs at local markets to see what people liked the most so I could build on it. I didn’t have much luck and wanted to branch out. I asked my friend Charlotte, who runs life drawing classes, to share a market stall with me at an event and she said yes. My work didn’t feature nude people at that point and I thought Charlotte’s work would, considering she runs life drawing classes, and I didn’t want our products to clash at the stall. I decided to experiment with illustrating naked people and then cutting them out of Lino which worked really well. I then printed them onto t-shirts. It didn’t work very well because the prints were faint, so I hand-painted them instead. After weeks of experimenting I came up with the idea Nuditee - nude people on tees to promote body positivity. Since I’m not very confident in my own body, I thought it would be good to help build my own confidence and that’s where it all started.

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Are there any artists or companies that inspire you or your work?

I’ve been inspired by a lot of modern artists recently, mainly because I want to develop my hand-lettering. I find incredible artistic people on YouTube and from scrolling through social media. Laura Callaghan’s work is insane! She paints vibrant scenes full of people and captures so much emotion and attitude. They’re incredibly detailed. Gemma O’Brien is a muralist, who often paints huge decorative words onto walls which are stunning. James Lewis I also love, who’s claim to fame was through copying famous logos but painting them to look 3D.


What is your creative process like?

I always start with researching a subject, but I try and avoid looking at artwork created by others so I can come up with an original idea. Sketching is so important to get all of your ideas out onto paper so that you can refine them and build on the ones you like. Adding the final touches to a design is my favourite part! I like to see it all come together.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

I haven’t been freelancing for long enough to establish my business yet so I still find it hard to get work. I often work with a lot of small independent businesses which sometimes means they don’t have a lot of money to spare, so the jobs aren’t that well paid. As my expertise builds, I hope to diversify and find a market that works well for me so that I can live off working as an illustrator and grow Nuditee.

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Don’t under-value your work. It takes time and people should pay what it’s worth. If they’re not willing to, then you don’t want their business and they always turn out to be the most difficult clients which you don’t need. Join local creative guilds and clubs, and network with people. You can’t get work if you’re not out meeting people. Everyone is really nice, and you will get lots of advice from others.

Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

I often collaborate with local artists and I love it! I’ve worked with Saluting Solo Magpies which is run by a woman named Sarah. She hand-stitches her designs onto my Nuditee's and Hoodies. I have also worked with Fosterlots, run by Charlotte, who knits hats that have my Nuditee patches on them. I also loved working with Lishsquishstitches, run by Ailish. She’s an embroidery artist who’s stitched her own designs on to my tees. I don’t have a favourite piece or project but this is my favourite kind of work. Collaborating always offers something new and I give people I work with complete creative control so I never know what they’re going to do. You never know what doors it may open and I can’t wait for the next one!

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What is your workspace like?

A mess! I work from home and I have so much paint, t-shirts, jumpers, paper and all sorts of other things. It’s all in one corner of the room. It’s organised but it doesn’t look like it. My boyfriend recently asked for some more space because I was consuming the room.

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What are you working on right now?

I’m running a beginners typography class for a creative community that I’m apart of on the 22nd of May. It’s going to be really simple, relaxing and fun. I think hand lettering helps with anxiety and focusing on creating beautiful letters distracts you from anything else that’s going on. It’s also interesting to find out about the power of typography which is taken for granted when you’re surrounded by it in every day life. It’s also a great premise for a social gathering.

Do you have any insight or tips on how to write about your work for other artists who may be struggling with that?

Start by talking about it. You should be able to explain what you do in two lines, for instance if you were networking and introduced yourself to someone you need to quickly summarize what you do without overwhelming them and keeping their interest. No one likes to listen to someone talk about themselves for ages. If you give them a brief introduction, then they can ask questions to get a deeper insight into your work and you can do the same in return. After talking about it, you’ll know what people want to hear and what they are most interested in. That will help you write about your work.


Is your creative work your full time job? If not, can you share a little bit about other work you do either full time, part time or on the side?

I work part-time in a cafe. I’m very lucky, I have two set days that are Friday and Sunday so I can easily plan my illustrations or Nuditee's around this. I think it’s good to get me out of the house and socialize too! When I have a market, it often falls on the Friday but someone is always happy to cover me and the owner of the cafe often commissions me to do some sign writing or window illustrations which is amazing!

If/when you find yourself in a creative rut, what do you do to help push you out of it?

Ughhhh… the worst situation to be in! I always get stuck before starting a project. I think the pressure of a closing deadline gives you that push to do it. However, if you’re working for yourself, your success depends on you so you need to get on it. It helps setting yourself strict work hours and they need to be non-negotiable, otherwise if you start working odd hours you can’t get into the rhythm of working. Make sure you take time off! You do need to work hard to achieve your goal but killing yourself to get there isn’t worth it. Take care of your mental health, see friends and family and work within the hours you set. Once you get into the flow it comes much more easily. 

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Meet Julie Pinzur of Mokuyobi

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Meet Julie Pinzur of Mokuyobi

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I'm Julie Pinzur! I grew up in the North Suburbs of Chicago and have bumped around since then to Ohio, New York City, Tokyo, and now live in Sunny Los Angeles, California. I've never been a fan of pants so thinking back now it all makes sense that I would end up here. I'm a super neat freak but if I'm working on a project my office will turn into a complete disaster while I focus on making something amazing. Then afterwards, I'll clean up and start all over. I've always gravitated towards colors and have a very fun, playful, and casual style. I find that the best way to be an adult is to take a part of childhood with you, not to abandon it in the past. I'm all about working hard at what I do best while remembering to have fun along the way. My office and house are constantly mistaken for a preschool which makes me seriously concerned for the modern adult. I love cheese and I have 3 cats who also all love cheese, one- Teeny I've had for 9 years, she moved from New York with me. And the other two- Caboose and Grape- they are orange tabby brothers which we found in my boyfriend's garage. I love doing handstands and was a competitive springboard diver in high school & college. I still get my flip on at the Rosebowl Pool in Pasadena in the summer. My office is directly across the street from my house which means I have a 30 second work commute which is pretty good for a city where the biggest complaint is the traffic.

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Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

It started with sewing which was a love of mine since I was thirteen. I did home economics at school and really enjoyed it. I would always buy garments and bags and rip them apart to see how they were put together. Construction was my favorite part of the design process. I didn’t know you could start a business or do the kind of thing I was interested in doing until much later; it was just a hobby for me. In high school I would make presents for my friends with found fabric prints and solids at local fabric stores but never felt like a project was truly my own unless I created every piece of it myself including the print. I studied Illustration at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and really found my visual voice. It was then that I was able to fully merge my sewing and textile design to create what Mokuyobi is today.

I have always been very interested in bag construction from the beginning. What is your bag but your on-the-go house? When you're out and about you gotta be organized, able to access your necessities easily, and look good doing it! I felt there was a large hole in the market for fun & functional Made in the USA bags and it's been my passion since day one.

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Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

I love everything that we produce because that's what makes Mokuyobi what it is but truthfully it's the art projects that I do on my own that fuel it all. One of my favorite pieces is a baby quilt I made a few years ago that now acts as a wall hanging in my office. I love all the different colors, textures, and patterns inside it and it's really fun to look at. At the end of the day my favorite thing it actually doing the making which you do less of when you run a business. You end up spending a lot more time running a business. 

I started a new project last year that I hope to continue this year called, FUNHOUSE, where I make one-offs or super limited productions for products that I create just for fun as a creative outlet and sell at high-end prices. I love this idea so much because it's impossible to produce every idea I have and really hard to narrow them down for each season. I am constantly pushing print designs and design ideas to the following year because our production schedule is full. This way I get to put my ideas out there without having to wait 6 months to release the full collection.

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Are there any artists or companies that inspire you or your work?

I always try to consciously think about my specific vision and be driven by what excites me creatively. I think on the path of what Mokuyobi means to me for what it is now and what I want it to be. I find it distracting to focus on or look upon other brands for direction as my goal is and always has been to fill a void for product that doesn't exist; To create into a black hole. 

I find a large disconnect between creating product for consumerism and the zeitgeist of the current trends and being true to yourself as an artist and trusting your gut in your vision of what you know to be beautiful, functional, necessary, and forward thinking. But having a brand is the merging of these things that are difficult to unmix.


What is your creative process like?

I thrive on rules that I create for myself. I love themes and narrowing the scope on what it is allowed to be. I expand each print, theme, or season within those parameters to really squeeze the full potential out of any specific idea.


What is the hardest part about what you do?

The hardest part about what I do is having to wear many hats. Some of them I'm not good at wearing but I have to navigate how to handle issues in areas that aren't my forté while juggling all of my other responsibilities and tasks.

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Be unique. Practice your style and make what you love but bring a new perspective to the field that you create in. Uniqueness and originality will set you apart from your peers.


What is your workspace like?

I like to think my workspace is a window into what the inside of my brain looks a bit like. There's a lot to look at. It's filled with a ton of knick knacks and meticulously organized desk accessories in every [good] color you can imagine along with a mess of what I'm currently working on sprawled along the floor. Four sewing machines each with their specific use line the wall, a cutting table, and a computer desk keep the company of hundreds of pieces of paper with notes and drawings taped to the walls.

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What are you working on right now?

Right now I am designing our Spring and Summer 2020 collections and trying to narrow down visual themes and styles for ideas I've been wanting to explore. Each season I release 3 or 4 new prints which we make all of our styles in but next summer I'm working on a project that will let me expand on my print designs in a big way without having to postpone prints I want to make.


If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

I find myself much more commonly in a "time rut" or in a situation where business tasks take priority over creative ones where I have tons of ideas and things I want to make but not enough time to do them. I have bought endless sketchbooks and find that after I fill out the first two pages they just collect dust. Mokuyobi has grown exponentially in the past few years which has been a big reason that time has been tight as I navigate some happy growing pains but 2019 is looking like it's going to be an easy ride and I'm excited to crack open a sketchbook and create some fun projects.

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Meet Carrie Beth Waghorn

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Meet Carrie Beth Waghorn

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Well hello. My name is Carrie Beth, CB, and I am delightfully weird. I am an extroverted introvert who likes colored hair and blue lipstick. I have cellulite and small breasts. My favorite colors are black and yellow. I am the only surviving member of my nuclear family. I love cats and small spoons. My favorite noise is that totally quiet sound after a fresh snowfall when the world is coated in white and completely at peace and I will eat sweets at any given hour of the day.

Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

My work stems from a mostly subconscious place. It represents the sacred bond between mind and body. It all began when I finally figured out my process. My process is deeply meaningful to me as it evolved organically and was a revelation of sorts, to the secrets I kept hidden within my body. I found that through my yoga practice, certain poses kept emerging as I set out to paint. It starts with music, sometimes weed, and movement. In childs pose, I check in with myself. I breathe. I listen. Through movement and rhythm my body tells me what it feels, I simply transcribe this onto paper through bursts of expressive energy. My body of work is an extension of my own body, the attitudes I have towards it, a map for the places where I hide, its triumphs, and its deepest wounds.

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Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

There are numerous pieces I create and really feel quite attached to. It’s that feeling after I finish a piece, regard it and just feel like I am staring at myself, except it’s this weird ink thing on paper. Those are the pieces I keep. One of my favorites is a piece titled NO VACANCY. She’s hauntingly beautiful and one of those pieces that came out of me like a melody, no thinking or hesitation with the lines, and each stroke was perfect. Her face is vivid in my mind to this day. Despite her beauty her eyes seem empty, she knows she is being regarded yet she has nothing to offer. I painted it shortly after my mother had passed and it may be the only piece of art that fully conveys the contrast of what I truly felt. I know my friends saw me and loved me, but I had no space left in my heart. The piece sold almost immediately.

Can you share with us a few artists or makers that inspire you or your work?

My dear friend, Armando Cabba, is a living artist who inspires me deeply. He is a hyper realist painter who lives in Paris, France with his pug named Buttons. Armie (as I lovingly refer to him) is a mix between DMX, Picasso and perhaps Jonathan Van Ness. He is a broad-shouldered Italian man from Montreal with a cackle that sounds like sunshine and technique that still intimidates me. He don’t take no shit. Not to mention his meticulous facial hair. He moved to Paris and put his balls to the wall, opening up his own Atelier Cabba, where he paints every single day. He is set to give a TED talk about painting next month, received an invitation to Miami’s Art Basel, and has been featured in too many publications for me to be aware of or nonetheless quote. The reason I admire this man is that he is the true definition of an artist. He is consumed by his work, consistently revealing his inner turmoil through a running series of distorted self portraits. The portraits he paints struck me when I regarded them on my first visit to Paris. I stared at them, consumed by them. It’s as if he had captured the living essence of his subject yet here they were, bound by oil and a 2-D surface. It was living art. As for artists of the past, Matisse really wets my loins. I would consider him the quintessential minimalist. The lines of Egon Scheile and Toulouse are haunting. My muse would be Yayaoi Kusama bc she’s wacky and has been for decades and she’s still making at into her 90’s so fuck yes.


What is the hardest part about what you do?

The hardest part about my job is maybe just the general nature of my brain and navigating interactions with people who genuinely do not have any understanding of how and why creating is what it is and/or takes what it takes. I am fully convinced this is absolutely what I am meant to be doing. I don’t have a normal noggin. I wouldn’t consider myself a “normal” person. I am idyllic at times. I am bad with time. I do not respond to emails in a timely manner. Sometimes my orders are brutally late, so this is what I am working on. No one taught me how to be an artist-I am an artist in and of my own right. BUT no one taught me professionalism 101 either.... Deeply conflicted, isolated, and inspired, my outlook on life is at times abstract and based in the fantasy world due my tendency to idealize mostly anything, my future, my lover, what it means to be alive. I don’t have the answers, but I am lucky enough to share my inner workings with the outer world in a way that inspires and provokes people. Mission accomplished. But still fixing a few kinks.

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

My advice would be to just not ever give up. Things will look bleak, you might have to do the side hustle for months, likely years, but amen I say to you it is WORTH IT. Creative freedom is a luxury in that this lifestyle truly allows you to transcribe everything that is inside of you and turn it into gold. It’s pure alchemy. It is imitated by many and embraced by the people who weren’t scared enough to turn away from job security, guaranteed health insurance and paid days off. I will never be part of a company that matched my IRA contribution, and I will never be chained to a cubicle with an inbox of 5,763 emails. Actually I do have a ton of emails but hopefully you get the point. Just don’t stop. Also buy the book WAR of ART. It is the creative bible and you should absolutely read it.

What is your workspace like?

FUUUCK my work space is a DREAM. Shortly after my mom passed away I threw all my shit on the curb, moved home for a few months, then eventually crawled back to Charleston, which is where my sunny tree top studio is now. I am lucky enough to live in the fourth floor attic of a historic mansion in downtown Charleston. I don’t know how I got so lucky. My studio is East-West facing, it receives the most bodacious morning light that both my cat and I appreciate. I sleep on one end and my studio is in the perfect nook complete with a writing desk and this badass mirror my landlord brought back from India. The place came furnished. After loosing my nanny job, my mother and going through a bad breakup, the universe sent me a curve ball in the form of a heavenly refuge where I still wake up each morning and am basically like “FUCK I am sooooo lucky.” 


What are you working on right now?

Right now I have about 24 small works I am chipping away at. I’m happy to announce my collaboration with Well + Wonder, a delightfully curated online gallery run by Mollie Creason. I am also producing some pieces and designing a powder room wall mural for Paula Rallis, who flips homes, runs an event space AND an interior design storefront in West Greenville. I have three home installations that I am somehow going to squeeze out by the end of May. I love painting peoples walls! I’ll be painting the home of Andrea Serrano (Charleston Shop Curator), Paula’s home and a wonderful natural mamma, Rachel James (Young Living). WHEW! 


Do you have any insight or tips for how to write about your work for other artists who may be struggling to do so?

SO my advice for writing about your work is to make sure that you actually have a body of work to start with because if you do, it’s easy. Just describe who you are and why you create. Where does your art come from? What are you trying to say with your art? What is the reason you are doing what you’re doing? If you know your story, it’s easy. If you’re another affluent house wife who picked up a paintbrush, smeared it across canvas and now call yourself an artist then you may struggle with telling others about your work. There are a lot of people (cough cough INSTAGRAM) who legit have over 20K followers on Instagram yet when I look at their body of work its de-centralized, and resembles TJ-MAXX color vomit rather than an articulate, skilled body of work. It takes more than putting paint on canvas to be an artist. IF you are a true artist, writing about your work is as simple as telling your story from an honest place in your heart.


Is your creative work your full time job? If not, can you share a bit about other work you do either full time, part time or on the side?

Here we go. I would argue that I am on paper, a full-time creative though if you were to look at my brain (realistically) I’m maybe 50% a full time artist. For years I had multiple side hustles which included anything and everything from slinging lattes to wiping baby butts. I still wipe baby butts but only as needed if I want some extra cash. Signing a gallery contract with Meyer Vogl has been pretty life changing. Instead of having 3-4 jobs, I now have a fine art business and a textile business which in an ideal world I would devote all my brain and time to. With this said-mentally I struggle to fully immerse myself into the many hats I am wearing. My mental health is a constant battle-I am never the same person from day to day so even though I might have well-planned intentions, they can sometimes be thwarted despite my best efforts to maintain deadlines and meet personal goals. People do not get this, and the ones that do are usually creatives themselves but I have had client issues in the past simply because I am doing too many things all at once. I am still learning. I am always growing, and one day I hope to fully tether the chord of side-gig security so that my brain can properly compartmentalize and maybe I can get my shit together once and for all. To me that would be running my two creative businesses side by side and nothing else for extra income. OH TO DREAM. 


If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

So it took me a looooong time to figure this out and if I am being honest, I still fall into periods of inactivity. I’ve found out a few things: I’m one part artist, one part writer and one part comedian. If I am stuck I probably need to write, interpret my dreams and just get all that shit out of my head and onto some paper. I need to laugh, I need to take breaks to create space for joy. Figuring out the source of what’s preventing me from creating is key to being able to create. A lot of times I found that my inner dialogue was basically just plain mean when it came to pep talks or explanations of why I was feeling down. It’s a ton of self-sabotage fueled by fear of failure with intermittent bouts of actual depression. I have mental health issues. I don’t know any artist or human alive that doesn’t. When I am having a bout of depression, I ALLOW myself to feel depressed. I think as a society we are so hyper focused on perfection that negative emotions are seen as something we need to avoid, push down or deny. I let myself be bed ridden for days at a time, I don’t fight it. I am gentle. I tell myself that its ok, that it won’t last forever. It doesn’t feel good. But for awhile that mean voice in my head was the bully on the playground that kept me paralyzed for days and in retrospect, years. Telling myself I am a lazy asshole on a day when I have my period and Mercury is in retrograde is NOT the solution to clearing my obstruction. So my advice is to be a decent human being to yourself. Accept that there will be bad days no matter how many pieces of art you sell or how great your hair looked that one day you saw your crush in your fav east side café.

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Meet Zoe DeJesus

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Meet Zoe DeJesus

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Zoe DeJesus. I'm an artist from New Jersey.

Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

I've always wanted to do something creative. I dabbled in quite a few things as a child and as a teenager. I did choir and theater and always had a natural affinity for creating art of some kind. In college I studied theater and thought I was going to pursue that after graduating. But I ended up doing odd jobs and being very unsure of myself. I went through a low period where I was very frustrated with life and because of that I began making art to relieve stress. I started sharing my work on Instagram and it became a bit of a hobby. Friends and family responded positively and people started wanting to buy my work so I pursued it and it became a much larger part of my life and my identity.

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Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

I'm not sure I have a favorite. I'm very critical of my work, more than I'd like to be.  But I am proud of the style that I've developed over the years and I'm interested to see where it goes as I continue making art. 

Can you share with us a few artists or makers that inspire you or your work?

Yes, definitely. Frida Khalo, Georgia O'Keefe, Picasso, Basquiat, Matisse, Mickalene Thomas, Ellie Hopley, Frances Cannon, Celeste Mountjoy and Isabelle Feliu. I'm sure there are many more but these are the ones that came to mind. 


What is your creative process like?

It's constantly changing. But I guess if I had to describe it I'd say I never have a concrete plan and I'm constantly problem solving and changing my mind. I just sort of let my mind go where it wants and I think my art reflects that. 


What is the hardest part about what you do?

It's hard for me to remember that art is for me and not for anyone else. Sharing my work on social media makes it interactive and trying to sell it makes me more vulnerable to the opinion of others. The hardest thing is to stay to true to myself and keep my work honest and original. 

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Be consistent, take advantage of opportunity and don't take yourself too seriously!

What is your workspace like?

I work out of the room that I'm currently renting in Melbourne. It's small but it gets the job done. 

What are you working on right now?

I'm working on an investigative art series at the moment. I am interviewing people about their sexuality and creating paintings about each person I interview. I plan to exhibit the works in Melbourne in July of this year. 

Do you have any insight or tips for how to write about your work for other artists who may be struggling to do so?

Writing and talking about my work has always been pretty challenging. The only tip I'd have for this would be to write in a journal and talk to friends/ family. I think when you're in tune with yourself you can better understand the work that you make.

is your creative work your full time job? if not, can you share a bit about other work you do either full time, part time or on the side?

Making art is not my full time job. Right now it's a hobby and a side hustle. Since I moved to Melbourne for a working holiday, I've been working at a bar. It's nice because I have plenty of time to travel and work on my art. I used to work at an art school when I lived in the states. 

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If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

I have a few go to remedies for creative ruts. Sometimes I will listen to music and smoke a bit of weed and journal, draw or paint whatever comes to me. Usually something very abstract. I like to practice free association and automatism. I find it really beneficial even when I'm in a really good space creatively. 

If the creative rut is really bad and I can't get myself to create anything, I turn to other forms of art. Turning my mind away from myself and my work tends to help. I'll watch a good movie or documentary, read a novel or poetry, see a play, go for walk, exercise, or spend time with friends. It's important for me to escape my own head when I'm stuck. I think my creative ruts often come from overthinking. 

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Meet Jessica of Mottled + Thrifted

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Meet Jessica of Mottled + Thrifted

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Jess! I’m 24 and from the central coast of California. My husband and I have been married for about 3.5 years but are high school sweethearts, so we have been together for just over 10 years. We have a 2 year old son, Noah. He is the funniest kid I have ever met (and maybe the naughtiest 😂.) Life is busy but so, SO good. 

Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

My Instagram shop started out as a platform for selling vintage clothing and home goods. The idea of giving something new life coupled with offering others an alternative to buying into fast fashion felt so amazing to me. I recently discovered I am a type four on the enneagram (I know I know another twenty something year old bringing up the enneagram-don’t hate me😅.)  I have always been extremely creative, decent at a handful of things but not amazing at any one particular thing. Making clay jewelry started out as something fun, just for me. The first time I tried to create anything out of clay, I spent hours designing. When i went to fire my pieces, I came to discover that I hadn’t used oven safe clay 🙃. I tried again and again until I felt confident enough to start selling my designs per some requests! I’m still so new at it and learning everyday how to improve, but I’m loving every second of it. 

Every time I do a drop, I choose my favorite pair out and save it in a folder to my phone and on a private Pinterest board. I come back to it often to stay inspired and excited about what I do.


Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

Every time I do a drop, I choose my favorite pair out and save it in a folder to my phone and on a private Pinterest board. I come back to it often to stay inspired and excited about what I do. So, a specific piece... I made a pair of classic arches for a drop forever ago. I couldn’t part with them until recently. They are translucent and turquoise and felt almost hypnotizing to look at in person!

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Can you share with us a few artists or makers that inspire you or your work?

Not someONE specifically. My inspiration is kind of tough to explain. I’m inspired by the ocean and mountains, the sky at night, dreamy interiors, sunsets, bohemian fashion and Spanish missions. See what i mean by confusing ? I think my inspiration makes more sense in my own head, but there it is for you. 😂


What is your creative process like?

When I first decided to start selling jewelry as a side biz, I made a promise to myself, I would not list anything for sale unless it’s something I’d personally wear. This mantra has helped me stay true to my style. (I’d call it eclectic??)  Sometimes I go into making with colors and ideas in mind, sometimes I need a bit of inspiration, so I’ll turn on some music and just get going. I can tell almost immediately if I need to try again later or if a batch feels right.


What is the hardest part about what you do?

Giving my self time to decompress from the job. I’m so passionate about what I do that it can start to feel obsessive. I’m working on taking time to shut off the work part of my brain. There are so many other aspects and important parts of my life that require attention. Before maker, I’m a momma and a wife. When I’m doing those well, I create better. 

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Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Considering myself an artist still feels so foreign to me, so giving “young artists” advice.... I don’t know if I’m quite qualified to do that if I’m being honest! I’ll give it my best shot... stay true to yourself. One of the most challenging things about what I do is acknowledging that there are tons of other people doing the same thing, and sometimes I think, why bother ? Why would anyone choose my work over someone else’s ? BUT when you stay true to yourself, and you don’t rip off other people’s work, trying to pass it off as your own, you quietly and humbly move forward, there is reward at the end of that. People notice authenticity. 

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What is your workspace like?

It’s my counter top and it’s a freaking mess when I’m working!

What are you working on right now?

The answer is always more earrings! Also, I have a new little project I’m thinking about adding into the mix .

If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

I touched a bit on this, but the best thing for me is  to remember why I started. For me, it’s because it’s exciting and calming and makes me feel proud. To see lumps of clay turn into art that people WANT to wear, it’s so rewarding. When I’m feeling stuck in a non-creative rut, I remember that there isn’t a deadline . I’m my own boss. I am allowed to take time for myself until I feel inspired again to create. Every once in a while when I’m in a rut, I’ll make a pair of earrings just for me. When I make something just for myself, it starts to turn the creative wheels in my brain. 


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Meet Maddy of McIndoe Design

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Meet Maddy of McIndoe Design

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm Maddy. I grew up in London but am based between the UK and Argentina at the moment. I’m a big fan of olives, cups of tea and chorizo.

Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

Last year I got asked to design a print for the V&A Museum in London, which I've been going to since I was tiny. That was a pretty special project!

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What is your creative process like?

I wish I had time to mooch around museums and galleries looking for inspiration, but unfortunately I don't! Instead, anything I see in the street, watch, or even eat might give me an idea. Then I'll start sketching with a pencil before adding in line work with a fine liner. Lastly I'll scan the drawings into my Mac to add color.


What is the hardest part about what you do?

Working alone! Not being part of a team can be really tough, but luckily I've made other designer pals over the years so I know people in the same boat which really helps.

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Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Don't compare yourself to the 97,745,930 other people on social media who you might feel like are doing better than you. It's just a show reel of people's best moments. Also, don't beat yourself up if you have a bad day.

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What is your workspace like?

It depends, I have my studio in London with the collection which we ship out orders from, and then if I'm away from the UK (like I am now) I go to a co-working space so I'm not stuck in the house all day. I used to work from home but the temptation to stay in my pajamas all day was just too much.

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What are you working on right now?

I'm organizing a few different fun shoots to show off the collection in different ways, and working on new prints for next winter.

When you find yourself in a creative rut, what do you do to get out of it?

Sometimes it's good to give yourself a few hours off to take your mind off of things so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective. If I feel really hopeless, I might go for a run. The exercise helps to burn off steam.


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Meet Eleanor Garrard

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Meet Eleanor Garrard

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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Reading, England, and moved with my family to the heart of the Yorkshire Dales when I was five. My parents chose to make this move to take over my Mum’s family business, a small department store. I was never interested in being involved with the shop until a few years ago, when it occurred to me how passionate about fashion I actually was. Since then, I’ve played a small role in business development, and gone on buying trips with my Mum to companies such as Seasalt, White Stuff and Great Plains. I suppose unconsciously I’ve become drawn to the industry as it’s what I’ve been brought up alongside!

I was never interested in being involved with the shop until a few years ago, when it occurred to me how passionate about fashion I actually was.

When did you start creating? What has made you want to pursue it?

It’s not been a particularly smooth journey! I’ve always known deep down that I belong in a creative industry, however after achieving As and A+s in my exams when I was 16, I tried to force myself down an academic route. Looking back, that obviously wasn’t right for me. Following burning myself out in my first year of A levels, I dropped out of college and took the rest of the year off to try and overcome some mental health issues. It was amongst the chaos of my life that I started to experiment with art and fashion, and eventually ended up combining the two! From there, people started noticing my designs and actually asking to buy them! My brand was born from a combination of unfortunate circumstances and a ton of accidents, but it ended up being the thing that kept me going! Realizing how happy creating made me is what encouraged me to pursue it more than anything else.

Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

While my personal favorite design is my ‘Dino Mother Mary’ tee, my ‘Banana Boob’ design is the gift that keeps on giving. When people see it, their reaction is always the same:

1)      ‘Oh wow bananas as boobs, that so creative!

2)      ‘Wait… is that a snail as a nipple?!’

3)      ‘OMG it has a little nipple piercing on it!! I love it!’

It’s this reaction that always makes it worth it for me! It’s all about the details. Besides that, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with Catholic iconography, and how designers such as Dolce and Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix have been inspired by Catholic artwork. I thought I’d put my own spin on it. That’s how Dino Mary was born.

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Can you share with us a few artists or makers that inspire you or your work?

I don’t think I have any particular artists that inspire me, however I am constantly being inspired by other creatives I come into contact with! I’m love how everyone I’ve met is so keen to support one another and exchange knowledge!


What is your creative process like?

Super disorganised and ever evolving! I’m always trying to better my work, and my creative process along with it. 

What is the hardest part about what you do?

Keeping all of the balls in the air, and keeping track of the boring stuff which unfortunately is quite an important part of running a small business.

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Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Don’t think about it too much, just go for it! If it’s what you really want, you’ll slowly but surely find a way to make things work. Don’t be afraid to get things wrong too. It happens to me every single day but I know now it’s a necessary part of the learning process. 

What is your workspace like?

A shed. Literally, a glorified potting shed, and sometimes my Mum’s kitchen too.

What are you working on right now?

I have a few more designs in the pipeline which I hopefully will have done in time for Christmas (presents!!)

If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

It really depends on my mood. If I’m in a terrible mood then I can’t try to be creative, because whatever I do will just remind me of how bad I was feeling and I won’t be able to be proud of it. When I’m all out of ideas I talk to my creative friends, and most importantly I do the things that have been piling up and putting pressure on me (which is usually what lands me in the rut.) What probably helps the most is looking to other creatives for inspiration. Pinterest, Instagram, or sometimes children’s books can do the trick! 

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