Today we welcome mixed-media artist and Stampington columnist Ricë Freeman-Zachery to Somerset Place. She shares her creative process, what inspires her writing, and why buying handmade is so important.
Readers might recognize you from your columns published in Somerset Studio, Belle Armoire, and Art Journaling, just to name a few publications. What is the most memorable artist profile that you have written?
I’ve gotten to talk to a slew of fabulous people over the ten years I’ve been doing this, so there’s no way I could pick just one! I really enjoy the profiles in which I’ve gotten to visit the artist’s studio. These tours make the artist and their work really come alive for me, and my husband thoroughly enjoys photographing the artists’ spaces.
What do you enjoy best about interacting with the artists?
My passion is passion: what do people love? What grabs them? What wakes them up in the middle of the night? How do they make their ideas concrete? I’m way more interested in the artist and the process than I am the finished work. My current obsession is the intersection of creativity and curiosity, and I’m asking everyone about it. What are you curious about? How does that feed into your creative life?
What sparked your interest in writing? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think perhaps in another life my mother would have been a writer, and I think one of her dreams was for me to write novels. Her love of books and reading was surely an influence, and fortunately they were things I also loved. Both my parents were readers, and books were a constant from birth–I’m guessing they were probably reading to me before I was born. I love the way words work together and am fascinated by connotation, metaphor, and etymology. I was always something of an English geek and got two degrees in English, which of course is a guarantee of wealth and fame, right? Other people got degrees in things that lead to lucrative careers; I got degrees in a discipline I loved.
Tell us a bit about the books you have written. What do you hope readers and artists will take away from these artistic collaborations?
I’ve written five books: Stamp Artistry, (artists who show how they use rubber stamps to create a project), New Techniques for Wearable Art (the first altered artwear book, and a tough sell to the publishers who thought altered artwear wouldn’t ever be popular) and then three creativity books: Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. The last one, a collaboration with my husband (he took all the photos), was the most fun. We traveled 19,600 miles in 2010 attending art retreats, taking photographs (Earl), and asking nosey questions (me). We featured five complete workshops led by Jesse Reno and Carla Sonheim and included tips for holding smaller retreats closer to home.
When you’re not writing about other people’s work, what art do you create?
The short answer is that I stitch. The longer answer is that I alter garments into SoulWear–clothes that are expressions of a unique personality. In the past, I have made/shown/taught/sold art quilts and art dolls, handmade books and jewelry, assemblage and collage. But my true passion–ever since I was in high school–has been altering and embellishing my own wardrobe. Since I love finding already-worn clothes, consignment shops and thrift shops are treasure troves for me. I love Goodwill–not just for the selection and great prices but because they employ special needs workers in the community.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you work on a single project at a time, or have several in the works?
I like to work. I like to be productive. I’m incredibly lucky to have jobs that I love–writing profiles for Stampington, writing books, editing a website for my publishers at F&W Media (CreateMixedMedia.com). I like to have a lot of projects going at once, several of them with deadlines that help me create schedules as a framework for everything else. I love the days when I edit audio while doing handwork on a garment I’m embellishing. All the various projects influence each other, with ideas zipping around in my head, and I can move from one to another to another throughout the day.
What do you enjoy surrounding yourself with in your studio?
Color, color, color! Our house is a riot of bright color, just the way we love it. Three years ago for my birthday Earl helped me gut and re-do the office studio. We painted the walls and ceiling a sunny golden orange and stained the concrete floor a gold and reddish-rust hue. Just last week I had the sewing studio re-done, with triple windows and the same color paint as the office. Color + a lot of light = a happy me. Oh, and happy cats. You can’t work when the cats aren’t happy, so the sunny windows are also for them.
How can people support the handmade movement?
Avoid the mall. Seriously. Support Etsy–I love Etsy. I’m at the stage in my life where I’m focusing on getting rid of–rather than acquiring–things, and that’s also a way to support handmade. Use the things you have already to create “new” stuff rather than going out and buying something new.
What advice can you offer an aspiring artist/writer?
Write. Write every day. Learn to be an editor and go back and look at what you’ve written with a critical eye. Read. Read everything. Don’t settle on one genre, but read everything you can get your hands on. Learn the rules of writing. Know what a metaphor is, learn about parallel structure, know how to quote people so you don’t end up falsifying information. Writing is a craft and a skill and an art, and doing it well requires not only that you study the rules, but that you fall in love with words and what they will enable you to communicate with others.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
You can create your own life. There are a few rules you have to follow, things about paying taxes and flossing your teeth and Dressing Appropriately for The Day Job. Outside of those, however, you can do pretty much what you want with your house and your wardrobe, your hair and your routine, what you eat and how you spend your spare time. I always urge people to quit watching television, quit doing what everyone else is doing, and figure out what you want to make of your life. You only get one, so you might as well make it exactly how you want it.
Thank you for sharing your insight with us, Ricë! You can find Rice’s artist profiles in Art Doll Quarterly, Art Journaling, Art Quilting Studio, Belle Armoire, Belle Armoire Jewelry, and Somerset Studio. Her books, Living the Creative Life and Creative Time and Space are available at The Shoppe.
Follow Ricë’s creative endeavors on her blog, Notes from the Voodoo Café: http://voodoonotes.blogspot.com.
Posted: Monday, April 30th, 2012 @ 12:29 pm
Categories: Mixed-Media Art.
Tags: Guest Artist, Magazine.
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