We head down South this week to Louisiana.
Name: Nichol Brinkman
Occupation: Fiber Artist/ Mom
Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/PinkCheeksStudios
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Nichol Brinkman. I design and construct a line of soft toys, pillows, and baby mobiles featuring ninjas, sumo wrestlers, angel pigs, and roller-skating mod girls. I also make digital prints of fabric collages. I like to make characters that feel like they come from a very specific place, and reflect how I think childhood should be: full of wonder, joy and delight.
When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?
I always have created, but I began sewing in 2007. I took one fibers class in college (I was a painting major), and I loved it so much. 2007 is when I bought my first sewing machine and just clumsily taught myself how to make weird pillow monsters with it.
How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
At first my business name was Pillow Monsters, but that was before I was really business-y, and I later discovered the name was trademarked by a different company (which never took off, I don’t think). I changed it to Pink Cheeks Studios after my son Walter’s bright pink cheeks. I want my shop to exude joy and Walter is the essence of joy.
Has your Etsy shop become your full time job?
It has. I originally wanted to be able to supplement my family’s income enough so that I could be a stay at home mom, but now I need to send Walter to daycare part-time just to keep up. It is the best for both of us though. I feel more fulfilled when I have the time to work creatively, which helps me to feel more joyful and in turn a better mom. And, Walter gets to run around and act like a monkey with a bunch of other kids a few days a week.
How would you describe your creative process?
I draw a lot. I draw with tiny, fine point micron pens in my moleskine sketchbooks. I play around with different shapes and I draw different faces in the shapes. Drawing, for me, is the most important step in my creative process and when I feel the most potential. I make my patterns on cardstock and then I spend a lot of time choosing fabrics for each piece. I pick fabrics based on pattern, but also on texture. I love a wide variety of textures in each piece. Then I sew away! I always stuff firmly so that my little people/monsters/animals feel sturdy and important.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from a lot of other artists. My favorites lately are:
Alexander Girard (particularly his wooden dolls:)
Chicago Imagist, Karl Wirsum's sculptures:
And, everything Elsa Mora does (she also has a lovely blog):
I also am really drawn to the images in the French magazine MILK, which I have an online subscription to, but you can also peruse the printed magazine at Barnes and Noble
Do you also sell your work at craft shows? (If so- answer the following questions)
Lately, I have been just fulfilling orders for my online shop, but I have done artist markets in the past and I love them very much.
• What shows have you taken part of, and do you have a favorite?
My favorite show has been the Bloomington Handmade Market in Bloomington IN. The creators of the event are artists themselves and they select great artists and have a DJ and a coffee bar.
• How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?
I get ready for the show by making lists of what to create and spending a couple months trying to reach that goal. I also spend a bit of time figuring out my booth display which is one of my favorite part about participating in these events. I am always so envious of brick and mortar shop owners who get to make elaborate window displays, and I like to treat my booth space like that.
• Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work
I vividly remember a group of three young girls who ran over to my booth. Each picked up one of my dolls and had an impromptu dance party. There were lots of giggles involved. It was the perfect reaction to my work. That joyful moment made me so proud and excited, and gave me a lot of energy to keep creating.
What is your most cherished handmade item?
I made a wooden marionette of a three-headed-business-man-monster at a marionette workshop in Prague. It was an amazing experience. The workshop consisted of about 15 other participants, all from different countries, and we were all learning this new craft from a gentle wood-carving puppet master. Plus, we were in Prague which is the most beautiful city in the world. Here is a link to the workshop, for any readers of your that are interested. It is definitely one of my most treasured experiences: http://puppetsinprague.eu/up_coming_workshops.html
Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I like playing imagination games with my son (currently it involves a lot of extinguishing fires), watching movies and shows with my husband and exploring New Orleans (it is an hour away from our new home).
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be and why?
Everything I can think of is still sort of arty like film director or musician. Maybe I would love to run my own summer camp?
Five years from now you will be…
Doing similar things but better in hopefully a room all of my own instead of a corner of our living room.
Describe yourself in five words:
Compassionate, creative, friendly, warm, quiet
Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your <insert whatever type of music player you use here>, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?
Always try to be distinctive and push your boundaries, but most importantly put love into what you do.