Sunday, March 30, 2014

buy handmade vol 101

This week we head to Maryland..

Name: Inga Lena
Age:  35
Occupation:  Artist
Etsy Shop:  Absurdery

     When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

I’ve been creating forever.  As a child you just want to make stuff with no preconceptions and impress your parents with gifts or decorate your environment.  The desire to create just hangs around and grows in artists instead of waning as they get older.  So, even though I have been making art and giving it as gifts for ages I started creating things that people wanted to buy in 2009.  I opened my first of several Etsy shops selling plush creatures.  That’s when my hobby turned into a creative business.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
I came up with a million horrible names and then this one that fit.  A couple years ago I stopped making and selling my plush monsters to pursue art dolls and monster sculptures.  I really felt at home with the name of that shop but it was too material specific, Plush Riot.  So I thought and thought and wrote down lots of words that I liked and felt represented my new direction.  I didn’t want it to restrict me in the future if I veered one way or the other with materials.  Using my own name has not been appealing to me for whatever reason.  I was looking for my ‘forever’ shop name.  I came up with Absurdery, which isn’t actually a word so I got to make up its meaning. It’s a noun that means ‘an absurd or illogical object or action’.  It fits because my subject matter has always been a deviation from reality.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
It is not my full time job.  I have always worked with animals, both in the veterinary field and horses, to make money.  The art has always been the fun part.  As we speak I am making a huge change in my life, moving with my family across the country from DC to LA.  If now isn’t the perfect time to pursue my art as a career then I don’t know when it would be.  I enjoy Etsy as a marketplace but would ideally see my work in brick and mortar shops as well as in more group and solo gallery shows.

How would you describe your creative process?
I see arbitrary shapes in my daily life and they spark the idea of some part of a monster.  An ear or a facial expression or hand seen in a shadow or a leaf or the way food is arranged on a plate.  Then I run and get my sketchbook so I don’t forget.  Usually I come up with great ideas right before I fall asleep or when my sketchbook is unavailable.
My creativity itself goes through phases.  There are days, weeks, when I sculpt maniacally.  Other times I am in the painting zone and finish off all those creatures I just made.  Then there is the marinating period when I spend most of my time mulling over ideas and sketching.  It has taken a long time to become in tune with those phases and to be as productive as possible at each of those important times.  I find that if I try to force one thing when my psyche wants to do something else I just end up frustrated.  I know that being a full-time artist makes just listening to yourself and wandering through producing pieces impractical, but hopefully I can get those habits to work in my favor.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I am inspired by what could be but is not.  What little beasties would lurk in the forests of other planets or alternate universes?  Would they bite or just rifle through your belongings?  How would they move around, eat, communicate, what would their offspring look like?  There is rarely a deeper meaning behind my monsters.  They are simply the flora and fauna that inhabit my imagination, inspired by reality.  
In other artwork, Instagram is a great place to peruse the awesome work and different methods other people use.  It is always inspirational to keep going, especially if you’re banging your head against the wall.

What is your most cherished handmade item?
This is super cheesy.  My 3 year old (at the time) daughter was hanging out in my studio making stuff with her kid clay.  She asked if she could have 2 of the polymer teeth I keep in a jar for monsters.  She jammed them into this wad of colorful clay that had 2 bead eyes and announced that she was making monsters like me.  I will keep that toothy clay glob forever.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
I started riding horses when I was 8.  Since then I have taught riding lessons, coached a high school equestrian team, and competed in eventing and dressage.  I have an 18 year old thoroughbred gelding, Duncan, who I got as a 4 year old and love dearly.  Horses make me happy.  I also enjoy making poop jokes, watching The Walking Dead and eating red licorice and cheese, but not at the same time.
Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?
I never had a strong sense of what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I always enjoyed being with animals and making things.  It was no surprise that I was drawn to the veterinary field and continued making art all the while.

Five years from now you will be…
Firmly inserted in the art world, having a solo show or two under my belt.  My daughter and bun-in-the-oven will both be in school, giving me more time in the studio!

Describe yourself in five words:
Stubborn, imaginative, strong, shy, silly.

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your Pandora, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
I tend to stream Pandora’s Indie station or The XX station, so whatever is playing there.

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?
Make what truly inspires you as weird as it may be, not what you think people want you to make.