Today’s sneak peek is in the studio with Erin G from Studio Piccolo. We met while working together as a textile designers at Mohawk Industries back in 2001. We’ve worked together in a creative industry, we’ve participated in collaborative art projects together and we’ve remained friends through several moves. Erin is truly an artist in my opinion (see her definition below), I’ve always admired her creative energy, passion and skills as a textile designer, seamstress and artist. She has a wonderful sense of funky style where she mixes found objects, textiles, drawing/painting and anything else that inspires her. She seems to always have something in the works. She is equally talented at creating functional art such as garments, accessories, cards and non functional art. She works like a mad woman at several textile design jobs but still manages to find time to make things in her spare time. She has produced an amazing volume of work in this spare time and last year I finally helped her get her Etsy shop set up…please check out her beautiful paper craft and textile mixed media work there or on her Facebook page!
Erin modeling an amazing Jacket she designed and created. Photo via TSVETY Fashion
At what age did you realize you were an artist? I don’t think I have ever realized that I was “an artist”. An artist is someone who does art most of the time. I work most of the time and do art when I get the chance. But, I knew from age 5-6 that I liked making things, drawing and painting, sewing and all things crafty. I try to incorporate a lot of it into everyday life, but “art” has never been what I am able to do with most of my time. I aspire and plan to be an artist when I don’t have to work so much!
What medium(s) do you work with? I have and will work with almost anything, but my favourite media are fabrics, papers, paints, dyes and found objects.
From top: Erin’s Sewing, Painting and Mixed Media stations.
Where do you make your art & how big is your space? In my home – pretty much all over it. I have a loft space upstairs that is the primary contained space for creativity such as painting, printmaking, collage and heavy duty sewing (industrial machine). But also part of my office is used for light duty sewing, computer art and supply storage. I also regularly use my kitchen table for everyday collage projects and my garage for dying and anything that requires hammering, stapling or noxious fumes.
Erin’s Art Loft studio space has great light and several “zones” for making her art.
Do you consider yourself to be an organized or not and why? I am not even remotely organized. When I begin a large project, I basically dig out the majority of what I think I’ll need, clear a space and spread it out so that it is handy. I can usually find the large items and basic supplies to complete a project, but often cannot find smaller items (such as collected ephemera and found objects) to finish the detail work. I know where mostly everything is, but I have a lot of small junk that just gets put into various tins, boxes, bags, and drawers that are hard to locate if they were put away over 6 months ago.
How/Where did you learn your organizing habits and systems? I picked up most of my organizing habits from family and friends. And with things that do not change on a regular basis, such as kitchen cabinets linen closets, desk drawers, I know where everything is because the items never change and always get put back in the same place. With items such as collected ephemera and interesting found objects that are added to daily, they don’t necessarily have “a place” so they end up just anywhere I happen to be at the time I file them.
What types of cycles have you notices in your working process? Are there certain phases of projects that are neater or more dis-organized? When starting a major project, I usually clean up a work area, put away all unnecessary stuff and organize the bulk of what I will be using in the project. Then I work, work, work, while the mess piles up.
What materials/tools do you find challenging to keep organized or locate when you need to use them? Small items 6″x6″ and smaller. They are of such different natures (beads, thread, metal items, plastic items, paper items, fabric swatches etc.) that I have not found any reasonable organizing system that does not take up a lot of space. Hence they get stashed in boxes and bags that need to be dumped out to find any particular thing.
Above: Several areas where Erin stores craft and artmaking supplies, a office closet with drawers and open shelves in her studio.
How often do you purge or declutter your supply stash due to space or other constraints? Not very often. I keep a lot of things because they inspire me to think about creating. Unfortunately I have a lot more things than I have time to create with those things!
Please describe how creative cycles of organization or dis-organization affect your creative process? The organization or lack of organization doesn’t really effect my creativity – the thought process and the inspiration. Too much disorganization makes it difficult to get through a project if it requires an extended period of time with many interruptions, because I tend not to clean up during or at the end of projects. I will usually leave the mess in place until the beginning of the next project or, if I am not yet inspired or I have some free time, I may take a leisurely cleaning adventure through my piles in order to start plotting the next thing or in anticipation of the fact that there eventually will be a next thing. Too much organization and cleanliness makes me feel a little guilty about making a mess again so I try not to be too awfully clean and organized. (e.g., As I said above, I keep an “art mess” on my kitchen table at all times in the event I just have to create something – anything! If I have to remove that mess when I have company come to visit and I see how nice and clean and proper the place looks without it, it makes me feel like I should relegate that mess to another space and keep the common areas clean for potential visitors. But, if I do that, I know I will not go to one of those other spaces to do a “quickie” because those other spaces are out of the way – there is no tv, there is no view, there is no sink, the light isn’t as good at night time etc. I like having my mess right there where I can cook and do laundry and other things in between working on an idea.)
Erins Dining room table with projects in various phases of completion.
Erin’s kitchen table, cleared for company I presume!
Thanks Erin, this was such a great interview! Despite her super busy schedule she managed to provided all the photo’s and talked me through the explanations behind each. She tried to put this interview off until she had a chance to share the “Post cleanup” pictures with me but I insisted that was not necessary! I love how honest and open Erin is about her creative process and her systems or lack there of for organization. She perfectly illustrates that sometimes creativity is fulled by chaos and there are some artists who really need to be surrounded by their stuff for making. I sincerely hope this interview will help some artists be a bit less judgemental of their own processes. By all means if it get to the point where the clutter is taking over the creativity…well then, it might just be time to do a little cleanup and purge. Can I ask y’all to help Erin know that she IS an ARTIST?! Thank you so much Erin for inviting us into your studio, providing us with the photo’s and explaining the way that organizing affects you as a working artist and designer. Please check out Erin’s Facebook Page for more information on her process and her Etsy site to make some lovely purchases of her pieces! I’ll be back with another artist ‘Inside the Studio‘ feature next month! If you missed my last Inside the Studio please take a look!
* Inside the Studio was my brainchild in 2011. There are a lot of popular studio features on the web and in magazines but I’m specifically interested in showing how organizational process influences the artists studio work. These photo’s are not styled and are typical of how the artists working studio looks. I request that each artist leave their space as it would be on a daily basis (just like I ask my clients). This series is meant to highlight how artist REALLY work rather than showing STYLED shots (popular in home and organizing magazines and blogs). I’m sure just like me, you are fascinated by the “behind the scenes” sneak peek into these artists working lives!