Polka & Bloom on Etsy

February 14, 2009

Getting to know you - Rose Howard

Another Saturday, another interview! This time with Rose Howard. She is talented in so many ways. Over to Rose now, she has some very interesting things to say. Enjoy!

You can watch this chap in a pretty cool music video right here.

Your name

Rose A. C. Howard :: website :: blog :: shop ::

Where in the world are you?

New Rochelle, NY, United States, Earth

Briefly describe yourself and what you make

I’m small. I wear glasses. I’m afraid of getting contacts because once in third grade I saw a girl get something in her eye and she screamed and screamed and screamed. I have no idea if she was wearing contacts but at the time I was convinced it had to do with them. So I won’t wear them.

I make things like little stuffed monkeys, and sculptures. I make hats, and recently have begun knitting. I spent over a year in Brooklyn making props for a variety of Broadway shows. And I’ve done a fair amount of set and lighting design for theatre in mostly black box theatres.

Who or what inspires you?

I like to look at illustrations from classic childrens books. And I read comic books, not as much as I’d like to, but sometimes. I love the work of Shaun Tan, Ted Naifeh and Jhonen Vasquez. I listen to more Eelwax Jesus and Oingo Boingo than I should. And I read Ursula K LeGuin and John Wyndham whenever I can get my grubby paws on a library copy of their books. Reading has always been a huge part of my inspiration. I’ve been reading since before I can actually remember. So stories, new and old, are always influencing me.

When / how did you learn?

I’m mostly self taught. Although my mother is a big ’maker of various and sundry stuff’, so I had someone to go to when I was young and didn’t know how to tie knots in thread or some such.

I took classes in art, puppetry, hat making and various design concentrations when I was at Ithaca College getting my BFA. Those mostly just helped me refine my art though. The basics were always there. In high school I had a pair of jeans that was almost all embroidery and patches. I was sewing in school whenever the teachers weren’t looking. That or reading. It’s always been like that with me.

Why do you 'bother' to make things by hand?

It’s less of a ’bother’ and more of a compulsion. If I had my way I’d probably be making something every single second I wasn’t sleeping, eating or reading. Sometimes I need to relax or go to work, so I can’t be doing it all the time. I frequently find myself making things for hours and hours on end if someone doesn’t interrupt me and say, make me eat lunch or stretch or something. Although I’ve gotten better at policing myself and making myself take breaks.

What is your craft ”philosophy”?

Hmmm. I hate dogmatic things like a ’philosophy’, but if I had to pinpoint my feelings on my work I guess it would be something like this.

Don’t make stuff you feel you ’should’ be making. Make what you’ve always made without thinking about it. Make the things that make you happy. Put a bit of your soul into whatever you’re making. I know something is good when I love it. When I feel almost ’in love’ with my creation. That I’ve put a bit of myself into it. Even if no one else likes it, I do, and that’s what makes it all worth while. And I think that’s the sort of work that speaks to other people as well.

Fondest craft-related memory?

Once, while living in London, when I was completely broke, I made a cardboard suitcase. It had a removable section in one half (it split in two) that had lots of little boxes. Each box was handmade and had different little weird things in it. I still have it. I was origially going to make the back of the shelves for the boxes light up, but that didn’t really work out. Now that part of the suitcase sits on a shelf in my studio. I almost threw it out once but I was convinced not to. I still love that weird little thing. It’s a testament to the ability to make something out of nothing.

Can you reveal a little about your creative process?

Every single project is different. I mean, I make hats, stuffed animals, drawings, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, mixed media collages, little books, props, dollhouses… I think of myself as a multi-class artist. (Like in Dungeons and Dragons).

So obviously I have a tendency to skip mediums and styles frequently. And because of that I never really end up with a ’right’ way to do something or a ’process’. I have an idea, and I make it. I don’t always even do a doodle of it first. I’ve made entire projects straight out of my mind with no pictures or reference.

Or sometimes I have no idea at all, and I let my hands and my subconscious make it. I have a lot of drawings I’ve done that start as a random scribble, and then I let myself doodle for awhile, and then it becomes what it wants to be. It’s weird to let your subconscious make stuff. It’s like dreaming while awake.

Favourite book(s) or craftbook(s)?

Currently the Encyclopedia of Crafts. They’re a weird 1970’s set of craft books with ideas and instructions on how to make oodles of things! Here’s a link to a lovely flickr set of some of the pages from this 24 book series.

Do you use a sketchbook or journal?

I have never been fond of the bound book for journaling. I feel bound and gagged after awhile when I try and use one. I like to doodle on anything and everything. Lately I’ve begun to try and keep it all in a three-ring binder so I can leaf through old ideas and doodles and research. But mostly I have an old printer paper box that just gets a stack of ideas and scribbles and pictures waiting to be filed. I don’t mind not having a single place to go to for old ideas or doodles.

Why is crafting good for you?

When I don’t make things for awhile, I start to feel a little bit like I’m dying. There have been weeks or months when I’ve been so busy or stressed that I haven’t made anything. I’ve learned that even a doodle can really save my soul sometimes. It’s almost like breathing or eating. I have to do something. So it’s less ’good’ for me, and more ’mandatory for my very existence on Earth’.

What impact (if any) has the internet had on your craft?

Lately, being largely unemployed/freelance, the community of etsy users/bloggers/and flickr friends I’ve found have really helped me. It’s really spirit boosting to know that there are kindred spirits out there battling the depression and difficulty of being an artist. And that they’re supportive of another soul doing the same.

I’ve always done my work, with or without showing it on the internet, but it’s really great to get instant feedback from other artists on my work. I’m not sure I would be able to make some of the fun things I’ve made lately without the outlets I’ve found on the internet.

Although of course, the support at home is the most important. My fiance gives me a lot of room and support to do my art, and no amount of internet could ever rival that. :D

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