Friday, May 27, 2011

Introducing The Creative Beast Interview!

Hello Dear Blog Reader!
I'm so excited to reveal something new on my blog - The Creative Beast Interview!

I get SO inspired and excited when I see other 'Creative Beasts' in the world and I wanted to know more about their process so I created an interview format that asks questions about early creative experiences and influences, as well as asking about their process and thoughts on the effects of creativity in life...and I wanted to share my findings with you!

I hope this interview series gets to the heart of what it is to be creative in the hopes that you will be inspired too - so let's begin!

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An Interview with Pepper Stitches!

I'm so thrilled to introduce Pepper Stitches for my first interview since she is the first person I asked to interview over a year ago, when I first knew I wanted to start interviewing other 'creative beasts'. I am happy that she remembered my early request!

I met Pepper Stitches through the annual Blogtoberfest, hosted by Tinniegirl, over two years ago and was immediately smitten with her adorable handmade toys, also known as softies. I've followed her journey as she left her day job to strike out on her own selling her dolls and whimsical animals. She has recently added Pepper Stitches Patterns to her line of products, which is so exciting! 

Pepper is certainly a busy lady these days but she took some time from her schedule to be interviewed. Thank you for being here Pepper!

The lovely and creative Pepper Stitches

Who first introduced you to creating? Was it a family member - a teacher? How did that person influence you?
My Mum was a dressmaker when I was little; I remember the big dressmakers dummy and all the beautiful fabric. She made a dress that someone wore in a televised awards show once, we were so proud! Later on she also did screen printing, and in the shed adjoining the house we made a little production team to sew and print aprons and tea towels for local shops. That’s where I started, where I discovered the pleasure of turning an idea into something you could hold. Mum never accepted that we were bored, she always pushed us to do something or learn something, and if I wanted something, she told me to go make it! 

It sounds as if your mother is a Creative Beast too! It's easy to see that the acorn didn't fall far from the tree...
What were your first creative actions that you remember? (Sewing, Dancing, Painting, etc?)
I was always making little dolls, or clothes for my bears; I also drew a lot and wrote short stories, I wish I had some of them now! Most of my childhood was without TV, so we entertained ourselves; putting on plays, magic shows, a circus.  I went to the library a lot, so I would pick up craft project books to try, or just read for hours. I lived in my imagination, or in a book, so it follows that I’d try to do something now that allows me to keep dreaming! 

I love that you had an environment that encouraged so much imaginative play! I can see it really helped you form your creative skills...
 Do you have a favorite medium to create in? If so, what is it?
Fabric or ink and watercolours. Fabric is so textural, with little stitches and soft bodies, it is such a primal need to hug something. And the colours and designs available make me swoon, not to mention the vintage loveliness and sensing the history behind upcycled textiles. Watercolours are ephemeral and soft, and easy to work with! 

Oh yes, that need to hug something small and soft is why I loved making rag dolls as a girl. Fabric is a wonderful medium to work in and it's amazing how it surrounds us everyday in our clothes and our furnishings...

One of Pepper Stitches softie patterns - isn't this the cutest giraffe?!?
How do you feel when you are creating in your chosen medium?
Dreamy. Full and empty at the same time.
 What is the greatest joy you derive from creating? Accomplishment? The process? Sharing it with others?
I would have to say the idea, and the accomplishment. To be honest sometimes the middle part, the making, can exasperate me, I just want to see what I have imagined and hold it finished, and not go through the monotony of making it! I like that moment when you think ’OH I wonder if..’ Or ‘Gee it would be swell to make a…’  To make unexpected creatures that feel like they have their little personalities, it just makes me smile.

I hear you Pepper! My least favorite part of sewing is cutting out the pattern to a garment or soft toy - I just want to jump from the idea to making it come to life!
 Do you think a creative life comes from ideas, doing or being?
I think creativity is a broad term, and people narrow it too much, to mean a finished product or particular process using certain tools. You can be creative in so many ways, in breadth of thought, language, how you interact with the world, and just being. I think it’s any or all of the above. Everyone is creative, and has the potential to do so much, but it’s easy to settle into comfortable routine and neglect the possibilities.

I think everyone is creative too, Pepper, and it's not always linked to ART, but I had not considered that settling into a routine could be an obstacle to exercising ones creative muscle, but I certainly see how it can block creative expression...
 How do you express your creative life? Is it integrated in your daily life or is it a separate part of your life?
My creative life is just me, my life. I do things the way I imagine, and don’t realise it’s unusual or until someone points it out. I am guilty of being a little na├»ve and focussing on only the good things, but it’s worked for me so far! If I am a product of my experiences, why not focus on the good bits? Why not have cake for breakfast sometimes? 

mmmmmm, CAKE! Now I'm hungry! ;)
 Can you think of a time when someone else’s creativity fed you? What was that like?
Sorry Monica, I can’t think of an answer for this one!
 What is the most significant creative event in your life to date? Was it a defining moment? Was it a milestone or a lifetime goal?
Well, quitting my job to start a creative small business full-time would have to be it! I think my outstanding ignorance really helped, if I knew what I was getting myself in for, I may not have done it! Taking creativity seriously, as a viable option for doing something was big; making a studio space (in the corner of my bedroom to start with, later in a whole room!) was a defining moment. I remembered that when you were a kid you thought that grown-ups did whatever they wanted, because they could. So I thought ‘well I’m a grown-up’ and did just that. What I wanted.

Congratulations on striking out on your own to be a self-sustaining artist Pepper! I think that many people stop themselves from starting a small business due to perceptions that it won't work, but really it is hard work, which can go back to being comfortable and settled as you previously stated. I can also see that sometimes "Ignorance is Bliss" and to take a leap of faith one might need  to be a bit "ignorant" ;)

 one of Pepper Stitches early creations that I may have to special order - I MUST have one of these for my creative play-space!
What is it like to be a self-sustaining artist?
I love to spend my days creating, the only thing is when I am too caught up in the ‘work’ of it, when creating becomes about material costs, profit margin, what will sell well; instead of what I want to be doing. It’s necessary sometimes, but can be a drainer of creativity. Nothing like having to do something to make you not want to do it! The balance between creating vs. producing and studio vs. computer can be tricky. So many interesting things on the interwebs to use up your hours, and I get frustrated sometimes with how many ideas I have or things I want to make, and do, and just run out of time for.  
Working home alone can be lonely (yes, sometimes I talk to my cats.. don’t judge me.) but then I remember that this is what I want to be doing most in the world, and sing out loud and wear my ugg boots; because I can. I have met so many wonderful people too, the craft, blog and retail community is very giving and supportive of each other, which you wouldn’t find to the same extent in other industries. At the end of the day, Pepper Stitches is my baby, and I’m responsible for my own direction, growth and success. Which is scary and liberating at the same time!

Well, Pepper, as least you have cats to talk to at home - I'm not allowed pets of any kind in my humble apartment but I do have a wonderful boyfriend who's only a call away! And I agree that the camaraderie on the internet is really wonderful and supportive. 

Maybe I could make one of these adorable little fellows to keep me company in my creative play-space!
Is your life different from the time when you worked for others?
Totally. See comments above re. singing out loud and wearing Ugg boots to work. I think I’ve become more self sufficient because there’s no boss to fall back on you are responsible for everything. If something doesn’t get done, you have to own up to yourself; it’s a constant state of seeing what works, making changes and trying to stay sane, mostly. The distinction between home and work can be blurry, when you work into the night, or finish orders in front of a movie, or hang up laundry instead of blogging; making time for each has been important! The financial uncertainty can be challenging, and I have not eaten so many 2 minute noodles since my early 20’s! but I am both more stressed and more satisfied, because the money I make, well; I made it. With my own two hands.   
I feel the same way when I make things too, Pepper, as well as when I make money from selling my goods, which reminds me I need to get cracking on creating more goods to re-open my Etsy shop!!

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Many thanks to Pepper Stitches for this interview! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it! Do stop by to say hello to Pepper Stitches - You can find her at these following locations on the internet:

I know you'll be enchanted by her creations!


Kathryn Hansen said...

a nice honest interview of what it's really like to be a full time artist!! i highly enjoyed it!!

The Creative Beast said...

Thanks Kathryn! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview - there are few more to come!

slommler said...

I really enjoyed this interview with Pepper Stitches!! Honest and forthright...she is a darling for sure!
Love her creations too! Very whimsical and well thought out!

sonyamacdesigns said...

LuvN your interview style and approach and Thanks for the super comment on my new blog.