Tuesday 30 April 2013

Tell All Tuesday ~ Featured Artist: Misja van Laatum

Hi guys...I'm back, that means TAT is too, and I'm really excited because having recently been under the creative weather lets say I found this weeks artist a truly interesting read of new perspectives...just what my arty doc would order. If I had one, anyways. I'm betting. Yeah. For sure. Anyways, enjoy =)

Tell us a little bit about yourself & what kind of artist you are.
My name is Misja van Laatum and I live in a small city in the Netherlands. I've been a creative tinkerer for as long as I can remember. I grew up drawing and painting, building, reading and exploring. This was largely due to the good example my parents gave me: my mother was a teacher and my father an administrator (for the same school no less!) but both were great artists in my opinion. However, the economic situation in the seventies meant that becoming professional artists and starting a family was pretty much an impossible combination. Nevertheless they both kept painting and drawing in their free time. My father switched to mostly assemblage and collage in the eighties.
I'm no professional artist either (well – not in the traditional sense anyway); I finished art school as a digital designer and I work as a freelancer doing all sorts of graphic work and game design.
Art-wise I like to use a lot of different techniques: I enjoy drawing, painting, bookbinding, collage and (some) etching but mostly I'm into mixed media and assemblage. My works are usually small. I work with boxes, found objects and ephemera. There are many, many artists I admire but some of them are truly inspirational: Joseph Cornell, Carel Willink, Nick Bantock, Giorgio de Chirico and Lisa Nilsson to name but a few.
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it?
There's a number of challenges I face as an artist (and I do think they are the same hurdles that most – if not all – creative people face) but it's hard to arrange them 'smallest' to 'largest'.
There's the very mundane and down-to-earth practical side of if: I'd love to spend a big portion of my time in the studio but until I've figured out how to make an actual living out of it, my art remains a glorified hobby. And I'm not even sure that's a bad thing; it means that 'studio time' is essentially 'me time' where I get to make things I truly like, at my own pace and to my own standards.
I find a bigger challenge in the doubts that pop up regularly: is what I'm making relevant? Do I even like my own work? Will it ever be 'good enough'? How do I keep myself from re-hashing the same ideas over and over again? And these doubts can be really hard to overcome... they can be crippling from time to time. Stepping away and doing something completely different does help: go swimming, take a long walk, play video games, hang out with friends. Doubts never last (or they haven't until now!) and I always find they're outweighed by the pleasure of creating.
What is your heart’s greatest desire for your life as an artist?
Good question, and a really hard one. My 'heart's great desire' suggests that there's some goal I'm working towards and that's not the case. I'm still learning and I fully expect to keep learning as long as I keep creating art. But there are certainly a number of things I'd like to accomplish in the (near) future; I enjoy working in cooperation so I'd like to participate in (more) group exhibitions and possibly – once I feel I'm proficient enough – organize workshops or courses. I enjoy writing so 'publishing a book' is one of those long-term items on my bucket list.
Furthermore I would love to set up a museum. And fill it to the creaking rafters with nonsensical objects, weird art and strange books. Admittedly this is towards the very-unlikely-to-ever-happen end of the spectrum, but who doesn't like to dream? I wouldn't be the first however, take a look at these for instance: Nick Bantocks 'The Museum at Purgatory' (http://goo.gl/1Bxxs), The Museum of Jurassic Technology (http://mjt.org/) and more.
Do you ever lose your mojo, and if so, how do you get it back?
It happens from time to time, but not that often. Thank goodness.
I'm very much a 'picture thinker', so usually when I start working on an object it's the culmination of a much longer process that has been going on inside my head – sometimes for absolutely ages. The actual 'making' of an artwork; the collecting, arranging, painting and assembling is – usually - just the final stage.
So to keep making art I need to keep feeding my head (heart? soul?) new and exciting titbits of the world around me. We all do this, all the time: you watch films, read books, meet people, travel the world. Keep an open mind, open your eyes wide, listen, taste and feel. All the time.
But I do lose my mojo every now and then: usually when I'm over-burdened with work, or when I'm worried or sad. What do I do when this happens? First of all: don't panic. I trust that inspiration, creativity and ideas come back as soon as I've made room for them. They never leave, but sometimes you stop listening to them...
Secondly: kick-start the creative process. After one of these "dry spells" I've made a habit of visiting a place that's new to me: a museum I haven't been to, a city, park or forest I haven't seen yet, etc. I'll take my time; take pictures, make sketches, search for anything that might be useful in my studio (you know: leaves, seeds, pebbles, second hand books and postcards, etc.).
And finally: start working without a plan. I sit down, grab whatever comes to hand and just start making stuff. Painting, drawing, writing, anything. It doesn't have to be 'good' or 'pretty' – getting back into the flow is what matters. Sometimes the end results are surprising, sometimes they're horrible, but they always get me going again...
Tell us where can we find out more about you & your art?
My website – which is very sparse at the moment, but I'm working on that – can be found at: http://www.misjavanlaatum.nl It's all in Dutch for now, but the relevant bit of it (my portfolio) is a Flickr feed that contains just pictures and comments in English. I also keep a Flickr set with works in progress - it can be found at: http://goo.gl/g8YYN

Thank you so much Misja, I love that you don't think you have something 'big' that you're working towards but have such awesome bucket list desires - as you say you're working towards something when you create without even realising it, so all your desires are undoubtedly coming nearer to you too =) Reading your interview was very refreshing to me and I think you have unknowingly made me recognise something I've wanted to do for my art, for myself, for a while but never consciously acknowledged so thanks =) I guess we'll see if I do it if I do a near future post on it...

Email me or click the link to find all the details here =)
Much love

Thursday 25 April 2013

Hello...remember me???

Hello, hello!! I'm back, did you miss me?? I missed you. Thank you to everyone that's left such warming comments for me in my absence...and while I said I was going to stay off of the computer (which I did do very well I think) I did check sites & messages on my phone still - you can take the internet away from the girl (...but only if she doesn't sneak a smart phone up her sleeve or under her pillow lol) still it did mean that if you sent me a message I did read it, so thank you to everybody for being so supportive (right down from the tips of my toes!)

So what's been happening in Jennibellie-land? Well creatively not much. I was actually away longer than I had intended; first I was very unwell and wanted to do nothing but watch tv shows on the sofa (I even brought all the twilight movies to watch consecutively in bed like a teenager lol). Then when I started to feel better physically I still just felt so drained in everything else; I was creatively burned out. This page below was the only art journal page I did during the whole of my absence, done after Margaret Thatcher died:
As you can tell not very 'arty', it is just a sketch on an already-painted background and A LOT of writing. And writing is what I mainly did as a creative release, because while I felt emotionally drained my mind was just going crazy - it did not seem to recognise that my hands were not willing to comply so gave me about 50 ideas for new projects a day (or may be it did realise & tried to overcompensate!), either way it was driving me nuts. So I wrote everything down in the hopes these ideas would leave me alone (yeah right!). But writing still proved useful, and through recognising this, and the fact that I just did not feel like physically creating anything I started to write other things. It worked at calming down my whirling brain by giving it a singular creative focus, and within a week or so, I had completed my first brand new zine in years:
jennibellie's journals - my new zine
It is my first perzine (personal zine) and was one of the most cathartic experiences I've ever been through; I think not only because of the emotional toils I was revisiting on the page, but also because of my current emotionally low plateau. Either way it helped, like extracting something poisonous you didn't even know was stinging you. This zine is about the secrets behind the journal page (or more specifically behind my journal pages) - the life, the experiences, the heartaches, the fears etc. There's more info on why I wrote it from this 'who, what, why' page from the actual zine:
if you want to read it click on it I'm sure it'll become bigger
So I'm pretty pleased I managed to 'create' something while still listening to myself and not actually creating anything lol. The zine isn't available yet, but I have sent it off to be professionally printed so I'll let you know when it's available if you're interested in reading it. Speaking of, I said I would say when the hard copies of my Prompted Art Journals are ready for sale, and finally as of today are they in:
click the pic
So other than hand-making the matching envelopes to go with journals I've not done much arty hands-on stuff more recently either. The most I have done is over a pre-arranged art weekend with a friend (this last weekend just gone) and in showing her how to make things I did feel a bit of my spark did come back. I made my studio a bit prettier and recorded some footage for a new video to do with art spaces - not nearly with the same amount of gusto or huge creative dose as I might have usually though. The thing about creativity is I know myself the times when I just have to park my butt and force it through, and I know the other times when I just have to wait for it to come back to me as it pleases - and this has been one of those latter times. And the constant flow of ideas shows me that if you are a creative, then that never totally leaves you, even when you have to take a break.

Uh! So long blog-post...but I'm back. Gimme a little time to settle back in (yes it's weirdly disorientating coming back after going 'offline' for a while - like taking a long holiday somewhere then having to get used to your regular home routine again lol) but I'll see you soon =)

much love

ps Sweepie missed you too
'where'd you go???'

Thursday 4 April 2013

Some time away

Hi guys, just a quick post to let you know that if you've noticed my absense a little over the past few days, on yt, fb or replying to your comments I'm not ignoring you, I just need a little time away from the computer. Genetically the women in my family are strong, but suffer badly healthwise with what us women have to go through, this month I've not only suffered excruciating pains and migraines but also sickness, which I've not dealt with since a teenager and it has knocked me for six. I can stand being on the comp, but only for a v.small time, so I'm just going to give in and have downtown away from anything that makes me feel worse. I could be away a couple days or a week or two, I dunno just wanted to give you a heads-up and tell you I'm not ignoring you and I've not disappeared, I just need to get better. And just to make this about art, here's the only art journal page I've done in quite a while:
 - without feeling any more sorry for myself ( :/ ) the title sums it all up really...
See you soon & be sure to have some fun arty time for me, much love

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Tell All Tuesday ~ Featured Artist: Felicia Borges

Hi guys, hope everyone's had a lovely Easter, filled with lots of treats and good times? (she says as she sits munching an choccie egg despite it being 11pm! *munch* *munch* *munch*). I've a treat for you too; TWO interviews. Not only is the lovely Felicia Borges, aka 'The Journal Junkie' this week's featured TAT artist, but she's also interviewed me on her blog today too. So once you're done reading her interview head over to her blog if you wanna know a secret I never shared anywhere else on the internet before 'ooooooooooooooooooh!' =D 

Tell us a little bit about yourself & what kind of artist you are. 
I live with my husband, teenage son, and three golden retrievers in Sacramento, California. I’ve always dabbled in creative hobbies, but nothing had ever stuck long-term. Then a little over 2.5 years ago I read a book called “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day” and it changed me. I began to focus on making various aspects of “art” a part of my daily life. I read books, I watched documentaries, took classes, and I started watching YouTube videos on different art techniques. It was there that I stumbled across this thing called “art journaling.” The rest, they say, is history.  I believe with every fiber of my being that there are no rules and there is there is no box, except the 25 square foot art studio where I create my mixed media art. I am inspired by abstract, modern, pop, and street art and love patterns and colors found in traditional cultural symbols and art from around the world, graffiti, stained glass windows, and more. Some of my current favorites are Day of the Dead art, Chinese cut paper designs, African tribal masks, and motifs from India. 

I use bold colors, patterns and textures and work primarily in acrylics and gel mediums, inks, paint pens, markers, pencils, and both pan and water-soluble pastels to paint, print, and/or collage on a variety of papers, recycled/altered books, handmade journals, and on canvas. Tools are often found, recycled, or handmade and can range from a drinking straw or bubble wrap to original stamps and stencils. Finished pieces can contain 100 layers or more. 
What is the biggest challenge you personally face as an artist and how do you overcome it? 
I have made a lot of “ugly” art/journal pages. I’ve been stuck. I’ve been frustrated. I’ve left art/art journal pages (and even entire journals) unfinished in total disgust. I’ve thrown my hands up numerous times. 
But one of the things I’ve enjoyed, and get inspiration from, is being an inspiration to other artists/art journalists, especially those that are just starting out. I think there is a level of fear that we all share (that we don’t/won’t measure up). We decide on some level that we aren’t as good (as a beginner) as someone else (with 5 years of experience). I think part of that comes from our showing people the stuff we’re proud of and keeping our struggles and less than stuff in the shadows. 

I love getting on my soap box and preaching that “There are no rules!” in art/art journaling…except those rules and self-limiting beliefs that we create for ourselves. In fact, I’ve began preparing some content for YouTube videos around this concept…sharing the ugly, examples of what not to do, lessons learned, etc. There are plenty of tutorials of gorgeous art and journal spreads. I want to focus on videos that show that it’s okay to be human, not everything we do turns out the way we want it to, and ya know what, it’s okay…just try again tomorrow. 
Have you ever found anything that originally daunted you as an artist that you can now overcome easily? 
Making the art itself has never been daunting to me. Art, like life, is a grand experiment. But trying to figure out the business side of the arts? THAT is the part that gives me pause. Even though I am a “leap and the net will appear” kind of girl, I still have those moments where everything seems impossible--until I can see that it is possible—then it becomes inevitable. For the last couple of years, especially as I have become more confident with myself and more comfortable with my art, I have had interesting opportunities fall into my lap. At first I would dismiss them as someone just being nice and saying something kind to me. But more recently I have had a mental shift. What if they aren’t just being nice? What if they really are offering me an amazing opportunity? A huge lesson I’ve learned recently is that once I am ready/open to accept an opportunity, it will became a possibility, and eventually a reality. 

Recently I prepared 35 pieces of work (12 of them with custom framing) for my FIRST EVER art hanging at a local hair salon. It was scary and I’m sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes with it, but I did it! I’ve already learned from the experience and now I’m ready to say “Yes!” to other opportunities. And I’m eager to seek out opportunities on my own. I would have never thought that was possible a couple of years ago. 
Tell us where we can find out more about you and your art? 
You can find me at any of the following: 

Thank you so much Felicia, I love the story about putting all those pieces of artwork in the hair salon, because it reminds me of one of my new mantras (for the lack of a better word) for this year - to do what scares you most! We're always told to do that right? 
What I don't think gets shared enough though is that doing what scares us most is the best (& maybe the only) way to become less afraid. We somehow think that people we see putting themselves out there aren't afraid at all, just because they are doing it - but you ask them and that is usually completely wrong. They're afraid, but they do it anyway...

Here is the first installment of my interview with Felicia (she split the interview into two sections, the second part to be posted later on in week I believe), stop by and say hi =)

Email me or click the link to find all the details here =)
Much love
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