Tell us about your business.I started making collages when my day job left me craving a creative outlet. Over time I had accumulated a variety of paper materials (old wallpaper samples, notebook covers, my own art) that I started cutting into thin strips by hand, and weaving back together. I realized how much I missed making things with my hands and knew I had to be a full-time maker. I bought a book on low tech printmaking techniques and learned how to make my own paste; I mounted my woven collages on high quality paper and started selling them at local craft fairs. I am continuously working to perfect and master the technique. So far, I’ve received positive and helpful feedback on my work. I’ve started small, but I would like to grow to make larger work and eventually sell a variety of products through an online store. I am currently experimenting based on the feedback I’ve received and look forward to continuing to hone my skills and process.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I work out of my apartment. I have 55 sq ft dedicated to my studio, and occasionally my work will take over the dining table and floor. I started small and low tech, but need access to a kitchen to make my own mounting paste, so working from home is perfect. I keep my paper cutter on a narrow desk beneath a window overlooking a shared backyard. I use a small bookshelf, space under the desk, and a few portfolios for storage. I have lots of fun materials nearby - I like to surround myself with papers and fabrics for inspiration and experiments. When I am not developing new work, my studio is very tidy, but as I go through creative cycles, it gets messy. I have a whiteboard/corkboard where I keep track of my daily to-do lists and pin up items for inspiration like artist postcards, colorful prints, coasters, and anything else that catches my eye. As I make larger work, I will need to expand my workspace, but right now I am enjoying the challenge of maximizing the space I have!
What inspires you?Inspiration comes to me from many places. I am inspired by my city, San Francisco. I am inspired by my small neighborhood, NOPA. I am inspired by things big and small: from magnificent architecture to tiny details on a flower to an elegantly designed wedding invitation. I enjoy finding patterns and colors through close observation, where others may not see them. For example, the way algae grows on a wood fence, the way light hits and reflects off a building, or the way patterns are created by tiles or bricks. Beyond my surroundings, I am also inspired by materials. I use found materials in my work and often one piece of fabric or pattern will spark an idea that evolves into a whole series over time. Finally, I am inspired by the work of other artists. I especially admire Wayne Thiebaud’s use of color in his paintings and prints and have always been drawn to the work of impressionist painters like Claude Monet.
What makes your business stand out?My business is unique because my work walks the line of craft and fine art. I have a background in printmaking, so process has always been part of my work, but it is even more important now. Having been fascinated by textiles (and after working in the apparel industry), I felt it fitting to experiment with woven collages that marry my interest in paper, printmaking, and textiles. By cutting apart pre-existing patterns, shapes, and colors and then weaving them back together, I disrupt the existing order, creating compositions with new rules, color combinations, and movement. I love manipulating materials in unexpected ways. At the same time that I play and experiment with all of these elements, I follow a precise process for finishing and mounting each collage. I make my own paste from Japanese wheat starch powder and follow a multi-step process to ensure that each collage has the highest level of craftsmanship. Each collage is unique, but they are all mounted and finished uniformly.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Follow your instincts and go with your gut. Do something creative every day, even if just for 5 minutes; once you have momentum, it’s much easier to make your creative endeavors habitual. Keep an open mind and seek out feedback on what you do. Be curious and willing to learn new things - you never know when new skills will come in handy. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes, but learn how to learn from your failures to succeed. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist. You can iterate forever, but just doing something 80% of the way to get it out there is better than never sharing it. Remember to always think about the bigger picture. Challenge yourself and set big goals, but make sure to map out all of the little steps you need to take to reach them. Talk to others who are successful in and out of your field and learn from them. Finally, surround yourself with people who support and inspire you and always keep a positive attitude!
What does American Made mean to you?American Made is synonymous with innovation, exceptional craftsmanship, and high quality. I prefer to buy American Made products because it is important for me to have a connection with the maker. As a maker in America, I am proud to be part of the movement and to support the US economy. Also, I’ve witnessed the exciting resurgence of locally made products here in San Francisco. There are companies making everything from apparel to artisan ice cream to iPad cases using traditional bookbinding techniques. It’s incredibly empowering to be able to shop locally for so many amazing products knowing they were made within a 10 mile radius.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.See the finalists
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now