Mike Curato’s Studio Tour

Mike Curato - 5Today on Tuesday Tours I’m thrilled to welcome Mike Curato creator of the books featuring the adorable polka-dotted elephant Little Elliot, which have won multiple awards and have received several starred reviews. The newest book Little Elliot, Big Family just released this fall, and the next one—Little Elliot, Big Fun will be coming out in August. Mike’s Brooklyn studio has the same spirit of Little Elliot—white and bright with punches of color, and full of fun and adventure!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
My name is Mike and I write and illustrate picture books! You may know a certain polka-dotted pachyderm from my books, Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family. I work in pencil on paper with digital color.

Here are some of my tools that I use all the time.

Here are some of my tools that I use all the time.

 

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’ve been in my current space for two years, and I love it. I actually work from home in Brooklyn, and part of choosing an apartment included good light and an extra room to work in. I used to have studio space outside of my home. Though I miss being around other creatives, there’s something to be said for being able to run into the workroom when inspiration strikes, and to be able to roll into bed whenever I want. It’s an easy commute, and I don’t have to deal with the weather!


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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Full disclosure, I definitely start my day with email, Facebook, and Twitter while I eat breakfast. I’m not sure this is the healthiest way to begin, but that’s how I do. I wish I could tell you that I have a regular discipline, but I’m just not built that way. Some days I can dive right in, and others I need a bit of coaxing. Sometimes I have to clean my whole space before I can put pencil to paper. I’m not OCD, but clearing the clutter also clears my mind.


When was a time you had the most fun working in your studio?
I immediately thought of when my friends came over to help me build a paper mache Elliot for a window display at Books of Wonder. I always like company, and it was exciting watching Elliot come to life in 3-D. We made a pretty good mess, but it was well worth it!

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Is there any special trinket in your space that inspires you?
My favorite thing to look at when I need a pick-me-up is this drawing that my friend and former studio mate, Sarah Jane Lapp, made for me. When I was in Syracuse University’s illustration program, Hallmark came to review our senior portfolios. We sat through a mind-numbing slide-show of Hallmark imagery. The rep either described each piece as “cute” or “beautiful”, with an occasional “whimsical!” We were asked to leave our portfolios, and they would post a list of people they’d like to meet with after viewing them. When we returned, none of the illustrators were asked back, only surface pattern designers. When I relayed this story to SJ, I said “Apparently, my work is neither cute nor beautiful,” and she was inspired to make this for me. When I look at the drawing, I think to myself “I’ll show YOU cute and beautiful!”

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My husband gave me this elephant bakery as a birthday present! In case you didn’t know, I love sweets and elephants.

My husband gave me this elephant bakery as a birthday present! In case you didn’t know, I love sweets and elephants.

What colors inspire your creativity.  Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I love color. I use lots of color in my work. However, I’ve also been a graphic designer for over a decade, so I appreciate whitespace, both on a page and in my workroom. The other rooms in my apartment are quite colorful, but my workspace has white walls, a white drafting table, white flat-files, and white bookcases. The white allows me to focus on whatever is in front of me.

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I like books.

Here is a line-up of Little Elliot prototypes from MerryMakers from start to finish.

Here is a line-up of Little Elliot prototypes from MerryMakers from start to finish.

If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
Somewhere WARM and DRY. Maybe Palm Springs? Argentina? Spain? I was really inspired by Aaron Becker, who up and went to Spain for ten months with his family! It’s actually been my dream and goal to live abroad for a month in a different country each year. I’m not quite there yet, but I think it’s doable!

Here are a few of my shelf friends!

Here are a few of my shelf friends!

Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?
I definitely listen to music and audiobooks while I’m drawing, and I even watch shows and movies while I’m coloring. At this very moment, I am listing to the soundtrack to Midnight in Paris. My musical taste is a bit all over the map, so I just put on whatever I’m in the mood for. I love listening to biographies. Yesterday, I started listening to Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano, and it’s been really great so far. Sometimes I’ll have a show on in the background that I’ve watched a million times, that way I’m not distracted by the screen, but have something to fill the silence. I’m a big 30 Rock and Absolutely Fabulous fan. I can use a good laugh during the weary hours.

Among my prized possessions is this “Mike Mic”--a Disney Princess karaoke microphone on which Samantha Berger drew my portrait. That’s a photo strip of Samantha and her pup, Polly Pocket. Sam and I sing together a lot.

Among my prized possessions is this “Mike Mic”—a Disney Princess karaoke microphone on which Samantha Berger drew my portrait. That’s a photo strip of Samantha and her pup, Polly Pocket. Sam and I sing together a lot.

If you could share a studio with anyone in the world, who would you pick?
ONLY ONE!?!? You are going to get me in trouble. Actually, Ruth Chan and I have often talked about how much fun it would be to have a studio together, though we both agree that it may prove counter-productive. We share a passion for all things picture book and dessert related. Ruth’s first picture book, Where’s the Party, comes out this Spring!

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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Think about what you need to be productive and comfortable. If you haven’t had a creative space before, you’ll figure it out, just be flexible! I’d also say that it’s really important to adjust chairs and desks to be as ergonomic as possible. You can’t be too creative when you’ve pulled your back or have a stiff neck, trust me.

Here is a water tower painted by Marcos Chin, a picture of my best friend, Jill, and this model Chevy that I bought to help me with some reference on a new secret project I’m working on ;)

Here is a water tower painted by Marcos Chin, a picture of my best friend, Jill, and this model Chevy that I bought to help me with some reference on a new secret project I’m working on 😉

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I’m very excited for my upcoming title, Worm Loves Worm, which I illustrated for debut author JJ Austrian. It’s about two worms who want to get married, but all of their insect friends have something to say about it. Don’t worry, love conquers all in the end! Worm Loves Worm is available January 5th, 2016. You can find me at my websiteblogFacebook, or Twitter.

Thanks so much, Mike! Your space makes me feel creative, and it definitely makes me want to try out your Disney Princess karaoke microphone. 🙂  I’m looking forward to Worm Loves Worm!

Tuesday Tours will be back on December 29th when Laura Lee Gulledge, author and illustrator of some pretty fabulous graphic novels, shows us her Virgina digs.

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Matthew Cordell’s Studio Tour

Matthew Cordell - 9 (1)Today on Tuesday Tours we have the talented author and illustrator Matthew Cordell sharing his studio from just outside of Chicago. I love Matthew’s illustrations and I’m not the only one, as he’s the illustrator of over 25 books and counting. One of which is the New York Times Notable picture book, HELLO! HELLO! He’s currently busy at work finishing up the artwork for two picture books, as well as developing sketch dummies for two others, one of which he’s also writing. This busy workload might create a bombed out studio—his words, not mine 🙂 . But it also lends itself to an amazing energy that flows throughout Matthew’s work.

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It ain’t beautiful. But it is ugly beautiful.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina and moved to Chicago when I was 24 years old. I’m now married to my lovely author wife, Julie Halpern, and we have two kids (6 and 2) in suburban Chicago. My schooling was in graphic design and fine art, but after a detour or two, I made my way into the world of art and storytelling with books for children. And thankfully so. It reignited my nearly flamed out artistic passions and I really, really love it here. I like messy, expressive, unconventional (dare I say ugly) art. I also like humor in art. Not so much the knock-you-over-the-head-with-it kind, I guess I’m more drawn to the subtle stuff. Generally speaking I like people and things that don’t always take themselves so terribly seriously. A sense of humor and humility in work and in life. These are musts. My art is primarily created by drawing in pen and ink and coloring in watercolor. I’ve strayed from this particular combo here and there, but pen and ink is what I love (sometimes hate) and end up doing the most.

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There’s a ton of books on bookshelves down here. Some of which are pertinent to my work, some of which are just books we’ve accumulated as a family over these many years. And, of course, more clutter.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
When I went full time book maker back in 2007, I was working in one of the 3 bedrooms of our house, on the upper level. A little small, but lots of natural light with a nice view of the backyard. But when our second child was born in 2013, I had to vacate that room and move my operation down to the basement. Since it’s mostly subterraneous down here, there’s very little natural light (2 window wells) and it’s basically cold year round, I don’t love it, but I can certainly get by. I thrive off of natural light, so truthfully it can be a bit of a bummer working in a basement. Lately when I’m painting, so I can bet a better handle on color, I’ll temporarily set up a table in our master bedroom by a window and get the natural light fix. My wife suggested this a couple of books ago for me. Great idea, really, to mix it up. Truth is, I’m not terribly picky about stuff. I don’t need a beautiful or organized (or clean for that matter!) space to be happily at work. I do like daylight and I miss that in my current workspace. Eventually I’ll have to figure something else out. Eventually. With young kids and a heavy workload, stuff like having the studio you want takes a backseat in life.

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My drawing table. On the table here are a few studies for the next picture book I’ll soon be starting final art for, WOLF IN THE SNOW. I think I’ll be trying something new (new to me) drawing with several layers of colored inks. To be determined…

Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
Half of my day—the morning—is spent working as a Dad for my 6-year-old (driving her to school) and my 2-year-old (doing stuff 2-year-olds like to do). My wife (author Julie Halpern) works in the morning and takes over with the kids usually around lunch time. I spend the rest of the day (and sometimes nights after everyone’s in bed) down in the basement. No rituals to speak of really. Usually I start the work day by answering emails and social media upkeep. Then it’s draw, write, repeat.

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Corkboard with odds and ends and some favorite pics of the fam.

When was a time you had the most fun working in your studio?
It’s hard to pinpoint any one moment that has been fun or rewarding. I think my favorite part of the process of creating a book comes just after all sketches are approved and it’s time to make the final art. But the favorite part is just after THAT. When it’s finally time to make the final art, I really set in dreading making that very first mark on paper. I’m afraid of what it will or won’t look like. Then, when I finally work up the nerve to start, and it’s looking good, there’s a huge rush of relief. The ice is broken. And then I’m up and running and it feels great. Give or take the snags and self-doubt speedbumps along the way. Oh! And FINISHING a book and being DONE and mentally fat and happy with all that has just been accomplished. That final, final moment after all the days, weeks, months, years (?) that went into making a book from very beginning to very end. That is absolute bliss, man.

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I have a poster of Mister Rogers hanging above my computer desk. Folks who don’t know much about Fred Rogers, I highly suggest you poke around and see what you find. As far as I can tell, he was, like, THE perfect human being. Selfless, kind, wise, accepting, curious, sincere, humble, funny… I find him—his life and his life’s work—tremendously, incredibly inspiring.

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My computer desk. Underneath all those papers (lots and lots of sketches!) is my trusty lil’ scanner. Underneath that other pile of papers (more sketches!) is my trusty lil’ laser printer. Underneath that other big pile of papers (sketches!) … that’s just a big pile of papers (sketches).

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This shelf houses all of my favorite books. Picture books, comics, image ref, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. It’s sort of organized.

A bunch of weird, random, keepsakes. Including some things friends have made for me, an old cheap chalkware statue that will always remind me of my Nana’s house, and some old weird kid busts that my wife got from somewhere!

A bunch of weird, random, keepsakes. Including some things friends have made for me, an old cheap chalkware statue that will always remind me of my Nana’s house, and some old weird kid busts that my wife got from somewhere!

What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re creating? How do you deal with it?
Social media. Facebook, specifically. I’m on Twitter too but I never really grabbed onto that one. I don’t do instagram, tumblr, or anything else. I just don’t have the mental capacity to keep it going on more than one platform. I mostly use Facebook in a creative/professional capacity. I love sharing work and discovering and seeing new work and works-in-progress from my contemporaries. I accept that it’s become a part of the job, in a sense, but it does get super distracting. I usually just try to take little breaks (equivalent, I guess, of, like, smoke breaks) and check in on the Facebook between chunks of drawing/painting. That kinda keeps it at bay.

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If you could live inside the world of one of the picture books you’ve illustrated, which one would it be and why?
Definitely SPECIAL DELIVERY (written by Philip Stead). It’s totally weird and wild and fun and exotic. High adventure! Lots of animals! Beyond that, it’s basically only kids and old folks in that book. My favorites.

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A pile of books on my floor that have been recently inspirational, or recently purchased, or recently looked at, or recently useful in SOME way.

What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I love John Burningham. I think he might be my #1 book making inspiration. He’s so… out there. I also really love Quentin Blake, William Steig, Jules Feiffer, Bernard Waber—folks who have been or were so very loose-limbed with the pen. I’ve really been getting into the picture books Quentin Blake and Russell Hoban did together. Sendak, of course. Saul Steinberg is always in the back of my mind somewhere. Arnold Lobel is amazing. Virginia Lee Burton is great—often for nostalgic purposes too. Lately, I’ve been digging into Leo Lionni’s books. In terms of more contemporary inspirations… I’m always super diplomatic answering this sort of question! Truth is, there are a great many authors and illustrators today that I find inspiring. But I hesitate to name just a few, because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving folks out! (Total cop out.)

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If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
Hmm. That is a great question! Since my daughter’s in first grade and fully entrenched in school now, we don’t have this option. But I love the idea of it. Since it’s fantasy at this point, how about one of two places that don’t really exist? Um… Northern Exposure’s Cicely, Alaska. Or Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow.

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A small couch where I often sit when it’s not covered in stuff. On top of the understuff here, are character sketches and color studies for a picture book I just finished, BOB NOT BOB.

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
My advice would be… don’t get too hung up on making THE perfect space. Often times, that is ultimately procrastination anyways. Just find the room or area you need, set yourself up more or less, and get to work! Everything else will fall into place. Let the making of the work define the space, not the other way around.

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There’s shelves on the walls with various toys and tchotchkes collected by the wife and me over the years. They used to be “collectibles”, but since we’ve had kids, the “collectibles” are just “toys” that come off and go back on the shelf at any given time.

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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I just finished a picture book called BOB NOT BOB which I loved illustrating through and through. The story is clever and unique and funny and a just the right amount of weird and was written by authors Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon. Currently, I have several plates in the air: about to start final art for my next author/illustrator picture book, WOLF THE SNOW (Feiwel and Friends, 2017); writing and sketching up another picture book that will be a follow up to my 2015 book, WISH (Disney-Hyperion); and I’m about to start a sketch dummy for THE ONLY FISH IN THE SEA, a follow-up to this year’s SPECIAL DELIVERY (Roaring Brook). wishMy next book out will be another picture book I had the great fortune to illustrate called LOST. FOUND. by author Marsha Diane Arnold. Super clever and fun and sweet despite there only being two words in the whole book! (Guess what they are?) That’s out November 3. I had three other books out in 2015, WISH, SPECIAL DELIVERY, and FIRST GRADE DROPOUT by Audrey Vernick. It’s been a blockbuster year! My website is matthewcordell.com but it’s shamefully out of date. Better yet, maybe, connect with me on Facebook!

Thank you so much, Matthew! Looking forward to seeing you this weekend at the Prairie Writers Day. And I’m anxious to see what BOB NOT BOB is all about—I just love the cover. Best of luck on all the books you have coming up!

Little ElliotTuesday Tours will be back on December 8th when Mike Curato, creator of the adorable Little Elliot books,  shows us his Brooklyn studio.

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Kimberly Newton Fusco’s Studio Tour

caToday on Tuesday Tours I’m very excited to welcome Kimberly Newton Fusco, the author of three of my favorite books. My daughter and I’ve read The Wonder of Charlie Anne more than once, and we always tease each other with one of the reoccurring lines, “A proper lady…” If you haven’t read The Wonder of Charlie Anne, what are you waiting for? Head out to the bookstore or library and dive it. Kimberly’s other book Tending to Grace is a beautiful short and poetic read. It’s a book I could easily have finished in a day, but I wanted to savor it, so I forced myself to only read a chapter each night. Beholding Bee is one of my first encounters with magical realism and it definitely had me thinking long after the final page. Today Kim shares her writing spaces in her home in Rhode Island, where she tends to her family, her sheep, the cat, a new puppy, and her books, but not always in that order.

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unnamedTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium. 
I am a fiction writer for young people and I feel unbelievably lucky that I get to do what I have wanted to do since the sixth-grade.

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
We built a new house ten years ago with an office in the front so that I could watch my children getting off the bus. But, I can write anywhere, and I do: outdoors in our sheep field, in a coffee shop, in one of several lawn chairs I have set up in the woods behind our house. When I’m outdoors, I use a journal. Indoors, I bring my laptop to a comfy couch in our living room—my favorite spot because I can make a big roaring fire in fall and winter. I know some people love writing retreats, but I can make my own retreats at home and I wonder, what could be better than this?
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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start writing?
My alarm rings at 5:30 and after a cup of coffee I make breakfast and lunch for my husband and daughter (my other three children are in college or grad school or graduated from college and working).  I drive my daughter to school, take some quiet/spiritual time, run a couple of miles on my treadmill, care for our animals (two sheep, a cat, and a new puppy), and then begin writing. I write throughout the morning and often return to it in the afternoon after some exercise.

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Pictures of my children growing up cover my office. They remind me that love and family are truly the most important things and both are important themes in all my books.

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If you had the chance to live inside the world of one of your stories, which one would you pick and why?

I love them all, but I guess I would pick the novel I am working on now because I am so involved in the lives of my characters in Me and Gloaty Gus. In order to write a novel, I become my characters and walk around in their shoes.  It’s the only way I know how to write fiction.

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What’s the biggest distraction for you when you’re writing? How do you deal with it?

Right now it’s our new golden retriever puppy, Harper. She is three months, and a handful.  We have her crate-trained so when she is in the crate, I write. There’s always a distraction when you work from home, though, and I think it’s a matter of coming up with creative solutions that work for everyone in the family.

If you had to pick a quote to hang above your desk for inspiration, what would it be?

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What other artists, writers or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I am very inspired by the poet Jane Kenyon and the advice she gives me each day:
“Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.”

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If you could relocate your studio for part of the year to another geographical location, where would it be?
Well, we had a particularly rough winter last year in New England, so as much as I love writing by a crackling fire with the snow coming down outside my window, too many days of this gets a little daunting, so perhaps someplace warmer, but I would miss my family so much that I would be back the next day.5

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
It is nice to have a spot, but I think it is even more important to be flexible and write wherever and whenever you can. I wrote my first novel, Tending to Grace, in bits when my children were napping or playing in the treehouse. A little time can go a long way if you are disciplined. I try and live by the advice: “People first.” Our children grow up much too quickly to always be looking for solitude.

What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My new novel,  Me and Gloaty Gus, is under contract with both Knopf and Faber & Faber, London. Publication is planned for  2017. My website is http://kimberlynewtonfusco.com.

Thank you, Kim for sharing the lovely places you write. My daughter and I can’t wait to read Me and Gloaty Gus!

elizaJoin us on October 27th when uber talented illustrator and author Eliza Wheeler shows us her studio space in Los Angeles, California.

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David Catrow’s Studio Tour

Stand Tall Molly Lou MelonToday on Tuesday Tours I’m happy to feature the Springfield, OH studio  of NYT bestselling author and illustrator David Catrow. David is the Illustrator of over 70 children’s books, including some of my all time favorites—I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More (written by Karen Beaumont) and Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon (written by Patty Lovell). I never grow tired of hearing these stories and absorbing the over-the-top, energy-infused illustrations. My daughters and I laugh out loud every time we get to the end of I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More, and the protagonist, who has painted most of his body, decides to drop his tighty-whities and extend his living canvas to his tush—until that is, he runs out of paint. And who wouldn’t love Molly Lou Melon and her buck-teeth that she stacks pennies on, and her adorable short stature?I aint gonna paint David creates fantasy worlds of the best kind in his illustrations–tempting us to see a better reality, one which buck-teeth are beautiful and creative energy can’t be stilled, even by a mom who’s had enough with the mess. I’ve been drawn to David’s work for years, never knowing he was a self-taught artist, but it doesn’t really surprise me–some of the best artists (and most of my favorites) are. In addition to his multitude of books, David is also credited with the visual development for 20th Century Fox’s Horton Hears a Who and Despicable Me. He has worked on the animated television series Stuart Little and Plantzilla (based on the popular children’s book by Jerdine Nolan). His syndicated editorial cartoons have run in over 1000 newspapers across Canada and the US. And his scholastic book series Max Spaniel has sold over a million copies.

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headshotscrapbookTell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I was born an artist—there isn’t any better way to say it than that. From the moment I was able to hold a crayon in my hand and not eat it, I have been communicating visually. I am comfortable being a self-taught artist, but at times it’s a double-edged sword. The up side is when I am forced to rely on one of my jury-rigged, build my wings on the way down strategies; it’s hell on the gastro-intestinal tract but in the end it yields some truly novel solutions. Life as a self taught artist is also fraught with tiger pits. I often think about the vast amounts of time wasted early in my career searching for answers in an unfamiliar technique or medium; I was like a Neanderthal carpenter searching for a rock to pound a nail—completely unaware that someone had invented a thing called a hammer. Those are the times that made me wish I’d gone to art school.
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How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
While I would love to report that my studio overlooks the ocean from a wind swept hill, that is not the case. My window view is a typical city street with trucks and cars and buses—dogs barking at the UPS guy, kids playing hoop, and airplanes streaking overhead. The fantastic visions that come into my work, in fact originate from within the quiet solitude of my skull—so I think an ocean view would be a distraction.image4andrea10
I moved into my studio in 1991 and as any new space, it needed to be made mine. That process I am sure is different for every artist. Mine, for lack of a better description would be similar to any burrowing rodent or underground dwelling life form. I occupy the space and then proceed over time to cover the interior surface with an organic energy, producing tissue I can draw—this tissue is comprised of anything that suggests undiscovered potential or hints at new possibility. When I stumble upon something it’s like the Richard Dreyfus character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind— sees Devil’s Tower in his mashed potatoes and it means something. In other words, any meaningful thing I can get my hands on, I drag into my burrow.
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Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
I usually begin my day with caffeine. That might suggest a problem but I limit myself to two cups a day. Plus, I don’t think it’s any different from shaman who chew entheogens to put them into a trance to converse with Mother Earth—I just brew mine in a French press and add a dapple of ½ and ½.

If you could share a studio with anyone in the world, who would you pick?image4andrea9

If I could possibly share my space with someone it might be Jackson Pollack, because everything I have read makes me think we might have shared sensibilities. Responding to a critic who asked why his drip-paintings never included nature, Pollack rightly answered, “I am nature!”

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Describe how you work. Is there any rituals you do before you start creating?

Initially, the ideas for books are simply favorite characters or environments, and it is from this that the story emerges. Most importantly, I approach the visual story as if words have never existed—all I have available to me is my ability to communicate like the cave artist: visually. In my mind the only difference between editorial cartoons and picture books, is the subject. I believe my work as an editorial cartoonist was most powerful when I could tell a story without any words at all. But I do enjoy word play too, so captions are an important and easy ingredient to help crystalize the joke or the opinion. Outside of picking out my socks, I’ve never actually planned a thing in all my existence on this planet—but my path has always seemed apparent to me as I moved through life. So when an opportunity presents itself, hey you have to leap!

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Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
When I was on a mountain bike trip in central Mexico in 2006, our group stopped at a tequila ranch for a breather and a little hydration (no tequila, just water). We were all a little tired so everyone was looking for a place to plant themselves. I found an old stump that had a lot of prickly growth to lean against. When something suddenly poked me in the side, I turned around to see this gnarly horn sticking out of the brush. Carefully parting the thorny branches, I found myself face to face with the most comically evil painted wooden mask I had ever seen in my life. I am not usually this forward but I found the farmer who owned the land and asked him if I could buy this amazing thing—which he agreed to sell to me for 40 pesos (about $20, maybe?). I carried him, piggy back, out of the bush on my bike. To this day, I have absolutely no idea where this object came from or what his story is but he lives in an honored place on the wall of my studio and is, on occasion a muse that nurtures my darker side.

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Please share with us a memory of one of the best times you had working in your studio.

I have many moments working in my studio when there is no better place in the universe to be. Moments when I am discovering what no other person has laid eyes on. Like stepping onto a high ridge to see a vast new alien world for the first time; and then getting to name the planet after me.
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What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
My advice to anyone, whether they want to do art, write, be an acrobat, or just create a space where they can explore their interior universe, is to keep searching and moving forward in pursuit of what you love or seek. If you can make some sense of who you are, then maybe the guy standing next to you on the bus won’t seem as dark and threatening as you first imagined. Accepting who we truly are allows us to embrace and appreciate the differences in all the other beings that walk on this planet with us. And what kind of world would that be?
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What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My new book Fun in the Sun Fun in the Sunis a story about my all time favorite thing to do—pack up all my stuff and head out to the beach. Needless to say, my goal was never to make the trip vicariously as a french bulldog in a speedo. I just think anything wearing a speedo is just too funny, and I also thought a french bulldog was a fitting candidate this time around. After all I am a dog person and all of my books start out as a desire to experience something new. I hope you enjoy my new “pet” Fun in the Sun. You can see more of my work on my website or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
David at computer

Thank you, David! I love how you described moving through life without a plan and leaping when you see an opportunity—it’s an inspiring way to work and live.
I’m looking forward to getting a copy of Fun in the Sun and seeing your speedo-wearing dog!

Join us next week when we get a chance to visit the writing studio of teen author and Pat Schmatz.

David LaRochelle’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours I’m happy to share David LaRochelle’s studio in White Bear Lake Minnesota. I met David at this past year’s SCBWI Wisconsin annual conference. David was on faculty at the conference and he was a big hit the first night with his funny presentation about his work as a children’s book illustrator and author. David has written or illustrated thirty books, including picture books, puzzle books, craft books, and a very well-received young adult novel Absolutely Positively Not.  His books have won numerous awards, including the Sid Fleischman Humor Award, the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Award, and the Minnesota Book Award.

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DavidTell us a little bit about yourself.
For four years I was an elementary school teacher, but for the past twenty-five years I’ve been working as a children’s author and illustrator. My recent titles include How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans and Moo! At the start of my career I was doing more work as an illustrator. Watercolors were my main medium, with a lot of black and white line work. My very first book was illustrated with linoleum block prints. In recent years, I’ve been working mostly as a writer, although last year I released my first book as both author and illustrator–Arlo’s Art-rageous Adventure.

David LaRochelle

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I just moved this past year so my workspace is relatively new. In fact, agreeing to this interview was good motivation to finish getting things on my studio walls!
The first several books I illustrated were done at a kitchen table in a very small apartment. For the next twenty years I had a small alcove where I crammed my writing desk anddrawing table, with my computer in my bedroom and art supplies overflowing into the hallway. Now, in my new townhome, I have an entire room as well as a loft area devoted to my workspace. I have a built in window seat with storage areas, shelves where I keep sketchbooks and drafts of stories organized in folders, and cabinets with wide flat drawers to store large sheets of paper and drawing tablets. All of this space feels like a luxury…and I love it!

David LaRochelle1
I am by no means a handyman, but this summer I lined two of my studio walls with cork, something I’ve always wanted. This allows me to pin up sketches while working on a book. Being able to come back to these sketches over and over throughout the day is very helpful with my thinking process as my ideas need a long time to simmer. The cork wall also lets me display postcards, photos, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, anything that reminds me of a happy memory.David LaRochelle14
In my living room I have several large bookcases where I keep my collection of children’s books. I often sit there and write. Having easy access to my favorite authors and illustrators is both inspirational and motivational. Before I moved, all my books were in towering stacks on my bed’s headboard. Trying to access any book was like playing a game of Jenga!David LaRochelle3

Describe a typical work day. Do you have any rituals you do before you start creating?
If I’m not visiting a school to give an author visit, I usually start the day by swimming at the YMCA. When I get home, having a can of Pepsi and a cookie is my reward for sitting down to work (I suppose this is counterproductive to going to the Y!). Staying away from the Internet is imperative. Once I start checking my email, I can say good-bye to being creative for the rest of the day. Writing, drawing, and generating new ideas is best done earlier in the day before I attack business correspondence which I try to leave till late in the afternoon or evening.

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Please tell us about a time you had the most fun working in your studio.
I’ve only been in my studio a short while, but this summer I was working on creating puppets for a program the illustrator Mike Wohnoutka and I are presenting to preschoolers based on our book Moo! It was so nice to have large areas of space to spread out my supplies…and to be able to leave them out without worrying they’d be in the way of making dinner!

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Who are some of the picture book writers and illustrators that have had an influence on your work?
Each new book by Mac Barnett (Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Count the Monkeys) is creative in a different way, and I greatly admire that. Phyllis Root (Rattletrap Car, Plant a Pocket of Prairie) is a master at writing beautiful picture book text. Marla Frazee (Roller Coaster, All the World Over) captures entire stories in the expressiveness of her characters. All three inspire me to do better work.David LaRochelle5

What’s your music of choice while you work?
It depends on what I’m doing. If I’m writing or doing the initial creation of a project, I need to have quiet. If I’m at the stage where I’m doing mid-level sketches or final paintings, relaxing instrumental jazz, folk music, or show tunes are my favorites. David LaRochelle10

Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you? Please tell us about it.
Pinned on my cork wall I have a name badge from my mother and a business card from my father’s welding service. Both of my parents have been gone for many years but these reminders make me feel like they are still present in my life.

If you could add a new tool, piece of furniture, or machine to your studio, what would it be?
I would love to have a computer desk that feels comfortable. I have not yet figured out the proper height for my screen and chair, and consequently I end up achy after several hours of working.David LaRochelle4

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Include things that make you happy, not what you think other people would tell you to include. I have book awards and fan mail from students on my walls to lift my spirits during those stretches when the writing is difficult and rejection letters are all that I seem to receive. Don’t feel like your personal space needs to be perfect before you can start work; your studio can be a work in progress. The main thing is to start doing the work that you love.

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Moo!

What’s new for you now and where can we find out more?
I’m excited that my book Moo! was just released as a board book. I have several books under contract, but it still might be a year or two before they appear on bookshelves. Even though it’s past Halloween, your readers might enjoy seeing my creative jack-o’-lanterns at http://www.davidlarochelle.com.

Thanks, David! I love the cork wall and all of your storage. You seem to be very organized, especially for someone who just moved!

Tia Chianti Richardson’s Studio Tour

Today on Tuesday Tours we’ll look inside the studio of artist and owner of Cosmic Butterfly Design Tia Chianti Richardson, who’s studio is part of the Kunzelmann-Esser artists lofts in Milwaukee—an apartment building that offers galleries and a workroom for the residents to use. Tia refers to herself at a Community Integrated Artist because a large portion of what she does centers on the process of creating the work in collaboration with community members. Working together, Tia and her group paints large colorful murals that incorporate issues that are of concern to the community where the mural is being created. During these residences Tia also teaches people new art skills, helps build relationships among the participants, and offers art as a tool for healing in the community.

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Milwaukee Environmental Services School mural (8’x26′ acrylic on panel)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I call myself a “community-integrated artist”. I’m a muralist. My approach is holistic in that I facilitate making art—specifically murals—by group listening in a way that integrates the voice of the community and the collective spirit of working together to build a new vision. I work with youth and adults of all ages. I’m less interested in working on my own paintings in my studio. I get occasional private commissions like portraits and paintings in oil and acrylic but I prefer to work on community art and teach people how to do something they’ve never done before, by working together around issues they care about.

Tia facilitating a talking Circle

Tia facilitating a talking Circle

I like to do this by using talking circles and group exercises that build relationship during our design planning phases. In this way art becomes a tool for healing community. That is my practice. The final, permanent mural is done in acrylic. I’ve led over 25 residencies around Milwaukee in public schools and community organizations. Three murals are outdoors.

full studio view

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
I’ve had my space for nine years. My building is a renovated furniture factory turned into artists live/work apartments. If I’m working on a painting late in the evening I get to take breaks by lounging on my couch where I still have a view of my painting, cook dinner, eat and watch my painting until I see how I need to approach it again. Plus I like to multi-task. I might do home-stuff while working on a painting. I wouldn’t feel as relaxed if I weren’t in my own home.

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Portrait of a Bride (22″x24″ oil on canvas)

Describe a typical work day.
If I’m not scheduled with a school that day, its open for planning, appointments with any potential clients, or relaxing. A typical day during a residency involves preparing any props that I make so the students have a 3D example of their project. Making a class outline. Transporting materials/props to the school where I leave them in storage, if I can, to minimize hauling. I ‘ll do an hour in-class with anywhere from 8-24 students, guiding them each step of the way. The first half-hour might be an introduction, a talking circle or brainstorming, followed by a demonstration and instructions for that day, followed by work— individual sketching or group painting. I always close with each student saying something they appreciated about the day or about something someone else in the room did. Sometimes I have two or three classes back to back. Repeat weekly for three to eight weeks. I have managed up to six different residencies at five different schools in one semester.

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Goddess of the Dawn Raven (22″x36″ acrylic on canvas)

What do you like to nibble on or drink while you work.
At home I have water or hot tea—my favorite is Egyptian Licorice and Equal Exchange 85% dark chocolate—nothing tastes better.

If you could share a studio with anyone in the world, who would you pick?
Kofi Annan. I know, he’s not an artist, but he’s an exemplary ‘artist of bringing humanity together’ and that is what I strive for in my work. Second choice: Lily Yeh. Third choice: Milwaukee’s Sara Daleiden because I like the way she listens, and her ability to put inner processes into language I can relate to. That would make for some great conversations.

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Workshop in the artist live-work studio building where Tia lives

List three of your favorite things in your studio.
My red micro-suede futon couch, my colored turkish wall tapestries given to me by my mother from her travels, and my six-foot high, 10’x15′ wooden loft that my dad built—all add coziness and warmth.
living room

What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
Probably my laptop and wifi. I use google and photoshop a lot for image references, photo-manipulation and research. It’s a lot quicker to mock-up a mural composition or portrait in photoshop for me than by hand and takes less resources.

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Silver Spring neighborhood Center food pantry mural (4’x6′ acrylic on canvas)

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Allow space for self-care. Having my futon, bed and kitchen nearby means I can sleep, eat real food and relax when I need to. Personally, organization is ultra important for me so I have storage that ‘hides’ because I like the feeling of openness and not clutter. Understand your unique work style and design your workspace accordingly.

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STITCH Milwaukee 2013 Community Mural (8’x8′ Acrylic on plywood)

As an art educator, how do you use art to inspire youth–is there a story you could share about someone that was inspired after your workshop/residency?
Many of the teachers I work with are inspired. I often see young people I work with around town after a residency and enjoy hearing their feedback about how their family or parents responded to a project they took home, or how they kept creating after the residency. I co-facilitated a group of adults on the STITCH Milwaukee community mural project, many of whom did not have art backgrounds. I got feedback from someone who had no prior art experience who was deeply inspired by the meditative space that happened when we were painting, and did not know painting could feel like that. She says the 3-month long process catalyzed a sense in herself that an artistic identity was starting to form she never knew she could identify with. I know her personally and she continues to nurture that creative expression through photography and poetry.

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Gallery in the artist live-work studio building where Tia lives

1st floor gallery in the artist collective building where Tia lives

1st floor gallery in the artist live-work studio building where Tia lives

What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I’m currently doing a bookmaking residency at Pierce St School. We are making traditional hand-bound illustrated books used as autobiographies or journals. The highlight of my year happened the weekend of October 4th when I collaborated with a group of four other artists through BeIntween, and with international community artist Lily Yeh, on a project called Urban Alchemy Phase I. We were trained in her methodology of using art as a tool for bringing community together. In one day we transformed the swing park under the Holton Bridge with temporary art made with the help of many community members. Urban Alchemy Phase II recently happened Nov 15th; community members and the core artist team shared stories about family and painted story sticks and built a large chandelier made of the sticks that we installed in the Swing Park.

Beinbetween--Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy Phases I

Beinbetween–Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy Phases I

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Playback Milwaukee Theatre Company performance at UWM (2013)

That same weekend Playback Milwaukee Theatre Company, of which I’m an active member, hosted a separate event with Lily in person and screened her documentary using playback as tool for facilitating the workshop. In Playback, an audience member tells a true life story then watches as its played back by trained playback players using spoken word, movement, visual art, music and… magic!

Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy Phases I and II installations

Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy Phases I and II installations

Lily Yeh’s film documents her journey to honor and heal personal pain in her own family and how that has strengthened her authenticity and solidarity within the communities she serves around the globe. Those of us who attended are community artists and activists who wanted to use her film to inspire and inform our own work here in Milwaukee. Playback Milwaukee Theatre Company’s next public performance will be Amani United Uplifted! Everyday Heroes and Sheroes of the Amani Neighborhood Tuesday, December 16th, 2014, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society in Milwaukee.You can find out more about me on my website.

Thank you, Tia for sharing your amazing studio space, as well as all of the inspiring work you do in our community!

Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy project

Group working on the Lily Yeh-inspired Urban Alchemy project

Kari Couture & Kim Loper’s Studio Tour

We’re in for a special  Tuesday Tours today, because we have not one, but two fabulous artists! Kari Couture and Kim Loper share their studio in the Walker’s Point area of Milwaukee. In addition to being an artist Kari, manages the Milwaukee Public Schools Partnership for the Arts and Humanities program. Kim, a collage artist, also works as an art educator with several non profits throughout the city. Both artists admit that working in the same space seems to influence one another’s work and it also makes for a playful work envioroment. Between the tarot card readings by Kari, the snack shelf full of mustard and pretzels, and Kim blasting Beyonce music, it seems it could be more of a party than a work space. But, this fun vibe ads to their art, giving real meaning to the belief that when you love what you do, it’s never really work.

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Kari at workKARI COUTURE
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I moved from Eau Claire to Milwaukee in 2000 to go to school at MIAD where I studied printmaking. When I graduated, I entered the Public Allies program which validated my thoughts about and empowered me to start doing community, youth, and non-profit work. I have met and worked with some really amazing artists and arts organizations in this city that have all played a part in my formation as a socially conscious artist, community arts administrator and arts education advocate. My “day job” is managing the MPS Partnership for the Arts and Humanities and MPS Arts Internship programs, both related to engaging children and youth in out-of-school time arts experiences. In a lot of ways I consider this an art form just like my studio practice!

Kari’s corner

In the studio, I have moved away from printmaking and more toward drawing, collage, mixed media type of work. Since moving into this studio, I am really just getting back into a regular art-making practice so I’m enjoying doing things that are a bit more immediate. I use a variety of drawing materials and I like to layer and play with how they interact with each other both physically and visually.

Yes, you’re right. I think the community work is one of the best kinds of art forms!

by Kari Couture

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
Kim and I moved into this studio in February 2014 and it has been AMAZING. This is my first studio outside of my house. I consider it a great privilege to be able to have this space!  It has encouraged me to make art more regularly and allowed me to work much bigger and much messier than when I was working at home! I also LOVE that I don’t have to finish things in one sitting. At home I have two cats and my studio space didn’t have a door so if I left anything out and unfinished, they would walk on it, lick it, lay on it – you name it! So when I got to just leave my first few studio projects unfinished and lying out at the end of the day, I was so thrilled!!

Tarot Cards

Kari uses a set of tarot cards made by her artist friend Rebecca Schoenecker, which can be found at: http://rebeccaschoenecker.com/tarot.html

It also provides me with a place to just be. Sometimes I come here and just listen to music or relax on the couch or have friends over or read. I’ve also been practicing reading tarot a little and the studio has been a great space for that. My work is a lot about human interaction and relationships and how we navigate through knowing ourselves and each other. Tarot has an interesting way of opening up people’s stories.

That’s so interesting! I’m in the middle of writing a young adult novel that uses tarot as a way of telling stories. I find the cards to be an amazing tool for connection.  

Please tell us about a time you had the most fun working in your studio.
I’m actually a very social person so I love the buzz of having other people around. The times when I know I can spend all day at the studio are the best. I like to bring food and be around Kim or invite other people to stop in and visit. I love to talk about life or art or about what’s happening related to my work in the community. I really enjoy when others bring projects they are working on and we can just work simultaneously. Or when kids come and visit! This winter my nieces spent an afternoon there with me and we totally destroyed the place and danced—it was fantastic!

Does music influence how you work? What’s on your playlist now?
What I listen to varies a lot depending on my mood and what I’m working on. When I know I’m going to be in the studio for several hours at a time, I like to settle in with some podcasts, usually Radio Lab or Savage Love. As far as music goes, I had a lot of friends ask me what I might want for “studio-warming” presents when I moved in and I said make me a music mix or playlist so I have a good variety! Left to my own devices, I’ve mostly been listening to Estelle, Common, Mos Def and Raphael Saadiq.

Kari's grandma's reproduction of 'The Gleaners'

Kari’s grandma’s reproduction of ‘The Gleaners’

What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like I would have to just say the space itself. It is very empowering to be able to make a mess or not make a mess, to start something new before finishing something old, to hang stuff and take stuff down, to play loud music or just be quiet, to really push myself or give myself a break, to gather people or to just be alone – all these options really allow me to create exactly the kind of atmosphere I need in the moment.

Studio pets

Studio pets

Is there a favorite drink or food that you have while you work?
We are snack-aholics! Seriously, I think the mini-fridge and the “snack shelf” where probably the first areas of the studio to get truly established. There are a lot of pretzels and mustards, nuts, anything spicy and always a little candy. Ginger beer and coconut LaCroix are staples.

What are the three best things about your studio?

Kari's desk

Kari’s desk

I love the big window! The southern sunlight is really nice, we’ve got a bunch of very happy plants and we have a great view of the Allen Bradley clock tower.

The location! We are right near the train tracks and I love to hear trains going by. At night I like to watch the Amtrak because if passengers have their lights on you can see in and it feels like you’re watching a movie (I hope that doesn’t sound creepy!). I also like that we’re within walking distance to an art supply store, coffee shops, frozen yogurt, great Indian food, some nice bars, and the lake—everything you could need.

The building. There are a lot of really cool artists in this building! Between my dear friends Val Tatera, Eric Koester and Mary Osmundsen down the hall, the musicians next to us, the Alphabang Collective, a photographer, woodworkers in the basement, Live Artist Studio upstairs and Continuum Architects (who I rarely see in the building but I have seen them out at meetings around the community), its just a really diverse and creative place to be.

It sounds like a very cool place to work!

If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I think we could use better lighting, maybe a new table that isn’t so wobbly and a good stereo to bump our music on! But mostly any “extra” funds I might come across I would probably put into supplies!

Robes of Gold by Kari

Robes of Gold by Kari

What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I am definitely going through a gold phase right now, well, I guess I have been for a couple of years. I can’t even think of a piece that I’ve made recently that doesn’t have gold or a golden yellow color in it. I just like its warmth and its reference to things that are sacred.

The main wall on my side was blue when we moved in and I really wanted to paint it red, but we spent a whole day priming it, going up and down this HUGE ladder and after that, we decided to just leave it white!

Kari's altar shelf also featuring work by Rebecca Schoenecker and Della Wells

Kari’s altar shelf also featuring work by Rebecca Schoenecker and Della Wells

What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Do it!! Whether it is a corner of a room or a whole room in your house or a separate studio space—do it! Give yourself space where you can focus and be away from everything else. A place where you can make a mess and be free.

Kari just messin’ around with marigold seeds

What are you working on now and where can we find out more?
I will have a piece in an upcoming show on November organized by the great Jeff Redmon! Along the lines of the recent Culture Jam MKE show, Easily Discarded will be a show of work that challenges dominant notions of the relationship between human beings and their physical and mental environment. One night only: Saturday November 22nd, 2014 from 7:00pm until 11:00pm at 228 S. 1st St, Milwaukee, WI.

I don’t have a website! Maybe that’s what I should spend my “couple hundred dollars” on!!

Thanks, Kari! Good luck with your upcoming show!

Kari and Kim

Kim Loper and Kari Couture

KIM LOPER
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.

I’m a youth worker and art instructor with several non profits in the city.I work with cheap materials that are easy to get ahold of—magazine and paper collage on large wood surfaces. There’s a very fine line between my work and my play, I learn things from my teaching practice that influence my personal fine art practice, and conversely, learn things from my fine art practices that influence my teaching.

Kim's corner

Kim’s corner

I’m a painter by trade and currently call myself a collage artist. And actually, the move from paint to collage happened accidentally. When I came back to Milwaukee after college, I didn’t have any space to paint in, so I literally just substituted magazine paper for paint. I map out my images on a wooden board, and fill in those parts, like a paint by numbers, with color coded swatches of paper. Currently I’m really interested in people, human anatomy and biological configurations and I explore this by cutting strips of paper and reassembling them to create muscular structures.IMG_6907

How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
This studio came to me at the most perfect time, when I needed a space of my own to unload some emotional messes I was going through. It was new and sort of served as my creative fairy godmother. Consoling me, nudging me to go deeper into my practice, letting me know everything was going to be ok, giving me confidence and courage. The studio saved me. The work that I produced during this time was survivalist and is some of my most prominent and proud work to date.

What a great metaphor—I love the idea of a studio being a creative fairy godmother!

Kim's corner close up

Kim’s corner close up

Please tell us about a time you had the most fun working in your studio.
Most fun? I think it was when I first got the studio and was cranking out work that totally impressed me. For like the first time ever. That’s fun. Oh, and also, parties with Kari! She has the best food, best tunes, and best tarot card sessions.IMG_6904

Yeah, that sounds like fun!

Does music influence how you work? What’s on your playlist now?
My work is really meticulous—cutting swatches/strips of color from magazines and working large scale on wooden boards often over 4×4 ft, so I listen to a lot of podcasts to pass the time. Lots of Savage Love, TED talks, Planet Money, The Read, This American Life. And when I really get serious is when the music comes out. Currently: the new Flying Lotus Album—You’re Dead and Kelis’s most recent album—Food; both have been playing exhaustively on repeat. Also, lots of SBTRKT, Kendrick Lamar, The Internet, etc.. and Beyonce. Always Beyonce. Always.

IMG_6910What would you say is the most useful tool in your studio?
Glue. Nothing would happen without the glue.

Is there a favorite drink or food that you have while you work?
Kari has become recently obsessed with mustard and pretzels and so I always eat all of her food. We have a snack shelf that we try and keep stocked with delicious treats. What’s on there now…. Old popcorn, pretzels (what’d I tell you!), candy, sriracha cashews, chili lime pistachios… We eat pretty good in here. We’re also a big fan of whiskey gingers and wine ‘round these parts.

Kim books

What are the three best things about your studio?
Our beautiful plants (mine’s dying, but lets not talk about that).
The amazing nap couch that will swallow whole you in one bite. With no remorse.
My studio mates advice.

IMG_6905If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
Probably a bear skin rug (faux bear of course, Kari’s a vegetarian so I’m not too sure she’d be thrilled if I brought back dead animal skin).  Really, something to cover the floors because it feels a bit bare at times, especially when it’s cold.

Better shelving or organizational structures for my materials. I have lots of paper clippings and other small items that could use some discipline.

And actually, I’d buy as much glitter as I could afford. How much glitter do you think I could get for a couple hundred dollars? Enough to change my life I bet.

DSC_0401What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space?
I’ve been working with bright colors—black, teal, peach/pink, red, and gold. Lots of flowers and patterns in my work. It’s pretty bubble gummy right now. Very playful and light.

Kari’s side has a different feel, with different colors and is reflective of the type of work she does. I guess one common strain in both of our work, is our use of profiled, bald figures. Subtly, I think I’m definitely influenced by having her work up. We both kind of explore human relationships and interactions but use totally different color palettes. There is a lot of gold in our studio though, throughout. It’s mysterious and magical in here.

IMG_6912What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Don’t get the internet. Create a space that have your studio be a mystical space that doesn’t look like anything else you’re forced to deal with in the outside world. Allow yourself to sit in it for hours, sans actual work. Make sure the nap conditions are optimal. Have other smart creative people in it often to talk about art and gossip. Oh, and probably get some books. Make it safe so you can play and explore as freely as possible.

Great advice! Especially about the napping conditions and the lack of internet. 

Kim's piece 3

Where can we find out more?
http://lokiart.com

Thanks, Kim for sharing your space!

Join us next Tuesday when Caldecott Honor-winning artist Molly Idle will share her lovely studio in Arizona!