Inspiration week Day 2 : Lisa of Lou Lou and Oscar
I am very excited to introduce Lisa of Lou Lou and Oscar to you all today. I was first introduced to her delightful creations by Nicole ( Astulabee) , who just so happens to be up for an inspiration week interview in a few days. It was love at first sight and when I found out we had both opened our etsy shops the same week , maybe even the same day I knew I wanted to be one of Lisa's first customers. I purchased Catty Catty to place in Deborah's christmas stocking.
It came with a fortune fish and that you can see in Deborah's hand. It said she was passionate, passionate about lou lou and oscar of course. Lisa's item came packaged so beautifully that I almost didn't have the heart to open it.
It even came with a very special little rabbit that I quickly discovered has a fondness for covered stones.
Here is the second interview with amazing people to inspire you in this new year.
What inspires you in your creativity?
Almost anything can act as inspiration for my creatures, it is amazing how random it is sometimes, I feel like a sponge at the moment, sucking goodness from just about everything! My 2 1/2 year old son Ishi (Ishmael, I was reading Moby Dick when I was pregnant) is a constant inspiration, he has brought softness and much needed balance into my life, before he came along I had a tendency to inhabit the darker spaces. I move more to the rhythm of toddler time now, I feel closer to the natural world. Ishi’s empathy and enthusiasm definitely feeds my work, he is a budding land artist with a particular prediliction for pebble sculpture and leaf arrangement, we have most of the beach living with us at the moment! Ishi’s attachment to natural objects reminds me of the passionate love I used to feel for particular stones and twigs as a child. These objects always carried a secret intelligence with them and I treated them as you might a beloved pet. I had forgotten many of the obsessions of my childhood and being Ishi’s Mum has given me access to this world again. I feel the same way about my creatures as I did about my stones and twigs. I really beleive that an object that is invested with love and consideration can radiate these attributes to others, I love putting my little creations together so much and I hope that they pass some of this joy on to their new owners It is wonderful to see Ishi playing with the objects I have made with my own hands.
The short stories of Angela Carter and Franz Kafka are a great inspiration and source of imagintive thought for me. These stories open up a vivid mental terrain and I often meet the creatures that end up in my “ideas book” after reading a few pages of these stories. I am facinated by metamorphosis and hybridity, by anything which resists easy categorization and destabilizes what we think we ‘know’ Creatures that are neither one thing or another, that exist in the gaps and on the borders feed my creativity. I miss the urban foxes that scratch a living from our left overs in London, I am about to complete a sewing pattern from one of my drawings based on a small and very scraggy male fox that used to appear in my back garden from time to time. Many of the creatures that I am working on at the moment definitely exist in the margins and I think that they are happy there
Fabric, fabric, fabric is responsible for kick starting my adventures with sewing I have always been something of a pattern design fetishist and my need to design a creature that could carry off the amazing prints on fabrics from Cabbages & Roses and Green Gate lead to Lapin de Lune. I adore Scandinavian design, Zakka (Shinzi Katoh in particular), the illustrations of Yoshitomo Nara, Marc Boutavant, Gustave Dore and John Tenniel. There is so much amazing work out there that feeds my own creativity, I don’t really know how I could ever do it justice. I am so excited that I will have my blog up and running in a few days as it will give me a space from which to share my finds and passions. I have always wanted to curate an exhibition and my blog will allow me to gather many wonders into one place
If you tried to trace back the series of events that lead to you making things and opening an etsy shop where would it begin?
When people ask I say that I began the journey to Lou Lou & Oscar in March of this year (2008) after catching the Etsy bug and feeling the need to make some aesthetically pleasing creatures for my son. After Margie sent me her list of questions I realized that my stock answer wasn’t quite accurate. The work of actual physical making began in March, but my desire to do so much, much earlier. I have frequently had ideas for creative projects and have often been struck with the need to construct objects. Unfortunately, I always lacked the actual skills to turn my ideas into material realities. I have always felt much more at ease with words and texts than with my hands and considered myself to be irredeemably ham-fisted for a very long time. I put my academic career on hold (permanently it now seems!) when I had my son. I found that becoming a mother and allowing myself to be caught up less in theoretical musing opened up a new space for me and also gave me confidence in my physical dexterity. Around the same time I discovered Etsy and was so inspired by all the wonderful work on offer I felt compelled to try and turn the creatures that pop into my head into material beings. Everyday I am amazed that I have taken this path and have had quite a few “you are doing what?!” comments and disbelieving stares from people who knew me before I started sewing.
How did you learn your crafting skills?
I am so new to crafting that I don’t really think of myself as being at all skilled, I am looking forward to the day when my technical ability can keep pace with my imagination and sketch book I am in awe of the amazing artists I have been lucky enough to come across, receiving encouragement and compliments from these wonderful people makes me feel incredibly humble and spurs me on to work harder to become more accomplished.
I am completely self taught and have learnt everything over the past months by making mistakes, borrowing books from the library, becoming passionate about what I am trying to do and most of all through sheer bloody mindedness. I absolutely will not give up now that I know how fulfilling it is to hold something you have created from scratch, no matter how frustrating the process may be sometimes My first attempt at threading the sewing machine I inherited from my Step Mum was laughable and it took me an embarrassingly long time to stop putting the right side of the fabric the wrong way round! Every piece is a learning process for me, I am obsessed with embroidery ‘seed’ stitches at the moment and often a new creature will develop as I acquire a new skill. The Fish Boys and Marcel Poisson evolved in part from the need to seed stitch everything in sight! I don’t have much patience for following instructions and tend to find my own way of doing things which is often the ‘wrong’ way but if it works for me I will stick with it. I am slowly figuring out how to add panels to my patterns so that I can design some creatures that are more rounded and three dimensional. Sometimes I wish that I had a crafty friend on hand to help me work things out a little faster.
Can you describe an environment : time, place and company ( people or pets) where you feel most creative?
I lived in London for many years before moving to our small island and was terribly concerned that I would miss the amazing energy, chaos and creativity to be found there. I do miss the city desperately at times but I have found an environment here that is unbelievably magical and it is now my favourite place in the world! I live 8 minutes from a beach called ‘Green Island’, named for the neolithic burial mound that rises from the sea and is accessible at low tide. Our island’s tidal reach ranks among the world’s greatest, the island literally doubles in size twice a day. The tidal flats resemble a lunar landscape and the exposed seabed stretches off into the horizon dotted with inter-tidal rock pools and small channels where you can find cockles, cowries, moon shells and mermaids’ nipples. I visit Green Island with Ishi as much as possible and always take my ideas/sketch book along as I know that a new creature may make an appearance. Time works differently here and so does my creativity. I found the forest and the pool that many of my creatures inhabit whilst sitting gazing at the cost of France over the water. The Forest of my imagination has become an extended narrative and I can’t wait to share the characters that live there and their stories with everyone. Twilight is a wonderful time to visit the beach, my favourite time of day, an in-between space that is full of magic and possibility for me.
What do you have planned 2009?
I am very keen to continue to develop my crafting skills, to write some interesting blog posts and see some more creatures make their debut in my Etsy shop. I am very excited to have been asked to contribute some of my work to a new online shop/boutique called Paper & Pine. The Paper & Pine site should go live on the 15th January 2009, you will be able to find it at paperandpine.com. The creators of Paper and Pine, Jenny and Amy, work together to curate and run Puces POP a huge craft fair that happens annually during the POP Montreal International Music Festival. I couldn’t be more excited that my creatures have found a place in such wonderful company.
What advice or encouragement would you offer another creative person contemplating taking a big step to open a shop or blog in 2009?
I think that the best advice and encouragement I could give would be to have confidence in your work and to love what you do no matter what. Be brave and get your work out into the world. I was terrified of taking this step and of offering my creatures for sale. A kind comment on my Flickr site from a wonderful man in New York (you know who you are!) gave me the confidence and kick I needed to take the final step and put some work into my long empty shop. Ask for feedback on Flickr, it is full of amazingly talented and giving people. Don’t forget to give back too and offer encouragement through comments when you see something you love. You never know, you may be helping someone take a huge step in their life!
Isn't Lisa just the sweetest Librarian turned softie artist that you have ever read about and don't get me started on how adorable her son is.
Tomorrow I have an interview with a very dear friend I made in 2008 who just so happens to be sinking her toes on a beach covered in sea shells right about now.