Tuesday, April 5, 2011

art talk Tuesday: Copper Leaf Studios

For Art Talk today, we have Chris all the way from Ohio.  

*Name, age, hometown, blog/website
My name is Chris Zielski, and I'm thirty-something (this is probably the year I can no longer get away with saying “mid thirties”!) I live in Cleveland Hts. Ohio, and my website & blog are at http://www.copperleafstudios.net

*When did you first discover your creative talents?
I was always a creative kid, but I don't consider myself to have become an artist til I was in college. That's when I realized that it was important enough to make it a focus in my professional life. I started exhibiting my work on the side while I was teaching art for a living, and it kept growing until the two eventually switched places. Now I teach occasionally on the side, and make my living as an artist.

*What inspires you and keeps you motivated to create?
I tend to work in series, so whatever I'm inspired by will get tossed around and changed up until I have a whole body of work. Sometimes it's nature, sometimes science, or sometimes I challenge myself with a particular size or subject. Commission work has always been a great way to stretch my creative brain as well.
As for being motivated, I love what I do so it's easy! And I am very fortunate to be able to make a living at it (paying the bills is definitely motivating). But downtime is important. When I don't feel creative, there are lots of things I can do to be productive that don't require brainpower. I'll usually make the mounts that go on the back of my pieces when I get to that point – cutting & routing wood is a nice mindless activity, and it has a sort of Zen repetition that is comforting. But after 50 or 100 of those, I'm ready to get back to work!

*How would you describe your style?
clean, textural, layered, sophisticated. Not overly simplified, not too flowery. Like a good cup of tea.

*Who are some people that have inspired your work?
I love the work of Maya Lin. Her pieces have an elegant simplicity that I admire.
Itchiku Kubota's work blew my mind. He made very elaborate dyed & stitched kimonos, and created a landscape across 34 kimonos displayed side by side. Seeing them in person was an amazing experience. The book “Kimono as Art” is a stunning catalog of the exhibit.
The quilts of Gee's Bend was another show that was amazing to see. Large-scale “modern” art made from clothing scraps.

*What is something funny that's happened to you recently?
I did a juried show last fall that was billed as a “fine art show”. Between the Jimmy Buffet songs on the loud speaker and the bagpipe band that paraded through the tents, it became clear that this phrase means different things to different people. The kicker was finding out that the sellers used to have to wear Renaissance garb. Turns out one couple didn't get the message and spent the weekend dressed up anyway.

*How do you bridge the gap between creating and running a business?
I actually really like the business side of things... plus I think a lot of things about business require a great deal of creativity, like marketing or writing blogs & newsletter articles. Likewise, creating is sometimes just work, scrubbing metal or cutting wood or whatever. So I don't feel like there's a huge gap between them.

*Describe yourself in 5 words.
quiet, focused, smart, driven, persistent.

*Any advice for aspiring artists/designers?
Take the time to find your own voice. Once you find it, never stop listening.

 Thank you, Chris!  I loved reading your interview...and your enthusiasm for what you do is contagious!

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