Saturday, September 13, 2008

Printsy Interview - Jan Allsopp

Interviewed by shesbattydesigns

Etsy shop: The Little Shop of Horus

Can you give us a brief bio of yourself?
Born in a county town, grew up in another country town, live in a country town. All this regional living means I can choose my own pace, live right near the beach, walk to the shops, post office (very important for an Etsian!) and restaurants. A bit scarce on the cultural front though so regular trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have always been important for seeing exhibitions, shows and keeping in touch with what’s current. The best of both worlds really!

'Suppertime (Detail)' - janallsopp on FlickrWhat kind of crafting and art practices interest you the most?
I’ve a passion for art with painting and drawing having been my main pursuits for many years. A couple of years ago I did a semester of printmaking and I found it a real struggle to think like a printer rather than a painter. I think that is part of the reason I’ve become obsessed with printing, I enjoy trying to think in a totally different way while creating. I chose a Print Gocco and had a lot of fun learning with it. I think I am much better at thinking – and creating – as a printer now and I have added lino and collagraphs to the mix. I really became excited about the potential of printmaking when I started making artists books. So far I’ve only made unique artists books (one of a kind), but I have a couple underway that will be printed and editioned. Art as a book object! I love the idea.

When did your love for creating art start?
I have always made things right from when I was a young girl. I have short straight fine hair and when I was 3 my friend Cathy had thick curly long hair. I was so envious. My solution was to make the hair of my dreams. Wool, paper and sticky tape were my materials of choice, (I remember making many many things with them!) in fact I wore my ‘wig’ for a long time, shopping, to Sunday school and especially when I was playing with Cathy! If I didn’t have it, I made it and it’s still the same today.

'Mocha Kenya' - janallsopp on FlickrWhat inspires you?
I am inspired by the everyday and my art is about drawing attention to the extraordinary that inhabits the ordinary. I mean how important is a cup of coffee!? Our everyday environment is full of beautiful, useful and pleasurable objects that we take for granted. I love to take these objects and instil them with meaning so they make us look at them afresh, layering them with other objects, people, animals and pattern, the pattern of the everyday from fabrics, wallpaper and even doodles. I also love looking at the work of other artists. At the moment my favourite artist is South African William Kentridge. In many ways I see he is also interested in the everyday objects and books – I love books!

When did you decide to start selling your work?
When I finished my first art course I decided to take the traditional road and begin exhibiting. I began exhibiting locally and then extended that to take in towns in adjoining regional areas. Breaking into the Sydney scene is much more difficult. It’s very clique-y and competitive with art galleries. It took me a long time to get my work hung but I finally had the opportunity to join a group show a few years ago. But I found that the time between exhibitions was long and sales hardly made it worthwhile. I also found it very stressful and began to think about what the exhibition goers might like to see – before I had even begun to paint the works! That was when I decided there must be a better way for me, one where I could exhibit and sell in a way I can enjoy. Ah, then I found Etsy!

'How to make Cotton Reel Clogs' - janallsopp on FlickrHow did you make the transition?
I opened my Etsy shop in January this year with only 6 works. I had a good initial reaction to my shop from my long time blog readers which really helped to keep me going. Since then I have expanded my shop to include my rebound journals. I began making these for myself as travel journals and posted about them on my blog. They got a lot of attention and it was then I realised others wanted them too. I buy old books at the local Bookfest each year, choosing ones with interesting titles, illustrations or great covers – yes, I judge books by their covers! Then I carefully disassemble them, separating the pages from each other and the covers. I select high quality art papers and cut or tear them to the right size for the book. I throw a few of the original pages back in with the new ones, chosen for their illustrations or content, and then I sew these all together and rebind them into the original covers. These books are great for journals as the original pages make great prompts or the basis for unique journal pages while the new art paper pages can take just about any type of media you could want to use in a journal.

'Naked' - janallsopp on Flickr
How do you find time for your craft?
I am lucky enough to have a part time job that I love and the rest of the week to work on my art. I am continuing my studies and am currently part way through a Bachelor degree in art which I am undertaking online. It competes with my time for creating for my shop, but it also feeds the ideas that end up in the shop anyway, so it works well.

'Dinner Dance' - janallsopp on FlickrDo you have any upcoming shows? and what has been your experience with shows/gallery openings, etc. If you haven't participated in any, why not?
A few years ago I decided I wouldn’t exhibit any more and since then I think I’ve had more exhibitions than when I was trying to get them! At the moment I’m talking to another printer and artist book maker about sharing and exhibition locally next year. I would be thrilled if that worked out. Other than that I’m happy to just ‘show’ on my blog until the next exhibition finds me!

'Dinner Dance Detail' - janallsopp on Flickr
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’ve really only just begun working with artists books. I’d love to get a few editioned ones done and available in my shop. I love the experience I’ve had with my shop so far and I am going to be concentrating on adding variety and keeping interesting art, prints and books in it over everything else. The Little Shop of Horus is my main focus for the future right now.

'Helping Hand (Detail)' - janallsopp on FlickrAnything else you'd like to add? a favorite quote or words of advice perhaps...
I do have a favourite quote that I put on my blog and in my signature, on my fridge and on the wall of my studio. It is by Anais Nin, "Life shrinks and expands in direct proportion to courage." I hope it helps others, but mainly I put it up everywhere to remind me of what I need to keep in mind. I’m not naturally courageous and this quote has really helped to keep me focused
on what I want to achieve.

1 comment:

Tepi said...

I find Jan's work interesting and varied. Great interview. Thanks for sharing the quote.