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frucci jewelry design – let’s chat!

(ed. note: welcome first-time readers! if you enjoy this article about fru, please click on the other categories to the left to enjoy even more posts about other talented artists and designers. better yet, feel free to be impulsive and click on subscribe to the right, and i will bring the good stuff to you instead! thank you for visiting!)

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i had to remember to breathe when i saw these wondrous paper creations from california artist francesca vitali, aka fru. this talented designer from rome, italy crafts stunning jewelry from folding and weaving layers and layer of papers, then integrates them with other materials such as copper and leather to create her gorgeous frucci design collection. everything is so precise and pristine, with well defined edges, but still soft and wearable. and i love her color combinations and finishing details. let’s have a chat with fru and find out more!

q: where do you live and where do you make your jewelry?
a: at the moment i live in southern california. i’m here because of my work. i’m a penitent scientist trying to transition into art. i make my pieces mostly at home, i have set up a little corner studio, but to tell you the truth i generally spread my work in progress everywhere. i also have access to a jewelry studio at my school, where i work with metal…especially soldering metal, which is something i’m not allowed to do at home!

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q: what is your background, and did you ever study art formally?
a: for the longest time i’ve regretted not pursuing my creative nature by studying art! my formal education background is in science. i got my “laurea” in chemistry in italy and my phD in organic chemistry in switzerland. since then, i’ve being working in research as structural biologist at a different university, but something changed since i came here (to the united states). i started thinking again of my art education, and last summer i attended my very first formal class in metal, at penland school of craft. that experience changed my life! after penland, i signed up for a class at calstate fullerton taught by a great metalsmither, christina smith, and next spring i’ll attend an intensive two month jewelry course in san francisco. and i’m also considering applying for grad school.

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q: can you tell us a little bit about your collection?
a: i started this new line of woven/folded jewelry almost three years ago, when my sister, who knew how much i enjoy working with paper, got me some pre-cut paper strips. she knew one day i would come up with a good use for them…and i did! i like to repurpose old techniques with new media. one of my preferred techniques at the moment is weaving. i’m still experimenting with new paper shapes, new paper sources and new combinations of materials. i use shopping bags, old magazine pages, old catalog pages from my lab, coupons, old maps, museum newsletters, and new paper too. so far this has been a great creative process that is still evolving!

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q: do you think there is a connection between art and science, and do you find inspiration in the combination?
a: i definitively think art and science are connected and the link is nature. for me, it is interesting to attempt to both understand and describe nature. i’ve been creative all my life, and for some time i thought science could be creative too…but there is nothing in the world that gives me as much pleasure as working on one of my pieces!

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i get inspired by everything surrounding me, i guess. i never really know exactly where my inspirations come from, because normally they all come during the night while i’m sleeping. sometimes i wake up in the morning with an idea and i can’t stop thinking of it until i make it happen! kind of crazy, no?!

q: does it come naturally to you to blend the left brain analytical type of thinking with the right brain creative way?
a: i don’t know if it comes naturally, because i’m dyslexic and so to me left or right makes little difference! i will say that while my “right brain” background is self-taught, luckily i come from a family of great crafters (my mum is a great knitter, and my grandma was an excellent embroiderer).

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q: what is the price range of your collection?
a: i like to give my customers lots of choices, so i have a broad price range ($9 to $250). people can just “taste” my paper jewelry for few dollars buying the cubetto earrings, or they can select very elaborate pieces that of course are more expensive.

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purchase fru’s collection at her etsy shop, and be sure to check out fru’s flickr stream to see more beautiful things.

thank you fru!


james fowler abstract art – let’s chat!

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look at these abstract paintings from canadian artist james fowler. the obsessive compositions are intricately crafted and orderly and are softened by the vibrant color palettes. unlike piet mondrian, the king of neo-plasticism, these pieces are less rigid with their looser lines, and break from the traditional exclusive use of primary colors. however, similar to others in the cubist-inspired movement, they tell graphic horizontal and vertical stories, which in turn create mazes in my mind. as my eye traces those details that twist and wind around, a gateway to mysterious stories opens that i could spend hours trying to unravel. let’s have a chat with james and find out a bit more!

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q: where do you work?
a: i have a studio on queen street west, in toronto. it’s the birthplace of all that is cool in toronto.

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q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i was not formally trained in art. my great grandfather was a commercial graphic designer and a water colour hobbyist, my grandmother also paints so i was born with a silver paintbrush in hand. by age six, i was doing paint by numbers adequately and by the time i was in the ninth grade i had surpassed the standard value exercises others were doing, and was stretching 4′ x 8′ canvases. i turned to the film for university and abandoned art for the film industry for many years. by 2002 though, i had had enough of the “type a” personalities in the industry, and after a friend asked me what i would do if i could never paint again, my path became pretty clear.

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q: are your pieces made using acrylic paint exclusively or do you use some other types of media?
a: i’ve been thinking of switching over to oils. i’m currently working in acrylics, but also have another line of art that uses men’s business shirts and plaster in a low lever relief to tell stories of relationship.

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q: how large are these pieces and what is their price range?
a: the pieces range from 8″ x 12″ to the largest (to date), 4′ x5′, but i’ve painted 3′ x 7′ pieces too. i do a lot of commission work and the work ranges from $300 to $2500 with the majority being 22″ x 30″ on paper unframed for $550 – relatively inexpensive in the art world.

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q: what is your inspiration and message you want to send through these elaborately patterned pieces in these expressive color palettes?
a: i’m fascinated with the business world and what makes a strong capital market, what buildings are made of and what builds a city, who designs them and what makes good human traffic flow. i am also inspired by ancient decorative arts with a high level of craftsmanship, such as early chinese dynasty pots. there is something about steel and iron in molds too that is compelling, that frequently are used in the construction of cities or automobiles.

basically the collection consists of imagined cities from above, using color palettes to give a feeling of place or season or mood (winter in new york, paris in the spring, lost in the city, california, etc.) i’ve been doing the cities now for a while but i’m really encouraged from the attention my work has been gathering in the last six months. the work is also a lot about cities and traffic movement, about balance, a tough mix. i like to spend a lot of time away from the work and add in squares in fits and starts.

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q: are you currently exhibiting in any shows or is there any other meaningful information you would like to mention?
a: you can see my work in the march 2008 issue of canadian house and home magazine, the special condos issue. it can also be viewed at toast restaurant and in stores on queen street east in leslieville. my new website is up, and i have a flickr stream as well.

thank you james!

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amy walsh silkscreens & sculpture – let’s chat!

philadelphia artist amy walsh could have easily been a scientist or an architect after having a look at her intriguing mixed media art. her gallery installations are a dreamy, intimate look into foundations, demolition and purpose. peering through little peepholes into other tiny worlds leaves debris floating in my head. it doesn’t seem necessarily determined to have a ending either; rather, it seems satisfied enough to saturate the viewer’s mind without a tidy conclusion like some romantic comedy you’d see at the cinema. it’s a private, contemplative place.

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more intimacy can be found in amy’s gorgeous hand silkscreened specimen prints on vintage book pages, called the beastiarium. looking at these inspired animal combinations reminds me of thumbing through an old college biology textbook and coming upon a page covered with someone else’s notes, triumphantly bursting with rich color. it’s like some unfinished lesson from long ago, discovered serendipitously, that we were meant to find and keep in our minds. let’s have a chat with amy and find out more!

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q: where do you live?
a: i live in west philadelphia with my hubby (an acupuncturist) and my cat izzy. my art studio is in fishtown in a warehouse.

q: what is your background, and did you study art formally?
a: i’ve been making things like crazy all my life. i majored in painting as an undergrad (university of massachusetts), and in sculpture in graduate school (pennsylvania academy of the fine arts). i took ten years off in between, and i am glad i did. i actually went to graduate school to continue painting, but switched to sculpture in my first semester in a moment of big transformation.

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q: how are your pieces made? what types of media do you use and do you have a favorite?
a: in my 2D and 3D work i like to use found materials, decayed materials, stuff i just find around me. ever since i was a kid i have enjoyed making everyday materials like twigs and cardboard and paper and string transform into something otherworldly or totally convincing as its own little reality.

q: how large are these pieces and are they for sale? if so, what is their price range?
a: my sculptures are large, and they disappear when I am done exhibiting them. they are too fragile to move around from place to place, and they are made of materials that easily decay. so i build them in the exhibition space (after working on all the parts and fragments in my studio) and when the show is over, i deconstruct them, and often use many of the fragments in the next piece.

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the specimen prints are all under 8″ x 10″ and are all $29 through my etsy shop. soon i am going to make some original gouache paintings based on the specimen designs, and those will be in the shop too.

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q: what is your inspiration and message you want to send through these pieces?
a: the way i work now is similar to how i worked as a kid: my first “sculptures” were little villages made out of pine needles in the woods, when i was five or six years old. i don’t know if i am looking to send a message as much as just exploring as deeply as I can things that give me a sense of wonder, hope, sadness, etc. i think of these current sculptures as evidence of a world that is fragile, transient, and decaying, and at the same time is being rebuilt and reimagined. i am also really into the relationship of the inside and the outside, and playing with people’s expectations. i like the viewer to be surprised, to be let in on a little magic, a secret, something out of the ordinary. so, i keep a lot of dualities in my mind while i make the sculptures: order/chaos, collapse/rebuilding, interior/exterior, dark/light, delight/despair.

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all that said, while i am working, i am really playing. the words and descriptions come later.

with the specimen prints, i am not sure what drives them. i am drawn to the old book pages for the same reasons i am drawn to dirty cardboard and wood scraps – they already have a history and a use. the animals and plants and sea creatures that i cobble together are just really beautiful to me, and combining them makes them nicely strange and sometimes a little yucky, which is a good combo. i have so much fun finding the places where these creatures can merge and become hybrids. maybe it’s a way to appreciate how weird real animals are.

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q: are you currently exhibiting in any shows or is there any other meaningful information you would like to mention?
a: i sell my specimen prints at vix, and at occasional trunk shows at the mew gallery, both in philadelphia (the next one is this friday night, february 8th!). my etsy shop is a good place to find the specimen prints online. i sell them inexpensively so everyone can have one! and i update my blog and flickr stream with new work all the time. i love getting comments and critiques about my work, so i invite anyone to visit and say hello.

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see amy’s graphic design portfolio here, and check out her website to see more paintings and large scale sculpture works!

thank you amy!


mayuko fujino paper art – let’s chat!

look at the beautiful, delicate work of japanese artist mayuko fujino! these are not illustrations but paper cutouts with additional collage work. i love the organic themes and joyful compositions. her techniques are precise and eye for color admirable. i think you could just dive right into some of these and land on a fluffy cloud. let’s have a chat with mayuko and find out more!

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q: where do you live?
a:
tokyo, japan

q: what inspires your artwork?
a: i think what inspires me most are the challenging technical restrictions of paper cutout. sometimes when i have an idea it does not fall within the conventional rules for my method… and when i see something then the rules decide 1) if i can actually craft it or not and 2) how to go about making it. it’s fun for me to see how far i can go within the limitations. to do that, i always have to make the best use of inventiveness, and sometimes unexpected ideas occur. sometimes i think it almost acts like a guide for me to understand the world. and of course music (like moondog) and literature inspire me a lot. a sound body with storing of memory in five senses.

q: can you tell me a little about your technique?
a: they are paper cutouts and i color them with magazine pages, papers and collage. i use a special cutting tool (not scissors) to make the special cut shapes.

q: how large are these finished pieces and are they for sale?
a: they range in size from 10cm x 10cm to 79.0cm x 54.5cm (about 4″ x 4″ up to 31″ x 21.5″). i am preparing to sell them.

q: are you currently in any shows, and is there anything else special you would like to mention?
a: i will have an exhibition from february 6 through february 10th at fall gallery in tokyo, and on february 9th i am going to perform a new shadow show titled “mr. and mr.mysteries” there. i sometimes act as the “georama” or shadow play unit. also, our short film is available at myspace here.

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be sure to look at mayuko’s flickr stream for more gorgeous work.

thank you mayuko!


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