The home of artist and designer Gina Amoroso
Today, I have a litle treat for you as you head into the weekend. Think of it as a dose of "thoughtful loveliness" in this second installment of my "creative moms" series.
Artist and designer Gina Amoroso describes herself as a "maker by nature," someone who has always made a living in a creative field, starting out as a photojournalist and currently a graphic designer for a company in France. On the side, she further feeds her passion for creating by designing beautifully feminine pillows she sells through her Etsy shop.
Gina working on one of her creations at home
In her blog, Hettle (the name of her son's pet bunny), she writes that she hopes her blog brings a little bit of "thoughtful loveliness" to her readers. Getting to know Gina a little bit via several e-mails and reading her blog writings, I would have to say that all her creations are thoughtful loveliness, imparting a quiet beauty that I'm happy to share with you today.
Vivian Mansour of Ish and Chi included one of Hettle's pillows in her son's nursery
Gina writes in her blog about everything that inspires her: her "lulus" (kids), fashion, music and other artists on Etsy and elsewhere. She's a multi-talented woman who approaches all her creative endeavors with gusto. I would recommend checking out her blog for a great tutorial on block printing on fabric and an ongoing series she has titled, "What Inspires You?" I hope you enjoy my interview with Gina.
Gina also creates block prints
How long have you been creating pillow designs and how did it all start? What was your expertise in working on these types of projects?
Well, I guess I am a "maker" by nature. I have never had a job that, in some way or another I wasn't making something, teaching how to make something, or doing something creative. I do have a formal education in art, and my BFA is in photography and printmaking.
My professional career began in photojournalism, which at that time was a dream job. All of my artwork has a strong narrative quality to it, so I think I'm always telling a story in some way.
I believe the narrative to my Etsy shop is simply something playful, pretty, and family friendly. I used to teach sculpture and learning how to work with fabric led me to take lessons from a seamstress. I learned how to make my own patterns, mostly dresses. Fashion is definitely where my inspiration comes from.
Gina sewed this skirt, inspired by a similar one she saw on J. Crew
How does running your Etsy shop tie in with your full-time job as a graphic designer?
I am a contracted employee so I work from an office in my home, which is also my work space for making things. My hours are not rigid. Sometimes I can go a week without any projects, which leaves me time to spend on creating something with my hands. It's a real treat to be able to push away from my computer and swing to the other side of the room and play with some fabric.
Do you have other creative ambitions?
Of course! Having an outlet like an Etsy shop has motivated me to get back to making art with my drawings, block prints and photographs. I am opening another shop soon ( Telling Stories.etsy.com). I'm so excited to do this and I have been working very hard to put together some special things to share that mean a lot to me, specifically images that are feminine, powerful and beautiful.
Gina's kids at home
You have two kids ( Lucas, 7 and Louisa, 5 ) who I'm sure keep you quite busy. How do you combine your role as mom with that of an Etsy entrepreneur?
What are the sacrifices that you have to make to keep your home running smoothly, yet keep your creative juices flowing and your business flourishing?
Wow! Well first, I will come clean and say that, recently, I have struggled with keeping things running smoothly. It is a balancing act and figuring out what comes first, second and third.....is a work in progress. I run with people first and, as for second and third ... it's a toss up.
I can usually tell when things are getting out of hand when my living room is so littered with toys, books and shoes that I think the only way to tackle it is with a rake and shovel. It is also helpful to me to just get out of my studio for an entire day- even if it's just for shopping or looking at art or doing some gardening. This helps me re-charge and re-focus.
Who are the artists, visual and otherwise who inspire you and how?
(hard question!) So many artists, but just to name a few: Joseph Cornel, Robert Ryman, Sally Mann, Duane Micheals, Robert Frank. For me, these artists have a mix of power and intimacy in them that's appealing.
I love music. Daily, I find something to match my day and motivate me. My Dad was a musician and it has always been something I need to enjoy every day. Music can change the mood instantly. Sometimes, dinnertime at my house can be a little nuts, and that's when I put the music on loud and instruct my kids to "dance it out." Very effective!
I also Flip for fashion. I love pretty much everything that Stella McCartney does and getting Harper's Bazaar in the mail every month is a little piece of heaven for me. Would you like to share some of your favorite Etsy finds or stores? Yes! mummysam for wonderful fabric sculptures; sohomode and sohomodekids for a wonderful mix of vintage/modern clothing; emilyryan for modern original clothing, Chad Wys Fine Art for beautiful paintings.
mummysam's soft creations are one of Gina's favorites on Etsy
Often, I hear creative people say that their own kids are an inspiration for their work. Would you say this is true for you?
I honestly don't believe that they inspire the work that I do, but rather the lifestyle. I do feel that every morning they wake up with a brightness for a new day that just makes me want to jump in with both feet and get going.
Also, I want them to see me working at something creative and making a living doing so. I hope I can set an example and encourage my children to go out and pursue what makes them happy and fulfilled. At the end of the day, I want them to be inspired by more than a paycheck. (But the paycheck is s important too!)
Gina's art-filled home
What are some of your favorite objects from home?
Some of my favorite things are from places where I have traveled. New Mexico is someplace I find magical and visit as often as possible. Each time I am there, Ilike to bring back some pottery or jewelry made by a local artist. Our home has many wonderful works of art that I have collected over the years. Each means something different, and brings me back to that piece of time when it came into our home.
Thank you, Gina for generously sharing your story with us. You can find her on Etsy here and on her blog.
Ish and Chi photo used with permission. All other photos provided courtesy Gina Amoroso.