Sunday, November 11, 2007

Robert's Snow: Amy Schimler Interview

Here is another great snowflake for Robert's Snow. I'll be featuring Lee White on Tuesday, and you can check the sidebar on the right for all the rest of this week's snowflake features.
"Hanging Popcorn at the Beaver Lodge" by Amy Schimler
available for auction: November 26-30


I want to live in Amy Schimler’s art. I want to hang out with the industrious beavers and catch the fireflies hiding in the grass. Her whimsical snails, raccoons, frogs, and birds are welcome in my house anytime. And I’ll tell you the secret why: every time I look at them, I can’t help but smile. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a particular image…there is something so inherently joyful about this work.

Amy studied painting and fiberarts in Boston at the Museum School of Fine Arts and Massachusetts College of Art. She continued her studies in textile and surface design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her designs can be found on all kinds of surfaces: children’s books, wrapping paper, fabric, t-shirts, the list goes on. Her clients range from Target and Baby Gap to Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Fisher Price, and UNICEF. In fact, a brand new Amy Schimler fabric line titled Creatures and Critters is due out in January (you can see a sneak peek on her blog). Amy's blog, Red Fish Circle, is definitely worth the'll be rewarded with glimpses into works in progress, new paintings, and even bunny slippers. You won't be disappointed by a visit to her website, either.

And to top it all off, her studio sounds magical. Read on to find out more...

How did you get started as an artist?

I think I have always considered myself an artist, even as a child. I started to take it seriously, however, when I joined a cooperative clay studio in Cambridge MA in my early twenties. I worked as an occupational therapist professionally, returned to art school to study painting and textile arts, raised a family, and finally was able to support myself full time as an artist. The best part of the evolution for me was that I got to experiment with a lot of different media; clay, metal, paint, fabric dyes. When I took my first textile design class at RISD, I was hooked.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by so many different things; Children's artwork, the textures and patterns found both in nature and man-made materials (peeling paint, rusted metal), my dog's comical shadow, color, great lyrics, vintage fabrics, ethnic textiles. Honesty inspires me.

Who are your favorite artists?

Some of my favorites are Milton Avery, Maira Kalman, and Sara Fanelli. I particularly like Picasso's sculptures and ceramics. I am drawn to both naïve and narrative artwork.

What is your ideal workspace?

My ideal workspace is quiet, light, and spacious - I never seem to have enough room - I really like to spread out. I live in a small township that is a designated nature preserve. When I walk outside my door I am surrounded by blue herons, swans, beavers, owls, and a captive audience of quacking ducks. It is really beautiful and inspiring.

Your whimsical, colorful designs have shown up all over the place: books, greeting cards, gift wrap. And now, you're starting a new line of fabrics with Robert Kaufman. How did that come about? Are there special considerations you have to make when creating designs specifically for fabric?

Because I was doing textile design for the apparel market it was a natural transition to license my designs specifically for fabric. Robert Kaufman has a line that was a good fit with the type of design that I do. I am very excited to be working with them. When designing for fabric, the end use needs to be considered; for ex. will it be used for quilting, as children's clothing? There are limitations with the number of colors and complexity of the design depending on the printing process used.

Your animal designs are *especially* endearing and appealing--were you around a lot of animals growing up, and do you have any now?

Thanks. I think I addressed this earlier when I was describing where I live. I am surrounded by wildlife. I also have always been a dog owner. I presently own an Italian Greyhound, Beans, who is my studio assistant. She is almost completely blind and fairly deaf, but offers a lot of support. She still walks, more like prances, with a proud hop to her step. Her grace and fortitude inspire me.

How did you come up with your snowflake design for this year’s Robert’s Snow?

I had just finished an illustration of a beaver lodge. I really enjoyed creating it and thought it would be fun to continue that theme. The paddle shaped tails worked great with the shape of the snowflake! Also, I just love the idea of the beavers chomping down on the popcorn while decorating their tree.

Once you began, was there anything especially interesting, challenging, or surprising about the project?

I loved having the opportunity to work off of the computer. Many of my commercial assignments are digital, so I really enjoyed playing with the paints.

What advice would you give to young people interested in becoming an artist?

First of all to produce work that you feel good about and that reflects your personal voice. I think it is so important to keep growing. There is no end point as an artist. It is a constant journey of exploration and growth. I think to be able to make a living as an artist your desire for having a creative lifestyle has to outweigh the difficulties you may face.

Perseverance is key. There will be rejection because your particular style will not appeal to everyone.

Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you and/or your work?

Participating in Robert's Snow is particularly meaningful to me. I overcame a diagnosis of Hodgkin's Disease twenty years ago. It was a very challenging period. I sometimes find it interesting that the work I choose to do is so light and seemingly carefree. I think I enjoy living in this happy colorful space. It is an honest expression of the absolute joy and gratitude I am experiencing in my life. I hope my artwork passes that forward.

Bean's Cartoon Shadow:

Here are the other snowflakes featured today:

How you can help Robert's Snow:

  • Thank Amy Schimler for donating her time and talents and let her know what you think of her snowflake, "Hanging Popcorn at the Beaver Lodge" Amy says on her contact page: "Don't be shy!"
  • Check out the other Blogging for a Cure snowflake features: a schedule is updated weekly on the sidebar to the right, and previous posts can be found at Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast (Thank you, Jules & Eisha!)
  • Visit Robert's Snow to view all the snowflakes (not all the snowflakes were ready in time to be featured by Blogging for a Cure, so be sure to visit the official site so you don't miss any)
  • Bid on your favorite snowflakes during the three auctions held Nov. 19-Dec. 7
  • Spread the word! Tell your grandmother, your neighbor, your postman. Send them a link to this post or to any Robert's Snow post.


Anonymous said...

Oh, what a great interview. I smiled too.
-Debbie G.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Josephine. What a nice interview (and thanks, Amy). Yes, that studio sounds to-die-for. Oh my.

tanita✿davis said...

I love her folk-artsy style! And my word -- what great teeth on those beavers!!

Amy Schimler-Safford said...

Josephine, thanks for volunteering your time for Robert's Snow and your lovely post! -Amy

Josephine Cameron said...

Thanks all! I *loved* doing this one...I can't wait to see how everything goes at the auction!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I love those beavers. Great interview!

Anonymous said...

That's a lovely interview. And the beavers are the greatest!