Interview for T&N—Why I Create

Recently, I was interviewed at work about why I create. We have a creative group of people across all teams, from finance to photographers, who all have side projects or hobbies. We’ve only done a few of these interviews so far, and I was selected for this time around. I wanted to share it to show the other side of my creativity, apart from designing. Although, I think it is all interwoven and each facet strengthens the others.

This particular interview is about why I paint, what inspires me, and how Tuft & Needle supports that.

  1. What inspired your art in the first place?
    Since I started doing art as a kid, it’s hard to say what exactly inspired me back then. I think it’s always been about it being fun for me, a way to express myself in a quiet, personal way.

    Work I produce now is mostly inspired by the yin and yang of form (natural and man made); its simplicity and magnificence. When I see something that resonates with me, and I can’t get it out of my head, I’ll start to obsess over it as being something I want to re-create. It always comes from a place of mental and/or emotional connection. Once I can’t shake the vision, that’s when I’ll start planning on how to actually execute the creative process.

    Specific inspiration comes from Japan, architecture, geometry, human relationships, dealing with grief, among other things. After my mom passed away in 2013, I started feeling a whole new level of expression, and most everything I do now has some hidden reference to that loss, death, or observance of the brevity of life. It’s funny to say that, when my work generally has happy or pleasant vibes, but for me I’m always trying to remember to appreciate what I have now and live in the moment.

  2. When did you first realize that art was kind of a big deal for you? I remember being confident in art classes as a kid, and when high school came around, I really fell in love with the process. I had great inspiration from my high school art teacher, Mr. Murphy, along with very talented friends and fellow-students. I was fortunate to be surrounded by such a creative and artistic community. A lot of our hanging out was sitting around and drawing, and helping each other out with feedback.
  3. Does art run in your family? My parents’ occupations both require mastery in color theory and application, so from a young age they taught me the basics, about theory and how to mix color. My dad used to draw a lot when he was younger, so that was always cool to me. One of my grandfather’s was a talented wood worker, and on my other side, I’ve seen some of my great-grandfather’s pencil drawings which are beautiful.
  4. How does T&N inspire and support you? My teammates are always creating, from knitting, to wood-working, to learning how to animate on the web. Always getting to hear about their endeavors and be encouraged to talk about it at work, is very inspiring. I’m also inspired by our space at work, getting to work in a beautiful space that our TX team makes super comfortable for us, really helps my creative clarity.
  5. Who are your favorite modern and historical artists? I love many 20th century artists including Van Gogh, Cézanne, Picasso, Derain, etc. I also love artists and architects from the De Stijl and Bauhaus movements, people who inspired them, and people who came from them. Modern artists I love (of the manga variety) are Takahashi Rumiko and Hisashi Eguchi. My contemporaries always inspire me too, including Billy Rose, husband and printmaker. Printmakers in general have really been inspiring me lately, their dedication to their craft always makes me want to go do art.
  6. What style would you describe your work as? My style is loosely comparable to post-impressionism. Although sometimes it can be more expressionistic or abstract, and sometimes could be as simple as gesture-drawing.
  7. What about Japan/Japanese culture are you obsessed with? Japan is super cool. I love the crazy juxtaposition of serene nature next to giant cities that explode with life. This concept has greatly influenced my art, and although it’s a physical environment that I’m piecing together, it becomes more of a commentary on feeling internal peace. People move at an incredible pace, and we live and move in either a natural or manmade environment (or combination of both), but what does that mean when you take a step back and observe that? For me, I realize how small I am in the grand scheme of things.

    I’ve enjoyed learning about the differences between our cultures, and learning more about how people regard the community rather than just themselves. I like the beauty I’ve seen in design of everyday things. It’s simple, but effective design, something that is similar to Nordic design. They’re both trimmed down esthetics that result in magnifying beauty in scarcity. On a pop-culture note, I love anime and manga, and collecting kawaii-style objects.

  8. The type of music you listen to when painting (mostly)? Oddly enough, I haven’t really been listening to music when I paint. I love music, indie, goth, early rock and folk, etc., (lately obsessing over Dinosaur Jr and another band J was in called Witch), but if I know I’m setting myself up for a long session, I’d rather play movies in the background that I’ve seen many, many times. I take out a stack and when one finishes, I’ll put in the next. Or sometimes, play the same one over and over again. My favorites to do this with are Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic and Rushmore, as well as Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
  9. What would you like to get across to T&N social media followers about your art? I do art as an extension of my psyche. I do it when I’m feeling like I’m desperately wanting to say something or express something, and I don’t know any other way to do that besides painting or drawing. I want people to like it and it would be cool if they feel something based on looking at it, but I don’t expect it to be revolutionary. It’s more of a personal act that is describing tremendous states of awe or sometimes it’s just a simple expression of what I find sweet or beautiful.
  10. Anything else you would like to add? I’m thankful that I get to have this opportunity to work with such diverse talent at Tuft & Needle. Being welcomed into the family of such a creative group, is really humbling and encouraging.


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Author: Miniature Ray


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