Featured Artist: Alice – filmshirley

Today’s featured artist is Alice alias filmshirley! Time to get inspired!

Tell us a bit about yourself!
look at me!
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania. Both my parents are writers, so my sister and I grew up with a rich background in history and literature. I spent my childhood and adolescence volunteering in a local museum and a library, which really shaped my interests as I grew up. I earned a BA in Integrative Arts at Penn State, but my focus was primarily in illustration, writing for TV, and video production. At the moment I’m the digital photography supervisor there, and have since made my photography hobby into my job. I also got really into collàge when I started grad school, and that’s when the ephemera collection really started snowballing. I have always been a collector of old photographs and ephemera, but it wasn’t until started collecting 19th century mourning jewelry that I thought of using photographs and print images in decorative arts. I had been brainwashed by my art profs to separate art from craft, and it’s only been recently that I’ve been combining the two and expanding my work into jewelry and embroidery pieces. 
What hobbies or interests do you have?
All sorts of crazy things! I read a lot and am interested in political science, history, literature and sociology. I’m also a fan of 1930s English murder mysteries. I love pre-Code Hollywood, and since I’ve been a small child have been fascinated by the 1910s-1930s. I also like to bake, cook and work with plants. I’ve always seen myself as sort of a threshold between past and present, because the two have always been so intertwined. I’m an improv student at the Upright Citizens Brigade in NYC and love performing. I also have been taking comedy writing classes through The Second City and have been writing comedy pretty ambitiously for the past six or so years. Right now I’m finishing up writing a humor book about surviving art school. I love to go to flea markets and antique shops to find new ways to reuse old things. I’ll often shoot with antique cameras just to see what I can get out of them. My boyfriend and I are currently teaming up with design and illustration work – he’s a wonderful illustrator.
Is there a specific design style that you really like?
Art Nouveau, mainly because I like the creative, organic, sensual style. I collect 19th-and early-20th century school books and love studying the illustration methods of forgotten artists. Art Deco is also something I love. Basically, anything that marries style and utility with quality and endurance. I’m also a fan of collage work, PA Dutch frakturs, Mediterranean styles, midcentury atomic stuff, science illustrations, medieval art and architecture. A little of everything.
look at me!
What drives you?
I’m driven by wanting to demonstrate how things can be reused and to buy things that are both beautiful and useful. Our society wastes too much. I choose ephemera that can be used in other ways other than being thrown out, so I reuse old books, scan and use old photographs, and in turn stay mindful of those who came before me.
What are you passionate about?
Right now I’m angry and worried about the current political climate in Pennsylvania. Our governor is on the union-busting bandwagon and it will soon be affecting our state’s education, its water, its land, its citizens and its economy for possibly the rest of my life. I’m very vocal about it because it affects me personally: I may be out of a job in May due to department cuts and layoffs. How does it translate in my art? Not literally, not like my art school days when I was trying to make a “statement.” Now, when I’m anxious, I’ve found that crafting alleviates this, so I’ve started using it as an outlet. To me, something I’ve stitched…be it a potholder, or a table runner, or a tea-towel…serves sort of the same purpose as those Guatemalan “worry dolls.” When I hand something I’ve made over to someone, that stress I was feeling when I was making the piece has transformed into something pretty and useful for someone to enjoy. It makes me happy. And jewelry is starting to take that role too.
Why did you choose your career / niche / topic / market?
I really started focusing on jewelry-making only recently, though I’ve been an embroiderer off and on since I was a young child. Growing up in central PA was interesting: it’s still very much the older way of life there. Not necessarily a better one, or a simpler one, but a more hands-on approach. You know all your neighbors. You care about them. You live with them. They pass down what they know to you. For instance, as a kid I was fascinated by an elderly lady down the street who was a master quilter. I’d often visit her, and she’d show me the work she was doing. Though I never pursued quilting, I’ve always loved that quilting and sewing was such a personal thing. I love quilts made from old clothes, for instance because it appeals to that collage artist mentality I have. I didn’t like the math behind knitting and making clothes, but to me embroidery was just drawing with thread…so I went that route.

What are your goals?
I’d like to spend more time on Etsy helping other independent artisans. There’s a mini-coalition in my town of crafters now, and my friend Kristen started a biannual show to share with the community what we do. I like the idea of creating things for both a local and global market; to profit from your immediate creation. Besides the money part, it’s personally satisfying when you’ve made something and put a lot of time in it and someone loves it. It’s more validating than making a painting that I’ll hide in the closet, for instance. I’m going to expand my jewelry line and really start finding new ways to use what I have. I want to tackle quilting too, now that I’m comfortable with a needle again.
I am also finishing up the embroidery pieces that I have in the works and will soon be putting it up on Etsy.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t even know where I’ll be in five hours, so let’s start there: probably flopped on my boyfriend’s futon watching TCM and sewing a robot on something.
Tell us about your shop:
How do you describe what you do and why are you doing what you do?
I use my ephemera collection to make new, pretty things.
What difference do you want to make in this field?
I’ve got a lot of things I’d like to share, and think would look pretty in jewelry. I’ll soon have things for sale that people can use in their homes to make it pretty, too.
look at me!
Describe your ideal customer & the world they inhabit.
E.g. gender, age, hobbies, interests.. How does that affect the styling for your brand? Does your audience share any of your hobbies and interests? Can you convey that with your brand?
My ideal customer is someone who likes something unusual, classy and homemade and has a fun sense of humor. I style my stuff to fit my own eclectic tastes and my sense of humor, and if someone appreciates that, it cracks me up inside that I have a kindred spirit somewhere. I hope that if I keep revealing more interesting things, my fan base will broaden a bit. As a comedian, I like the idea of my humor having a less traditional outlet.
What do you want to be known for in your business?
Fun treasuries to highlight others’ work, being a good business buddy, making things of nice quality.
What 5 words best describes your aesthetic
  • vintage
  • eclectic
  • quality
  • homemade
  • fun
What is about your shop that is unique? What makes your shop different?
I have a strong personality and my tastes are very broad. I like to blend things people already like with things I think they might like. How can I build a brand? Well, I guess if you have something unusual that no one else has, you have no competition, do you? And if they steal your idea, so what? There’s lots more where that comes from!
look at me!

What’s your story & why should I buy from you?

To paraphrase one of my heroines, Bette Davis: “To…be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.” If you buy something from me, you’re simply getting something I put care and fun into while making it at my bedroom studio table. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I’m not a hard seller. If you like my stuff and you want to wear it, that’s the highest compliment I can get.
What event or need causes them to search for what you offer? Which problem do you solve?
I think people just tend to check out my things because they want something neat to wear. Can’t blame them!
What is your message?
I just want them to like it and to come back again.

“Talking about art is like dancing about architecture.” – David Bowie

RELATED POSTS

Leave a Reply