Saturday, August 23, 2008

What is it like to be a bat?, "5" questions with Carrie Collins.

Carrie Collins is 50% of 10% Tiger Fire, which will open Friday, September 5th at Copy Gallery 7-11. The other 50% being Beth Brandon who I have already interviewed here.

I would say a good 80% of the artists, who still make art, that I talk to would call anything they have to do to make money besides fine art their "day job", and many of them might work in coffee shops or grocery stores to sustain their art habit. There is nothing wrong with this way of life and I only point to it to point to how Carrie Collins is a little bit different, she loves her "day-job" which is running a company of her own making; Fabric Horse. I would say that she even puts her industrial design work, creating aesthetically awesome hip pouches, lock holsters and etc. for the bike culture (mostly), before her art work. A good 60% of the time Carrie Collins prefers a higher rationality of form and function that unities good taste with sustainability.

I would say that it isn't impossible, but perhaps highly unadvisable, for a person to be about anything 100% of the time. When we close ourselves off to options then we shut down the myriad of possibilities that life may allow us, and besides that, society created the holiday because the people always need a break from their own ideas of moral and order. When Ms. Collins picks up her sewing machine and allows herself to create any flight of fancy she can imagine regardless of function or rationale the result are works of art that address our need to escape order, if only for a moment.

I asked Carrie five questions about her work, the result follows, if you'd rather listen then read go here.

You'd better do it yourself unless there's a good reason why not to

Fabric Horse utility belts.

Annette Monnier: (1) Would you call yourself an artist or an industrial designer?

Carrie Collins: Well. . . I tend to call myself both. I am an industrial designer because that is what I was trained in but I've kind of always been an artist.

Annette: Explain "I've always been an artist".

Carrie: Growing up my parents were very do-it-yourself type of people. My mom would make my clothes, she cut our hair, she gardened, she wove baskets, she cooked, she made cross-stitch, she crocheted. . . and she was also really encouraging of artistic and musical endeavors for all of us. My dad on the other hand was a jack of all trades, but he was more like, fixing the cars and he used to build model airplanes and then when the computer era came around he closed his little workshop so that he could have a computer room and start building computers.

He would always fix what was wrong with the car if he could, or the boat or the motor home, he would always build our school desks and do all the necessary repairs that he could do around the home without hiring somebody. I was always raised around that mentality; you'd better do it yourself unless there's a good reason why not to.

When I came to deciding what I was going to study I knew that my career had to have a really main purpose or function to it. I felt like my personality would be most beneficial to the world if I was more an industrial designer rather then specifically a fine artist.

The world is more of like an oyster then anything else.

The Burger Bride (costume) as shown on Black Floor at the ICA during Locally Localized Gravity

Annette: (2) You said the other day, we were talking about function and functionality, and you were talking about the why of what you make when you make some of your more fine art projects and you said something really interesting. You said that on your everyday basis working your day job which is your passion, because you have this company called Fabric Horse which is the way you make your money, which I hate to call a day job because it's not just that to you it's much more. But you said you deal with functionality everyday and it's important to you but when you do a lot of your fine art projects you throw a lot of that out the window because you just want to have fun with it. Could you, I dunno, clarify that statement?

Carrie: It (fine art) gives me the opportunity to make something without making function the number one priority. Industrial design is, in a sense, product design, but you're trained to be a creative problem solver. The way I've combined sewing and fabrics with product design is what Fabric Horse does on a day-to-day basis, so when I'm creating a product to sell to people I'm concerned with durability and functionality along with the look or it. The things that make it last aren't necessarily what it looks like, it's more like how it works and if it stands up to the test of time and that's really important to me because it makes a more sustainable product.

My environmental activist side of me is very strong and so that is what I want to focus on in my everyday life. When I have the opportunity to show in a gallery or wherever that might be it's really awesome because I don't have to kill myself over doing it, because I really do, I'm really OCD about the fact that I don't like putting something out into the world that someone is paying me for that will fall apart. But when I have an art show I don't even think about it as a piece that someone is going to buy. I use it as an opportunity to express something, whatever that might be.

Not thinking about it being a sellable piece makes. . . the world is more of like an oyster then anything else.

(Question 3 didn't make the final draft.)

What is it like to be a bat?

Annette: (4) Specifically, when you are making the "fine art" it seems like you make costumes and headdresses, would you agree with me that that's what you're making a lot of times?

Carrie: Yeah. I really love costuming and headdresses. Does that answer your question?

Annette: Yeah it does, but. Why?

Carrie: Costumes are an interesting way of changing yourself.

Annette: Well, it sort of has a function, you can wear it, but a costume is sort of the least functional kind of clothing I can think of.

Carrie: Except on Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. . . but you can kind of jump into a different character. You can be somebody else, you can look really different. . .

A lot of people don't like their jobs.

A grape headdress

Annette: (5) Why do you think it's important for society to kind of take these days out where they have a different personae? It seems normal to want to take a vacation from yourself.

Carrie: It takes you away from yourself. I feel like people are accustomed to being a certain way, everyday when they're working and a lot of people don't really like their jobs. A lot of people don't really like what they have to do to survive, to make money. . .

That's a whole different thing for me because that's why I have my own company and why I try so hard to maintain that. It's really hard to be around someone who doesn't like their job. It's really obvious when someone doesn't like their job because it makes them into a miserable person, unless that person is pretty balanced and can separate themselves and sort of be a different person when they come home and not let them make them miserable. . . but everyone needs a vacation to get away from their job, you just need to get away. Everybody needs to feel like they're not the same person or doing the same thing everyday.

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