What is the first memory you’ve had as an artist?
Actually, I was groomed for art at an early age. The folks found that I would self-entertain as long as I could be kept occupied with craft supplies. Now there was one summer, I must have been about 9 years old, when the parents sent me off to summer camp. They just decided on an impulse and I had no voice in the matter. It was awful. I was homesick and I didn’t know a soul there. It was terribly structured where I was accustomed to freedom. The cafeteria was crowded. We were held captive and taught camp songs. Swimming was contained and we were required to wear swimming caps revealing how our swimming abilities had been judged. There was no choice but to manage to endure two long weeks there. By week two I had discovered an art supply cabin. After inquiring, I was granted permission to spend my days sitting alone on the bench outside the craft supply cabin, rather than join the scheduled activities. What I found after assembling my first leather wallet kit was that I could receive additional kits as fast as I could stitch the wallets.
What is the most profound experience you’ve had as an artist?
In regard to successful accomplishments, I was most excited about landing my first fashion design job. It was a rather demanding position since I had to draft patterns and cut samples for Frances, the wife of the boss, who also enjoyed designing. Naturally her designs were done first. I was also assigned to cut all of the duplicates for the sales representatives. But if I was quick to accomplish those given tasks, I had the freedom to design my own ideas. Because our factory was located around the corner from the most popular luncheon restaurant for the textile sales reps, they would often stop by to show us their latest fabrics. So selecting fabrics was the most fun part of my work day. Harold and Frances Stern taught me a great deal about what to look for in selecting fabrics and their favorite fabrics were border prints and panels. At the end of each day the shipping department would pull and pack the orders. So I would have to say that I found great satisfaction in watching my designs coming in and shipping out. On occasion I would see my styles out about town and that was the most satisfying thing, to see every day people think enough of my designs to proudly wear them. While I designed I would picture the ladies and what colors and styles would be most becoming for these fictitious women in my mind. Each style would be named with the name of the fictitious women that I envisioned. I know how I feel when I have had my hair freshly cut, I feel good about the way I look. That is how I wanted my customers to feel.
How are the two connected?
Mass production. Sometimes the ideas come together quickly but there are other times when I struggle with an idea. It might take a little while before the initial concept looks like anything worthwhile. So I’ve always had an attraction to ready to wear, the concept of a whole lot of people enjoying something that started as a seed in my head and wound up giving other people pleasure.
There is always music in the background when I am working. My artwork in general tends to be lighthearted. I try to take a happy memory, for instance the 1960’s, and translate that into an art piece that I may be working on. There was one certain song bouncing around in my head this morning which speaks to uncomplicated days. “Sunshine” is a word that expresses uncomplicated joy, a happy emotion that is fresh and wholesome. “Lollipops” reminds me of what I offer my potential clientele. “Sunshine and Lollipops”. This is the song that inspired me:
Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows
Lesley Gore, Believe Music and SME
Artist: Lesley Gore
Writers: Marvin Hamlisch, Howard Liebling