Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Weeks Interview - Atelier Denise

This week's interview is with Denise of Atelier Denise.  Denise makes unique salt dough decorations.  You are not going to find these in just any holiday stores.  She has her own characters along with some amazing likenesses of the legends like Jim Morrison, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O!  This is her story written in her own words.  I really take a step back in editing people.  I think that is part of the fun in getting to know an artist is reading things in their own words.
"Back story- I’ve always been creative and mischievous. A few years ago I found myself in my fifties, unemployed and in danger of becoming bitter. With few prospects my husband and I decided that life change was a good idea so we sold our coop in Brooklyn and moved to southern Ocean County New Jersey along with our Doberman, Bella Nerina- a fresh start in the country. We moved here in June of 2010.

To encapsulate my life experience- . I’m peripatetic by nature, easily bored. I have a degree in fine arts, I used to do large abstract paintings. I attended culinary school in 1991, the French Culinary Institute in NYC, I loved it but I found that I was a bit too old to start in restaurant work. I went back to the industry that I knew, contract interiors, and for over twenty years I was quite successful but not very happy.

I decided to take a leap of faith and re-awaken my artistic side. My house has a “studio” attached to the freestanding garage, I kept looking at it and thinking hmm- perhaps I’ll start painting again. I procrastinated for about one year and this September I decided to take the plunge. The dough is essentially clay and it allows me to use my tactile sense, the painting allows me to do what I love best, and the characters give my imagination free reign. I love the detail and the sense of whimsy. My sense was that decorative art would have a wider audience so I started creating my inventory and Etsy seemed like the best venue. A lifetime in the business world left an indelible mark so I have a very keen understanding of customer service, the need to perform, and the need to be disciplined and reliable. I have a diva’s temperament balanced by a very pragmatic side."

How did you get started with your craft? 

It was a decision to take “serious” art and make it whimsical. Many years ago I had read a piece in a “woman’s magazine” about salt dough. It intrigued me so I tried it. I made Christmas ornaments for my family for quite a few years, my sister still has some from 25 years ago. For myriad reasons I stopped making them, life got in the way. This time around they are not Christmas centric, certainly more elaborate and much more reflective of who I am. Each piece is unique. I like the idea of creating accessible little pieces of art that serve no function other than to be decorative.

What are your favorite materials to work with/favorite mediums? 

Salt dough, acrylic paint, occasionally canvas and plaster.

What inspires you?

Humor, music, beauty, memories. My mouse series is a result of living in the city for most of my life where mice were ever present, my chefs reflect my experience and my love of food, the divas reflect my love of opera and costumes. I have several series in the works for the New Year.

What do you enjoy doing in your off time?

Gardening-there is nothing like growing your own food! Reading, cooking, thinking deep thoughts.

What items in your store are your favorite and why? 

Jackie Kennedy Onassis - I love the ornament because she was a Bouvier, I was a DuBois and I adore that song.

Coco appealed to my sense of humor, and I love fashion and pigs. I gave her such a haughty expression. I particularly enjoy the ornaments that are purely figments of my imagination. 

Maria Callas - I share her temperament, not her voice! I’ve always loved her.

Audrey Hepburn- I wanted to be her when I was a girl. The epitome of beauty and elegance.


Do you have a favorite buyer experience? A moment when your worked touched another?  

My first sale was to an exceptionally lovely woman. Her son is in culinary school and she wanted a custom chef ornament using his face. She was very pleased with the result and that gave me such a tremendous confidence boost. I ended up painting one of her daughters, a beauty contestant, and her son in law in a barbershop quartet costume- really wonderful. She inspired me to not be afraid.

Do you have any advice for other Etsy sellers? 

I haven’t been around long enough to offer Etsy specific advise, that would be far too presumptuous. I can say that starting a business is a rough road, if you’re looking for immediate gratification find it in your art and have patience with the sales. I look at every sale as a joyous moment of self validation and I am profoundly grateful for each and every one.

Where can we find you on the web:

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