{the interview series} Atelier Gilet

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Hoje viajamos até Itália para ficar a conhecer um pouco mais sobre Nadia Fava, a mente criativa que nos surpreende com as criações de Atelier Gilet.
Depois de uma incursão pela História da Arte, Nadia decidiu sujar as mãos e dar asas à sua paixão antiga pela ilustração e cerâmica. Agora, no seu atelier, cria deliciosas personagens que habitam objectos de arte e acessórios... apresento-vos: Atelier Gilet!

[Este post pertence à rubrica semanal {the interview series}, onde publico uma nova entrevista todas as quartas-feiras, com artistas e bloggers inspiradores que admiro, de acordo com o espírito handmade e um estilo de vida criativo. Tornem-se fãs no facebook e não percam nada!
Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.]

Today we travel to Italy to get to know a bit more about Nadia Fava, the creative mind that surprises us with the creations of Atelier Gilet.
After an incursion in Art History, Nadia decided to get her hands dirty and give wings to her old passion about illustration and ceramics. Now, in her atelier, she creates delicious characters that inhabit artistic objects and accessories... I present you: Atelier Gilet!

[This post belongs to the weekly feature {the interview series} where I publish a new interview every wednesday with inspiring artists and bloggers I admire, according to the spirit of handmade and a creative lifestyle. Become a facebook fan and don't miss a bit!]

Nadia Fava | Atelier Gilet
Arco, Italy
1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Nadia Fava. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My mother says that I was still sleeping when I born by caesarean in the Winter of '77. They gave me the russian version of my grandmother's name, Speranza, that means “hope”.
I grew up in the country, studied the piano at music academy and then attended classical studies.  I graduated at the University of Bologna (Ravenna) with a dissertation on medieval books illumination.
While studying I supported myself working in a community for mental hospital's ex-inmates near Venezia.
Today I live in my hometown with my partner. A few years ago we renovated an apartment in a 1920's house.
With us lives (mostly sniffs) a ten years old beagle, Bobo, ex laboratory animal raised to personal trainer, source of inspiration and scapegoat.

2. You studied Art History and work as a librarian and art historian. How was this creative passion born and what made you create Atelier Gilet?
Until a few months ago I worked full time as art historian in a project to catalog the churches of the region and, for an extra, as librarian. When that project was completed I had no other things to do except going away to get a job suited to my preparation.
I decided to stay, trying to turn my creative skills into a source of income.
You can still find me in the public library Saturday morning.

3. Share with us the funny story about the name: Atelier Gilet – why is it called like that?
Picture yourself as a child, intent on making a nice pie of mud and a salad of flowers and grass: imagination running free, mind focusing on the pleasure of creating with your hands... This is more or less the mood I'm in when I'm in my workshop.
To open an Etsy store I had to choose a name, so I kept on thinking about something reflecting my playful approach to creativity.
As a child I lived in the country in my old family home. My grandfather, ex tobacco grower, lived downstairs, cultivating everything he needed to live and breeding small farm animals. I was a sort of Peppermint Patty, spending all the time outdoors, trying to hoe, picking raspberries, climbing trees, stroking bunnies...
Mine was not always a well-done job, for which my grandfather had invented a strange adage: "No te ghé gilet" (in our dialect it sounds like “You don't wear the vest”), to say that I had no style+skill+flair.
Since in my family's dictionary the word gilet has to do with creative ability, art, competence, savoir-faire, I decided to call the shop AtelierGilet.

4. In your work you combine your love for ceramics and illustration. Why did you choose these two mediums to express yourself? What came first and what are the challenges of each one?
I'm not an absolute beginner. During high school I used to spend summer holidays in a makeshift outdoor workshop, where I learned to model low-fire clay under the supervision of an aunt potter.
Porcelain, a high-temperature ceramic, is a recent discovery. There were no other artisans who practice this technique near here, so I'm a self-taught. I chose it because, as a sheet of paper, it's white, hard and fragile at the same time. I use both modeling porcelain clay (for small sculptures) and liquid porcelain clay body poured into plaster moulds. There are endless possibilities, so that I can satisfy my imagination; the other side of the coin is that sometimes my dreams exceed my ability and I find myself on a path full of obstacles. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance.
Drawing has always been in my life; it is my favorite communications medium, so it seemed natural to me transfer it on porcelain too.
Illustrations express a mood immediately. They are more effective than words and speak a universal language.
I like to insert drawings into pictures and present new projects I'm working on through an illustration, such as for the Hopscotch brooches series or for the Mug-mug cup. I draw with a black pen and then I color the sketch with an open-source graphics program. I enjoy this technique, because it allows me to add patterns and fabrics, just like in a traditional mixed media collage. Moreover, learning a graphics program's basics was quite easy and helped me to spread my illustrations in the internet.

5. In your illustrations you combine geometric city landscapes, as well as some human and animal funny characters - how are these compositions born? What inspires you? Share your creative process with us.
Animal characters are part of my first brooches collection, Get Gilet, that is also converted into illustrated cotton basics.
Here inspiration comes from Ukiyo-e Japanese prints' main features: everyday's life + stylization (sharp outlines, solid patches of garish color): my Bobo gesticulating from the sheet seemed to be perfect for a Venetian gondolier outfit; the wolf with the Elizabethan collar (Michael Sowa's paintings quote) is recovering from a surf accident; the girl with the magnifying glass is a variation on Aurora, the heroine of a novel remained unfinished, "Aurora's Adventures with Strudel the cat".
The mini-city graphics just came by accident. I was creating some plaster molds for round brooches. I had some liquid plaster left over, so I looked around to find something to use as a model. The plaster was drying quickly and I had to hurry! The first object that I came across was an octagonal dental floss dispenser...That's how the octagonal shaped base was born. Then, thinking about the graphics for the decals to apply on it, I set down at the table near the window, where I saw old houses, roof tiles, bright colors...Eureka! I draw these urban landscapes, which then I rearranged on my computer.
I'm also inspired by nature. I love to go walking and cycling. The ideas for my home decorations arise from suggestions that I received during these outdoors strolls. The pots are inspired by the white pebbles polished by the river, while the piglets were born from a chance encounter with a beautiful litter!

6. You take your illustrations to the next level, transferring them to wearable objects like pendants or brooches – I especially love your mini city series! Would you share a favorite and a best seller with us?
Thank you! I love the Mini-cities too. Mini-city n. 1 is the most appreciated by the people. Unfortunately, the rejection rate on the octagonal base is very high and I can't make many of them. When it was sold, I received many requests to make new ones.
Another brooch that has been very successful is the one with The magnifying glass in red, because it has been featured on the official Etsy facebook fan page to promote the annual Etsy Success Symposium in Brooklyn, that was all about getting found.

7. What is creating for you: a profession, a passion, a necessity, a life style or a hobby?
A passion that I'd like to turn into a profession.

8. Through your shop your creations travel all around the world! What means do you use to promote your work?
The internet.

9. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
Porcelain and I are affected by weather changes, so there isn't a regular working day.
However, there are activities to carry in specific times. Late night/early morning to manage web pages and to wrap parcels, that I have to ship in the morning.
The rest of the day is dedicated to the workshop. If I don't have urgent orders and I'm free to choose, I prefer vary, then in the house you could see several worktops with stuff at different stages of processing and a mini photo set near the computer desk. If the day is bright I work on decals and take pictures. Slip casting and mould making in the afternoon, but not every day. Smoothing in the evening, after dinner. While working, I always listen to the music or to my favorite radio.
I do not have my own kiln (I wish!). For now I was granted to use a junior high school's one, which looks like the Sputnik. So, twice a month I put everything in the car and, if all goes well during the 6 km transport, I can launch... I'm a migrant artisan.

10. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
I invaded the entire apartment, except our bedroom and the bathroom. The living area and kitchen form a bright open-plan furnished with simple country pieces restored by my partner and me. I use the grandmother's cupboard to store materials and equipment, so that everything is tidy. The old stone kitchen sink is perfect to make plaster molds and to cast porcelain. As worktop there are a workbench in the center, a wooden table near the window and a hand-built bookshelf for desktop and a mini photo studio set. This variety of locations is what I most love about my working space.

11. Share your passions and hobbies with us.
My home is in a village surrounded by the olive grove and by the chestnut tree forest. I like to be outdoors, to watch and listen to the birds, to venture on the trails and see animals in their natural environment, to read and garden on the balcony. I love live concerts and music in general, from classical, to jazz, to garage punk (I played the bass guitar and the keyboards in some bands some years ago). When I come out of hibernation I go canoeing on Garda lake and recently I'm learning to slacklining.

12. You live in the town of Arco in beautiful Italy. Tell us about what you love most in the place where you live. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
Hard to choose just one place. This region is special.
I recently discovered that my ancestors came here from Sicily in the eighteenth century as farmers specialized in the cultivation of citrus gardens. Imagine then a Mediterranean climate among the Alps.
I never wanted to live in other places. I like to walk in the old town center, discover old houses bearing the marks of time, the simple life of the village. My favorite place is a hill near home with a scenic view from the lake to the castle.

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
Arco, Mount Biaina, 1495. Hoping to meet a famous visitor intent on painting on a sunny day.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also like to become an illustrator/ceramist?
Work, constancy, curiosity.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
I would like to learn more about the porcelain through an independent experimentation and trying new techniques and new media for my illustrations.
My most unrealistic dream would be that humans stop consuming other animals.

Now a quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes!
Tell us one:

[I had more than one, so I cast lots to choose]

book: Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
music: Franco Battiato
movie: Jacques Perrin, Le peuple migrateur
personality/artist: Alda Merini
color: blue
object: book
animal: bear
drink: tea
food: Renetta apple
season of the year: Autumn
travel destination: Galapagos
piece of clothing: flip-flops
secret: my grandfather snack for kids: bread+butter+jam & espresso+red wine

Thank you for sharing your smiling world with us Nadia!


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