May 12, 2009

Meet your {NewNew}

I had the privilege of sitting down with Lisa Toff of myconey. Here's our interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself: I work in Coney Island and share a studio space with my musician husband. I was in fashion for five years and decided to leave it last summer to pursue art of my own making. I work on prism POP, p*Charming and I freelance as a graphic designer / fashion illustrator.

What is your shop name?
I have two:
prismPOP :
prismpop is devoted to being eco-mindful while maintaining a commitment to design. prismpop focuses on paper products including postcards (my favorite correspondence), art prints and gift enclosures.
p*Charming : p*Charming is all about personalization - I think it's important to have an intimate experience when selecting charm jewelry so I encourage mixing and matching to create the perfect piece.

Why the 2 shops? Why not just run one shop? I struggled with whether or not to keep them separate or together. I started with p*Charming and when i decided to create prismPOP I didn't want to confuse the customer with a completely different product. I wanted to be sure each shop maintained it's own synergy. I still question whether it was the right choice.

Materials: For prismPOP i use 100% recycled paper and soy ink. For p*Charming, I use so many found items that it varies - brass, Swarovski crystal, silver plated and glass.

Married? Yep - I work in Coney Island and share a studio space with my musician husband and no kids - been married under a year, so I guess we are still considered newlyweds.

What part of your life do you find is/was the most creative? Do you think back to these times when creating your work? I really think I've maintained the same creativity throughout my life - I like to draw from modern influences - I love the ever-changing nature of art and it completely inspires me to create!

What is your creative process when making your product? I will feel inspired from an art exhibit or something I've seen in and around the world - I'll note it , mentally or jotting it down or photographing it and then later I will typically have another creative burst that seems to work well with the initial inspiration. I work on the computer to mix the two together; it feels rather serendipitous.

Do you have any creative thinking tricks you like to share? I studied art history and photography undergrad, then I started going to Pratt for communication design but it focused too much on psychology and marketing. I did not complete that program, but at least it brought me to NYC!

When you get stuck, how do you get out of it? That's the great thing about doing prismPOP, p*Charming & freelancing, I can easily work on a different project and still maintain my productivity.

What is something about yourself that surprises people when they find out about it? Probably that I'm married...that i live in Coney Island...that I speak Russian...that I had meningitis in college - maybe I'm predictable? That I lived in Ghana for 3 months?

What inspires you? My husband, street art (Judith supine, os gemeos), Brooklyn, Manhattan, traveling - definitely other cultures and local artisans.

What is the first thing you remember making? I was obsessed with balloon animals.

What are your current projects and what is on the horizon? I'm looking forward to expanding prismPOP with new designs, creating more products than I currently have, and outreaching to venues beyond NYC. :)

Why should people buy handmade? I think it's important to support artisans to continue crafts and traditions. If we rely on machines too much, the beauty in creating might be lost. I think the old tradition of apprenticeship is so valuable - learning how to create with your hands is a wonderful experience.

What handmade possession do you most cherish? I love a doll I picked up at last year's renegade craft fair.

Apart from creating things, what do you do? It's my life and right now I'm adopting a puppy - but otherwise that's what i do!

In ten years I'd like to be... In ten years I'd like to be as happy as I am today - I'd like to have a bigger family and continue my passion for traveling.

What are your your best-selling items? Best selling on-line is the cutlery necklace. . . and in person the individual letters (which I do not put online because they are often one of a kind) - people love personalizing by adding a letter to a necklace.

What item are you most proud of? I'm not most proud of any item but more that I am making it on my own - having worked for corporate America for so long, it's nice to be independent.

Last words? I love creating and I love inviting others to create as well - in fact I have a swap listed on my blog encouraging others to be in the process!

In conclusion, I'd like to add that I found it very inspirational to be able to sit down with a trained artist who works on her art for a living. Being not so far from Coney Island, I find her endearing, and inspirational. We should all strive to be inspired by our work and not be so focused on sales that we forget about our art. That's what I got from my interview with her.

-The Craftaholic
Sweet Buddha Designs


KimmChi said...

here here to ART History majors taking over the world!

nordeasoaperie said...

great interview!

Red Bridge Studio said...

Enjoyed the interview. It's so interesting learning about {NewNew} members.