Happy FriYAY, dear ones!
It really is Friday this time...I think. Honestly, between traveling this week and house hunting and trying to guard what precious little sewing time is left, I'm not entirely sure. But I'm going to the Botanical Gardens with Brenda today, and it's going to be fabulous.
Today, I'm super happy to bring y'all an interview with Janae Easton of Platypusfile. I met Janae at the Norcross Art Splash, and I'm totally in love with the style and variety of her work. She is a fascinating person, mama, and artist, (spoiler alert: she has a master's degree in Fibers and Material Studies. WHAT?! SO COOL), and I wish we lived close to each other so I could see her garden and drink tea and learn more about screen printing. But I don't want to give too much away-- read on and enjoy!
1 Tell us a little about yourself-- your family, your interests, what ways you are creative, etc. Thanks for asking these questions and taking the time to get to know me a bit more. I am Janae Easton and my business is Platypusfile, our family is located in the North Florida hills of Tallahassee. The trees grow tall and mossy and the sun shines almost daily. I am not from these parts, but feel most at home here. The southern spirit is something I have built a lot of my creative life around. I am a homeschooling parent, as well as owner of my small business and I am an adjunct professor at FSU. I have carved a life that is centered around creativity, all of it blends into each other.
2 When we met at the Norcross Art Splash we talked briefly about screen printing, especially a Japanese process you use that allows you to print several colors at once. I know basically nothing about screen printing-- can you tell us a little about the process in general as well as about the different types you do? I have a Masters degree in Fibers and Material Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Having been a studio artist for many years where the single object was the most important I became interested in how you could also make a multiple part of your work and important at the same time. I wanted to incorporate my drawings onto things. I started off using the Gocco Printer which is a Japanese silk screen device that allows for at home tabletop use. The company that manufactures Gocco Printer has shut down but there are still ways of getting supplies on the internet and then hoarding them. I started printing on cloth and making animals out of them, printing on paper, bags, whatever I could think to print on. I also liked how you could apply different colors at one time which is different from form traditional silk screening where each color is applied with a new screen. As I became more immersed in in my business I wanted to put my images a bit larger on shirts. With the Gocco you are limited to size 4x6. So for this we had to resort to traditional silk screening. My husband helps me with this part of the business. As I grow my business, I believe it’s in its 9th year, I am always trying to find new ways where I can incorporate my drawings.
3 Your tag line is, "Folk-inspired products that fill your home with handmade whimsy and the delights of nature." Can you share about how folk-art and nature inspire your work? Yes, my tagline comes from my daily desire to search out patterns, color, from what is around me. Nature is the more obvious of what is around, but I have also amassed a collection of objects and books from around the world that are rooted in Folk. I am especially curious about Mexican, Polish, German, Scandinavian, and Romain patterns and color. Ever since my undergrad, about 20 years ago, I have been so taken aback about the rawness in both Folk art and Outsider art. Not trying to rely on the trends or what they see in front of them, but creating from nature a sense of whimsy and delight. One of the reasons I stay in tallahassee is for the nature that is here. We are surrounded by the mightiest trees, the ocean is only an hour and half away. The birds and critters are a daily appearance and this climate allows me to have an explosive garden. One that seems almost impossible to tame. All of this inspires me and is what my work is about.
4 How is creative community important to your work and how do you find that community? I think the older you get and away from school the more you have to make effort to find your community. I think community is essential in what I do, as a homeschooler, teacher and business owner. I have met a lot of crafters at art/craft shows that share stories about how they maneuver their artistic path. Many of my favorite people I have met during a show, and then seen them again 6 months later, and so on. I also try to keep up with them on Instagram and facebook, but that nevers does real life justice. I also think being a homeschooling parent could be isolating but we are a part of large co-op of families that share teaching and just being with each other. This allows us share in our similar experiences and feel united like a family. As a teacher at FSU, each time I have a class I feel that they too become a new community, one that requires safety and curiosity so that they can grow and become their best selves. I am a forever student, in whatever capacity I am in, I am always learning. Through experience is how I learn best, and with these varied communities I believe they help us grow and teach us who we are.
5. What advice do you have for other artists along their journeys? I tend to say “yes” a lot. Now, let me start off saying, that can be difficult when your plate is overloaded and at times it can get overwhelming. I have often backed myself into some pretty tight corners. However, my life as an artist would not be as fulfilling and varied if I had said “no” to a lot of what has been presented to me. I have taken risks when I have thought I wasn’t qualified for something, I have taught workshops I had never considered and the list goes on. Some times I learned that that particular way of doing something didn’t fit my demeanor and sometimes I have taken on amazing new life adventures I will always remember. One of those instances was when I was offered to paint a 20 foot mural on a science building at North Florida Community College. I had never painted murals and the thought of it seemed daunting. Once I said yes, I carefully planned it out and began the biggest drawing/painting of my life and I loved every minute of it. I think you should say “yes” as many times as you can when first starting off and then after time you can be more selective. I am still learning, still trying and saying “yes” when I have room.
Thank you for sharing with us, Janae! I'm smitten with your work! Y'all, be sure to find Janae on both Facebook and Instagram (where I got all these gorgeous photos!) as well as on her beautiful website. While you're at it, hunt me down, too, also on Facebook and Instagram.
House-hunting continues after the bad news of the termites chomping on the house I talked about on Wednesday. Alas. I'm still grieving that house. It should be loved, not chomped.
Go get creative, dears!