Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Artist Profile: Jennifer Ladd

Well it's that time of year again! The holiday gift giving season is upon us. This year it is my personal goal to give primarily handmade gifts. There are plenty of resources out there and this handmade artist is no exception. Meet Jennifer. Stop by her shop for some fun holiday gift options for that special sister, friend or coworker.

1. Where is your business based out of?

My beautiful new (bright and cheery yellow) sewing room in Milwaukee, WI.

2. Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Milwaukee, moved around a bit during college, and just resettled in Milwaukee this past summer.

3. How long have you been an artist and/or business owner?

I have been sewing since as long as I can remember. I learned to sew by watching my grandma and then copying what she did to make clothes for my dolls. I sewed my whole life, mainly for myself and as gifts. In 2007, we adopted our daughter from Vietnam, and I quit my job as a French teacher to stay home with her full-time. I started sewing clothes, bibs, and booties for her (and diaper bags for myself), since it gave me a bit of a mental break during the day ... a bit of time for myself. After a few months, I decided that I could turn my hobby into a business, and I opened my Etsy shop in December, 2007. I started the shop as an experiment, and I wasn't sure it would work. But it is over a year later, and my business is expanding every day and I am having more and more fun every day, as well!

4. Where do you get your creative inspiration?

I am inspired by beautiful color combinations. My brain just feels happy when I see beautiful colors together.

5. What does your creative process entail?

I have a "design board" in my sewing room where I keep my sketches and project ideas. I also draw inspiration from my huge (and ever growing) stockpile of gorgeous fabrics. Between these two sources, I am never short of long lists of projects I want to work on!

When I decide on a project, I usually cut straight from the fabric ... I'm not always a big fan of patterns (although I do use them from time to time). Once I have the pieces cut, I get to sewing ... my favorite part becuase I can see my ideas become a reality. When I finish each piece, I usually spend quite a bit if time inspecting it, admiring it, and wishing I could keep it for myself (ha, ha, ha).

6. Would you say your environment (where you live, work, play) influences your creative process? If so, how?

Milwaukee has very distinct seasons. In the winter, I tend to work with deeper, warmer, and richer colors. When Spring hits, i tend to be so tired of snow and cold and ice that I really break free and go for the bright, bold colors. In summer, I use bright, airy, refreshing colors, and then I go back to the deeper oranges of Wisconsin leaves in fall.

7. Who are your creative mentors?

I learned to sew from my Grandma when I was about 3 years old. I'm 30 years old, now, and I still go to her all the time for sewing advice. Just today, in fact, I was back at the side of her sewing table, watching how she hemmed a coat ... she's always teaching me something new.

8. Tell us about the one project you would say you are most proud of.

My husband and I just reupholstered a vintage chair. I did most of the sewing, but he helped me every step of the way. He did a lot of the physical labor, but I was at his side helping him with each step. We had so many laughs and so much fun together (even despite a run to the emergency room for a tetanus shot!). We ended up with a beautiful chair and amazing memories together.

9. What do you enjoy doing when you're not creating?

I spend all of my days with my daughter. She loves to run, play games, play hide-and-go-seek (although we are still working on the "hiding" with her since she likes to jump out and say "here I am!"). We do art together, go to museums, and go shopping. In the summers, my husband is off of work, too, so we spend a lot of family time outdoors ... biking, walking, playing at the park, and enjoying our beautiful city!

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully as happy as I am right now!

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