Friday Feature: Laura Berger August 13, 2010 12:44

Happy Friday, everyone! This week's featured artist is Laura Berger, from Chicago, whose awesome cards can be found in our stationery racks. I've always been fond of Laura's unique illustrations and chose her for this week's feature because I really wanted to know more about the artist behind the collection. I hope you enjoy reading my interview with her!  

When did you start your handmade business?
When I graduated from college, I was freelancing as a scenic artist & had done work painting backdrops for theatres & doing murals for small businesses.  I opened a shop on Etsy in 2007 which was my first foray into selling my personal work.  Pretty soon after, I took about 9 months away though -- I took off traveling out of the country after my father passed away.  I came back to Chicago & started fresh in 2008 and I'd say that's when I really started working at creating a career with my illustration.

Describe your studio space for us.
My studio space is currently in my apartment, which is on the top floor of a vintage walk-up building in Chicago.  In the summer, it's really hard for me to stay indoors, so I take my work out onto my back patio whenever possible and work in the sun with all of my plants.  My actual studio is in a separate room in my apartment.  It has old french doors and windows.  I work on a big table with more plants that looks out onto a very nice tree, which makes flowers in the summer and bright yellow leaves in the fall.  Pretty decent view for city-living. 

Chicago seems like it's full of creative awesomeness, does living there have an impact on your work?
It really is wonderful.  I love living here.  I find inspiration in daily life, with all of the amazing food & culture & music & art going on.  I meet so many people with insane talents in the most random places.  Cities are great for staying inspired & motivated, though it can get stressful & I do like the outdoors a good bit too, so it's all about finding balance for me. Luckily I live within walking distance from the lake, so I can get a little nature fix when needed.

Tell us a little bit about the process behind your line of cards with your little creatures giving us just right message, like "Everything will be all right" and "You're doing everything right."
To be perfectly honest, I was going through a rough patch and was needing to hear those things myself, and so I was doodling them as a little affirmation.  I figured all of us still need to hear those things, and we don't necessarily have anyone to boost us up when we become adults, so I made them into full-color illustrations & did some prints.  I think a lot about the idea of spreading energy around, so it feels good when I can create something that might make people feel happy or supported or give them a laugh.  

Where do you go to find inspiration to help get you over a creative hump?
Away!  I love traveling.  All varieties of traveling.  A change of scenery is always helpful for breaking through a creative roadblock.  I'm also a big fan of the roadtrip, and I've been known to take ridiculously long ones...sometimes by myself.  So many things become clear for me when I'm away from my daily distractions & just driving.  You can really work a lot out in your head, and then images usually start coming to me once I'm feeling clear. 

What advice would you offer someone who is interested in taking their crafting from hobby to business?
I think the internet is an invaluable tool for up & coming artists.  Definitely be persistent, don't. give. up., and put yourself out there as much as you can. Keep doing the work & don't let your self-doubt get in the way of your progress!  Signing up with a website like flickr is a great way to network with other artists and get feedback on your work.  I also think doing indie craft shows is a really wonderful way to start learning what people respond to & learning how to manage the business end of things.

How did you first become involved with Craftland?
I applied to & participated in the Craftland holiday show last December, and had a really nice experience.  From there, I was invited to sell my wares in the permanent shop, which has been wonderful! 

Guilty Pleasure?
Ok, I've been sitting here thinking through all of my pleasures & realizing I don't feel overly guilty about any of them!  Ha!  um... I guess maybe taking over-advantage of the restaurant scene here?  Too many dinners out, for sure!  I really enjoy it & I probably shouldn't do it so much..oops! but life is short! :)