Friday Interview: Jen Corace! September 30, 2011 10:40

Happy Friday, everyone! Today's interview is the latest installment in our Special Organizer's Edition!  Jen's official title at Craftland is Artist Relations, and America's Sweetheart. Jen is the creative force behind our annual holiday show images, and makes the store look awesome! Read on to learn a little more about Jen. 

Please introduce yourself and tell us how you first became involved with Craftland.
Hey there...I'm Jen Corace.  By day I am a slow to wake lady about town, by night I am a freelance illustrator.  I was approached/heavily encouraged/definitely pressured by Johanna Fisher and Margaret Carleton to sell work at the first pop up shop way back in the ye olde days.  It was a puzzling moment in my personal history as I couldn't really fathom the world and years that were about to unfold before me in terms of DIY culture, but also because I had never made anything for sale in my entire life.

Tell us a little bit about your own creative business.
First and foremost I am a freelance illustrator, primarily working in children's books.  Second to that I wrangle bits and pieces of Crafltand together...collecting artists, setting up the floor, designing the holiday window and postcard.  Thirdly and rarely I make doodads for sale.  I mean to use 'doodads' in the best sense of the word...doodads are completely lovable to me.

Describe your studio for us.
The thing to know about my living situation is that my apartment is divided into two separate spaces on the first floor of a large Victorian. On one corner of the main foyer is the part of my space where I sleep eat and shower.  On the other corner of the foyer is a double parlor that houses my living room and my studio.  It's the perfect layout for me.  I have distinct spaces where I work and where I relax.

Unfortunately, I do not have a current photo of my studio.  These days it's usually in a state of upheaval what with the projects I have been working on lately.  I have included a photo of my old studio and honestly, it's pretty much the same thing, the walls in my new space aren't a bad yellow-beige and the ceilings are much much taller.

What was the inspiration for the giant macrame piece you made for the Craftland holiday window display?
I just felt like it was time for macrame to make a comeback.  My mom macramed a few plant holders back in the day and then in a high school art class our teacher who happened to also be the football coach of our school went on a macrame bender.  I am almost sure we had a two to three week macrame project going on.  I can't remember what I made...I am guessing a wall hanging of sorts...but he essentially made what I always describe as the telephone that came down out of X the Owl's tree in Mr. Rogers world of make believe.

What kinds of things do you keep in mind when trying to find new artists to sell in Craftland?
First and foremost I try to keep in mind the sort of feel and atmosphere that we've created in the store which is largely informed by the color palette I've inherited from it's creators.  Craftland is bright, pop-y, and has a sense of humor that is sometimes smart, sometimes a little 'wokka wokka.'  I love well crafted pieces.  I love work that doesn't take itself seriously but is still made well. I love personality in inanimate objects.  It's that energy a person puts into their work that speaks to the customers in our shop.

What advice would you offer someone hoping to take their art from hobby to business?
The advice I'd give for a crafter to go from hobby to business is the same advice I'd give to someone going from illustration student to real world illustrator:  take the time to find your own voice.  It sort of falls into what I look for when looking for artists for the store...I don't want to see derivatives of crafts or images that have already existed. humans... can't be THAT interested in mustaches can we?  Bring yourself to your craft.  Make it you.

What does handmade mean to you?
There is a fundamental intimacy in anything that is handmade.  The exchange between the artist and buyer and even the store owner and buyer is a far more personal experience.  Objects that are handmade have a history and a story that you don't find in mass manufactured goods.

Guilty pleasure?
I don't feel guilty about anything I do.  I don't even feel bad about saying that.