Marie’s website: www.mariegibbons.com The studio website: www.evbstudio.com Online workshops: http://evbstudioHOME.ning.com Today’s interview is with Marie E.v.B. Gibbons. She is based in the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. I first became aware of Marie’s work in The Ceramic Design Book by Lark Books in 1998. In the past twelve years, I’ve noticed that Marie is an incredibly prolific artist; she is continually creating another series of sculpture. She has been published in countless books and magazines. In the interview Marie talks about her, “…my down time, my mental / creative blocks....” It is hard for me to imagine that these times are lengthy or common; I imagine her working, working, and working. Thank you, Marie for your taking the time to be interviewed. Tell us a little about yourself! I am lucky enough to spend my days [and often into the nights] in my studio! Sometimes I just sit there... waiting for the next series of work to finally clarify itself to me, sometimes I am teaching workshops or working with private students, and as often as I can I have my hands in clay trying to bring forward a visual conversation, an experience, to share something in my life. How did you become an artist? I don't know that I would say one 'becomes' an artist, I prefer to think that one allows oneself to 'be' an artist. My grandfather was an artist, more of a hobbyist, but an artist non-the-less. I spent a lot of time with him -- hearing about his process, seeing him create, helping him with his roadside ceramics stand. What he gave me most was the idea of doing what you are driven to do, honoring your passions, and finding a way to make it pay for itself. I 'played' around with several different arenas in art, from drawing and painting, to macrame (it was the 70's after-all) batik, mixed media assemblage, jewelry, I tried it all, and mostly created for myself, my home, my friends and family. When my youngest child was 2 something clicked, and I decided to 'BE' an artist... to declare it, to live it, to BE. I knew nothing really of an artists' life, work, the hows, the wheres the whats. So I just began to look around me, noticing art, finding artists, and being brave enough to walk in and say "hey, I am an artist too". I fell into a group of artists that were starting a new cooperative gallery, found my place, my peers, my teachers, inspiration, and most of all the PERMISSION to BE. How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look? I have always enjoyed working with ideas that developed from the human experience. I love words: in songs, poetry, cliches, ... I love to marry these words to imagery in order to discuss, analyze, prove or disprove, and to bring the viewer into my head, to share these experiences. So, I guess I would say that my style is that of narrative works, often stylized, figurative (or dealing with things that relate to the figure). What is your inspiration for your pieces? Life, and all that is experienced within it. The good, the bad, the frustrations, the joys, all these things are the things that motivate my visual voice. I also bring my early life of living on the ocean into my work as well... the ocean, and it inhabitants now beyond what they 'simply' are, as they represent life learning lessons to me... the parallels to surviving in the ocean to surviving in life ... the wear and tear, the history that wind and water leaves, the beauty of ruggedness and the life patina that it leaves. What keeps you motivated? I am no different than anyone else... I have my moment -- my down time, my mental / creative blocks.... my motivation comes from within, my own way to process my experiences in my life, to communicate my justifications, rationalizations... and also there is the simpler motivating forces of making a living, paying for the studio space, and that too is accomplished through creating, through teaching and sharing and learning. I feel lucky that I truly enjoy teaching, because that is what pays my bills, but it also feeds my soul, as in a class situation there is so much for each participant to learn, including the 'teacher'. As a self directed (or self-taught) artist myself, I feel it is vital to return to the arts a love of art and sharing of technique and creativity to the community. Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces? I am a full time artist, and have been since 1999 when I quit my "day job" and made the commitment to being a full time artist. My professional art usually develops from a concept that I am intrigued with, I usually begin by 'word-smithing'. A simple word, a cliche, a line of a song. Often I use the thesaurus to find even more words, more definition, more possible imagery. 90% of the time I then work directly with the clay... i don't typically sketch or do studies, I usually just begin the work, letting it run from my mind's eye down through my arms, and out my fingers. The current series of work that I am creating; theMILAGROseries, is one that might help explain this process. It began as a reaction to my witnessing a young woman going through a terrible heart break. It was horrible to watch someone in that much pain, to see, and feel and know the hurt that she felt. To process my feelings I began working on a heart, anatomically correct-ish... not perfect, but close. The word ENOUGH was carved into the heart, what this meant to me, was a kind of wish to her, for her to know she was and is enough, that love should be enough, that she had nothing to prove, she did nothing wrong. From that piece the rest of the series began to form in my head. I am calling this work theMILAGROseries because of the Mexican culture's Milagro charms. They are believed to bring strength to the organ or body part they depict, a placebo effect of sorts. This body of work discusses the 'feelings' / emotions that we as human beings experience and endure and how they affect us physically as well as mentally. What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it? As I said earlier, when my daughter was 2 something in me just decided to Be... i don't think there was a specific trigger... just an honesty that finally took over, and caused me to act. What or who inspires you? I think that there is inspiration in every glance, every step, every bit of every day. How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance? I don't know that I do... keep a balance. My children, 25 and 20 now have left the nest, my son lives in Japan, my daughter although out of the house is close by so I still see her daily... I find myself happiest when I am working on my art, and probably spend too much time doing so, but still feel that it is time well spent, and fulfilling to my soul. What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look? I think the most important thing an artist can do is look, question, learn, do, over and over and over. Be involved in the arts community, go to galleries, openings, meet other artists. I personally think getting involved with a cooperative is an excellent way for a young artist to develop, it puts you in the middle of your peers, gives you deadlines and responsibilities, and most of all gets your work out in front of an audience. What is EVB Studio? Can you tell us what happens there? EvB Studio is the name of my studio space. EvB is my middle intitial(s). It stands for my middle and maiden name: Elizabeth von Bielefeld. My studio is first and foremost the space in which I create my work. It is also the place in which I teach, and share, and am inspired as much as I strive to inspire others. I teach about 3 workshops a quarter. I feel blessed to have this space, it has brought me a place to create and many new friendships over the past 3 years! I also teach ONLINE, through a site: evbstudioHOME.ning.com Workshops are taught through video and pdf instruction, projects are fun, geared for success and allow people with all levels of experience to create with pride and have fun. You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn't get into it for the sake of "business". But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessman. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation? From the beginning of my decision to be an artist, professionally, I knew that there would have to be some sort of 'income' generated so that my art could pay for my art. That made me be conscious of details in my work. It also helped that my work history included 15 years of retail ... a very good bit of history and experience to bring along. My advice would be to always look at what you do in a professional and serious manner. To compare and contrast what you are doing to others who are in places that you want to be, and to be honest with yourself of how you measure up and where you need to improve.