By Shawn Connally
Crafting in the Community
Laura Fisk – fiskandfern
I love Laura Fisk’s lino block for two reasons. One, it’s an amazing interpretation of the CRAFT magazine logo (and the magazine is something else that I love). And two, I love its aesthetic – recycled and useful, rough yet delicate, substantial to the touch yet filled with tiny details in the final outcome.
Laura wrote that the Etsy-Craft contest really made her think about what craft meant to her, and the resulting piece really shows this. “It is both the act of what you are crafting as well as the crafty end result,” she wrote, and this perspective intrigued me. Here’s a conversation we had, expanding on these concepts and taking a look at how her fabulous aesthetic has evolved.
Shawn: How did you first start in crafts, and how did that translate into selling your work?
Laura: Oh goodness, I’ve been making cards and art ever since I can remember! My mom ran a picture framing business out of our home so being around making things and art was part of growing up. In high school I started working at a rubber stamp store (Great American stamp store in Westport, CT), where all the talented ladies there helped me discover the world of crafts out there. It’s where I learned how to carve stamps and where I started to fall in love with printmaking.
Selling my work officially is something that’s happened fairly recently. For years I dreamed of starting a card company, and always made cards and handmade stuff for friends. But, just this past year, my friend Marianne and I decided to join forces to start fisk and fern (see fiskandfern.com and fiskandfern.etsy.com).
It really helps having a partner in craft! Besides making it more fun, we spur each other on creatively and on the business side, too. We do slightly different stuff – she makes cute and amazing collage images – but our styles complement each other well. Needless to say this year has been incredibly fulfilling and inspiring getting ourselves out there.
Shawn: Where do you get inspiration? And are there people who have had a big influence on your work?
Laura: There’s so much that fills me with awe and wonder. But some things in particular … I’m a complete color freak, and could just dream of colors all day. I love children’s and technical illustrations and all those super cool fabric patterns from the 50s through the 70s. Things that are either very industrial or shapes from nature really inspire me as well. I’m currently obsessed with deep-sea creatures and the way some microorganisms look. They’re so beautiful, and so weird. My mind just fills with ideas looking at that stuff.
All the amazing crafters and artists posting their work every day with such passion and excitement inspires me constantly. Seeing people out there doing their own thing with their art + craft continually pushes me to do more and try to be better at what I do.
Shawn: What are your favorite blogs, books, etc. relating to arts and crafts?
Laura: So many! I have a little problem with the number of blogs I have bloglined – wee wonderfuls, a bird in the hand, Drawn!, and print & pattern are just a few. Also, flickr is exciting to be a part of, by participating in swaps and sharing part of my life through photos.
For the books, I’m a fan of old encyclopedias, craft, and design books because the pictures, colors and descriptions are just fantastic. I just got a knitting book from 1941!
Shawn Do you have any simple tips for people doing the kind of crafts you do?
Laura: For me it’s all about learning from others and understanding how the process works so then you can freely break the rules! Pick up a Staedtler eraser or lino block and a speedball lino cutter set and play around, or ask a friend to teach you, that’s how I learned. I haven’t had that much formal training but I take as many classes as my budget and time allow (taking glorious letterpress right now). Such an important part of craft is about the community, whether it be local or online. Finding people who love the same things makes us better at what we do, and hey, it’s more fun, too.