By Arwen O’Reilly
Tara Fortin’s frolicks with fabric continually delight me. I adore her stuffy skeleton (white fleece carefully appliqued on black), and her skeleton-printed fabrics are used in everything from charming totes to surprisingly cute pillows. Her world seems to be populated with wonderful and unusual creatures, too, like her almost pixie-ish Hungry Raccoon, hiding behind a black bat mask, and King Kitten, who wears his crown rakishly on one ear. Tara makes Halloween mischievous and rollicking again (she describes her Etsy shop Blacklilypie, as “sweet punk” and “fuzzy goth”.) I couldn’t resist asking her a few questions.
Arwen: How did you get involved with crafting?
Tara: I studied illustration in University, and when I came up with images I liked I wanted to find new ways to use them. It seemed like a waste to put them away in a drawer after the project was over. So I put them on pillows, on bags, on t-shirts. Then I started illustrating things for the sole purpose of making them into something. It went from there.
Arwen: How do you feel about Halloween?
Tara: Love would be an understatement! I basically live in an apartment full of Halloween items that never get put away. Even though I make skull cookies all the time and have stuffed bats hanging in my place all year, its the one day when everyone else joins you in your gothiness and it feels so good. I go all out. Last year I was oldschool Wolverine. Feminine, no? Year before, Virgin Mary.
Arwen: So what else inspires you?
Tara: A ton of fantastic illustators and their blogs (I blogjump every day): Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts, Japanese Visual and Hard Shock, Martha Stewart, striped tailed animals, Gothic Lolita, Beatrix Potter and Skydoll (cool comic).
Arwen: What are your favorite crafting books/magazines/websites?
Tara: I don’t read any specific crafting books, but the magazine I am in LOVE with right now is KERA Maniax, a Japanese gothy/punky fashion magazine. Its worth every penny to import. A lot of cute Japanese magazines come with patterns too, like Gothic Lolita Bible. Why don’t we have this?? I also don’t ever miss an issue of Juxtapoz. Illustration, street culture, toys and other stuff you wish you had done.
Arwen: What are some of your most important influences?
Tara: My father is an artist and I grew up carving lino blocks and making papier mache monsters. Living with someone who could make anything makes you think thats how the world works. He also gave me Edward Gorey books as child and it was all over. Forever would my beasties have dark circled eyes…
Arwen: What’s one tip you’d give to other crafters?
Tara: I selfishly create things I want for myself, and then guess what, other people want it too. Get really full of yourself. I see other peoples work and think if they can do it so can I! I often fall in love with things I make and don’t want to sell them. Thats how you know you are on the right track.