Friday, September 26, 2008

October Artist Interview -- Tessa Rickard

When I first came across Tessa Rickard's shop on Etsy, I nearly squeeled with delight. Doll Disaster Designs is a shop filled with curiosities, originality, and raw TALENT! Tessa's work is the sort of jewelry design I aspire to--she uses found objects, lots of casting both in sterling silver and resin, gemstones, natural elements such as bone, fur, and wood, plus a heaping scoop of doll imagery. Her custom lockets are beyond amazing, and her resin doll pendants, gemstone rings, and brooches simply fly out of her shop. Some may consider her work strange or even creepy, but you cannot deny her work is compelling, fascinating, and uncoventionally beautiful. I couldn't wait to interview her!

KM: Tell us a little bit about you.

TR: My name is Tessa Rickard-Carpenter. I use Tessa Rickard for my art, no need dragging my husband into my crazy world. I will be 35 on Sept. 20 (KM: Happy belated birthday, Tessa!). I am married with two daughters. I went to Ball State University and received two degrees--a BFA in Drawing and a BFA in Metals. I then moved to Michigan to get my Masters in Metalsmithing at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I teach jewelry classes part time at a community college. I sell my work online through my Etsy shop.

KM: Okay, what's up with the name "Doll Disaster Design"?

TR: My master's degree thesis was titled "From The Mind of a Doll Disaster". I used a lot of doll imagery in my work. I still do now also.

KM: When did you know you wanted to be an "artist"?

TR: My mother says she couldn't keep enough paper in the house for me as a child. I remember being happy when I would draw or make something, and that is still how I feel today. I guess it would be high school that I decided to be a "real" artist. In college I figured out how hard it was going to be to make a living being just an artist, so I decided to also teach art.

KM: What inspires you?

TR: Old, forgotten, broken objects. Bones, teeth, natural oddities. Folklore, Mythology, Alchemy, Symbolism, Spells/Charms, and the Grotestuque. I especially like old, creepy, dolls.

KM: What is your favorite medium and why?

TR: I love working with metal. When I was little I would go with my dad when he would use the metal detector and to dig in old dump sites. After he would dig up an old coin or piece of jewelry, I would remember thinking how interesting it was that it was still there after being buried for so long. We would find old, broken bisque dolls and other metal objects too. Working in metal to me means a more permanent or indestructible piece of art. I love the thought of someone someday digging up one of my pieces!

KM: Who are your favorite artists and how do they inspire you?

TR: In the jewelry world:
Keith Lewis, Todd Reed, Yeonmi Kang, Kiff Slemmons, Felieke Van Der Leest, Min-Jung Cho, William Harper, John Paul Miller, and Richard Mawdsle. Other Artists: Hye Won Kim, Joel-Pete Witkin, Otto Dix, Karl Blossfeldt, Nick Bantock, Kiki Smith, Bosch, Kvium, Egon Schiele, Joseph Cornell, and Van Gogh. This just names a few! They are my favorites for many reasons. The subject matter, images, objects used, and the way their work makes me feel are the main reasons.

KM: What does the term ART mean to you? Expression? Interpretation? Therapy?

TR: Art means a lot of expression and a little therapy to me. There are lots of thoughts and feeling in side me that are hard for me to communicate. My art is a visual way for me to express my inner self.

KM: What are you working on right now?

TR: I am working on a series of pieces combining teeth (human real, false, partials, and animal) with faceted gem stones. Combining the not so pleasent maybe gross (not to me) teeth with gems excites me! I want people to take a second look at the pieces!

KM: What is your studio/workspace like? Neat or controlled chaos?

TR: My studio is a mess! I love it that way! If I could I would have everything out so I can see it all. My husband can't even look at my desks because It makes him crazy. Most of the time I get so many ideas I start laying everything out and end up working on my lap.

KM: What is your favorite studio tool/gadget/gizmo?

TR: I love my forming pliers. Sounds pretty boring, but I use them all the time. I also use a wooden chop stick to set most of my bezels.

KM: Tell us a little bit about your perspective on the link between art and nature.

TR: How can you not be inspired by nature?!? The world around us is in everything we do and make. Mother Nature is one of the best artists. I love the natural order in nature and the circle of life. I use objects that have been left behind. Bones, teeth, insects, and so on. But, I don't believe in harming animals for my work--I use only found objects.

KM: Finally, what advice/encouragement can you give to struggling artists in the world?

TR: Don't give up! Believe it or not, there is a market and place for your art out there somewhere! It may take time to find it. I struggled for years with galleries, and shows trying to sell my work. I always stayed true to myself and what I wanted to make. I found Etsy and I now know there are people out there to appreciate me and my pieces.

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