Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Artist Spotlight + Giveaway: Sarah Burns of AnOptimisticCynic

It all started with a heart.
Tonight's Artist Spotlight features the mastermind behind one of my favorite Etsy shops: AnOptimisticCynic, where you can find all manner of crocheted organs (and cells to be specific). You can even find crocheted sperm, one of which will be given away to a lucky reader at the end of this post! Her name is Sarah Louisa Burns, and here is her interview.

Please introduce yourself, what lead you to begin creating?
My name is Sarah, and I have been making things since I've had the manual dexterity to do so. My mom taught me how to knit and sew along with reading and writing, and my grandmother taught me how to crochet. I knitted for years, but I was never very good at it, and discovered that I was just more proficient with a hook.
Where the magic happens.

Who in your life has been the biggest inspiration to your work?
My family and friends inspire everything I do. I like to work in different mediums, from yarn and hook, to acting in front of a camera, and I've been extremely lucky to have an amazing network of friends and family who support all my crazy ideas, and provide me with insights on where I need improvement, or could expand.  

What is your favorite medium to work with/favorite technique to use?
Acting is my favorite mode of creation. Developing and inhabiting a character is exciting, and provides unique challenges that force me to look at my own life differently. Crochet is a close second, as is drawing, specifically pen and ink, and sewing, which I do all too infrequently, although I did make about a quarter of my wardrobe.

Small Crocheted Heart
What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
The first body part I made was a heart. It sold almost immediately, and I started getting requests for more organs, different body parts, and the repertoire grew and grew. I slowly began to realize the visceral reaction these little crocheted plushes have on people. I hope to touch people in some way. Make them curious about what's inside them; make them laugh at the absurdity that is a crocheted gallbladder; make them think of that loved one who survived a heart attack, or had their appendix out.

Which item currently listed in your shop is your favorite and why?
Crocheted Brain Pillow
It's a tight tie between the Life Size Brain Pillow Plush, and the Skull, both of which are two of newest and more complicated designs. They take a long time to make, but they just look so cool! It's such a funny thing to just have a full sized brain sitting out on your coffee table. They're real conversation starters.  

What fellow artist(s) have you been impressed by recently?
I've been a big fan of The Anti-Craft, and Monster Crochet for along time now. Also aKNITomy is Amazing. I like to roam the streets of NYC and yarn bomb to destash - for which I have to credit Magda Sayeg for 'inventing', Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain of Vancouver for popularizing, and Agata Oleksiak for officially bringing it to NYC.  

Crocheted Teratoma, perfect for Halloween
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as an artist?
Have confidence in what you do. Some days it will seem like every single person you come across will have something to say about your work. If its good advice it can be inspirational, if it's bad, or more often than not uninformed, take their words with an enthusiastic smile, and a "Thank you yes, I'll consider that." You know what you're doing, have faith in your work.  

What are you plans for the future of your shop/work?
I plan to continue exploring various aspects of the human body through crochet. I also plan to expand my jewelry line (mostly crocheted and beaded pieces), and I have art prints that I plan to make available in the shop very shortly.
Crocheted Sperm

Many thanks to Sarah for taking the time to tell us about her work, and for offering up one of these totally awesome (and hilarious) crocheted sperm to one of my readers. Read more to see how to enter the giveaway.

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