Laurie Bertrand • Liquid Paper

Laurie Bertrand makes beautiful things, and then photographs them, beautifully.

Can you tell us about some of the things on your board?

I probably rearrange my inspiration boards once or twice a year. My current board is from last winter/spring. I wanted to make something a little more sophisticated than the view above my desk, which is colorful and packed with favored items.

So, I divided the board into sections and confined myself to a palette of green, white, red and blue. In the center are two photographs (both predominately green) that I ordered from Maditi. I love her work. Then I picked a few favorite clippings from catalogues, a set of Winter photo cards from Shanna of Two Trees, some Yoshimoto Nara postcards, a couple of family photos and some artwork that I hadn’t framed yet.

First I laid everything out, then once I’d found an arrangement I liked, I pinned them up. I don’t know whether I will use the same process for every inspiration board I assemble, but back then I was in the mood for a little bit of controlled prettiness.

Who or what is inspiring you right now?

My creative spaces are in a constant state of clutter, so fresh modern and well-organized rooms really inspire me. For inspiration I often turn to magazines or my flickr contacts and blogroll. I admire people who have the ability to make things that are always unmistakably theirs, and I hope to develop a look of my own for the things that I create. I’m particularly inspired by Camilla Engman’s home and work, and Amy Butler’s studio and fabrics.

What do you do to "refill the well"?

Consistently creating things is the best tool I have for staying motivated. If I can’t be in my studio, I’ll sketch out my ideas in a notebook or make time to get out and about with my camera. Oh, and I love to bake. I can always turn to my recipes when other creative outlets fail.

How do you come up with your next idea?

Necessity is a big motivator for me. Birthday gifts, decorating/organizational needs or pretty whatnots are always demanding my attention. If I’m in the unusual position of having no gifts to make, no decorating/organizing to do and no pretty whatnots to keep me occupied, I look to my bookshelf, stacks-o-fabric or my trusty sketchbook. There are always things to do/make/see in one or all of those places.

What is your background?

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved art and making things. I made my parents shuttle me to community art classes and took almost every art-related class that my high school offered. But in college I panicked. Compared to other “real” artists, I thought I wasn’t talented enough to study art. So I majored in Psychology, a subject that interested me. After college, I worked as a residential counselor in a group home for developmentally disabled children -- a difficult and sometimes rewarding job. After that I moved across the country (to Texas) for a man I later married. I spent the next eight years working as a manager and corporate event planner. Later I moved into media and marketing, where I discovered the joys of Photoshop, Dreamweaver, photography and graphic design. I had a knack for it, and I was hooked. It felt right, like I’d come back to the thing I loved.

What's your day job?

Today I work from home doing graphic design work. It offers me the freedom to do all of the things I love.

Tell us a little bit about your blog/business.

I started blogging almost three years ago. Some of the first things I made were Teensy Pins -- tiny polymer clay sculptures built around the head of a stickpin. So many people were interested in them that I decided to start up a shop and sell them. I sold sets of three pins along with a handmade pincushion.

Those pins grew into making softies, iron-on transfers and more. These days I don’t keep too large of an inventory in my shop. The Teensy Pins are available about once or twice a year, for special occasions. If you visit
the shop, you’ll find that it’s mostly one-of-a-kind pieces made from a combination of reused and new fabrics, plus other materials.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

For me, burn-out is making the exact same item over and over again. I just can’t do it. As long as I’m using different fabrics, or coming up with new ideas, I’m good. That keeps me motivated. So do the many, many blogs I visit. Reading about other people’s work does two things for me: 1) it makes me feel like I don’t do/make enough, and 2) it makes me want to do better. If I’ve been really unproductive for a while and I see how much other people are getting done, it challenges me to get busy!

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what kind?

My first choice is usually a podcast. I’m addicted to This American Life. I also listen avidly to the CraftSanity and CraftyPod podcasts. If I’m in the mood for music, I put my iTunes on shuffle. And I’ve been know to pop a DVD into my computer to re-watch (for the umpteenth time) a favorite film.

Any advice to the many people who are inspired by you?

I highly recommend creating a place for yourself. If you have the space, get a desk/work surface and an inspiration board. My first desk was $17.50 from a thrift store and my inspiration board was a hand-me-down corkboard from an old office. If your space is limited, think small and be creative. Having your own space makes it so much easier to work on projects.

I agree completely about having your own space. You're now sharing an office with your husband. How's that working out for you?

Well, it’s only been a week but so far, so good. We’ve always worked together, whether it was in an office or at home, so this was an easy move for us. We divided the studio into three spaces. On one end there’s a library/sitting area and on the other is a work area. The work area is divided into two halves: one for him and one for me, with a large shared table in the middle. My side is along one wall — almost 18 feet of space just for me! And to ease my fears, Mark promised that I can still listen to my podcasts and watch my DVDs anytime I like.

I love your photographs and the way you style your products. Do you have any photography inspirations to share?

Thank you so much. I love photographing the things I make. In my own photographs I tend to gravitate toward simpler images, ones that really show off the subject with lots of white space. When it comes to photographers whose work inspires me, I love Loretta Lux’s portraits, Scott Schuman’s street shots (especially the ones with bicycles), and minimiam by Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle is amazing and so tiny!

You love to thrift (as do I!) — how do vintage finds inspire you?

It is true, I’ve never met a thrift store I didn’t like. The things I find at thrift stores inspire me because they’re fighters. They’ve survived their past and because they’re not new or expensive, they aren’t too precious to use. I like that in a thing.


Laurie's Blog: Liquid Paper

Laurie's Shop: Mod Dots

Laurie's Flickr


seattlegirl said...

Thank you for another lovely inspiration interview Lori! I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

this chicken said...

What a great article/interview! You have filled me with inspiration, thank you ;)

Lori Pickert said...

thank you, seattlegirl! :^)

rebecca, i'm glad you enjoyed the interview!

laurie, thank you again so much for participating.

i hope everyone has a great thanksgiving!

jenni said...

I'm friends with a friend of Laurie's - Allison - and I've always wanted to know more about Laurie's creative process. Now I do! Another great interview.

Cakespy said...

I saw you on Decor8...I love this blog and your Flickr group! SO cool!

Lori Pickert said...

thank you, cakespy! :^)

Mindy said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. I can see that you are a true inspiration!