Friday 20 May 2011

Studio visit + interview: Sandra Eterovic

This week we have the pleasure of profiling Sandra Eterovic, our current enCOUNTER exhibitor. An Art History graduate and previously a textile designer at childrenswear label Seed, Sandra Eterovic is an artist whose delicately painted illustrations cover planks of wood, paper cubes, cards, stickers, mirrors and so on... in fact, it would seem that no surface is safe from Sandra!

Sandra at work

In her own words...

Sandra Eterovic has a fear of blank white canvases. Instead she paints people and other creatures onto wood and then cuts them out. She is busily sawing an entire town of real beings that will watch over you, tell you the time, or even look after your clothes. She also paints little objects onto mirrors so that the person looking into them can become part of the picture too.

It was such a joy to visit Sandra's studio and to hang out with her for the better part of the late afternoon, and we hope you enjoy this feature as much as did putting it together!

Please tell us about your background and how your various influences have informed your current creative practice?

Studying art history opened my mind to the world and made me a good researcher. However it also made me very critical of my own ideas: after I graduated I hid my art materials in a cupboard for ten years. Although it had its moments, working as a designer eventually gave me confidence. I honed my design skills over the years through thousands of rapidly executed t-shirt and fabric designs. My style is more simple and direct as a result. Designing to a brief also made me aware of the concept of a 'market': which for a creative person can be both a nice challenge and a noose around the neck.

To me it is very interesting that other people see it so easily, but other than when I actually use a motif from my heritage, most of the time I am not conscious of how it informs my work.

Installation view of objet mart, which is on display till 4 June (Image courtesy of Sandra Eterovic)

We’d love to know more about the wonderful installation that is objet mart... please tell us about the town you’ve created and the characters that inhabit it!

Thank you Kim! Each piece is a separate entity, the only thing they have in common is that they come from my head. I love making little creatures and people, and very much believe - Toy Story style - that I have created something that is alive! I have admittedly never made such a large body of work, and it has been fascinating to see how it would work as a group. I wasn't sure about including contemporary (headless) footballers next to eyed mushrooms and house snails, but hopefully they play off each other in a way that is interesting and unexpected. Footballers too are mythical creatures, or so some of them would like to think.

What’s a typical working day like for you?

I decided to give myself a 'grant' at the end of last year, i.e. to quit my job and live on my savings for as long as I possibly can! It has been a strange transition from an almost full-time office job to having entire days to fill. I don't manage my time brilliantly and I am an excellent procrastinator. Lists, diaries, alarms and deadlines are the things that prevent me from surfing the net all day. I do some freelance illustration work when I am not filling card orders, waiting in line at the post office, stitching scarves, painting clocks or making people. Every day is different.

What’s your favourite object in your product range and what’s the story behind it?

I will always have a soft spot for my funny man with his tiny dignified head, who was originally inspired by a picture of an odd nineteenth century doll which I found in a book. I find him simultaneously strange and endearing. I love exploring different characters that I can create using his unusual shape: from a man with a tree growing inside him to a farmer holding a smiling cow's head. I was going to retire him but pleasant ideas are still popping up in my head. I'm pretty sure that it is a leftover from a childhood spent cutting out paper dolls and sketching fashion drawings.

What materials do you use in your work? Do you make any conscious decisions to use a certain type of material?

I love to explore all sorts of materials: various yarns for knitting, clay, fabric, paper. I always want to try a new medium. For the work in the show I have used a lot of found wood, not just for environmental reasons but because I love the way that it breathes life into a character. I love the warmth of wood. I also love that if you make a mistake you can just sand that section back and start again. You can't do that with paper!

A 'rug' that is actually painted paper!

Cute cushions seem to be the trend! Remember this beautiful cushion from Madeline Stamer's studio?

You’ve got a strong online presence through your blog and a wonderfully supportive following of readers… how instrumental has this been for you?

Thank you Kim - I didn't realise that I had a strong online presence! I learn from what people I admire do online, how they go about building their sites, the way that they set out their blogs and online shops. I have also found Flickr to be both an invaluable resource for inspirational images and a great way to connect with other creative people from around over the world. Etsy has also been surprisingly good for networking, considering that there are a million shops on there! I also prefer to keep to the topic of my work/ inspiration on my blog, possibly because I am relatively private. I admire people like Jenny Gordy of Wikstenmade who are happy to post photos of themselves. I find that photos of my studio always get LOTS of comments, which is understandable as I like nothing better than to peek into someone's work space myself!

There were LOTS of books at Sandra's studio!

What’s one thing you can’t do without in your practice?

Good brushes. It can be frustrating if my brushes are getting ratty or if I can't find the right one. I really need to buy new ones and learn to look after them properly! Other than that, good daylight. Electric light seems to 'flatten' everything.

What other skills would you like to learn and why?

I would like to become more assertive: both in order to be able to delegate work to other people/ manufacturers, and to sell my work.

Who are some artists who have been an inspiration for you?

The Swedish pop artist Öyvind Fahlström (1928 - 1976) is a huge inspiration for me. He seems to have shared a similar disdain for canvas, finding it more interesting to make entire rooms (worlds!) full of strange juxtapositions of scaled down cut-out painted people and objects, often with a 60's political narrative. His works, however, were made of metal, not wood.

Hand painted mirrors, $65 and available for purchase at our shop!

What hopes and developments do you have for your work in the near future?

I hope to be able to live from my work without having to take an office job again. Having said that, I would actually love to do some design work, to see my idea become a product that somebody else manufactures (in a fair way) and that many people can enjoy. It would be a dream come true to work with Third Drawer Down or Anthropologie for example!

And there you have it! Thanks for your time Sandra :-) Don't forget to visit Sandra's blog too! It's a great read.

To view all images from this studio visit, please visit our Facebook album (and don't forget to 'like' us if you haven't already!)

objet mart is on display at enCOUNTER until 4 June.

Photography: Kim Brockett


Evie said...

what an inspiration. i love this interview and peek into sandra's studio - it looks wonderful! and so colourful. knowing sandra has given herself a 'grant' has made my day! i wish her every success and that she never has to return to the full-time office jobs of the past x

Craft Victoria said...

aw thanks evie! it is so inspiring isn't it, giving yourself a 'grant'!