finding passion | aster & sage

aster and sage - felt shoulder bags

i love all the fabulous designers i’ve met through twitter! [aside: seriously, twitter, what did i do without you?] this week, linda yesline, of aster & sage, answered my call for the next finding passion post subject. i’d not seen her work before, but i immediately fell in love with the bold colors, unique compositions, and clear focus of her line. her passion for eco-friendly crafting also drew me in! linda says her goal is to promote green ideals in two ways: “consumers are exposed to the possibilities of recycled materials, and our products’ popularity encourages fabric mills to manufacture material with recycled content”

aster and sage - felt flower brooches

you’re a passionate crafter, making handbags, jewelry, and other accessories, who’s also passionate about recycling and frugality. what else are you passionate about? and what’s really getting your creative juices flowing right now?

I adore thrift stores. I love that you can never predict what you’ll find. Thrift stores make me look at products in a different way. Almost everything in a thrift store was once mass-produced and was manufactured to be sold. Now these products are no longer wanted by their original owner, they have less monetary value, and even their utility is called into question. I look at the products and think about what it was, and what it could be… I might find a chipped china bowl that’s no longer good for the dinner table but could be a great water dish for my dog…thrift store shoppers are creative by necessity. I love getting thrown into a situation that forces me to be creative. I look at color and texture and I may not buy anything but I take home a lot of information about what I see.

Thrift stores get my creative juices flowing, but when it comes time to think about new product designs I get my inspiration from the library and from Twitter. I can never get enough information about art, design, cooking, and any kind of non-fiction that catches my interest. On Twitter I follow tons of design people who post links to art and design, and I’m constantly clicking on new links. I’m particularly interested in design from Japan and from Scandinavian countries and I think you can see their influence in my work. I also go to www.urbansketchers.com at least once a day to see what’s new– people from around the world post what they’ve drawn. I am fascinated by the drawings and accompanying commentary from the artists.

aster and sage - jewelry pouches

tell me about an obstacle you overcame while turning your passion for design & craft into a business.

It’s been hard for me to see myself as an artist. I didn’t got to art school until I was in my mid-twenties, and by then I was pretty sure I wasn’t a ‘real artist’. I didn’t know where I fit in– I graduated with a degree in industrial design, an experience I value dearly, but I never did feel like a designer either. I realized that being an artist is about sharing a unique perspective, so it’s probably for the best that I shy away from defining myself. That would kind of defeat the whole ‘unique perspective’ thing I’ve got going on.

you’re work is bold, colorful, and lots of fun! tell me about your process in visualizing & designing a new product.

I’ve always been jealous of people who make ceramics– all they have to do is order clay from a supplier and they’re done. I’ve spent so many many hours making phone calls and scouring the internet for materials I like. When I find the right material I try to think about what kinds of products would work with the material I have. I play around a lot with color combinations–that’s another limiting factor– I always wish I had better color options! I also play around on the sewing machine to see what ideas might develop. My blossom bracelets and pins came about that way; I had a lot of fabric scraps and I gave myself the challenge to use the shapes I had available.

aster and sage - felt cell phone/ipod pouches

tell me about something you struggle with on a daily basis in living our your passion for craft & design.

I know that I work my best when I give myself time to be creative every day. But the necessities of daily business: bookkeeping, marketing, production…they all eat into my creative time. I aim to give myself time to draw every day, though that’s a goal and not something I have been good at achieving. But I know that my creativity drives my business, and if I’m not creative it’ll all fall to pieces. So I take guitar lessons, color with my toddler’s crayons…I try to squeeze art into any spare time I have.

The one thing that does help me immensely is meditation. I set a timer for 8 minutes and I allow my mind to wander. It is such an effective way to recharge my brain. Ideally I’d do this every day too, but somehow I don’t always find 8 minutes in my day. Jeez, just admitting that hurts. Thank you, I will now be amending my actions immediately. If I don’t have 8 minutes for myself, that’s my own fault. [So now you know, most of my struggle is between me and myself!]

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