February Artist of the Month: Andrea Everman
As our Wandering Educators know, we are fully committed to promoting the arts. To that end, we feature a monthly artist and photographer, and their work. This month, I am pleased to introduce you to an incredible artist that works with shadow puppets, Andrea Everman, of Owly Shadow Puppets. Andrea was recommended to us by our Ireland Editor, Corey Taratuta. Based in Chicago, Andrea creates the most incredibly detailed (and sometimes funny!) shadow puppets. We were lucky enough to sit down with Andrea to talk about her work. Here's what she had to say...
WE: Please tell us about your art...
AE: I have a line of shadow puppets that I make under the name "Owly Shadow Puppets". The puppets are laser-cut from black matboard and have moving parts. Because I own my own lasercutter, I use it to make other things as well-- I just finished working on a batch of snarky valentines in time for Feb 14 and soon Ill be designing some modern-looking coo coo clocks.
I also work as a freelance designer with two puppet theaters in Chicago: Blair Thomas & Co. and Redmoon Theater. A show I helped create with BT&Co is up right now at the Children's Theater. Its called "the Selfish Giant" and is based on a short story by Oscar Wilde. The giant is a real giant puppet, and the set unfolds out of a few steamer trunks that get pushed around on stage. For Redmoon theater I built a series of huge glowing swans. Performers wear the swans on their heads and operate the wings with their arms. The glowing swans were part of Redmoon's Winter Pageant that finished in early January.
WE: How/when did you start becoming an artist?
AE: There was a very brief period where I was telling my mom I wanted to be a nurse, but this was a lie. I only told her that because I knew it would make her happy. I was 5 years old at the time. Besides that, I always knew I would have to be someone "who makes stuff".
If you would have asked me as a kid if I wanted to be an artist when I grew up my eyes would dart from side to side and I might whisper "...um,...yeah.." But I don't remember ever being asked like that, point blank.
Everyone has the idea that artists live in white lofts and paint all day, and have art shows in galleries. I didn't know anyone like that as a kid. But, all around me people made things by hand. We had a woodshop in the basement and my mom had a big box of fabric and a sewing machine...my family had this crazy DIY attitude about everything. My parents built the home we lived in and grew the food we ate. I spent much of my childhood just figuring out how to use the sewing machine, or carve soap, or bake pie. And I did a lot of drawing. Especially on Sundays when we went to church-- my mom had a stack of old data punch cards from the hospital where she worked and I used them as drawing paper. This kept me quiet durring the long sermon. (I drew the minister preaching at the puplit over and over again.)
There has been no real shift between my childhood and now. I still spend a lot of time figuring out how to do or make things. And I still draw on little cards of paper. My outlook on things has changed, of course. Im a much better critic than I was as a kid. But there has been no perceptable moment of change. And, even now, if you asked me if I wanted to be an artist my eyes would dart from side to side....
WE: What do you draw inspiration from?
AE: 1. Humor.
Theres a lot of stuff I see that is really funny to me, but I don't know if its funny to other people. Animals are funny. Objects are funny. Buildings are even funny. Tubes, piping, airducts, chimneys, especially funny. Also, furry things and very heavy things. I could ask other people if these things are funny to them too, but if they say yes then I won't feel unique. SO. I find most of my enviroment amusing, and I try to make work about that.
2. Good design.
I really like well designed stuff. I don't know how else to put it. When I use something like a cup or a tool that has been well made, I get excited about it. This is something Ive become more aware of as I get older. Im trying to purge my place of things I don't need, and Im thinking hard about how objects work.
WE: Where are your favorite places to create art?
AE: Even though I have a little workroom with a desk (and the lasercutter is next to that) I always end up working at my kitchen table. I draw while I listen to the radio. But I also find that travel is really great for drawing, or at least for comming up with new ideas. Maybe because you are out of your normal surroundings with time to kill. I try to bring a notebook with me everywhere.
WE: What do you enjoy creating most?
AE: The little drawings and notes I make just for myself. Sometimes I end up drawing something out just to "explain" it to myself, or record it because I think its funny. Awhile back I got really busy and didn't do my dishes or take out the trash, and then there was a weird smell. I sat down and drew a picture of the trash and sinkfull of dishes before cleaning it up, and then wrote on the picture "There is a smell. It could be this (dishes) or this. (trash)" This drawing is now taped on my kitchen wall.
WE: How can readers find and purchase your art?
AE: My shadow puppets are available online at www.owlyshadowpuppets.etsy.com, and in a number of stores.
And if you live in Chicago, I just made a series of "Black Valentines" that will be available at a store called Willow in Ukranian Village.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Hmm. I can't think of anything! Except I hope you don't think I'm a slob. I do need to empty my trash soon, but I have no dishes in the sink : )
Owly and Orange Moon Toys Shadow Show Contest
Direct and star in your very own shadow show and post a video of it on YouTube. Have fun! Be creative! Sing your own soundtrack! Experiment with lighting effects! No purchase necessary - make shadows with your hands, puppets from any artist (including you!), or even your favorite fruit! All ages encouraged to enter. Contest ends Feb. 8, 2009.
Grand Prize: a full set of (8) Owly Shadow Puppets
and any (6) Orange Moon Toys Shadow Puppets
and a $50 cash prize
(3) Runners Up: any (2) Owly Shadow Puppets
and any (2) Orange Moon Toys Shadow Puppets
In addition, winning videos will be shown at the Chicago Children's Museum in March. Fame AND Fortune, and puppets! What more could you ask for?
Tape your performance, post it on youtube, and tag your video with "2009 Shadow Puppet Contest". Then send us a link to the video on youtube. You can contact us here on Etsy at Orange Moon Toys or Owly Shadow Puppets through the "convo" link, or send a link directly to our email: andreaeverman [!at] hotmail.com or orangemoontoys [!at] gmail.com
Of course, if you MUST have one of her extraordinary shadow puppets for yourself, please visit: http://www.etsy.com/shop/owlyshadowpuppets
All photos courtesy and copyright of Andrea Everman.