Friday 24 February 2023

2023 Topic 03: Seth Apter - An interview and the focus of our next Blog topic!

Hi everyone,

Today we are doing things a bit differently as the topic of this blog topic is all about one of our wonderful designers; Seth Apter

I feel like we need a big flashy intro here .....

There we go ... that's better ..... (haha, that crack me up ... it's so NOT Seth, but its pretty funny nonetheless!)

So, we have come up with a few questions for Seth so let's see what we can find out about Seth that maybe you didn't already know....  

Historically Speaking ...

Question: Before you were a full time artist, did you have an inherent interest in art yourself?  Did you go to exhibitions, or maybe collect art as a consumer and has being an artist changed how you view other people's art?

Answer: I was an art lover long before I started on my journey as an artist. Being in NYC, I have always visited museums, galleries, and auction houses. And definitely bought art along the way, like this abstract work from artist Rebecca Crowell. Since being an artist myself, I have a greater appreciation for the work that goes into creating.

Question: How did you feel when you transitioned from having a day-job to being a full time artist? Did it take you long to make this move and what precipitated it? How did you know the time was right for you? 

Answer: My first career was as a full-time psychologist. As my life in art became increasingly important to me, I began to slowly transition to become a full-time artist. This was a slow process for me and the shift took me about 5 years. When I finally took the leap, I somehow intuitively knew that the time was right.

Question: Do you think your art has changed much over the years? Are there things that always remain constant? 

Answer: I somehow have been quite consistent since the start of my life in art in terms of my creative voice and direction. But as can be seen by this image - the first posted on my blog in 2007 - my initial work was much less layered, complex, detailed, and textured.

Question: Do you have a couple of people who you consider to have influenced your art, perhaps this was before (or during) you finding your unique style?

Answer: My work has definitely been heavily influenced by Patricia Larsen, an artist I met serendipitously who led me into the world of creating. The image below is a work of hers that hangs in my home. Other artists who have influenced me include Antoni Tapies, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Hannelore Baron, and all the artists in the book True Colors

Question: Looking back, is there one moment that you are particularly proud of, or perhaps a piece you made that to this day you can't let go of for some special reason?

Answer: Being part of a group of artists selected to work with Sing For Hope in 2019 to paint a piano that would ultimately be donated to a school in NYC. From start to finish the project was exciting, inspiring, and very fulfilling.

Philosophically speaking ...

Question: Do you think there is a dividing line between 'art' and 'craft' ?  Do you differentiate and move between these worlds?

Answer: I do not separate art from craft and simply feel that each person ends up creating in a domain that most resonates with who they are. I bristle when I hear somebody speak of a hierarchy where fine artists are automatically better than crafters. I truly believe that anybody who choses to create is an artist - although I recognize that there are many people who are not comfortable with that label for many reasons.

Question:You spend a lot of time endorsing other artists and interviewing them too. Why is this area of sharing what other people do so important to you? 

Answer: Art for me has never been about sitting alone in my studio creating. It has always been community-focused and all about collaboration. I also believe that there is more than enough for all of us and supporting, amplifying, and lifting up others is the way to go.

Question: Do you like to work on a single piece of art in a collaborative style with another artist? Is this a regular thing? Can it be a train crash? Does this change how you work and how do you decide when a collaborative piece of art is 'done' ? 

Answer: Artist collaborations have been something I have done since the start of my journey back in the day of Yahoo Groups. It is challenging, sometimes frustrating, and always an inspiring experience. The process pushes me out of my comfort zone and in the end I create work that is different from what I would have created on my own. Just like with my own work, it is simply intuition that indicates a work is complete (or a deadline LOL). Image is from a series of work I collaborated on with Roxanne Evans Stout that was ultimately exhibited in 2013 in Oregon.

Question: Do you evaluate your own art and your progress or try to measure your success? 

Answer: I have posted my work on blogs and social media for years. This archive, along with my journals, gives me the opportunity to look back at my progress, reflect on changes in my style, and - in a manner of speaking - evaluate my journey. I wouldn't say that I use this to measure my success but more as a way to mark who I was at different points in time. 

 Practically speaking....

Question: We have often heard you say that you have never experienced a 'block' when creating. Why do you think that is ?

Answer: I am always, always, always working on many pieces at a time. Often in different art domains (collage, painting, book arts, fiber arts, assemblage, journaling, etc.). As a result, there is always some form of making that seems to call to me. Plus I surround myself with inspiration which I can always draw from; this is my inspiration wall which I switch up each year.

Question: Do you use different products now than when you first started on your creative path? If you were stuck on a deserted island, what are the main supplies you would need to have with you?

Answer: I am a pretty loyal product user. When I find something I like, I tend to keep using it. That being said, I also like to buy new products all the time (and am betting you do to). Over the years as a result, my favorite supplies have shifted back and forth. As for must-have supplies on that island, it would definitely include paper, PaperArtsy acrylic paint and brushes (guess I could use sea water to clean up), a gel plate and brayer, some stamps, ink pads, and Stabilo All pencils. Oh...and a pencil sharpener.

Question: When you teach,  what format do you find works best for both you and your students ? How have you found online versus face to face and what kind of set up do you think is the most interesting ?

Answer: Hands down I prefer teaching in person as I love being in a room filled with creatives creating. But since the pandemic, I have transitioned to nearly 100% online teaching. Most of the time I do it in a Live format via Zoom or Facebook Live. It has been much more satisfying than I would have thought. 

Question: You often use found ephemera in your art. Do you have some favourite places to source these types of things and do you have a preferred way to store these sorts of things?

Answer: I use ephemera, found and bought, all the time. I always use the original, rather than a copy, as it adds a level of authenticity and history to my work. My storage system is the OBP Method - One Big Pile - in a drawer with no organization at all. I find these items at art/craft shops, antique stores, flea markets, and anywhere I can online.

Designer Life ...

Question: How did you first start designing for different companies? Who approached who? Can you share a bit of how that process evolved for you, and do you have any advice for your younger self now that you are more aware of this process ?

Answer: It all started for me in 2013 when Mary Beth Shaw asked me if I wanted to design for StencilGirl Products. Product design hadn't been on my radar but after creating my first collection of stencils (pictured below), I got the bug and have developed lines of products with many companies since that time. Several collections - including with PaperArtsy and Spellbinders - came as a result of initially being a blogger for the company. As for my advice for my younger self, it would probably be to make sure the company culture and ethos matches yours.

Question: As a designer, are you influenced by 'trends' in the arty-crafty world ? Do you try to reflect trends in the products or designs you create? Are you influenced by other creative sectors ?

Answer: I think I am influenced by trends indirectly as I do spend time researching and being aware of the current trends. But when I go to design, I am always looking inward to create products that are a refection of my artistic voice at the time. It is important to me that my work be inspiring and useable, even years after it is introduced and nearly all of the companies that I work with do not retire designs but rather keep them available on an ongoing basis. I am influenced by all sectors - home decor, fashion, graphic design, packaging, window display, etc.

Question: Is there a product you love to use that you wish you had designed?

Answer: I don't usually think that way but on occasion there is a favorite color in a product line that I love and use over and over that I wish hadn't been already developed cause I would have liked to have happened upon it myself. Some examples include Inky Pool PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Acrylic Paint, Fossilized Amber in Tim Holtz's Distress line, and Golden's Transparent Brown Iron Oxide High Flow Acrylic Paint. 

Question: What does it feel like when other people use your products and share with you what they have made? Do you learn or get inspired by seeing other people using your stuff?

Answer: Being embraced in the design world and seeing all the magical creations made by others with my products is endlessly exciting. Most of my design work is abstract so it enables other makers to really make it their own. And so many people create in ways I could not have even imagined! Pic is a piece from Debi Adams where she used my products from 3 different companies.

Looking ahead ... 

Question: You have recently announced you have a line of fabric launching this year. How do you think this might impact on your creative journey this year ?

Answer: I have a feeling that this will be a game changer for me. I have always used fabric in my mixed media art work and have a longstanding love of hand stitching. Now having my own line of fabrics with FreeSpirit Fabrics, I plan to lean further into fiber arts. I do think that this will lead me to new and different ways of creating that I am still discovering.

Question: Do you envision you will be doing more travelling in the coming year? What have you missed most about not being able to leave New York ?

Answer: I have barely traveled since March 2020. In May of this year I will be teaching in Spain and in June I am teaching in Taos, New Mexico. My experiences at both places will determine how much I travel for the rest of the year. I do love all of what NYC has to offer but travel to places that are different has always served as a huge inspiration for me and I miss that.

Question: Everyone knows iced tea is your favourite drink, but can you cook? Do you have any new skills (maybe non craft related) that you want to learn in the near future?

Answer: Ha. I pretty much have at least one Iced Tea every day. No matter how cold it may be outside. As vices go, it isn't too bad. Can I cook? Well...let's just say that I cook about as much as most New Yorkers - that would be sort of yes. As for new skills, I am still working on all the old ones!

Question: Do you have a couple of events planned this year that you want to share with us?

Answer: In addition to my teaching trips to Spain and New Mexico, I hope to be going on the road to promote my new fabric line beginning in September. But mostly I will be in my studio, splitting my time between creating, computing, and looking out the window!

Visit me at my website, on Instagram, via Facebook, over at YouTube, or in my FB Group Seth Apter Creative Community.

Thanks so much for taking time to answer our questions Seth! Can't wait to come and drink Iced Tea and visit some of your NYC regular haunts with you. It feels like so many things we have talked about doing in the past just got put on hold due to the crazy few years that just happened! So great that you will be back on the road this year and sharing your love of creativity with people far and wide! You know you are welcome in France anytime too!!

Best wishes and happy crafting to one and all

PS If anyone missed Seth and Leandra's 'PaperArtsy People Playalong' that we did on February 5th, here is the link - we freestyled it talking about the differences between Opaque and Translucent Fresco paints .... and despite doing the same general technique, we both created totally different pieces, it was so much fun. 
Grab your supplies and play-along! Here is the Link 

Over the next few weeks our blogging team will be showcasing all things Seth in some very interesting ways! Keep an eye on the PaperArtsy blogPaperArtsy's Instagram and PaperArtsy People to keep in the loop with everything new!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the interview. Seth Apter one of my favorite artists!

Anonymous said...

Great read, felt very genuine, as Seth always is, thanks for being open to the questions.

Anonymous said...

Woohoo Seth! You have been such a brilliant inspiration for so many of us. Congrats !

Anonymous said...

A fabulous interview and insight into your world Seth. Thank you

Anonymous said...

What a nice interview!! Wonderful introduction to Seth and his work!

Helen said...

what a great interview! I love Seth!

Claudia N. said...

This was such a treat to read! Thank you, Seth and Leandra, for this inspiring interview!

PaperArtsy said...

THanks Seth for sharing an insight into your creeative world!

Tracy Hickman said...

What a fabulous interview, I loved the questions and responses and learned some new things about Seth, one of my favorite artists, teacher, designer and all over great human. 🙌🙌🙌

Miriam said...

Wonderful interview Seth