You may remember that back in December I altered a garage sale dress for my daughter to wear for the holidays. It was a quick little project and I was pleased with it so I snapped a few photos of my daughter wearing it. Little did I expect that it would spark an idea in another artist in such an inspiring way. I was so happy to be a part of her project and am doubly pleased to be able to share it with you today.
Tell me about you
My name is Rikkianne Van Kirk. I live in Hampton, Virginia. I have a background in performance art and social studies. I am a collector as well as a lover of folk art and all things with a history. I find joy in upcycling materials in ways that are both simple to use and to appreciate.
What are you making?
You Sentimental Idiot is a project inspired by found materials that have a past. Antique diaries are the main medium. I hope to make the aged pages and forgotten words current with my illustrations. Some drawings are inspired by direct quotes from the diaries while others are what I imagine the writer would have seen.
How did you get started?
I inherited the first diary from my great aunt. I fell in love with it immediately. I appreciated everything about the worn cover, tattered binding, and aged paper. I remember wanting it to be more accessible then just eye candy on a book shelf. I wanted to use it and perhaps carry it. So I started to use it as a sketch book for Chakra Pennywhistle designs. My aunt's diary was actually mostly blank, so it was great for inspiration notes and design ideas.
A lot of people would look at the journal that started your project and not see the potential beyond its current form. What did you see in that journal that inspired you to make these drawings?
Once my aunt's diary was filled, I found myself hunting for another. I knew that I wanted something with the same feel. Something aged with that gorgeous yellowed paper. I was lucky to find one in a local antique shop. I brought it home and began to read. I realized that I was reading someone's memories. Their day to day was written out and it seemed like snapshots to me. There were quotes remembered, songs noted, and funny moments written quickly so as not to forget. My project truly began when I started picturing the writer. It also began when I felt a certain sadness because of finding this treasure in an antique shop. I wanted to breath life into something old, something forgotten, something sentimental.
Can you tell me about your process?
I tend to jump right in. I start at the beginning of the diary and take it page by page.There is usually a sentence or two that jumps out and I start to draw. I draw directly on top of the diary page with a Sharpie. I use Sharpie because they are so easily accessible. If I think the drawing might be too complicated, I will use a pencil first and then go over it with the marker.
You were inspired by the photo of my daughter in her holiday dress. What was it about that image that inspired you?
Sometimes there are blank pages in between the writers days. I will use those to draw what I think the writer might have seen. The diaries are antiques and do refer to certain locations. I will use dates and locations to think of something to draw. Vintage photography, local regular scenes, and historical objects can inspire a sketch. A quick example of that is the bicycle sketch. The writer of the Record Diary is from my area. I am always seeing men ride bicycles while smoking. I've always found that so odd and figured that the writer probably saw the same.
Your photograph was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It immediately reminded me of an early American folk art painting. It also reminded me of earlier times when people made there own clothing. Your dress was in that style. It's a simple color with delicate detail and - to me - showed an appreciation for something old while celebrating that fact in a modern way. I immediately wanted to use it on a blank page. I thought it was a perfect fit.
People may know you already from your chakrapennywhistle shop. This new project is a different approach, what are your thoughts on that? Is it a natural complement to that work or a departure?
I think this would be a compliment to Chakra Pennywhistle. I never thought of illustrating, drawing, or painting. I was very design driven and immersed in screen printing and sewing for a long time. Last year my family and I moved across the country from Tucson, AZ to Hampton, VA and I had to put Chakra Pennywhistle on hold. The tools for CPW are heavy equipment. I knew that I needed something portable... something to get me by creatively during the move. That's when I started sketching in my great aunt's diary. Also, I feel thankful for Chakra Pennywhistle in a transitional way. Without practicing the crafts of CPW, I don't think that I could have started this project.
Where can people see more of your work? And buy your work?
I recently created an etsy shop for the project...
"You sentimental idiot" is an actual quote from the Record Diary.
View the ongoing project on flickr...
This to me is the perfect example of sharing inspiration. I love the idea that the photo I took triggered an idea for a drawing for Rikkianne and that she took the time to talk to me about it. It gave me an opportunity to get to know her, and her work, a little better. This is what community is about, and in this spirit of sharing Rikkianne is offering not one, but two prints on her blog.
Stop by her blog here to share your story of who inspires you for a chance to win and read about one of the people who has inspired me while you're there.
Thank you Rikkianne! It's been a true pleasure.