Today's Artist Interview is with Alicia Caudle of Altered Bits.
All images courtesy of Alicia and can be clicked for enlarged detail viewing.
MP: Please tell us a little about your self and the art you create.
I am a self-taught mixed media artist. I began creating altered books and "eerie" shadow boxes around the age of 14, having my fist exhibit at 15 per the imploring of an art teacher I'd had. Over the years I spent much of my time creating abstract paintings and mixed media art pieces (mostly shadow boxes and assemblages), selling most of my work the greater Portland area, Scotland and Austria (random, but true). After taking a few year hiatus from art to raise my fireball son, my work could once again be found in galleries, shops, restaurants and bars in Oregon and Washington as well as various print publications. I have taught various children's art workshops over the course of the past two decades and also have a children's art book in the works (kids are more fun to play with most of the time, and far less intimidating).
I reside in Portland, OR with my small but happy creative family: musician husby® Paul and seven-year-old son, Finn. Both (thankfully!) share my penchant for anatomical illustrations, bird nests, vintage photography, miscellaneous doll parts and "creepy things".
MP: Can you tell us about your creative space?
My creative space is a labyrinth of organized chaos, at least on a good day. I have several bookshelves with tens of dozens of large and small vintage wooden boxes, antique sewing machine drawers, bins and old jars filled with a menagerie of objects: rusty metal bits (organized by small, medium, large, plain, ornate, etc.), fabrics and fibers (light hues, dark hues, colors, vintage lace, doilies), pen sets, paint sets, pastel sets, bugs, bones, doll parts (porcelain, bisque, plastic, etc.)... I have dresser drawers full of papers, vintage photos, collage sheets and ephemera, shelves and shelves of canvases, chipboard, mat board and foam core, vintage books, etc. My walls and book cases are adorned with many of my friends and favorite artists' art (Michael De Meng, Raea Zani, Seth Apter, Joanna Pierotti, Kerin Gale, Lisa Jurist, Debbie Price-Ewen and even a signed Egon Schiele limited edition print). I also have an audience of dozens of vintage dolls sitting upon three desks and two bookshelves to keep me company.
MP: What inspires you?
I think a better question for me would be "what does not inspire me". I find inspiration in all most all facets of life -- a song emanating from my husband's basement studio (he's an amazing musician), our son's crazy-cool stories and ideas, cracks in the sidewalk, a rusty old truck...
MP: What is the best ART tip you have ever received?
The best art tip that I ever received was from my 9th grade ceramics teacher. Our assignment was to create a box with a lid. Everyone in the class made cubed or rectangular shaped boxes with lids, but I created an 8 inch tall octagonal vessel with a large flower for a lid. Most of the class made fun of my "box". The teacher said "you should always create from your heart and imagination. I developed this assignment to discern who was creative and who was obedient. Today, Alicia wins the 'most creative student in the class' award." Rather than feeling different and odd for always going against the norm, I felt empowered to continue creating what I felt driven to create, odd or otherwise, whether other people liked it or not. I am not certain that is an "art tip" per se, but it was a very good learning experience for me none the less.
MP: What are two art supplies you don't think you could live without and why?
That is a very tough question! Being a mixed media artist and having a deep adoration for so many mediums, I could go in so many different directions. I love painting, collage and fiber arts, assemblage, and book making... but I think I'll have to chose acrylic paint and glue. I say this because I have a fondness for making my own paper and paint brushes already so I think I could easily survive with just those (my glue recipe is still lacking)... then wander the streets of Portland to find more items to work with as needed.
MP: Do you work on multiple pieces at the same time?
Oh yes! I was just laughing the other day about the fact that I actually have a "works in progress" bookshelf. My current unfinished inventory includes 9 assemblages, 6 paintings, 4 altered books, 2 handmade books, 7 pieces of mechanical art (things with motors, LED lights and such), 3 shrines, 6 collages and a few wearable art pieces (cuffs and chokers, mostly)... all needing finishing touches. I swear I have adult ADD as I'll be working on something when suddenly another project idea will pop into my mind and rather than just writing it down as I'm sure most organized (and sane) people would, I just push what I'm working on aside and start in on the new idea. This helps to alleviate drying time boredom and such at least -- always plenty to do around here!
MP: Do you set goals for yourself? Are they daily, weekly, etc.?
One of my biggest goals is to start setting goals for myself more often than I current do. I go through bouts of goal setting -- it will start daily, last about a week, then slowly morph to weekly, then monthly. Even then, my goals are typically quite lose, such as "I must finish at least two pieces from my works in progress shelf before Friday". I don't like strict rules or rigid schedules so this seems to work well enough for me.
MP: How do you promote yourself?
In order to adequately answer this question I'll have to reveal a deep, dark secret. I am HUGELY shy and initially quite uneasy and anxious around people. As a result, I don't really promote myself at all. I have my little online shop (http://alteredbits.com) which has some of my art on it. Because I have 17 years of web design experience, my site gets pretty darn good traffic. As a result, lots of people see my work and purchase it there. Around town, I've kind of been forced into various shows and exhibits, none being scheduled by my own doing. About seven years ago, right after my son was born, my sister purchased a restaurant and "made me" hang 20 pieces of art for the opening. Several pieces sold and I was approached by two other business owners who wanted me to have exhibits in their establishments. By being pushed into doing these small shows and exhibitions, I've been approached by gallery owners and such who have seen my work in passing and things have just flourished from there. Still to this day, I have yet to go into any of my local shops to try consign my art like everyone keeps trying to get me to do (I have two shops interested in my art and cuff bracelets though so this will change in the coming months).
MP: What upcoming projects, books, or events can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I am thrilled and honored to share that I was invited to be in the gallery section of Kerin Gale's magnificent book "Inspired Remnants, Curious Dreams" which will be released this December.
For those in the Portland area, I have two shows coming up between September and October (I was forced into them) -- dates and locations will soon be announced on my blog.
Altered Bits' first print zine will soon come to fruition. It was put on hold for several months but things are rolling now. The zine's theme was voted upon by previous participants and there was a tie: Notorious, and Letters and Symbols. I will also be announcing the additional sections and ideas for the zine as well as a call for entries very soon.
I have also been taking part in a five-lady international altered book collaboration called Pulp Redux, which spans from the US, to New Zealand and Australia (and back!). It has been tremendously fun working with the girls on all of our books and together we have created some amazing art and stories. You cal follow our work and our books' journeys and transformations on our group blog at http://pulpredux.blogspot.com. I am hoping, with the assistance of the other ladies, that we can create a small publication to share our stories and books, or at least have them be featured in one of the future Altered Bits zines as they are all quite stunning, if I do say so myself.
MP: What advice would you give an emerging artist?
Be patient, create from your heart, and don't be too self-critical. A local artist friend of mine (we've been friends since we were little girls) called me a few days ago and said "I posted four pieces of art in my new Etsy shop three days ago and none of it has sold! Should I just accept that no one likes it and take it down?" I told her to just keep creating from her heart, doing what she loves and is passionate about and things will happen. I don't create art for the purpose of selling it but rather because I must create it -- I would probably be locked up in a crazy house if I wasn't able to create art every day. I think that people can tell the difference between passionately created art and something you've made solely to sell, but then again I'm a bit nutty so I could be wrong. Regardless, I told her to just keep doing what she loves doing and not worry about dollar signs or what she thinks people want to buy.
To see and learn more about Alicia and Altered Bits click on the links below.
Alicia thank you for sharing your art with our readers.
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