Meet the Artists of Ohio Designer Craftsmen
Here we’re publishing interviews with our gift shop and Winterfair artists. We asked them what they are working on, what inspires them, and how they keep their creativity flowing. We’ll update this page as our artists respond.
Scotty Jones of Urthy Fiber Art is currently featured in the Ohio Craft Museum gift shop, and has been an artist at Columbus Winterfair and Greater Cincinnati Winterfair. Here are his answers to our questions:
OCM: What are you up to in your studio?
SJ: I was about to head into a very busy show season when the pandemic hit. My inventory was good and I was prepared. Then one show after another began canceling and our governor issued a stay at home order. At this point I’ve rarely left home in 35 days. Fortunately my studio is in my home so I’ve had lots of what I would call “thoughtful” studio time.
If you have ever been a visitor in my art fair tent you probably have seen me sketching or journaling in a black notebook. I’m constantly writing down ideas. One of the best things about being a festival artist is the constant stream of beautiful artwork you are surrounded by and draw inspiration from. In a typical season I’m so busy I rarely get to go through those ideas and try new things. I’ve been reading through those sketches and notes.
A reoccurring word last year was “Technicolor.” I’m rolling out a new series I’m calling the “Technicolor series”. I’m influenced by imagery of my childhood and remember the switch to color TV and the color block screen image at the end of the broadcast day. (In those days, TV wasn’t on 24 hours a day.) I’ve begun screen printing on bold colorful pieces of cotton duck and sewing them into simple quilt blocks to create structured handbags. I’m in the very beginning stages of this new series.
OCM: What inspires you, or influences your work?
SJ: I get asked quite often what artists I draw inspiration from. Most obviously Andy Warhol, but maybe less obviously Enid Collins and her wonderful handbags (pictured, below). I remember my grandmother going to Florida for the winter and returning with these wonderful structured bags with a wooden bottom and jewels and paintings on them. They were everything. I tried very hard to recreate in my bags that feeling when you hold one: the weight, the texture and the unusual imagery.
Yes, in one sense I create handbags, but to me they are so much more. Little canvases, little pieces of functional art, little pieces of me. Oh, I can paint, and I can draw, but THIS is my chosen medium. Every piece I create is a little snapshot in my brain of a very specific time in my young life. I lost my mother at an early age and perhaps I’m hanging on to every memory of her: downtown shopping trips, five and dime lunch counter lunches with her, and commercial art of the ‘50s and ‘60s. They weren’t artists- my mom and grandma- but they formed the artist I am today by giving me these wonderful memories and a love for fine craft and vintage textiles.
You can purchase Scotty’s handbags and accessories on his website, http://urthyfiberart.simpl.com/
Jason Wolff has been featured in the Ohio Craft Museum gift shop, and has been an artist at Columbus Winterfair and Greater Cincinnati Winterfair for many years. We asked Jason what he is doing in his studio during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 we have been focusing on reorganizing the studio and website due to production needs. Currently we are not able to purchase supplies through our clay distributors. I have been making some smaller items like our wine stoppers and pilsner mugs. I would say right now, my inspiration has been stemming from home brewing beer. I am currently thinking about making a interpretation of a fermenter. We will see if it happens with the limited supplies [I have available].
Right now our main focus had been about our children, Phoebe (2), and Sophie (6), who are homeschooling like so many other families. It is crazy times right now but we realize that there are more important things than making pots right now.”
Interview by Kim Nagorski
Cody F. Miller is one of 18 central Ohio artists whose work is featured in the Best of 2019, Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s 36th annual juried members’ exhibition, presented at the Ohio Craft Museum in the spring/summer of 2019.
K:When did you start painting, and when did you add collage to your technique?
Cody: I majored in illustration at CCAD, and I had to take painting classes. I picked up collage during my senior year—1995. I was just really taken with the combination of cut paper and paint.
K: Describe your technique.
Cody: I start with a sketch, then transfer the image and begin to layer colors. I always have a general idea in mind about how I’m going to lay down color and what the final product will look like, but there’s also an element of chance involved when I start adding textures and patterns. I love that chain reaction between laying an image down and rethinking that image. I’m somewhat in control, but there’s a kind of back-and-forth dance.
K: Where do you find your patterns and images?
Cody: It’s a constant hunt wherever I go for anything that will strike me. I’ve collected so many items over the years that are just waiting to find a new home. I like the serendipity of the fact that wherever I go, something always stands out to me. I’ve found books about buttons, an old poster from a circus that came to Dayton, second-grade readers from 1988.
K: How does your faith inspire your work?
Cody: It’s like the glasses I see everything through. A common theme runs through a lot of my images, based on how I understand and see things, and how other people deal with events in their lives. There are themes in the Scripture about the beautiful, amazing and profound that can happen to us in the darkness. My work looks at that contrast of emotions—the contrast between mourning and celebrating—and what we do with that. How do we not let the darkness take over the light? I use metaphors and symbols to show a quiet kind of hope; sometimes it’s funny, other times, sad.
K: Where do you sell your work?
Cody: Hayley Gallery in New Albany represents me, and I sell work through my own website. I participate in regional art festivals. I also do illustration work for different companies, including a company out of Chicago that I’ve worked with for four years.
K: What’s your favorite thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
Cody: There are a lot of opportunities for artists in Columbus to promote their work in terms of all the amazing grants through OAC and GCAC. My work has been displayed on a billboard, as well as a mural outside of the A&R Bar in the Arena District. I’ve been able to go to Cuba twice thanks to a grant from GCAC, and I continue to work with different people at different organizations across the city, including Ohio Designer Craftsmen.
Interview by Kim Nagorski
The Ohio Craft Museum’s annual holiday sale, Gifts of the Craftsmen, offers unique gifts handcrafted by over 100 artists from Ohio and across the United States. Each year, the sale features work by several new artists: in 2019, we featured whimsical greeting cards by Columbus illustrator Simran Khaira.
K: When did you start drawing?
Simran: I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life. Both of my parents love to draw, and they encouraged my siblings and I from a young age to make art. We would often sit at the kitchen table and draw together after school.
K: Did you study art in college?
Simran: No, I went to OSU to study Chinese!
K: What influenced you to begin creating art full time?
Simran: Making art is something that I was inevitably unable to escape! I had initially thought of going to college to study fine arts, but ended up following my love of languages instead. During my studies, I wrote my thesis on Chinese picture books. I also took a year of painting classes while studying abroad. Even when I graduated and began work as an adjunct Chinese professor, I was always drawing in my free time.
In 2015, I decided to draw every single day for a year, to see if I really could do it like it was my job. After that, I had an abundant portfolio of sketches and doodles that were just waiting for me to do something with—which is how SquidCat, Ink, was born!
K: Describe your technique.
Simran: I begin with an idea—either of a humorous saying or a particular image—and I draw a few sketches until I can get the kind of expression that I want. I develop that into a larger composition drawn in pen, and think about what kind of mood I want to color in before applying watercolors.
K: What inspires your art?
Simran: I find inspiration for my cards in the silly things that I find funny in my everyday life: anecdotes of my family, friends and pets. Combined with my love of animals, puns and vibrant colors, they are the fountain of creativity that allows me to create art for SquidCat, Ink!
K: Finally, where did your business name come from?
Simran: SquidCat is a creature I created that would show up often in the margins of notebooks during my school years. So, as part of the main cast of drawings throughout the years, she seemed to be a fitting avatar for a business that was inspired by doodling!
Interview by Kim Nagorski
Our 25th annual Art Studio Clearance Sale featured 150 artists selling their handcrafted work. Several local artists were present, including Columbus jewelry artist Hannah Hoffman (hannah-hoffman.com), who has been participating in the sale for several years. We talked to Hannah about her art prior to the opening of the Clearance Sale.
K: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
HH: I studied fine arts at Ohio State with a concentration in glass art.
K: How did you get started in metalsmithing and jewelry?
HH: I discovered metalsmithing during my senior year at Ohio State. I began making glass jewelry with a friend and I wanted to incorporate metal into the work. Ohio State doesn’t offer small-metals classes, so I took a course at the Cultural Arts Center. I immediately fell in love with the versatility and process of metalsmithing. My first class was ten years ago, and I’ve continued to take classes at the Cultural Arts Center as there is always more to learn.
K: How long have you been creating jewelry full time and what outlets do you use to sell your work?
HH: I’ve been creating jewelry full time for 3½ years, but I began my business roughly 8 years ago. The transition to full-time artist was a slow and steady process for me. I sell my work online, at craft fairs and at several locations across the US, including here in Columbus.
K: What inspires your art?
HH: I find art, travel and sustainability to be my biggest inspirations. I find traveling can allow the mind to relax, which opens the channel for creative ideas to flow. I enjoy thinking creatively about incorporating sustainable methods within my work and my studio. The majority of my work is made with recycled materials and environmentally friendly methods.
K: What do you enjoy about the Art Studio Clearance Sale?
HH: The Art Studio Clearance Sale is always a fun event with a loyal following. Clearing out my studio and selling retired or imperfect work to the customers of the Clearance Sale is extremely satisfying. It opens up physical space in my studio, and it also inspires me to create new designs.
Find more information on Hannah at her website, www.hannah-hoffman.com