Every time I interview an artist, he or she almost always says something that leaves my mouth hanging open.
I asked Betsy Younguist (who I interviewed for Beadwork's June/July 2011 issue) how she came to make her fantastic beaded creatures. If you're not familiar with her work, here's how I described it in the original, unedited draft I submitted:
Betsy Youngquist's creatures blend the familiar and fantastic. Prosthetic human eyes, doll faces, and doll limbs give her beaded sculptures human appeal, while their animal bodies and colorful beaded mosaic coats add a magical touch. The surreal combination makes it seem as if these creatures actually exist in some undiscovered enchanted forest. In a way, Betsy's role as an artist is one of an archeologist. While she may research an animal's mythology and symbolism, she doesn't know what she'll be creating until she begins beading around the eyes and face.
Anyway, to answer my question, Betsy told me a story about how she didn't get into a show she wanted. She decided to make something just for herself. That "just for herself" piece ended up on the cover of American Style magazine. The Smithsonian Craft Show also used it to advertise their show. It reinvigorated her career.
The minute I heard that story, I swear I heard a little click in my brain. I've been spinning my wheels for awhile now, creating things that I "should" and not what I want. But the message from Betsy was very clear: if you're stuck in a creative rut, maybe you're overlooking an important audience: you!
Photo Galleries & More Info
Here are some places you can see Betsy's work and learn more:
- Her website includes a video of a talk she gave at the Rockford Art Museum. I loved hearing about the pieces accidentally inspired by her dogs.
- Her Facebook fan page has some really cool, informal videos showing how she makes her pieces. If you're a technique/process person like I am, you'll enjoy seeing how a piece takes shape. (Plus, you'll get to see her studio!)
- Her Etsy shop contains works for sale.
- If you're local (to Colorado), you can see her work at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival this July.