October 14, 2014


Christina Empedocles 
Fine Artist, Home Studio, San Francisco 
What age did you start to feel like you were an artist?
I have always felt like an artist. Ever since I was a kid I identified as an artist. I went to a small high school, and I was one of the few 'art' kids huddled in the dark corners of teenage society. After graduating from college I spent some time working as a geologist (I was a double major in art and geology), but I left after a few years to try to get back into art. I ended up working as a designer for a long time, and it wasn't until I was in my 30s that I decided to go back to school to get my MFA, setting me solidly back on track towards being an artist. Now I spend full time on my practice, working with  galleries doing shows and art fairs, but whenever someone asks me what I do, it feels so ridiculous saying I'm an artist — It's such a vague title.

How did you make the hop from designer to fine artist?
It was like pulling off a Band-Aid. I had been designing magazines for about eight years, I had a good job at a fine company, and I could have stayed, and been successful, and well cared for there. But I got bored and restless with what I was doing, so I just quit. I did a little bit of traveling, and I went back to school. Sometimes I miss that stability, but now in my career every day is different, and I have challenging and interesting things to plan for. And I could never imagine giving this up.

Your art is really unique, how would you describe it?   
I would describe it as obsessive. I really identify with other obsessive artists. It takes me such a long time to finish each piece that at some point it goes from being a drawing project to an act of endurance. I've been gradually making my drawings larger, investing more time in fewer pieces. It's normal now to spend 1-2 months on each piece.

The project I've been working on over the last few years involves depicting a picture of a picture, many of which are nature scenes. I let you know that I am not sitting outside with my easel directly observing the world by showing the edges and mangled surface of the reference. It's a way that I can describe my distance from nature, while also demonstrating my love for it. 

What inspires you? 
This is such a big question. It takes a few different kinds of inspiration to keep an art practice going. I love working for myself. It's comes with its own sort of stress, but I feel that with every new piece I am building something that can't be lost. And I love honing my skills. While working on one drawing I have the distinct feeling that I am practicing for the next. Once I finish something, I can see what I need to do to make the next one better. But more than that, in order to complete all the work involved in these larger pieces, I have a genuine desire to see what is going to happen — I want to see what these things are going to look like.
What are your favorite tools?        
I use only a few materials in my work. Prismacolor 935 black pencils, Prismacolor kneaded rubber erasers, Sakura electric eraser, and Fabriano Artistico 300lb bright white paper. I like depending on just a few things, because it makes doing the work so much easier. I used to be an oil painter — which I loved, and will always love — but the materials were such a mess to deal with, and I hated breathing in all those chemicals. About six years ago I was asked, out of the blue, to do a drawing for a show. I hadn't drawn in years, but the directness and control of putting pencil to paper was such a relief that I stopped painting, and have been drawing ever since. I keep thinking that one day I'll get my brushes out again, but it hasn't happened yet.
You work from home, Is it easy to separate home from work?
It's very challenging. It's one of the things I struggle with the most. I used to work out of a studio that I shared with other artists, and I loved being there. It was so easy to focus, since there were nothing but my tools, and no internet access in the building. But since my daughter was born I've been working from home as a financial and logistical necessity. I have no problem going into my studio, and shutting the door – completely ignoring whatever chaos is on the other side. But having my computer and email right next to me is a constant drain on my focus. There are a million things I am working on at any given time, and it's so easy to get distracted from my drawing because I have bills to pay, applications to send out, emails to write... I find that I do my most focused work in the middle of the night when there is no one to correspond with, and I rarely hear the ding of my email.
Can you tell us the story about the drawing you did of you and your husband?
When my husband and I were first dating we came up with this idea that we could create a record of time by taking a picture of ourselves kissing on every occasion we met. We started doing this in the first couple months of being together, and took a lot of pictures in the first 2 years. Now that we're married, it's harder to remember to take them, but we still do occasionally. The thought was that over the course of a lifetime the backgrounds would change, and we would change, but the pose would stay the same. We've taken hundreds of these kissing pictures, which include all the places we've traveled to together, the birth of our daughter, and our wedding, and I think it will be an incredible thing to look at in 40 years and beyond.

I decided to draw the photos when I was pregnant. It was for a show that I had in New York which was going to include two different bodies of work, and I was using is as a bridge between them. I had a series of movie poster drawings, one of which showed Cary Grant and Kim Novak kissing in exactly the same pose, and a series of drawings of personal documents. It was a way to relate the two different sets, but also I know I was really just incredibly emotional, and totally in love. It's one my favorite pieces of all time.

Which artist's life are you most jealous of?        
Louise Bourgeois. She lived a long life, had an incredible career, and was finished her last piece just a week before she died at 98. She was a mother, an activist, and she gave back to the arts community. You can't do much more than that.

Describe SF in 3 words
This is home.
What do you think makes San Francisco special in comparison to other cities?
It's hard for me to know, because I moved to San Francisco the week after graduating from college, about 19 years ago, and have been here ever since. I have been a visitor of many other cities, but this is the only one I've lived in. Still, what I am so grateful for is that San Francisco is a place you can reinvent yourself in time and time again. I've lived through many phases, and I have always been able to find what I needed here. San Francisco is large enough to be able to do anything, but it's also small enough that you run into friends in unexpected places. My neighborhood Bernal Heights feels like a small town, but when we go up and over the top of the hill with the city stretched out in all directions, my daughter will say surprised, 'Is that the city we live in?”

What is your favorite place to eat in San Francisco?                 
Right now I love going to the Liberty Cafe on Cortland Street. It's lovely, and feels special, but is relaxed enough that I can go for brunch with my 2-year-old, and not worry about making a scene. And I am obsessed with their fish tacos. It's a perfect neighborhood restaurant, and they do every meal well. Just thinking about the banana cream pie sends me half insane...

Thank you so very much Christina for your time, and for showing me your work that I'm really fond of! All the info, work and next events directly on her website: http://christinaempedocles.com


October 12, 2014


Dreamy Ocean Throw is new and in the shop since 2 weeks already! I love that fabric I found here in San Francisco because it is really soft and my blue come out beautifully.
Look at the last picture in the bottom, you'll see the details. The way it is weaved is really special as you can see. :)
That throw is machine washable and you can use the dryer as well. Go for it!


October 8, 2014


Aude Durou & Axelle Denis 
Fashion Designer & Coach Freelance in their workshop Ombre Claire in Paris 

Please ladies, give us an introduction on who you are and where do you come from, and how you two know each other.
*Aude:  We met in a Tuareg family. Axelle is a geographer, she was studying Sahara geography and I was making jewelry with Nigerian artisans. I needed someone to help me at Ombre Claire, Axelle helps everyone all the time... she is an amazing woman!
Last year we decided to work together by opening 'La Diligence' our Parisian workshop. Axelle has responded immediately to my way of working, and I've learned to communicate at work! I am very happy to work with her!
*Axelle: We have been friends for a long time. It’s the Niger which has been the link between the two of us. I’ve made different jobs before like finance, radio, Human Ressources but working at Ombre Claire is definitely the best one ! Everything is easy and pleasant with Aude. I like to look at her when she’s drawing. She’s very talented. Everything becomes beautiful under her hand.

Aude, which path brought you to create your fabulous jewelry line Ombre Claire? 
I’ve launched Ombre Claire in 2006. After my Decorative Arts studies, I’ve been to Niger. I wanted to face desert with my Saharan family and think about what I wanted to do in life… I needed time to to run through things and finally everything happened very fast: I’ve met the touareg artisans, I’ve drawn jewels and Ombre Claire is born ! Nothing was planned, everything happened naturally.

When do your best ideas come to you?
*Aude: For me, the best ideas come naturally, they are necessities. They come from words in a book, during a meeting, during a discussion, in something we discover. Once the idea is there, it takes its place !

*Axelle: When I’m riding my scooter in Paris. We discuss a lot with Aude and one of us begins to have an idea and the other completes it !

You run the business together now, how does it work?
*Aude: At first, we said 'Aude for creatives purpose and Axelle for the management'. But Ombre Claire is a small company, so everything is mixed easily. We are two friends who are working together, so we let life enter in the business… we party a lot as well! 
*Axelle: We like to make things together but Aude is the one who design all the jewelries and the financial part is mine !

Can you remember what was your first jewelry? 
*Aude: My first jewelry must have been a necklace with pink and white plastic beads that I’ve made to celebrate my Mother’s day.

Describe your work in 3 words?
*Aude: Poetry, adventure, ethic.
*Axelle: Fantasy, sharing, creativity.

What's the story behind the name of the brand?
*Aude: Ombre Claire has a philosophic story! A book by Giordano Bruno about Links. Your shadow runs on the side, its escapes even if you stay still. Its goes already on trip to meet the others!

Your Atelier is beautiful, how did you pick that place?
*Aude:  I looked for boutiques in Paris and I immediately fell in love with that place because it was very bright with these big windows. I also love the neighborhood. Right away I wanted to work here.

Do you have some projects for the future that you want to talk about?
*Aude: We have tons of projects! New collections, new collaborations, a trip in Niger next Winter, and right now holidays with a good book!
*Axelle: We have a new project every day. We are full of ideas…We have just launched our first men's collection and we would like to design silk scarf as well.

Describe Paris in 3 words.
*Aude: Paris is the city where I grew up so this is the town that reassures me! It's an irritating city somtimes but also an amazing city because we always discover new things! And people here have the same humor as me, which is not the case in all the countries where I've been... and what a joy to be able to laugh together!
*Axelle: It’s the most beautiful city in the world ☺ I like my city very much because it’s so dynamic, a lot of events all the time, so much creativity…

What is your favorite places to eat in Paris?
*Aude: I like Monsieur Bleu at the Palais de Tokyo, ans in summer under un umbrella in front of the Eiffel Tower... not bad! it's better to on a Sunday at lunch and keep on the day at the Museum of Modern Art. 
*Axelle: La caravane is a very french bistro near our showroom. Pleasant, simple and warm welcome.

Do you have a secret boutique or space that you love in Paris and you'd like to share with us?
*Aude: La Diligence of course!!! It's the best place of Paris!! You just have to see the radiant faces we do every morning with Axelle and you will understand !
*Axelle: The shop of the Decorative Arts' Museum. You will find our jewelries over there !!!!

Thanks so much ladies for your time! I love your natural attitude, your complicity and your energy! More details about Ombre Claire Here!

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