Introducing Ele Willoughby of Minouette
1.) What do you enjoy most about having an Etsy shop?
I love the idea that things I create are spreading out into the world.
Through having my Etsy shop, I know my art is now in destinations I have never been, in Canada, the US and Europe. Also, I have met some really great, creative people. I really enjoy being part of 'street teams' - groups of like-minded people who sell handmade goods .
2.) How did you come up with your shop name?
My Etsy shop, and on-line presence in general are named after my cat Minouette ('minou' from the French for 'kitty' and '-ette' because she is dainty and feminine). Minouette (the cat) has an active imagination and many a secret lair. Thus, I bring you 'things from secret minouette places.'
3.) What is your inspiration as an artist/designer?
I’m a very visual person. I love a wide variety of visual arts and am inspired by the work of many different people. I love colour. I think a major theme, lurking behind a lot of things I create is the old fashioned cross between aesthetics and natural history: the Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosity.
Something that appeals to me is that the amateur gentleman or lady collector was laying some groundwork for a lot of descriptive science, and yet this was a world still open for myth and magic. Taxonomy of life forms and natural objects (birds, reptiles, shells, eggs, rocks and minerals) co-existed with legendary creatures like mermaids and unicorns.
I find fairytales, folklore and legend, from a variety of cultures, a source of inspiration. I think I throw all these things together, with a hint of history of science and a hint of whimsy.
4.) Can you tell us a bit about your background as an artist/designer/crafter?
I've been printmaking since I was a child. I had the good fortune to learn about lino, silk screen printing and etching at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I've taken a variety of art classes over the years. Most recently, I studied hand paper-making and Japanese-style wood block
5.) Tell me a bit about your creative process.
I'm usually up to something- things come in series. Recently, I completed a series of 12 Chinese Zodiac prints. I'm also printing panels on fabric for an alphabet quilt, as a personal project- so there are prints, which are a by-product of this process. Generally, I print things from nature (mainly animals) or myth (which often includes composite creatures, which are at least part animal), and recently, I've begun incorporating characters from the history of science. I tend to look at a lot of images to gain an understanding of anatomy or structure (these can include photos or other artworks) and a sense of how an animal typically moves (which is both anatomy and 'personality'). For the Chinese Zodiac prints, I'm also learned the associated Chinese characters, and looked at a lot of Asian art, to try and reflect that influence. I mull these images over for a while and then draw. Sometimes I sketch (particularly if I need to work out the balance and composition), but sometimes I draw directly onto the lino. Often they evolve as I carve and make sporadic proofs, so the end product is not exactly as imagined or drawn.
6.) What are your plans for the rest of the year?
On Sunday April 19th, I will be participating in the Hibiscus and
Rosehips Folk Tea Party/Bake Sale, a fundraiser for the Hibiscus Fund
for Hope, a lymphoma charity. ) I have donated some artwork. There will be live music, art, crafts and cupcakes! I have a lot of creative projects on the go.
I am really looking forward to meeting all these creative Torontonians at A Spring Handmade Market too!
You can also visit Ele at her blog Minouette