Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Liberty Interview: Heather Shirin

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Odd circumstances bring people together. When you least expect it, woosh - a new person arrives into your life at the perfect time.  This 'time' for Heather Shirin and myself was during the 2012 USA Elections.  I, an Obama Lover and a Canadian with 'no vote' and Heather in the States with similar thinking and 'a vote'.  But there wasn't just Heather and I meeting and greeting on Facebook.  We had negative lurkers and crazy-ass-unreal-election-bullies in our midst.  And you know what relationships are like when there are 3 in it. It gets messy and one of you 'must' go. So, we two kindred art spirits applied our prettiest pink lipstick and became fast friends. 

I knew you would want to learn all about this magnificent talent; her art, her world, studio, thoughts - fears - she is so open and authentic. You will fall in love with her.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Heather Shirin.

Q:
Tell us about the day you realized you wanted to be an artist.

A:
 I don't remember any specific date that I wanted to be an artist - but I do remember a time when all I wanted to be was better at one thing than my older sister. I thought I could do better than her at art and design.







Q:
What mediums do you work with and do you feel that will change over time? What medium will come next for you?

A: 
I am a mixed media artist, so I work daily with many art supplies. I currently use acrylics, gold leaf, fine art paper, glue, glitters, pencils and work on birch wood panels. I definitely think this will shift since as I grow and change - as I used to work with oils and canvas primarily.



Q:
Why North Carolina? I feel there is a journey here. Would you like to share?

A: 
I researched places to move to while living outside of Boston. A very long story short - Asheville is a beautiful mountain art community with tons of galleries, and a vibrant art scene. There are over 5,000 working artisans in this area, specializing in handmade exquisite crafts. Many ceramics, glass, painters and metal smiths. We have furniture makers and wonderful fiber artists galore.
Its a small town with less traffic than a large city, and is more affordable too. I love that is has less snow and warmer weather as well. Its the perfect balance of beauty and weather with art and music. I can now see the milky way from my front yard!












Q:
Can you describe your studio and what a typical day is like there?

A: 
My studio is in my home. Most mornings are slow, and I get into the studio after breakfast and some computer time. Some mornings I fit in yoga as well. Then I get the music and apron on, and work until my husband comes home at night. Its usually in and out of the workshop too for varnishing and staining the works.








Q:
Do you snack, graze or eat full meals while you work? What is your favorite food?

A:
I grab something quick for lunch and snack as needed. Fast is best.












Q:
Do you listen to music while you work? Any favorites?

A: 
Yes! My music is always on. I love Imogen Heap for her original sound and lyrics.










Q:
Do you like to work alone?

A: 
Yes, I am too social to have company to concentrate well. I do keep company with 3 studio cats who are my best companions.











Q:
Who helps you with your promotion and business side?

A:
My husband Paul Neff helps me with everything. He's my biggest fan, my photographer and my hardware installer. He carries anything heavy and helps me with some graphic design and business things when needed. He is amazing - and helps me with also providing our health insurance and emotional support as my best friend.








Q:
What is your ultimate goal?

A: 
To teach workshops in Italy, and to have a show in Paris. That, and to never return to my corporate career.
Q:
Can you share any upcoming series you’re thinking about?

A: 
Nope, never plan that far ahead.









Q:
What is the art scene like now in your region?

A: 
Its amazing. Asheville has been ranked as the #1 small city in the US for art buying. There are a ton of galleries and artists making a living here.
Q:
How do you use social media for your career?

A: 
I use Facebook for a fan page... post works in progress and create events for my openings.
Q:
What jobs/careers have you had in the past?

A: 
I was a Creative Director full time for 12 years. I also specialized in user interface design for enterprise eCommerce sites and mobile phone apps.








Q:
Coffee or Tea?

A:
 coffee with Truvia and cream.
Q:
Do you have an altar or meditation area in your studio?

A: 
No, I have a Japanese zen garden in the backyard with a Buddha statue.
Q:
Who is your creative muse?

A: Other artists.
Q:
Which artists have influenced you?

A: 
My favorite artists right now arehttps://www.facebook.com/joan.dumouchel
artists like Gustav Klimt, Audrey Kawaski and more influence me greatly.



Q:
Any art ed?

A: 
No.
Q:
Do you teach art?

A: 
Yes! I have taught mixed media collage and this spring I am teaching
'Art Nouveau Portraits'
Q:
What do you do when you become ‘creatively stuck’? How do you recharge and refill?

A: 
I go online and rest. Go shopping. I watch movies, and go to galleries to be inspired.



Q:
What are the 3 worst things that have happened to you?

A:

These are hard to discuss. I will keep it short, since most are a very long story with deep sadness.
First: I recently have contracted a rare eye disease crippling me from working on a computer for any length of time. Its reduced my ability to read anything more than a magazine article. Its not helping with my productivity.
Secondly, I went thru a broken engagement - calling off my first wedding 2 months before the date... after the invites had been sent. It was a terrible time, and then I lost my cat of 1.5 years old and never found her. I cried everyday for the kitty and the children I would never raise.
Third, Last year at this exact time, I was laid off from my corporate job, 5 days before Christmas. I had a terrible time dealing with the loss of my job and the loss of my kitten Totoro, who was diagnosed with a fatal disease - and he passed away at 7 months old on new years eve 2011. The worst thing in the world was watching my "son" die in my arms with nothing we could do about it. It was so emotionally devastating. The loss of the job and the loss of my kitten was one of the most trying times of my life.


Q:
What are the 3 best things that have happened to you?

A:
The best so far was making the right decision to marry my love, Paul. He has made all my dreams come true! I couldn't do what I do without him! Secondly moving to Asheville was a great thing. It changed everything. Being in the right place makes it easier to be who you are meant to be.

Thirdly the best thing that ever happened to me? Not sure yet. I wanna keep that one for the future.
Q:
What makes you sad?

A:
I am physical and mental pain a lot, and that makes me sad. I worry about things, the stress it brings - all that type of stuff brings me down. I suffer from anxiety and that doesn't help. Basically fear, worry and stress make me sad.
Q:
What makes you happy?

A:
My husband, family, friends and especially my cats make me happy.
I love eating out, relaxing, being in my garden, watching shooting stars, bonfires, traveling, and laughing until you cry and your belly hurts.
Q:
What do you wear while you work?

A: 
Comfortable clothes, soft cottons, soft everything. I usually shop in the pajama section for most of my wardrobe! Then I wear an apron for painting. I wear gloves and face masks when handling toxic supplies.
Q:
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A: 
I was a web and graphic designer professionally for years... right now I would want to work at a store doing ikebana flower designs, at a garden center or work with animals. I would ideally like to work at an art gallery or with an art consultant doing marketing and learning all I can about being a professional artist.
Q:
Name 10 people you would invite to a dinner party.
A: 
I would invite just Ewan Mcgregor. Anyone else I would invite would simply be completely ignored! 
If I must it would be many other artists -
Joan Dumouchel, Amy Sol, Audrey Kawaski, Sabrina Hard Harrison, the author Tama Kieves, President Obama, and my favorite musicians.

Liberty Post says, Thank You Heather! 

*Editor's Note: Please visit here to view all the galleries Heather spoke about!









Patti Friday, Photojourno, reporting from inside 'The Art Dept.' at the international 'Embassy of Ideas'.

7 comments:

  1. This was so awesome! Made me tear up to see all that work put into my interview! Well done and thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!

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  2. Heather! You are an 'Art Rock Star'! I was so lucky to have this opportunity to interview you. Thank You!

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