sandra eterovic … RIP

I am absolutely brokenhearted to be writing this post. I just found out that Australian / Croatian artist Sandra Eterovic has passed away suddenly. I don’t know how or why, what or when… but I do know that the world is now short one amazing person, and one incredibly talented artist. I didn’t know what else to do, so I immediately wrote this post. I wanted to share her work and her story. I am so happy that I had her on my podcast, not only because I got to know her better and could call her a friend, but because now this artist’s story is documented. Look and listen to episode no.66 to get to know this lovely person a little better. I’ve also included her words, from her Etsy shop, which beautifully describe her life and work. Until we meet again, Sandra. I am so sad that you are no longer with us.

“I was born in Melbourne and have always lived here, but I am lucky to have travelled to many places. As a child, I spent several summer months in my parents’ hometown of Pucisca, which is on a beautiful island off the coast of Croatia. I vividly recall widows in black dresses with tiny floral patterns, unfamiliar packaging in the supermarket and the quaint kitchen in my grandmother’s house; these things have informed my aesthetic immeasurably.

I studied art history at university but decided that I preferred to make art. After a couple of years at a TAFE college experimenting with ceramics and illustration, I landed a job in the fashion industry diligently redrawing Taz the Devil and Mickey Mouse in humorous poses for boxer shorts. This led to work as a surface designer for t-shirt prints, fabrics, bed linen, accessories and occasionally even toys. Late in 2010, I decided to leave my job at Seed Heritage to devote myself to making my own work. I also take on freelance illustration and other projects.

I am a homebody. I enjoy hanging pictures, arranging flowers, moving my tchotchkes around or replacing the colourful fabrics that I use as curtains and cushion covers. I also love to read about food, experiment with new recipes and then share them with friends. When it’s warm enough, I like to read in the back yard or a nearby park. I am trying to educate myself about gardening. 

My inspiration comes from vintage books, toys, and games. The island that my parents are from. My 1970s childhood. Strange and funny old people on the tram. A day of exploration at the library. The huge number of wonderful artists local to Melbourne but also the thousands I have discovered online. What a world! Everyone and everything around me is potential inspiration. Who knows what will be next? It’s that surprising element that makes creating so exciting.

I love handmade. Handmade things carry life itself in their consideration, imperfection and uniqueness. They deserve to be cherished forever and are the exact opposite to the piles of discarded televisions that seem to be proliferating in our streets right now.

I come from a family which rarely puts its feet up. My mother always sewed and knitted our clothes, and to this day bakes bread and cooks the most incredible meals. My father trained as a fine stonemason and is a great gardener and winemaker. My brother is a brilliant designer, craftsman and motorbike restorer. To be constantly making or fixing something is as normal as breathing for us.

I feel much more comfortable with the term “maker” than the term “artist,” which I suspect has to do with both of the B.S.-intolerant cultures that I am from. I have always loved making things, from clothing for my dolls, writing and illustrating pretend magazines, to playing cooking show host while helping Mum chop vegetables. Designing at a computer screen eight hours a day for 15 years was never going to feel right for me, and now I can’t believe I persisted for that long.

For years, I have been keeping notebooks in which I sketch or paste images that I admire or which might trigger an idea. Strange phrases pop up in my head, and I note those too. My ideas are often like a jigsaw puzzle that is waiting for the missing piece. I rarely get ideas by spontaneously playing with materials because unfortunately I rarely allow myself time for that.

I find every studio I visit interesting, but if I had the opportunity to go back in time I cannot think of anything more exciting than to watch Michelangelo run his atelier, Leonardo come up with his brilliant inventions or Rubens paint an enormous canvas alongside his apprentices. Not only would it be enormous fun, it might call into question the modern concept of what an ‘artist’ actually is.

I own my paternal grandmother’s wooden tatting tools, which are carved with decorations and worn with use. I have no idea how tatting is done, so for me they are magical because they hold the secret of a dying art and the culture of a very different time and place. I also own a traditional bright blue stonemason’s outfit that my maternal grandfather never wore and kept especially for me, as he understood my interest in workwear.

To get out of a creative rut, I might bury my head in a new book or magazine at the library, go to an exhibition or walk down a street that I have rarely visited. I have vowed that on my next spare day I will go to the main railway station, board the next train, get off at whichever suburb has the least familiar name and explore it.

In ten years time I would like to be living in a peaceful and beautiful home by the sea, with a wonderful family knowing that there is a bunch of things out there in the world that are loved and that I am proud to have designed and/or made. And to be able to afford a holiday almost every year to explore a country that I have never been to would be wonderful.” ~ Sandra Eterovic, 2012 

tim klein

Oh, that tiny cat face in the big cat face! So, what are you looking at? I’ll let American artist Tim Klein explain:

“Jigsaw puzzle companies tend to use the same cut patterns for multiple puzzles. This makes the pieces interchangeable, and I sometimes find that I can combine portions from two or more puzzles to make a surreal picture that the publisher never imagined. I take great pleasure in “discovering” such bizarre images lying latent, sometimes for decades, within the pieces of ordinary mass-produced puzzles.”

Weird. And awesome. Happy Monday.


“peeling paint”

Episode no. 150! Well, what better way to celebrate that huge milestone than to talk to an artist who I’ve been trying to get on the podcast for ages… yep, Los Angeles based painter Seonna Hong is my guest today! We’re talking process, day jobs {yes, she has a day job on top of her art practice!?}, Care Bears, and tiger lilies. Oh, and I also told her about Nanaimo Bars. Apparently her Canadian husband has been holding out on her? Listen right up there under “The Magic Number”, or subscribe on iTunes.

First, Seonna’s latest work, from a show titled “Things Will Get Better”, that was recently showing at Hashimoto Gallery in San Francisco:

I mean, come on! Those lumps and bumps are the chunks of peeled paint we were talking about. Digital images don’t do these pieces justice… if you ever get a chance to see them in person, do it!

Now, just to prove that I’ve been fan-girling over Seonna’s work for years, here are the first pieces I wrote  about, way back in 2009:

Gorgeous, and a great example of her evolution as an artist {and the aging of her model/daughter!}.

Next up… animals! I love Seonna’s animals, which often serve as “emotional totems” in her work:

Zebras, and tigers, and bears, oh my! And yes, how cool is it that her daughter’s name is Tiger Lily? So. Cool.

Ok, I can’t believe I forgot to bring this up, but I have to show you Seonna’s paint chip paintings because, well, you’ll see:

Oh, I love these so, so much! When we were at Hashimoto for my book signing {because yes, Seonna’s in my latest book}, I asked her about them. Apparently my guess was right… she has to rotate which paint/hardware stores she hits up. I wonder if they have posters up… WATCH FOR THIS PAINT CHIP HOARDING WOMAN.

And this. HOW did I not bring this up during the Not-So-Speedy Speed Round? This was Halloween 2016, before Seonna and I really knew each other … well, beyond Instagram that is:

Great minds think alike … and dress like the Royal Tenenbaums. Yep, turns out we have more than just our birth year, Care Bears, Garfield, and love of treehouses in common! Thanks to Seonna for finally coming on the podcast {and for letting me share her story/work in my book}; thank you to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode, and thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. Current group show at Heron Arts, San Francisco
  2. Upcoming show at Ayzenberg Group, Los Angeles {curated by Mark Todd}
  3. Post It Show No.14, Giant Robot, Los Angeles {Dec 1 – 9}
  4. Seonna on Instagram
  5. Lauren Mycroft, Artist
  6. Nanaimo Bar Recipe
  7. A BIG IMPORTANT ART BOOK … Now With Women
  8. Treehouse Masters


colin roberts

Glass pillows that could double as disco balls? I could not love them more. This is the gorgeous work of LA based artist Colin Roberts. The end. Happy Friday.

amy alice thompson

Gasp! This is the work of Canadian artist Amy Alice Thompson, from an ongoing series titled Monument. I’ve written about her work before, because how could I not? Majestic landscapes and gold leaf geometric shapes that “draw the viewer in, and allow them to meditate on what is, and is not, missing.” Beautiful. Also beautiful… the most recent addition to this body of work. Yep, I’m talking about the bits and pieces in those translucent envelopes:

“Small fragments – often the cast offs of other works – have been assembled into glassine envelopes to create enigmatic, intimate compartments or phrases. The simplicity and limited components of these pieces likens them to the Japanese haiku. These pieces depict the essence of the haiku form, which is the art of cutting.”

Fragmented magic / Bits of gold and broken land / I’ll say ‘gasp’ again ~ Haiku by Danielle Krysa

lindsay chambers

Okay, I suddenly want to dig through my recycling bin so that I can appreciate the beauty in all of the scrawled on, balled up and tossed out paper that I now realize is in there! This is the lovely work of Toronto based painter Lindsay Chambers. Folds, light, bent words and crumpled cranes. Ah yes, there truly is beauty in the mundane... and don’t even get me started on the whole idea of turning mistakes into masterpieces! #preach

mimi o chun

Gigantic hands? Yes please. This is the fabulous work of Brooklyn based artist Mimi O Chun. All of her work is fantastic {so yes, I’ve already arranged to have her on an upcoming podcast episode!}, but today I wanted to share her series, titled Manu Propria (Latin for with one’s own hand). It “consists of soft sculptures of hands that explore the ways in which we enact personal notions of beauty, culture, and identity through micro-acts of adornment.” Her whole artist statement about this body of work can be read right here, but I really wanted to include this last part of it in the post:

“In the wake of the 2016 US elections, I’ve experienced an even greater urgency to develop this body of work. As progressive policy impacting matters of immigration, religious freedom, equality, and reproductive rights come under siege, I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate the many ways in which visible forms of personal expression can define, differentiate, and unite us — one hijab, pink pussy hat, or nail at a time.”

Amen, sister.

lola gil

Oh. YES. So weird, so gorgeous. I feel like each one of these pieces, by American artist Lola Gil, is like a bizarre dream that gets even more bizarre when you try to describe it to someone the next day… “and then I pulled this cowboy-covered wallpaper drawer out of my chest. Anywho.” Here is Lola’s description of her dreams, I mean work:

“Throughout my career I have always been a painter of narrative escapism, with my work evoking personal connections for each individual viewer. Because it is executed in a surreal way, it allows the viewer to create their own story and meaning.”

Um… check! Happy Monday.

“the tea boy sees mermaids”

That is British born, California based artist Richard Holland. I don’t know which I love more… the self portrait or the fabulous hand-built frame that houses the self portrait!? I’ve written about Richard before, but we met in person last weekend and it only took a few minutes of chatting with this kind, insightful artist – who can make anything – before I invited him onto the podcast. Clearly his art is fantastic, but about four minutes into talking to him I found out that he’s only been making his own art for a few years. What did he do before that you ask? He was in the movies, baby! Richard was an art director and production designer on so many great films… the one that grabbed me {and I’m guessing you}… three words… The. Princess. Bride! Anywho, the whole episode is filled with great stories and insightful gems by this former “tea boy”. Listen right up there under Richard’s self portrait, or subscribe on iTunes.

Let’s start with a few more of his fabulous paintings, complete with fabulous sculptural frames:

What. So good. And the goodness continues:

See? He can make ANYTHING! He had all of these pieces on display when we met at The Other Art Fair, and I was instantly pulled in by that crazy cyclops … on top of the painting of the crazy cyclops! “Where did you find that amazing monster for the top of the frame?”, I naively asked. “I made it”, Richard replied. Of course he did.

That seems like an excellent segue into the fact that he has built a few other things as well:

Yes!  The ‘pit of despair’ and the sailing ships in The Princess Bride! Seriously, I think I’ve seen this movie about fifty times. Anybody wanna peanut?

Now, while I was fangirling about TPB, that classic is just the tip of the iceberg. Richard has worked on all sorts of films – from Indiana Jones to The Last of the Mohicans, Labyrinth to James Bond. Craziness. Oh, and how ’bout these two gems from the 80s:

Yes. Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. What an insane career… not bad for a kid who was told it would be IMPOSSIBLE to have an art career in the movies. Even more insane? When I asked him about his “marriage” to this lady:

Hahahahaha! Oh, internet… why do we believe everything you tell us? Yes, Chaka Khan was married to a Richard Holland, just not THIS Richard Holland. Officially cleared up on Art For Your Ear… are you listening Wikipedia? Thanks so much to Richard for coming on the podcast and letting me freak out over his past career and his new career making his own artwork! Thank you to Saatchi Art for supporting this episode, and thanks to you for listening. There will be more art for your ear next weekend.

Other links:

  1. The Other Art Fair
  2. Richard on Instagram
  3. Richard on IMDb


pilar mehlis

Beautiful and bizarre… ah yes, one of my favorite combinations! I don’t know what I love best, but those delicate legs made from dress pattern tissue are at the top of my list. This is the work of Canada based artist Pilar Mehlis, and this is why she puts legs on fish:

“At the age of twelve I moved from La Paz, Bolivia to Whitehorse,Yukon in the middle of winter. This move and life shift changed my perception of “self” in many ways and hence has become a focus in my work …  In the last few years I have been exploring ideas of immigration and migrations both human and animal. The anthropomorphic forms: AntroFish (half human, half fish) and Ornithrope (Half human, half bird) have become the perfect vessels for the exploration of these ideas. They serve as  “carriers” of all the things I associate with immigration and migration. I metaphorically recount these explorations through these figures and tell the viewer the story I know best: my own.”

Lovely. Happy weekend.