We wanted to hand over to you, readers, so we start a new series of posts interviewing "recycled art" crafters & artists. We start with one of our best contributor: Christina Cole from Urban Veggie. If you think you deserve to be featured in the next interview, please, drop us an email.
Tell us a little more about you? Who you are? Where are you from?
Hello! My name is Christy. I am the Artist behind Urban Veggie, LLC. I am a Registered Nurse and health enthusiast by day, and a contemporary mixed media artist by night that lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Why do you craft?
I craft because I love to create new designs; I have always found joy in the organic process of creation. I have also found immense pleasure in designing a line that promotes the "greater good", a better tomorrow. Although Urban Veggie initially began as an upcycled artistic line-- it has evolved into a product line, and wellness blog that is committed to creating a beautiful, sustainable, healthy, kind planet. This line has provided a creative outlet that supports my hippie, eco-friendly heart, AND implements my background as a nurse and personal trainer to deliver wellness for the mind, body, and spirit.
How did you learn?
As a child, I crafted to make my loved ones happy with a unique, personalized, one-of-a-kind gifts... I loved watching people's eyes light up from something that I made with my own two hands. As I got older, I took various art courses throughout high school and college. I studied sculpture, woodwork, metals, pottery, jewelry and many other art mediums.
Since when are you working with recycled & upcycled materials?
I have been working with upcycled, discarded, antique, or thrifted material since my first sculpture course in college (circa 2007) when my instructor Matt had us make a project with "found objects"--one assignment, and I was hooked. As cliché as it might be, I love the idea of making someone else's trash into a new treasure.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
In no particular order: Leggings, Sweaters, Music, Camera, Coffee, Apples, Peanut Butter, Salad, Hummus, Cross training shoes, and a pair of Toms.
How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I suppose I would describe my style as "Upcycled-Modern-Hipster with a Vintage Twist". I find inspiration in MANY artists, crafters, and designers--the inception of Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, and social media as a whole has opened my eyes to many talented individuals--I feel that it would be unfair to only name a handful, when there are so many creative personalities out there just waiting to be discovered.
How is your workspace, how do you make it inspiring?
My workspace consists of a spare bedroom in our house that has been converted into an art studio. I have designed the space in a way that incorporates some of my art, and is conducive to jamming out to whatever tunes might be inspiring my little heart at the moment. On occasion I have also been known to take my crafting out to the little park behind my house to breathe some fresh air, and bask in my friend Mister Sun.
What sorts of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you look for inspiration?
I find inspiration in stories, individuals, movements, products, and companies that think "outside of the box" and fight for a "better tomorrow". As my recent inspirational obsession Mr. Kid President stated, "Love changes everything, so fill the world with it". I think that it all boils down to the golden rule that we all were taught back in kindergarten, "Treat others the way you want to be treated". I believe that if you put good into the world, that it will come back to you. It is basic karma folks. With that mentality in mind, lately I have been slightly obsessed with finding/supporting organizations that are using their product or service to "make the world a better place". I find these stories via word of mouth, the news, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc…
When do you feel the most creative?
I feel the most creative in the morning while spending time out in Mother Nature, or sipping on a hot cup of coffee after a nice yoga session.
We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
Life gives you hands, so why not make handmade? There is something to be said for quality, handcrafted artistry--something that was made with heart and soul. Mass-produced is boring... You were born and original, don't die a copy.
What is your favorite medium to work in?
I love to play with mixed media--woods, metals, papercraft, photography...pretty much anything but paint!
To complete the previous question, we saw that you work mainly with all kinds of bike parts, could you tell us a little more about this choice of materials?
My bike inspired line initially began as a wife (me) trying to create something nice for her bike enthusiast husband (Alex). What started as an attempted sentimental gift out of discarded bike parts became a calling. I was ecstatic to find a versatile, aesthetically appealing medium that conveyed a message about sustainable living. As an old Native American proverb states, "we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children".
What are your tips for people who'd like to start crafting?
Don't be afraid. Play with different mediums, and just have fun! But if you can't take it lightly, just think--next time will be better. After all, "failure is the opportunityto begin again more intelligently" - Henry Ford.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory "Baby Bear" Apple (A granny smith apple that is covered in a sweet caramel dip that is then coated with milk chocolate, and then drizzled with white confection!)
What is your favorite thing to do (other than crafting)?
In my free time I love to spend time with friends, family, coworkers, and my rock--aka my wonderful hubby Alex. I love to spend time outdoors biking, hiking, and relaxing on the patio watching a good old fashioned sunset. I whole-heartedly enjoy traveling, live music, “mom and pop” coffee shops, snuggling up to a good movie, the smell after it rains, group exercise classes, yoga, documentaries, and creating new dishes in my kitchen.
Anything else you would like to tell to the "recycling community"?
Be kind to EVERYTHING that lives--we are all responsible for taking care of one another, for taking care of our planet. So let’s promote a beautiful healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit by "Going Green" together and doing our best to; Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Upcycle! "unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not" -Dr. Seuss, The Lorax.
To finish, we've seen that you have an active blog. Since how many times are you blogging? Is that a full time job or just a hobby to share your personal creations & moods? Any websites that our readers should not miss?
Blogging is a "part-time" venture for me to provide a creative outlet that supports my hippie, eco-friendly heart, AND implements my background as a nurse and personal trainer to deliver wellness for the mind, body, and spirit. My thoughts, articles, recipes, blogs, tips, and tricks are available at: http://urbanveggie.weebly.com, my daily artistic musings are on Instagram (@urbanveggie.llc), and my artistic designs are available on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/UrbanVeggie).
Other websites/companies that I love include, but are not limited to: Story of Stuff, Steal Time Back, Operation Illumination, Krochet Kids, United By Blue, Feed, Giving Keys, and Sevenly. These companies spread kindness like sprinkles, and participate in practices that serve the well being of the planet. These organizations realize that eventually everything connects--"The environment is in us, not outside of us. The trees are our lungs, the rivers our bloodstream. We are all interconnected. and what you do to the environment, ultimately you do to yourself"-Ian Somerhalder.
Thanks a lot Christina for this interview! :)