Thursday, November 12, 2009

Better Know an Austin Artist: One Creative Girl -- Melissa Gable

Welcome to another installment of my Ask an Austin Artist Some Random Questions™. At first glance it might seem like an interview, but upon closer inspection, you'll find it's really just some stuff I wanted to know. I especially wanted to know about the reuse part. You know I dig that. A big thanks to all the artists who made the time to participate in this series. I've loved getting to better know each of you.
One Creative Girl,  Melissa Gable
Could you provide a brief description of your work?
Fun and quirky collages and assembled pieces - whether it be a corsage made from vintage millinery items, an art doll created from altoids tins, plastic curlers and old silverware or a collage from vintage advertising images.

Have you always been inspired by mid-century imagery or did you come to it later?
I am a huge flea market junkie and when I began scouting out stuff for my first apartment in my 20s, it was the mid-century modern stuff that I loved. I started collecting just about everything I found at thrift stores and flea markets except magazines. I was making collages at the time using catalogs and current magazines. It wasn’t until I returned to college and had a collage assignment in a Photoshop class that I decided to go digging for retro images and that’s when I started my love affair with vintage ads and images.

What is your process for creating your signature collages? Is the image already in your head or does it emerge from the pieces in front of you?
I work both ways when creating. Sometimes I see a collage in my head or hear a line in a song or something like that and I go searching for images to make it. Most of the time I just scan, scan, scan all the old images I can get my hands on, then I begin flipping through them and images start coming together. Usually a story emerges in my mind about what is going on in the “collage situation” and I build it from there working on the written part as I am creating the visuals.
“Hamburger talk show” came about when I was playing with the hamburger image, finding a funny way to use it, then after making that collage, I saw an episode of “MTV Cribs” and knew I had to make a celebrity type collage as a spin off from Hamburger talk show and that’s how “chillin’ with Hot Dog” happened.
“Cat’s in Control” was simply a response to something I read on the internet about cats having control over their owners. I sat down and created “math is not my friend” after I had a conversation with my high school friend about who we would deny “friendship” status on facebook.

Do you have any favorite publications for finding your source images?
Women’s magazines from the 1940’s and 50’s. The images and information is just hilarious to me today. Thank god we got liberated!

What material would you like to work with/or what skill would you like to learn that you haven’t yet?
I always think about working big - REALLY big - having a bunch of people to help me plan and execute some sort of installation on a grand scale with found objects and patterns from unexpected sources all working together to create some fanciful environment/experience. Maybe even just bringing one of my collages to life. So whatever materials and skills are needed for that is the answer to your question!

You are stuck on a desert island for a year and can only take 3 things to make with--what would you take?
Well I was going to say my computer (if I could have magical island electricity), vintage magazines and a scanner. Then I could continue to make tons of stuff - but I actually think It would be a lot more fun to create something totally new and different from what the Island provides me. So maybe I could have the option to order up those three things once I get there and see what else I need to make the art happen.

What is the best part about doing the work you do?
Doing something that makes me happy, is fulfilling and makes me laugh a lot. I am not about making serious things. I like the weird stuff and I like to just relax and see what develops when I am creating.

What is your biggest frustration with your work?
Digital versus cut and paste. I used to create a lot of cut and paste collage but most of it has become faded or ruined with the humidity or tacky with coating medium. It’s a tough messy thing to deal with, so I switched to mostly digital - which I LOVE but then when I started looking into submitting my work for exhibits, I found most do not accept digital collage.

How do you reuse materials in your business?
I buy vintage magazines and books, scan all the images, then cut the book or magazine up for old school collage or use the pages to make envelopes for my handmade note cards.

Have you discovered any new talents while running this business?
Actually you should ask the opposite because I have totally discovered what I suck at - I am a terrible salesperson. I think my creative talents are super versatile so I find I am good at writing and assemblage/sculpture, collage and design work.

What is you perspective about having a job outside the 'norm'?
It is the only option when your personality is also outside the norm.

The holidays are upon us. Which items do your customers like best for gift giving?
People love a holiday corsage. They’re perfect for all the holiday parties or just something cute to pin to your Christmas stocking. I make a bunch of corsages with Santa and snowmen and elves and all kinds of cuteness.

The collage prints are also a popular gift - this year, they will come with a short story that’s pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh or smile or think I am a little out there!

Any other info you would like to showcase? Run another business? Teach classes? Run marathons? Teach classes while running marathons? I am a freelance graphic designer working mostly in print - creating logos, business cards, postcards, fliers, etc.

See more of Melissa's work on her website, her blog and in her Etsy shop.

One Creative Girl's handmade cards are also carried in select Austin shops:

Parts and Labour 1604 S. Congress
Domy Bookstore 913 E Caesar Chavez

Upcoming Shows
Shops and online venues are great in lots of way, but sometimes the best way to see the full breadth of an artist's work is to catch one of their shows. Melissa has a couple coming up:

Blue Genie Art Bazaar
December 2 - 24
Sunday - Thurday: 10am-10pm
Friday and Saturday:  10am-midnight
Thursday 12/24/09:  10am-6pm
Monarch Events Center
in the Lincoln Village Shopping Center
6406 North IH-35, Suite 3100, Austin, Texas
For more info:

Cherrywood Art Fair
Saturday, December 12 10am-6pm
Sunday, December 13, noon-6pm
Maplewood Elementary
3808 Maplewood Ave, Austin, Texas
For more info:

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