SOWA is made up of one man. That man being Aaron Barker. He doesn't have a website and he doesn't have too much time so you wait and watch until one day you have awesome stuff sitting in front of you and you think "it was totally worth it". As you don't see his work often, get one when these guys come to Schmancy (i'll announce when they are for sale)!
S- What was the inspiration behind this exclusive?
SOWA- For nearly a year (see question 4), I have been working on a design for the Daruma doll. Initially, I didn't know the various drawings of wide-eyed, bearded faces would become Bodhidharma, or Daruma as he is known in Japan. Eventually, I started drawing these nutcracker-looking Darumas and got obsessed with the neutral blank eyes and circular quality of the face. The more I drew, the more interested I became in the historical accounts of the 1st Patriarch of 'Chan', or Chinese Zen. I finally ended up with a design that I really liked, combining aspects of the Japanese barrel shaped figure with the traditional depictions from paintings and carvings. When a spot opened up for a Schmancy exclusive, it became the motivation to finally translate the design into a doll pattern.
S- As a person who attended art school, what was the draw to work in this medium?
SOWA- I had an open studio class my senior year and was rummaging around a storage room and found a sewing machine. I asked around and discovered that it was my instructors, who also happened to be the chair of the Visual Art department at Naropa and a mixed media/ fibre artist. She was really generous and let me use it whenever I wanted. I started with really asymmetrical stuffed forms and wanted more control so started experimenting with pattern making. I got hooked when I found a way to transform my 2D character designs into dolls.
S- Where would you like to see your work in 10 years from now?
SOWA- If all goes well, in the next couple of years (see question 4), I intend to get a better mastery of film making. I have been putting together a pretty good set up for making stopmo (animation) and have been shooting camera tests and footage both live and frame by frame. It's pretty crude at this point, but if I could dedicate a good solid month into setup and filming, I could get some really satisfying footage. I have just started playing around with poseable armatures for my dolls, but even more importantly I have been trying to get better at storytelling. 10 years from now, I hope to have made at least a couple of animated short films. Oh... and also be brazing and/or welding my own bike frames.
S- As a father, how often do you get to work on your art these days? How do you balance it all?
SOWA- Ahh, question number four. I don't get nearly as much time as I would like, but surprisingly I have cobbled together some projects that I work on from time to time. My three year old son Ambrose keeps me pretty busy, also my partner/wife Hansi is a knitting genius/ fledgling scientist working on computational fluid dynamics, enough said. While the household is my domain in terms of nourishment and daily goings on, all of this just compels me to get the most out the time that I do set aside for art. Spending a lot of time with Ambrose gives me some brief opportunities. For instance, a while ago we were playing with modeling clay. After some time I had Ambrose pushing the shutter release for the camera as I posed and animated a clay head we had made. It was great, I kept saying "Now...now...wait...I said wait...now...and...now". Pretty soon we had about four seconds of looped animation. He still asks to watch "the clay head".
It's important to note the support I get from Hansi. As a busy and an accomplished craftsperson herself (Hansigurumi fame), she appreciates and understands my artwork and the constraints of time. With the spare time that I do have, I try not to pressure myself to create, but rather look and listen a little more closely at what I am working on at the time and keep the internal dialogue interesting. I also try to pace myself as to what I can accomplish, but even then I just barely make deadlines, thank you Kristen Rask for being so accommodating!!
S- What are you most excited for in 2010 thus far?
SOWA- More bicycle rides!