Browsing Tag

Animal Art

Maker Stories

Quirky Birds and Tin Can Telephones: The Work of Spring Hofeldt

September 25, 2015

When asked to define the type of work she does, Spring Hofeldt usually responds by saying “realism.” But she’s quick to add that the term fits the look of her paintings, but not the messages that they convey. Still, there’s a wealth of common ground to be found in her quirky portraits of ostriches, fostered fish, and romantic vegetable duos. She observes that her paintings “immerse the viewer in a metaphor of day-to-day life. Whether you’re a cynic of a sunshine, we can all relate to making light of such trials and tribulations.”

Our recent conversation with Spring sheds some more light on her spunky slices of life, the inspiration that can be found in excavators, and her love of words that include “oo.”

Spring Hofeldt

 Untitled (Self Portrait) by Spring Hofeldt

 What artists have influenced your work?

I went to school for illustration, so naturally I’ve been captivated by the work of C.F. Payne and Norman Rockwell. They made me realize how important it is to me that I capture a humorous or quirky moment. These artists illustrate the true character and essence of a person/object in such a light and wonderful way.

And more specifically, Edward Ruscha‘s large-scale painting of the word “OOF” get’s me every time.

What are other personal influences on your work?

There are so many human experiences that can be annoying, awkward, or awful. Retelling the story to others and seeing the humor in it is a great way to cope.

Your work is characterized by a certain naturalism or realism. How do you define realism?

I don’t think of myself as someone who is chasing photorealism, but rather the character of the feeling I’m after. To those few who ask me, “why put all the effort into painting a photograph you took? Why not just print the photo and call it a day?” Paint has a way of making the image extra yummy. I like being able to alter the colors or patterns with paint rather than a computer saturation. And simply, I like the challenge of painting something so real.

Squawk |UncommonGoodsSquawk

What’s your favorite thing about your studio—how does the space or its contents inspire you?

My corner studio overlooks Brooklyn’s BQE and the F/G subway lines, which provide a constant sense of movement and an overall positive hum. The best aspect of the movement outside is the large, mustard yellow, claw excavators tossing metal from one pile to another at the scrap yard. It’s like a dance of mechanical dinosaurs all day long.

I also share the studio with two other artists, and although their art is very different than mine, just seeing how productive they are encourages me to get to work.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

I had a good hunch when asked at age 6 or 7, but never really took it too seriously until I took an art class my last year of high school, only because I had an extra spot to fill. With spit wads flying over my head, my nose deep in graphite and colored pencils, I realized by the end of school that it was a true passion I wanted to pursue.

How do you balance creativity—painting for it’s own sake—with the business side of being a professional artist?

At this point, I’d say that I only create paintings I’m truly inspired to produce and am confident about the subject matter. Even if I take on commissions, I make sure they’re filled with character that I would normally add. This is initially why they are coming to me.

What inspired you to create your ostrich paintings?

I’m drawn to bizarre and quirky animals. Ostriches have a very powerful presence… From their towering size and quick step, to their large, bold, deep black eyes that have a lock on your every move.

Francine | Spring Hofeldt | UncommonGoodsFrancine

What was your favorite part of that process?

Adding the fine details that really capture the animal’s character and seeing them come to life.

How do you hope people react when they receive your creation?

I hope it makes them chuckle, giggle, snort, laugh out loud, or smile on the inside.

Do you have any memorable customer feedback you’d like to share?

I have this one repeat customer that visits during every annual open studio. I love hearing her boisterous laugh filling the hallway, announcing her presence in the building. The first time I heard it was when I had hung up the set of four ostriches outside my door and she just couldn’t stop laughing. I, along with the visitors in the room at that time, couldn’t help but start laughing with her because the sound coming from the hall was so contagious. We had absolutely no idea what she was laughing at, but it didn’t matter. Moments like those are too great.

Tell us three uncommon facts about yourself.

I love to meticulously peel pomegranates by hand in my lap, sometimes taking over an hour.

I’m tickled by double o words: oof (as previously mentioned), bazooka, cooties, doozie, floozie, goober, vamoose, etc.

I chose to be married in a rowboat.

Let Me Tell You | Spring Hofeldt

 Let Me Tell You 

In the copy for the Contact section of her website and in a few of her paintings, Spring employs the DIY telephone metaphor of two tin cans and a length of string. That feels like an apt metaphor for painting: communicating through imperfect means and media, but celebrating their alluring, endearing quirks in the process.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

Stories in Steel: Eric Gross’ Bookends

September 19, 2015

We all know that every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Bookends on the other hand, are usually just what they sound like: two ends. Eric Gross’ collection is an exception. Eric’s bookends tell a story by starting with one form, letting the books they’re supporting serve as the climax, and then wrapping things up with the perfect happy ending.

It’s no coincidence that Eric’s designs seem to follow the structure of a story, since many of his pieces are actually inspired by the pages of books he’s read. “I like to let my imagination run wild on the themes I’ve just read about,” he told us in a quick Q&A about his work. Read on to find out more about Eric’s taste in literature, his passion for metalwork, and how his handmade silhouettes of animals and interesting objects become beautiful, sturdy bookends.

Eric Gross Bookends | UncommonGoods


In your maker story on our website, you mentioned that you grew up watching you father and grandfather work on machinery. How did this influence your decision to go into design, and specifically, to work with metal?

At a young age I was amazed that metal is both tough and durable but is also workable. Metals can be hammered, bent, formed, welded and molded to make any object. Dad would sketch the pieces he made prior to creating them and I loved the design and creativity that went into his work. When it came time for me to choose a career I realized that I loved the creative aspect of design, and chose to specialize in metal design.

You also said that you studied mechanical engineering in college. What made you take the leap and decide to use those skills to start a business producing your bookends?

After many years of designing industrial equipment and goods I found myself drawn to making little creative pieces in the shop in my spare time. Some of my coworkers mentioned that I should sell my creations. Once I discovered the handmade maker movement online I was hooked.

Eric Gross | UncommonGoods

How do you come up with ideas for your pieces? 

Most of my ideas come from books that I’ve read. I like fantasy and fiction, so I let my imagination run wild on the themes I’ve just read about. I like the bookends to tell a story themselves, just like the books they hold. You can use anything to hold up books, why not use bookends that are creative and enhance the beauty of your collection? Books are beautiful. Most people don’t read the same book more than once but they keep the books as a reminder of the voyage their imagination took while reading it. It’s sort of like why we take vacation photos, they are reminders of the places we’ve been.

Giraffe Family Bookends | UncommonGoods

What steps do you take to make each bookend?

The bookends are cut from steel. Then the cut pieces are ground, formed, welded, sanded, and finished in hammered black.

Do any of the designs you sell at UncommonGoods have a special meaning to you? Is there a set of  bookends that’s your favorite? 

Although it is one of my simpler designs, I think the Giraffe Family is my favorite. Being a parent myself I realize that once you have children the concept of self changes. I spend most of my time thinking about my children. I worry more about what they want and need, rather than myself.

See Eric's Collection | UncommonGoods


Pin It on Pinterest