Browsing Tag

Brooklyn artists

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Kristy Hadeka & Sean Tice

May 7, 2013

Days before I made it to the Red Hook work space of Sean Tice and Kristy Hadeka, they were putting the finishing touches on Brooklyn Slate Co’s new home, a space that took a hard beating during Hurricane Sandy. A line painted on an exposed brick wall shows where the water came up last October. At the time they were beginning construction on their new office and showroom, and had begun to store all of their merchandise and computers.

Months later, their space is a rustic, welcoming meeting space where they can work on new designs and meet with clients. I was happy to learn that behind the homey facade, Sean and Kristy were as warm as their aesthetic–serving as true advocates of their new neighborhood and neighbors. Take a look inside their work space and see what makes Sean and Kristy (and Garp) of Brooklyn Slate Co such Uncommon Artists.

What are your most essential tools?
Sean: An oversized work table, drafting light box, and good music playing. Editor’s note: The music was indeed very, very good.

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Kristy: When we found this space, it was completely stripped down and raw. We built it out using materials and colors that make us feel really comfortable and at home. It’s open, airy, and relaxing – perfect for finding inspiration.

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
K: Red Hook is a great neighborhood to walk around and explore – whenever we need a few minutes, we pick a direction and go for a walk.
S: Our dog also accompanies us at the shop on most days, so we take him to the park in the morning and late afternoon. I usually stop by Baked for a coffee or tea, then we go and throw the ball around.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
K: You should never be afraid to ask for help. Whether you need feedback on an idea you’re working on, or you find yourself managing an area of the business with which you have no experience, it’s important to know you can always go to someone you trust for feedback.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
S: We celebrate small victories every Friday with Beer Friday, when we pair a new beer we haven’t tried before with a cheese. Often, someone on our team will bring in something homemade for us all to enjoy, and we’ll pair a beer with that.
K: A big victory always requires the team head to the Ice House, one of our favorite watering holes in the neighborhood.

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
S: We recently started developing other tabletop items that aren’t necessarily made of slate. I typically sketch ideas by hand, but I’m learning Google SketchUp so I can create more detailed renderings.

How do you recharge your creativity?
K: We both love running. It’s a great way to reset or gain perspective, especially when you’re stuck on an idea. There’s also so much to see in New York, and running is the best way to do it.

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
S: Collaboration comes into play in two ways – on the one hand, we’re always exploring ways to collaborate with other producers in New York. Within the company, everyone is encouraged to speak up as new ideas come to them. Our shop and office are one and the same, which encourages open communication between everybody. Even if you’re not participating in a particular conversation, just overhearing a discussion can plant a seed in your own mind.

Maker Stories

Inside the Designer’s Studio with Claudia Pearson

May 17, 2012

When the second floor of Claudia Pearson’s Brooklyn brownstone opened up, she knew it would be the perfect place to set up a studio. Claudia was using a corner of her family’s apartment to create illustrations for books, magazines and the merchandise she was creating. Space was getting tight as her two sons and business were growing so moving to the downstairs was an easy decision.

Claudia is the designer behind the 4 Seasons Tea Towels and one of our newest UncommonGoods artists. She is not a new name around Brooklyn flea markets and I have admired her commercial work and illustrations for cooking magazines, so I was excited to visit her sunny studio and learn about her craft and her business.

What are your most essential tools for creating your art?
My illustrations are a happy marriage of analog and digital techniques so my essential tools are pencils, erasers, inks combined with my printer, scanner and Photoshop.

Where do you find inspiration within your workspace?
I recently rented the apartment below where I live with my family so after 15 years of working at home I now have a separate studio. It’s filled with sunlight and walls to pin up my work in progress. We live in a leafy Brooklyn neighborhood on a corner so the sounds of birds and life outside keep me connected.

Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Sadly at the moment there isn’t such a thing. I’m constantly working on commercial projects for publishers, advertising and editorial clients. I do check my favorite blogs with my coffee first thing in the morning and did recently add a sofa where I can relax and check emails.

What are some of your time management secrets?
I work with two computer screens, one for illustrating and another for email so I can respond to emails immediately. I make a list of tasks for the next week at the end of each week. I divide the list up by the days of the week and make sure never to load up one day with too much stuff, making my list manageable. I also have an assistant who comes once a week. Now I can let go of some of the things that used to take up a lot of my time. I have a great assistant who is able to take care of skill-oriented tasks that are not specific to me.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
As a designer who relies on outside sources to produce my products, planning ahead in production was definitely a learning curve. Staying on top of suppliers and being firm about deadlines.

What advice could you offer yourself 5 years ago?
I would recommend creating schedules all the time throughout the year and during slower times making sure future products are designed and ready for production. Also to foster good relationships with design blogs and magazines that can provide valuable marketing.

Where does collaboration come into play in your work?
I’ve always loved to collaborate with people who have different skills to me. In 2010 I worked with a local chef; she came up with seasonal recipes that I illustrated and we established a set of 12 recipe cards that take you through a year of local ingredients. Last year I collaborated with a local ceramicist and we put my seasonal fruits and veggies on cups. It’s fun to apply my work to mediums that I’m unfamiliar with and bring variety to my line. I’m currently developing ideas with another local chef and food writer for a cook book so stay tuned.

So far I have been fortunate enough to have collaborated with friends of mine which has made it easy. Make sure when you are getting into a partnership or collaboration, especially with a friend, that roles are clearly defined in a way that makes the individuals’ work equal.

How do you set goals for yourself?
These days most of my goals are set for me by clients and their deadlines. When I’m designing a new line of tea towels I work seasonally and make sure I have a 6 week period to create artwork and get samples printed. My business has grown at such a phenomenal rate over the past two years that I now need to take stock and make a 5 year plan.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
When a creative job comes my way and I feel it will be a benchmark in my career, I take my family out for a nice dinner and we chat about it together. We have two sons who are 9 and 7 and they are extremely inspired by my world. I enjoy sharing my ideas with them and see how it is enabling them to flourish creatively.

How do you recharge your creativity?
We love to travel and try to get away whenever we can. Traveling has always inspired my work and now with kids, it’s fun to see the world through their eyes. We go to London every summer to visit family and friends. We also try and sneak in a trip to the Caribbean every few years. Failing that, a weekend upstate will certainly recharge my batteries.

The Uncommon Life

Coming Together Across Continents

April 4, 2011

In the wake of the devastating earthquake that shook Miyagi, Japan on March 11, members of the UncommonGoods family are reaching out to lend support to the families of nearly 11,000 who lost their lives and the hundreds of thousands who were left injured and homeless by the massive quake and the subsequent tsunami, which struck Japan’s eastern coastline.

AmeriCares, our Better to Give partner, is working to help those affected by this catastrophic natural disaster. Within hours of these events, AmeriCares began sending relief workers, organizing donations and contacting doctors to provide aid.

“Working with a local partner, AmeriCares distributed hundreds of cases of hygiene items—including soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and paste, diapers, baby wipes and bottled water—to shelters in the hard-hit cities of Iwanuma, Watari and Yamamoto in northeast Japan,” their online newsletter explains.

With thousands of individuals and families displaced, and more than 16,000 people still missing, AmeriCares continues to provide support to those in need.

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Maker Stories

Handmade Jewelry in our Hometown

March 30, 2011

One of the wonderful things about working at UncommonGoods is getting to hang out in beautiful Brooklyn every day. Not only is Brooklyn our home, it’s also home to some incredibly talented artists.

Instead of letting all the Brooklyn pride well up until we burst, we decided to gush about a few of the artists that help make this borough great!

We’re kicking-off our “Made in Brooklyn” series with two local jewelry designers, Yayoi Inada, whose pieces contain little reminders to slow down (definitely something that can come in handy in a busy city like New York!) and Nguyen Le, who blends classic jewelry pieces with soft, knit accents.

Message in a Bottle
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