Thursday, March 31, 2011

Artists You Should Know: The Lad

The mad Lad himself. Er, myself.
"Artists you Should Know" profiles other artists populating the Lad's sphere. They're painters, writers, handmade artisans, fashionistas, craft show organizers, rock stars, even other jewelry designers - anyone out there being fierce and formidable could be put to the questions (compiled from fans the world over). Today, for the first time EVER, I profile...ME.   

Come in! Make yourself comfortable. What can I get you to drink?
Grey Goose martini, extra dirty, bleu cheese-stuffed olives, shaken til frosty...if it's not too much trouble.

Tell us about yourself.
I'm the worst kind of evil, your nightmare in a tailored suit, a supernatural knockout, endlessly resourceful, undeniably charming, the Brat Prince, post-Renaissance, post-20th century, trans-modern, insatiable, unforgivable, shameless, unrepentant, sly, magnificent. I am also a canonized saint, the chupacabra, a vampire, and a total smart ass.

What's your sign?
Leo, baby! Gemini rising, no less. Think flamboyant, restless, outspoken trendsetter with the unfortunate natural ability to lead the pack, who is an interesting and intelligent, though inappropriate and troublesome dinner guest. Luckily my friends like to drink. A lot.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I love feeding people. And in the loft, we don't screw around. We're fully stocked with every single top-of-the-line knife, gadget, pot, and pan and we're not afraid to use them. 'Le Creuset' is like dirty talk. We're considering sourcing liquid nitrogen. The shelves in my kitchen are literally sagging with cookbooks (we bought a retro zebrawood console just to have a place to stack more of them, sweet Jesus). Most used app on my phone and iPad? Epicurious. Cooking is a strange passion - there's no endgame. You create something amazing and the result is a dozen new riffs on the same theme. It perpetuates itself like this mad and delicious tornado. I also LOVE canning. We're talking farmer's market to kitchen to pot to jam/pickles/chutney to Mason jars then those amazing little "pops" when the jars seal. It titillates me just thinking about it.

What are your biggest influences?
Theatre, pop culture, fashion, LOLcats, books, London, Chicago, Star Wars, and wine.

What would be the title of your autobiography? Why?
Spelunking Toward Illumination. Everything success I've ever achieved in my life has been the direct result of fumbling in the dark until I gained a firm grip: heading to a far-off college at 18 with less than two weeks notice and no idea how to pay; being hired as Head Costume Designer at a regional theatre at the tender age of 22; gaining reknown as National Pro Artist for Sephora at 25; every single stupid dating experience of my life (a different type of success, but I digress). Lad Named Felix is the perfect example. I woke up one morning two years ago, on my slow crawl to a seriously horrific corporate day job, and realized I hadn't created ART during my entire tenure at that place (this is unthinkable - being an artist has shaped my entire spastic existence since I splooshed out of my mother's womb and picked up a paintbrush). It dawned on me that art dies when the soul is in trouble - and my soul was choking at that job. So I picked up some pliers and some beads and started playing around. 2 years later...and here we are. Nothing about Lad Named Felix has been calculated or premeditated, but instead has fallen into a gorgeous kind of alignment because I just moved through the dark when it felt right to move. I've bumped my head along the way - hell, I've knocked myself out - but its just how I roll, yo.

What inspires you?
Pop culture, gay subculture, geek sub-subculture. I'm crippled by merely walking into a craft store. Traveling, London, great music, gardens, theatre, orchids, Chicago. Thrift stores. Regretsy. Fashion. Food blogs. Talented people - that's a huge one. I try to randomly seek out at least one inspiring thing a day. Today it was a recipe for homemade bagels.

What does 'handmade' mean to you?
I'm not sure if I can reduce my answer to one word. When you buy handmade, you're the end point in a long journey of an idea - from passion to inspiration to concept to design to creation to photographing to listing to marketing and finally, to you. The item you buy isn't the result of focus groups and corporate fuckery, designed to move quickly and then sent to a factory to be mindlessly manufactured cheaply and thoughtlessly. A handmade item is a tiny piece of someone's spirit and love and time, and when you buy handmade, you're contributing to a real person's dream. Believe me - that is priceless. 
How would you describe your creative process?
All of the above. I'm a typical unorganized, messy artist. Sometimes a cheeky name will come to me and I move from there, and other times I get buzzed and start putting things together (which accounts for the disaster area I call my desk). My process is totally dependent on my meteoric moods, but I manage.More spelunking.

Describe your umbrella.
I'd love to, but I'd have to track down the bus I left it on a year ago. In my dreams, my umbrella is one of those sturdy black British numbers, with a curved ebony handle and perhaps a tiny silver ram's head at the top. In reality, I just duck from awning to awning and show up wet to a lot of dinner parties.

You have the opportunity to spy on any artist or designer in history - who would it be?
I can't possibly answer this accurately. There are just too many, and this answer is bound to change on different days. Today, I'd like to hang out with Warhol at The Factory. Yesterday I would have said Jonathan Adler. Tomorrow, who knows?

What accomplishment as an artist are you most proud of?
Shaping this odd idea I had two years ago into a viable way to sustain my art and support myself. I'm astounded I've been able to get to this point, and I'm ready to make it even better. Launching Lad Rag has been the biggest learning experience for me, and I have so much fun with it it's like not working at all. Watching LNF grow is like watching a child grow up (without the loud, annoying child). 

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How do you support local/handmade artists?
It starts at a cellular level - I "like" their Facebook pages and comment. You have no idea how important it is to artists to receive feedback. I go to craft shows even when I'm not showing, because having a crowd is extremely important. I hand out business cards from other handmade artists whever I have them. I try to buy as much as I can from Etsy. I feature their work at, and this interview is the first in a series of Lad Rag interviews featuring all manner of artists.

In five years, where would you like to be?
I want Lad Named Felix to be my full-time job, and I'd really like to open a boutique to sell jewelry components, my creations and the work of other artists.

How do you take your toast?
First off - and this is important - it HAS to be made in a toaster. None of this oven or broiler fuckery. The toaster is key. Mine is a total piece of junk, but as long as I can stave off a devastating electrical fire, I'll take my toast well-toasted, smeared with Irish butter and swirled with buckwheat honey and a little freshly cracked black pepper.

Plug your work! Don't feel bad - we're all hoors here.
I think you know where to find Lad Named Felix on Etsy, but in case you were the victim of a mindwipe and haven't found me on Facebook, Twitter, here are some nice shiny buttons to help you.

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  1. Hey,
    Beautiful, wonderfully written, astounding, and I read the whole thing! And now I am going to "like" you on FB, and add you to Twitter!
    You just go now and have no less then a stupendous day, Mr Charming, delightful, and irresistable Lad :)
    Enjoy, I have NO doubt you will!

  2. Love your profile, Laddie! Yer a genius. No, really.

  3. deliciously delightful! you are an inspiration. and you feel like an old friend already. i am quite bummed i didn't run into in chicago before i moved. LOVE!

  4. In a word... smashing! In more words, congrats on the launch of Lad Rag, you must be tingly with excitement!

  5. Loving the support and loving you ALL! I have the best bishes. :)

  6. "art dies when the soul is in trouble" brilliant.


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