Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Artist Inspiration Interview: Small Art WONDERS

I am so excited to share my July
Inspiration Interview with you.

I first met artist extraordinaire,
Jane LaFazio, when she participated
in one of my workshops in Phoenix.
It was such a pleasure to see
Jane work. Her beautiful style,
and flare for rendering nature
made me an instant fan!

1. Jane can you share with us a career
background or history. Schools attended,
jobs held pertaining to art. Kind of an
evolution of how you arrived to where
you are today as a successful artist
and teacher.

When I got out of high school, all I wanted
to do was travel. I eventually got my dream
job, as an international flight attendant for
a charter airline. Four years later, when the
airline went on strike, I had to reevaluate
what I was going to be when I grew up, and
decided to go back to college to study secretarial
skills. Thank goodness my husband was a
personnel manager, because he coached me
by asking ‘what is it you LIKE to do?’ So, I
started in Fine Art, then switched and got a
degree in Graphic Design. I worked for many
years in graphics for high tech companies and
morphed into marketing, my last jobs were at
an advertising agency and then an architecture
firm. Along the way, I got a BA in Asian Studies,
(when we lived in South Korea.) In 1992, my life
changed forever when my husband had a brain
aneurysm and resulting brain injury. To help me
cope, I signed up for a weekly art class, and
rediscovered my gift of drawing. Gradually, I
created artwork, framed it, sold it, and worked
at becoming a professional artist, all the while
still working full time. In 1998, I got laid off and
decided I could afford to try to be a full time artist
for 6 months. Well, a dozen years later, much
downsizing, lots of hard work, I’m still a full time
artist! It’s what I was meant to be doing in my life.
I started teaching about 6 years ago, first with kids,
then adults and found I loved it too. My graphic design
and marketing background is a real asset to my career
as an artist. My beloved husband has a happy, productive
life and is tremendously supportive of me and my art.
It’s all good!

2. What kinds of things inspire you?
What motivates you to make art?

Everything inspires me. Pattern, color, a new technique,
a new material, it all makes me want to run into my studio
and make something. I’m very motivated. Foremost is that
it just makes me happy to make art. I love the act of doing it
—drawing, painting, sewing—whatever. Also, since I teach
a lot, I’m always thinking of new projects to teach and trying
them out. I work small, so I get a lot done.

3. You have a BUSY schedule with lots of
travel and teaching, how do you manage all
your projects and organize your creative
schedule? Do you have any tips on staying
on top of things?

I’m naturally organized, and a born list maker
and the years of working for large companies
gave me good work habits. I’ve kept a written
calendar for years, and am always looking ahead
at what’s coming up on my schedule and noting
the ‘to-dos’ on my daily calendar pages. I’ve got
a manila folder system at my desk, folders marked
for receipts, for upcoming teaching gigs, and one
called ‘current deadlines’ that I check frequently.

4. What do you love about teaching?

Sharing. I love sharing what I know, and having
the students share and celebrate what they know.
I work hard at creating a ‘community’ in my classes,
a safe place to talk, to work and to support each other.
And again, making things just feels good, and when a
room full of people is making art, it’s grand!

5. What suggestions/advice would you
give other artists for creating a career in art?

When I was first starting out, as a watercolor artist,
I was in a group of 10 fabulous women and we met
monthly. As a group, we sent proposals, organized
exhibits, held receptions, did the marketing for our
exhibits, framed our own work, got our first business
cards and resale licenses. It was a wonderful way to
learn the ropes. Another tip I’d give is to say YES.
To me, I’ve made amazing progress and jumps in my
career, doing things I never even dreamed of—by saying
‘yes’ when asked to do something I’d never ever done
and then doing it the best I could.

6. I really enjoyed your video "The Small Art Quilt"!
A video is such an accomplishment! Congrats!
What are your next goals?

There’s a perfect example of saying ‘yes.’
A local couple approached me to make a
DVD and I’d never even considered it before.
They trusted me 100% to create the projects
and I just jumped in and did it. I recently said
yes to speaking at an annual meeting of a large
Quilt organization. I haven’t a clue what I’m
going to talk about, but I said yes, because I
knew it was a good thing for my career.

Goals: My stated goal is to teach and travel to
places I can take my husband. We just got back
from 2 weeks in Italy, where I taught for a week.
I love writing for Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper
Scissors magazines, I love teaching at mixed
media retreats. My friends are planning an art
retreat in San Miguel de Allende for April 2011.
All good.

7. What are you working on right now?
Do you have any upcoming projects?

At this moment, I’m preparing for a bunch of
workshops I’m teaching this summer, making
art for a magazine article, stocking my etsy
shop, working on a piece inspired by our
recent trip to Venice, Italy, and I really should
clean the garage.

8. What are your favorite rituals when
you are in your studio working? If you
listening to music, what are your favorite
artists? and/or share with us some specifics
about other favorite rituals.

Hmm. I know I’d sound deep if I said I play
Beethoven and light a creativity candle each
time I enter my studio, but….I usually turn
on the TV, and if nothing remotely interesting
is on, I put in a DVD from Quilting Arts TV,
or a workshop DVD from an artist I admire.
My desk in my studio is usually covered with
projects in progress, and I shove them to the
side, and make a small corner to work on
whatever has grabbed my attention at the

9. Tell us your favorite movie, your favorite book.

I find these questions so difficult because
I can tell you what I just read or saw.
“Robin Hood” was a really good movie,
probably because we’d just been to Italy
and seen all that medieval armor in a palace
museum. I’m almost finished with ‘Shanghi
Girls’ by Lisa See, and on my last trip read
‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts. And
A Three Dog Life: a memoir by Abigail Thomas
and The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette
Walls are great books.

10. What is something that most people don't know about you?

I was a contestant on Hollywood Squares in
1988 and won a car. I tandem skydived from
from 12,000 feet, and I love musical theater.

Thank You, Jane!

To see more of Jane's art,
be sure to visit her blog,


Stay Tuned for more
'Small Art WONDERS' Goodness.
I'll be posting details for a
Jane LaFazio GIVEAWAY on


Jane LaFazio said...

Tracie! thanks so much for the opportunity to appear on your blog! xo

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Jane, I like your "just say YES" attitude. When I say yes, I tend to be glad I did. However, I tend to say no more. Maybe I can try to take a page from your exciting book and learn to say yes a bit more! Thanks again, I enjoyed learning more about you.

judy coates perez said...

Ah Jane, always so inspiring and a fabulous woman with great enthusiastic energy who I am thrilled to call a friend. Wonderful Interview!

Melly Testa said...

I saw my spelling error just as I hit the publish button. ops!

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

Melly Testa has left a new comment on your post "Artist Inspiration Interview: Small Art WONDERS":

Great interview of Jane, Tracie. I love the idea of saying yes, of keeping a short term to do list calendar and that Jne won a car on a game show. Fabulous.

Kelli Nina Perkins said...

I'm saving up to buy one of Jane's felted pieces on Etsy. They are true art. Thanks for the insight!

Kay Smith said...

I love your story and the way your creative spirit helped you find your balance following your husband's brain injury. Looking forward to your post-San Miguel creations!

Anonymous said...

For those of us trying to do art on a more professional level, this is all really helpful. Jane, you have a wonderful attitude toward life!

Gloria Hansen said...

Opps ... sorry my comment came up as Anonymous. I magically managed to knock out my name. I still like you YES attitude! So, yes, I am fixing my comment so you know how it came from!

Diana Trout {} said...

Great interview, Tracie and Jane. Hahaha Jane, I listen to music while painting/drawing but must admit that I like tv, podcasts or NPR when I'm stitching