Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Her Point of View -- Cindy Grisdela, Fiber Artist

Coral Reef
The fiber art community is a warm and welcoming place, and meeting new friends around the Colorado fiber art and fine craft scene is a joy! Visiting with other artists face-to-face adds greatly to my understanding of the varied opportunities in my field as well as opportunities to stretch and grow as an artist.

Interestingly, meeting other artists over the Internet has become a more steady part of my outreach in the fiber arts community. While we may never meet face-to-face, I can certainly tell you that delightful friendships can blossom through cyberspace!

Cindy in her sunny studio in Virginia
I would like to introduce you to one such new friend of mine, quilt artist Cindy Grisdela, from Reston, Virginia. She has also spent her time and talent getting to know other fiber artists, and in a recent interview, I learned a lot about how this successful, exhibited artist has built her career, year by year. Here is Cindy's point of view--

Georgianne Holland: Have you always been confident in letting your art quilt designs develop without a firm (design) plan, or did you need to build up your courage to work this way over time?
Cindy Grisdela: I started out as a self-taught traditional quilter about 30 years ago. I loved the old patterns and hand-stitching and made many quilts for my family and to give away as gifts. I almost always would tweak a pattern slightly to make it a little different than described. About 10 years ago I looked around at my quilts and realized that all of them were someone else's design, and that it was important to me to begin doing work that was uniquely mine. I started out revisiting traditional patterns like Sunshine and Shadow and Drunkard's Path and recreating them in a more contemporary style. You can see Coral Reef and Splash of Color on my Etsy shop page. Over a period of time, I became more confident in using a completely improvisational style, where I begin with only a general idea of what I want to accomplish and let the design evolve on my design wall. One of the first pieces I did that with was Amber Harvest which won a juror's choice award at Art Quilts Lowell in 2010.
Splash of Color

GH: Congratulations on that award! How would you describe your business style as a fiber artist?
CG:  Although I'm a self-taught fiber artist, I do have an undergraduate degree in Art History, and a master's degree in Business. I'm very focused on the business side of my career, and I try to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Early on, before I could really afford it, I hired Gloria Hansen at Gloderworks to design a very professional website for my work. That has been one of the best business decisions I ever made, since having a nice website has helped me to get gallery representation, commissions and other opportunities that I don't think would have come my way otherwise. Having a blog integrated into my website has also been important, and I try to blog at least twice a week--summers are a little slower for that though. I also joined TAFA in the early days and have tried to give back to that community as well. Plus I have a shop on Etsy, I blog regularly and I have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Amber Harvest
GH: What kind of community support are you finding in your hometown, and how has that impacted your work?
CG:  I belong to a multimedia arts group in my area called Great Falls Studio which has been tremendously important in the development of my work. It's been a huge advantage to be part of a group of creative people who support each other, even though I'm one of the only fiber artists in the group. I don't think I would be where I am today in my career without them. I started exhibiting in their local shows about 8 years ago. That was an invaluable learning experience that gave me confidence that I could have an art career at all. The key was to get involved though. I'm very active in the group, on the board of directors now, even though when I joined I only knew one other person. 

If you are a fiber artist who longs to build your professional presence, or you are a lover of colorful quilt art, I believe that Cindy is an artist whose expertise with both business and the tactile medium of art quilts is an ideal role model and guide. Thanks to Cindy for letting us see and learn more about the lovely world she has created in Virginia! I am a huge fan!

Thanks for stopping by,


Rachel Biel said...

Oh, very nice! Kudos to both of you! It's so interesting to keep learning how we evolve and keep on doing what we do. I hope that I get to meet both of you in person someday!

For those interested, Cindy's profile on TAFA is http://www.tafalist.com/members/cindy-grisdela-art-quilts
and Georgianne's is http://www.tafalist.com/members/nestle-and-soar

We learn a lot from each other and it's also great to have the support!

Linda A. Miller said...

Terrific interview! Thanks for introducing Cindy to us. Her work is fabulous!

Georgianne Holland said...

Thank you Rachel and Linda! I just love Cindy's work and it was great fun getting to know her better.