I’m really pleased to be sharing my interview with Michelle Engel Bencsko of Cicada Studio for today’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx. Michelle is a fabric designer extraordinaire and you can find her work for sale in her Etsy shop. She also creates and licenses fabrics for Henry Glass Fabrics. The Dogwood Collection, which is sold through Henry Glass, is one of my faves. You can see a quilt made with Dogwood below. Michelle has also started a new venture called Cloud9 Fabrics, a collaboration with Gina Pantastico to create and sell organic cotton fabric for the quilting and crafting community. Their first collection is actually up for preview here, so cute! Finally, if you are a regular reader you know that Michelle is a regular Guest Blog contributor here on Indie Fixx.
Now, on to the interview!
1. What’s the name of your business, what do create and sell and how did you get your start?
My business name is Cicada Studio (Etsy Shop). These days my focus is entirely on textile design and manufacturing. I actually started Cicada Studio as a side project for myself while in my full time job as a textile designer/design director in NYC. It began as a graphic arts freelance business. As time went on it sort of morphed into greeting cards and gift items. Eventually, I came full circle after quitting the 9-5 job and now I do textile design again.
2. What are your inspirations in your art and life?
I try to keep it simple in both. I try. I’m not always successful- especially in life. I’m influenced by nature, mid-century modern and art nouveau when it comes to my style, but I find that for whatever the project is destined will also help me determine a style. For example, my work for the quilt market is different than my work for Cicada Studio, but both are, in their way, distinctively “me”. Color is very important- balance, too- and consistency. I often work in collections and not on individual pieces. Even though I aspire to “simplicity” I find I put a lot of work into something that in the end might appear effortless.
3. What’s better all the money in the world or all the free time?
Well, technically, if I had a lot of money, I’d probably be able to afford a lot of free time. There is no easy answer to this, because having money means stressing less about the everyday stuff and being able to support my whims, while having free time means I can unfurl my talents and dreams (‘course, that usually requires a bit of cash!)
4. What are some of your biggest pet peeves?
I’m sure I don’t want to come off as a curmudgeon because I find too many things can irritate me for many reasons (not all of which are valid or sane), but I’ll put a couple out there: loud, messy eaters, long lines at the store, pessimism, the sound of rubbery, sticky squeaking, a messy desk, a messy kitchen, a messy living room, a messy bathroom…
5. What blogs and mags do you read and what shops do you shop at?
I subscribe to over 100 personal/creative blogs, so it’s impossible to highlight only a few. But I’ve been hooked on Modish Biz Tips lately- and Swiss Miss– and I like our local Rahway Rising blog to see what’s happening in my town’s redevelopment efforts.
6. What’s new? Any products or projects you’d like to share?
Not much is new in my shop these days, though I did just create a new print called Forsythia that I’m very proud of. What’s REALLY REALLY new for me, is my new business venture, Cloud9 Fabrics. I’ve teamed up with a former colleague to design, manufacture and sell 100% organic cotton fabrics to the quilt and crafting market. It’s a huge investment of time, money, energy and it’s worth every bit of it. Our first collection, My Happy Garden is due to ship in September. I’m also developing my 3rd licensed quilt fabric collection for Henry Glass & Co.
7. What are you reading, watching and listening to?
I hate to admit this, but I just have to out with it- I don’t read. I just can’t. I have no time and if I do, I will most certainly fall asleep within 2 minutes of opening a book. The last book I read fully was Harry Potter. I actually do SKIM through many business related books for morsels of goodness and inspiration: Craft Inc and A Girl’s Guide to Running A Million Dollar Business most recently. I listen to all sorts of music all day long, but I always fall back on my faves which I can listen to over and over: Goldfrapp, Muse, Keane, Neil Finn to name a few. I’m addicted to Law & Order: Criminal Intent, especially those episodes with Vincent D’Onofrio. Otherwise, I don’t watch much TV (unless you count iCarly, which I seem to catch daily because of my sons). American Idol is something I try not to miss and am happy this is the final week (go Adam!). We’ve been renting Mad Men, which is brilliant. I can’t even tell you what the last movie I saw was… I’m sure I liked it, but I just don’t remember!