For today’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx, I interviewed Karen Brazell from Life With Tigers (Etsy Shop). In addition to living with some tigers (okay, 3 cats), Karen makes and sells cat toys, the most adorable dolls, soft sculpture, greeting cards and art prints. As a cat lover, many of her creations are cat-themed, but that’s not all Karen creates. There’s stuff for dog lover, mushroomphiles, robot fans and more. Everything is cute as cats though!
Onto the interview…
My business name is Life with Tigers. Around my house, the phrase “that’s what you get when you live your life with tigers” was muttered frequently, especially when it involved cleaning up after mischievous felines or after stepping on the dreaded early morning hairball. When I started my craft business in 2007, I felt that “Life with Tigers” was the perfect name for my project, especially considering I was making cat softies as well as toys for cats themselves. Today, in addition to cat, dog and robot softies, I make greeting cards, art prints and the infamous Severed Leg Catnip Toy!
That no matter how cool it is at the time, you will look back on your current haircut and cringe.
I have about 13 nicknames for each of my cats, sometimes changing by the hour depending on what they are up to. I also am a total klutz in the kitchen and cannot be trusted with the stove, ice cube trays or with anything that can be dropped. If it can be spilled, I WILL find a way to spill it spectacularly.
I was a very craftsy youngling! I made comics out of cut up magazines, made a life size alligator piñata, silk-screened my own pants in high school and always told myself “i can make that” to talk myself out of spontaneous purchases. In addition to sewing, I absolutely love to build things out of found materials. Metal, paper, wood, LED lights? Check. Goggles, clamp, reciprocating saw? Double check!
Cats or dogs? Hot or cold? Day or night? Coffee or tea? iPod or vinyl? Vanilla or chocolate? Summer or winter? Half-full or half-empty?
Cats, day, coffee, iPod, chocolate, winter, half-empty.
For me, the fresh-baked, chewy chocolate chip cookie is the way to go, but I have a soft spot for Hydrox sandwich cookies (how can you NOT love a cookie named after atomic elements). In fact, as a kid my family called me Karen Two Cookies. No recipes to share, as I am a cookie-buying girl (see klutz above).
All the free time, for sure. I currently maintain a 9-5 job as a web designer in New York City, so my evenings and weekends are consumed with Life with Tigers work, as well as work for another business I am a part of, Ink and Sword, where I sell some of my Pet Care Public Service Announcement design prints with another artist/designer Jed Dore, my business partner.
I’ve always been a big fan of doing things myself. It was never a statement against the evils of “the man” or anything, but it was because of the satisfaction I get when working with my hands and creating something that never existed before, or repairing or re-purposing something and giving it new life beyond its intended purpose. If this idea fits me into the indie mold with like-minded folks, then consider me molded!
Right now, I am crushing on the jewelry of Jenny Topolski. I spent a very rainy weekend at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this year sharing a tent with her, and I stared at her acorn necklaces for hours. Got one of those, but missed out on the sperm whale bones necklace, which is awesome.Wendy over at I Heart Guts has made me smile this week. Her plush internal organs are so fun. The bladder plush is life size and says “urine good hands”. Right up my alley, really.I’m also excited to go to Renegade London this October and find Robin & Mould so I can snatch up one of their sleepy dog pillows for my feline staff to nap on!