R.S. Posnak is a writer and artist in her own right as well as the owner of Animalia, which is an online boutique that specializes in animal-related art, design, housewares, clothing, books and more. She is the subject of today’s Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx interview.
What’s the name of your business and why, what do you create and sell and how did you get your start?
The name of my business is Animalia. Animalia is a store that sells animal-related art and design by many different artists, including me. Animalia has been around for about 6 months, but I started making my own work a few years ago. I’ve been a graphic designer and writer for years, but the moment when things started to connect for me and I began to build a body of work was when I went to graduate school at California College of the Arts. It was there that I began to think about my work more conceptually and started focusing on the relationship between humans and nature.
Please share some of your artistic, culinary, and musical inspirations.
I’ve always been drawn to artists, musicians and writers who combine humor and darkness. Some of the people who have inspired me are PJ Harvey, Roz Chast, Ann Hamilton, Roald Dahl, Edward Gorey, Tom Waits, and Anne Lamott.
Do you have a mentor? If not, who would your dream mentor be?
I don’t have any one person that I can pinpoint as a mentor, but I can say that my parents have been very supportive of me, and in that sense have been mentors. They’ve always been interested in art, music and writing, and have encouraged my interests in those areas. I feel lucky to have them.
What is your spirit animal?
Hmmm…I have no idea. I guess I should be more educated about that since my main interest is wildlife. Hold on, let me do some research…OK, I just took an online quiz that says I am a jaguar. Does that count?
What served as your inspiration for your “Animals of High/Low Moral Standing” pieces?
The Animals of High/Low Moral Standing pieces came out of my interest in how design can be authoritative. I was thinking specifically about museums and how the aesthetic presentation of their educational materials informs the way we absorb the information they give us. In other words, if things look well-designed, we often assume they’ve been through some sort of editorial process, and therefore we automatically take the information they present to be true. I was inspired by Smithsonian-style posters that present scientific information about wildlife. I thought it would be interesting to take something subjective and not true at all and put it in a format that we usually accept as fact. I was also inspired by the fact that we do put animals in those categories, and I thought this might be an amusing way to bring up the subject of anthropomorphism.
Has the draw to animals as muses always existed for you, even as a child?
The interest in animals has always been there. As a child, I was obsessed with wild animals and how I might convince my mother to let me have one as a pet. I read a book about a family that had skunks for pets and another one about a family in Brazil that rehabilitated sloths. I campaigned to have a sloth or a skunk for a pet, but surprisingly my mother did not agree that they would make ideal household companions. The other thing I remember is that we had a subscription to books about animals (similar to a Time/Life series). When a new book would come in the mail, I would pore over it. I still have those books, and I look at them often.
In light of the recent owl and bird craze, what do you think the next animal trend in the art/design/handmade world is?
I try to ignore trends and just pursue what interests me. But I do think it’s about time aye-aye’s had their day in the sun, don’t you?
What are the best and the worst things about being an independent maker/creator?
The best: Not workin’ for the man. You can choose to answer only to yourself. The worst: No health insurance.
We love your little dioramas of animal scenes. Can you tell us about the creative process behind these?
The miniature dioramas were influenced by the same line of thinking as the Animals’ Moral Standing pieces. I was inspired by dioramas in natural history museums. But I wanted to create scenes that were false or somehow skewed, and present them as factual. I was also inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, CA, which you should check out if you’re interested in weird, amazing places.