coffee shop chats with creatives: Simone Wellbrock

My friend Ruth Werwai made this interview with me about my work and published it on her blog raincloud & sage, I am very excited to share it now with you!

Today I’m very happy to share with you the very first interview in my new series Coffee Shop Chats with Creatives.

Today I’m talking with my friend Simone Wellbrock (or Mone as we call her, it’s German, so pronounce the ‚e‘) about her creative process and the inspiration behind her work. Mone is an artist, student, maker and dear friend. She’s also a trustee for the Charity Open Hands. You may also recognize her from a few projects we’ve done together. Grab yourself a cuppa and let’s dive in, shall we?

1. If we were really able to have this conversation in a coffee shop, what would you be drinking? Are you a coffee or tea person?
I actually enjoy drinking coffee more than tea- preferably nice and strong with a little bit of milk.

2. What are three words that describe you and your style?
Oh, that’s a difficult question. Maybe direct, enthusiastic and diverse.


3. Tell us a little bit about what you make/do and what led you to choose this  path.     
I actually paint or draw mainly (mixed media) and create woven articles. I’m a Visual Arts student and am currently working on a collection of portraits of individuals living with poverty (mainly ink drawings). Through this I focus on looking into the faces of these individuals, and noticing that real people are hiding behind the label “poor”. I weave the frames for these portraits (using Macrame techniques), because I’m interested in the art of handcrafts and the process of working with our hands, which in our performance driven system is loosing it’s value. I see a connection between unemployment and humiliation on one side and mass production on the other. I’ve been to Romania several times with the charity Open Hands and there you meet many people who were once able to make a living through their independently produced items and crafts.

Art has always spoken to me in a particular way, but I never thought that I would ever study art or that I’d go so far on this adventure. My first degree was in Germanistik (German Studies) and History and when I completed it, I didn’t really know what I should do next, as it somehow wasn’t really for me- I was never 100% behind it. My husband and I then spend a year in Spain, hoping to figure out what we wanted. While there, I started drawing a lot. I often saw people sitting on the street doing Macrame, and finally learned myself. It’s a thousand year old weaving technique that originally comes from Arabia.

I am really glad that I found this new path, even though there were difficulties along the way, as I was never sure who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.

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4. Where do you go for inspiration?
I’m often inspired when I see the work of my fellow students: it’s fascinating to see how each person has a different approach and to see the different personalities that art speaks through. Apart from that, I’m inspired by the “typical” things like books, politics and music, and also good conversation.

5. What’s one of the biggest challenges of being a creative?
Self-doubt is definitely the big challenge, but it’s also a challenge to commit yourself to what you make and not to compare yourself with others. This isn’t always easy. Because I haven’t been studying art for very long, I often put a lot of pressure on myself, instead of valuing the things I make.

6. Can you describe your creative process or daily routine for us?
I wish I had more routine, but because I am still studying (and working on the side), every day is different. However, I do have specific days in the week that I’ve reserved for my projects. When I’m then inspired, I can’t stop thinking about my ideas and projects. It’s like the idea is planted in my head and I work on it until I’m finished, staying awake long hours and getting up again early the next morning, forgetting to eat.  There is a strong drive within me to move forward with the project. I stop speaking about anything else- which is something I regret for my husband’s sake. It’s very intense, but it’s totally fun. Multitasking is simply not my strong point.

7. Where do you most like to create or make?
At home, at my desk with music and lots of coffee. I can’t just paint on the side- I have to really concentrate, and am then in my own world, which I do leave again at some point.
Recently, I’ve also rediscovered working in my studio space (that has been made available for me to use from my University). I can concentrate on my work there, and I like the atmosphere, since I share the room with seven other students, and all the students in my program have a studio space somewhere in the building. It’s really interesting to see what others are working on and you’re always meeting someone that you can discuss your work with, and receive feedback from.

8. What are you currently working on? Anything new/exciting coming up?
Yes, something very exciting: I’m in the middle of putting together my new brand Ink+Soil, through which I’ll sell my Macrame products and art. I’ve been weaving bracelets and earrings to sell for awhile. The proceeds are donated to Open Hands, and since it’s been going quite well, I’ve decided in 2015 to pursue it a bit more professionally, and to organize all of my products together under one brand. This work is very exciting for me and I hope that I can contribute to Open Hands so that we can make a bigger difference and keep fighting poverty.
In addition to this, I’m currently working on creating a poster displaying seasonal vegetables. I realized, that I often don’t exactly know which vegetables grow in which seasons, and so I though that I could create something practical, to hang in the kitchen later. I’ve finished sketching and now want to start the Lithography process. (a flat printing process: the sketch is drawn on a stone, that is then used to print) If it works out, I’m also hoping to add the poster to my shop to sell.

Thank you so much Mone for taking the time to chat with us today! Don’t forget to stop by her Instagram & new blog, where she’ll be sharing updates as she continues to build her label and online presence. If you would like to find out more about the work of Open Hands, you can sign up for their newsletter here.

Please note: this interview has been translated from German by me and all the photos were provided by Simone Welbrock

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