Felt artist Lisa Jacenich on keeping creativity sustainable

25 Jul

What does is mean to create “sustainable” art? Today, the word appears everywhere from advertising to corporate policies, making it difficult to discern what it means and how we can live in a sustainable way in order to minimize our impact on the environment.  Innovative artists like Lisa Jacenich articulate what the term signifies for them by incorporating certain practices into their creative process, and lucky for us, Lisa was kind enough to take some time from her busy schedule to explain her interpretation of keeping creativity sustainable.

Jim, Geanina, Lisa, Alexandra, Perri – after a visit Lisa did to our office to introduce us to her new sustainable felt art

Sustainability = careful use of resources

Lisa found her niche working with wool thanks to a series of relatively spontaneous events, starting with her impulsive relocation to the mountains of Virginia accompanied by her husband and a dream to become an artist.  After helping shear sheep at a local farm one day, Lisa learned that the wool was destined for the dump and was astonished by the fact that such a versatile material was being wasted.  It was through this resourceful instinct that Jacenich started using the spare wool as a medium for her designs.  And her “waste note, want not” attitude carries on into every aspect of her artistic process.  Not only is her choice of fabric incredibly sustainable (the sheep aren’t harmed and can be used for meat, milk, etc.) but she also takes care to collect the materials left over from the felting process and reuse them later.  Lisa has also expanded her portfolio to include recycled and revamped sweaters.

One of Lisa’s creations …

Sustainability = careful use of energy

And not just any energy, but your own creative energy!  Lisa admits to her own inner struggle in sustaining her artistic energy, saying “it would be much more efficient to use the assembly line method,” however, rapid fire production would cause her to fizzle out much faster as well.  In order to recharge, Lisa varies her activities, sometimes switching from a creative task to a more administrative task if she feels low on inspiration.

In addition to her own sustainability strategy, Lisa has been invited abroad by the Mongolian government to introduce the felting machine she uses to take some of the physical work out of the process to small groups of women in order to develop their wool-making capacities and make their products more accessible to international customers.  While the machines don’t cut down the amount of time it takes to roll the wool, they would allow the women to redirect their energy to other areas of the creation process.

Lisa is now taking her sustainable felting process to Mongolia

Sustainability = careful treatment of others

Not only does Lisa visit her wool suppliers to ensure that they treat their sheep in a humane way, but the continuation of her business itself also depends on mutual respect between her and her husband and business partner, Jim Jacenich.  Fortunately, the two have different skill sets that compliment each other well in a business setting, but they also entered into the partnership already having worked together.  Based on this experience, Lisa advises any budding entrepreneurs to spend enough time with a potential partner to ascertain whether you would both be compatible.  In the end, says Lisa, a partnership is a relationship and “relationships are hard, you must work at them.”

EWI would like to thank Lisa for sharing her story and inspiring us to take better care of our world! More ore about Lisa and Jim Jacenich at http://www.artfulgifts.biz/

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