An Interview with Laura Mazurek
BY HILLARY RAIN
I think it was her poetry. Or maybe the dreamy, other-worldly photography which first captivated me a few years ago. Or the delicate flowerchild designs in her original shop which reminded me of innocence and springtime. I can't tell you when she first floated across my path, but artist and designer Laura Mazurek is a rare sort of soul who continually leaves me love-stoned and breathless. With a creative river flowing through her as inspiring as it is bountiful, she continues to walk a gorgeously unique path in spirit, life, and art. For her, they are one.
My relationship with Laura began as an admirer and melted into a close and beautiful friendship. I am honored to bear witness of her luminous soul and the sacred ways she infuses her life with love.
In fact, we are having an intimate conversation about love. Here. Come close ...
the sacred life of love
Hillary Rain: When I dreamed up this special love-fest for artists I couldn't wait to share space with you and showcase your gorgeous heart. I love how creative, tender, generous, and transparent you are and how deeply you love the ocean of souls in your life. You seem to live according to a very sacred philosophy of love, and I'd be honored to hear it. What are some cherished guiding principles for you?
Laura Mazurek: Thank you. That is such warming feedback to hear. I think my sacred philosophy of love really stems from my mom. She reminded me a lot throughout my life that LOVE was number one. That God is Love. And that love always wins. It's a deep rooted thing she planted in my heart. Even though its hard at times, I try to always come from that place of love. As I grew into my own I learned that the thread of love extends beyond human relationships, and encompasses the whole of the earth. The more I learn the interconnectedness of ALL the more tender that love grows, and continues to grow on a daily basis.
HR: To hear you share this touching legacy leaves me in tears, love. Thank you. Just so you know, this way you live is so palpable and spills into every part of your life ... from the way your respect other designers, to how you live authentically, to how you love those in your world. I can even feel it in the designs I have from you! I remember the first item I ever bought from you was a darling little dreamcatcher with baby feathers and earthy beads. I fell in love with it and chased Wi-fi all over the center where I worked in order to snatch it up the moment you listed it on etsy. It still hangs near my bed. <3 Since then I've only deepened my Roots and Feathers addiction ~ you might say I'm obsessed. :-) You have such an incredible selection! What are your most favorite pieces to design? Do you have any creative rituals that guide your process?
LM: That is way too fun of a visual of you chasing your WiFi for one of my pieces. I love it! I remember that piece because it was the very first dreamcatcher I made for Roots and Feathers, a very special one, and still one of my favorites. I would have to say my dreamcatchers and gypsy flags are my favorite thing to make. I love how each one takes on a life of its own. I don't have any specific creative rituals except music. Music has to be playing. And I need to be by myself to really get in the zone. If I have someone constantly stopping me to ask me questions or show me something it frustrates me. So I guess solitude, good tunes, and an open window tops the cake.
HR: Mmmm. That sounds beautiful. I can so relate to all you shared. Maybe that's an artist thing ... a deep need to be alone sometimes. Let all we've taken in have a chance to quietly marinate within and infuse our spirit and our bones so we can give birth to something new. I believe the act of creation, in any form, is a kind of birth. I'd love to hear more about your process ... your blog is packed with gorgeous images of your home, work spaces, and art. I'd love to hear the behind-the-scenes anatomy of your design journey. Can you share a glimpse for me? How do you come up with the first inkling of an idea? Carry me from conception to pressing "publish" on your etsy listing and what happens next.
LM: I don't think I have a very methodical outline of my creations like some designers may have. Most pieces are created spontaneously, with the exception of a few. Every now and then I have bursts of creative ideas when I'm not in my studio and I'll make sketches of them so I can remember them later. Usually though I just go into my studio, feel what I'm called to work with initially, whether its jewelry or textiles. That determines which room I enter. Then I usually glance around at the materials strewn across the table, or floor, and again feel what I am drawn to. This usually is the center piece of the creation, whether its a seashell, a crystal, a bone or a certain piece of fabric. Then my brain just starts compiling things together. Its a very organic process. I usually never know quite how its going to end up looking. And I love that. I think that is part of what keeps me creatively inspired. I usually wait until I have a group of things to photograph all at once, and I also have to wait for the right lighting. I do all of my product photography in natural window light, so it has to be the right time of day, and if I miss that window of opportunity, then it has to wait. The listing on etsy part is my least favorite. I wish I could just wiggle my nose and have it all listed, but its all part of it. Although I do feel the tinge of excitement every time I hit 'publish' on a new listing. That never goes away.
HR: You are constantly evolving as an artist with an endless supply of inspiration and new designs. I've always admired how original and true to yourself you are. And even though others have tried to emulate your style and ideas, you remain grounded and loving and focused on your own vision. I'd love to hear how you come up with fresh ideas. As a deep inspirer of others, where do you find inspiration yourself?
LM: I have always made it a part of my vibe to be able to constantly evolve, as I evolve myself. I am not the kind of designer that can have a collection where I have to make the same things over and over and over. I would go out of my mind if that was the case. As a Gemini Rising, I always have to have more than one thing going on or I'll get bored. Allowing myself to constantly have new designs helps this a lot, along with having other side projects like The Bohemian Collective. I find inspiration constantly. In nature, animals, cosmos, crystals, colors, textures, patterns, earth, emotions & within. Inspiration is a natural part of living, that feeling you get in your bones that comes from deep within the fires of yourself, that can only be expressed in your own language and form. Some of the best inspiration also is simply getting away from your art and submersing yourself in nature.
HR: Give me the backstory. :-) Is there life before Violet Bella (your original shop) and Roots & Feathers? Like many artisans, did you have your creative hand in many projects before finding your niche? How did you narrow down your artistic vision to what truly works for you? What would you tell a young artist trying to find her way in the creative world?
LM: Oh yes, I've been creating since I can remember. When I was little it was building monumental cat houses out of cardboard boxes, and starting a handmade Christmas card business with my friend. Then in junior high it was collage art & the beginning of a life long self expression through my clothing. In high school is was photography, drawing, wanting to start a highly creative fashion magazine, poetry, and wanting to open up a retail shop full of all my favorite artisans work / coffeehouse / book shop / just about everything I loved. (I still have that dream to this day). Then out of school I worked with my parents in their jewelry business for about 8 years, the whole time still creating my own works of art in my spare time after work, usually painting and collage. Then I started making my own jewelry.
I can look back and laugh at most of my first creations now, which I love. I think every artist should have some starting-out failures. If not some, several. I guess I got my first real start when I lost my job with my parents because of my mother's death, and had to go get a job waitressing. My boss let me put my photography, paintings and jewelry in the restaurant and people actually bought some! I also put my work in a local art space and began to sell quite a bit there. Between those two places I began to grow confidence in myself because people were responding. I think without that happening during that time I might not be where I am today.
When I needed to quit the waitressing job all of a sudden, I was faced with a choice, a big defining choice at the time. To go pick up another waitress job at a restaurant in our town that I hated, or try to sell my art myself full time. I picked that latter. I started on eBay for a very short time, and then discovered etsy. It was a game changer. Even though things were very slow in the beginning, it gave me a place to be found. And around the same time I discovered the world of blogging. I can also look back and laugh at my first blog! There were several months we struggled financially and didn't think it was going to work, but with A LOT of hard work and perseverance I began to see the sky part and the possibilities flood in. As the momentum in my shop began to pick up, my personal momentum did as well. I was realizing for the first time I could be artist in the real world.
finding a creative niche through play
In the beginning my shop was all over the place. Jewelry, painting, photography and then even a huge clothing line. My Violet Bella shop gave me a place to really learn my niche and what I loved doing, as well as what I didn't. As it evolved though I realized there was something off with what I was designing. It was things I loved and thought was beautiful, but it wasn't quite things I would personally wear in my daily life. I wanted to realign my creations to really encompass 'me'. I wanted my art to directly reflect me as a person. Enter Roots and Feathers. In the beginning it was going to be my side project to create soul work without any attachment to sales. But as I began to create work truly from my heart and soul, the sales naturally followed. So much that I hardly even have the time or desire to update my Violet Bella shop. I feel truly blessed to be able to create exactly what my soul desires to create and have it be whats supports my family. There is nothing else I would rather do.
For a young artist starting out, I would say play. Play a lot first. Decide what you really are called to create or do. And then practice it. Practicing your craft is a big part of fine tuning to create a really good quality product. Be true to yourself. There are so many people out there who choose to just copy others work, and it shows, whether they think it does or not. Authenticity always shows through. Don't feel like you have to rush it. Take it slow and really love the process. If you don't enjoy the process you really won't when you are demanded to do it when you have orders. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Don't expect to be an overnight success. I work a lot more hours being my own boss then when I worked for someone else full time. I think the most important thing is to love what you are doing. If that is there, the rest tends to fall in place.
HR: It all comes back to love, doesn't it? Full circle. :-) I think this is one reason why you're flourishing as an entrepreneur. Can you share the best business advice you've ever received? Any advice you'd offer a budding new creative, based on experience? What is something you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning?
LM: The above answer touches on some of this... I'm not sure I ever received any business advice, but I did grow up watching my parents own their own creative business so I learned a lot through just watching them. Honestly a lot of what I learned was what not to do, ha ha. Or at least what direction I knew I didn't want to take my own business, such as having employees or relying on craft shows. But I also watched the non stop long working hours of dedication that was put into it to make it what it was. One thing I wish I knew from the beginning, and still do, is organization with taxes and paper work. It is my weak point. I would much rather just create. But with owning your own creative business comes a lot of 'business' responsibilities that are no fun, at least to me.
HR: Mmmm ... as a creative, that's a good reminder for me too! This holistic-artistic life involves so many elements and it's good to hear about all of them. Thank you for that!
Before we wrap up, could you tell me something you'd like the world to know about you? Like what you find important in life, perhaps it's something you've never shared before, anything! We are such multifaceted beings and our art and shops and offerings are only part of who we truly are. Let me see you. I'm curling up right now ready to listen. <3
LM: Let me just make a fun little random list... these are a bit more silly than serious :)
- For a few years in high school I wore almost all black, and was very intrigued by the dark side. To a point where I scared my mom and she came in my bedroom one day and just starting throwing things into a huge trashcan. It was a very dramatic event and one she loved to tell when I got a bit older.
- I've been obsessed with cats since I was a tiny tot. I used to dress my cats up and put lipstick on them. One even let me put her in my little baby bed and cover her with blankets and rock her. There is hardly a photo of me growing up without a cat in it.
- I have a few anxieties. I almost never drive. I'm scared of it. Especially in the city. I also have anxieties about meeting people for the first time. And of public speaking. Its actually the reason I don't photograph weddings for families anymore, its gives me way too much anxiety. And I'm terrified of having a baby. But I am trying to work on these, as they are not things I want to live with for a lifetime.
- I like to make up silly voices, especially in bed at night with my husband. My silly side comes out when the lights go out. But I'm really silly when I'm by myself. I love to dance around my house in a really off beat style that I cant even describe.
HR: I smiled all the way through reading those. :-) I love how brave you are, even in sharing your vulnerabilities and your fears. You and I share the all-black phases in common. I'm sure you spent (and still spend!) lots of time lost in music. I'd love to know what you're listening to right now. What are some faves?
- Listener - Wooden Heart
- Alela Diane - Oh My Mama
- Portishead - Humming
- Joni Mitchell - A Case of You
- Neil Young - Out on the Weekend
- Bright Eyes - Landlocked Blues
- Ray La Montagne - Jolene
- Civil Wars - Poison and Wine
- John Prine - In Spite of Ourselves
HR: Perfect!! I can't wait to check out some of those I've not heard before. I remember the first time I heard Poison and Wine by the Civil Wars ... I think I replayed it about 37 times in a row. :-) It's a dream-song, so achey and relate-able.
Speaking of dreams, dream out loud for me, love. What do you envision your creative journey to become over the next few years? Any new offerings in the works we can be excited about?
LM: Mmmmm... I have so many things that are being dreamt about in my head right now. I don't feel I can share specifics at this time. But I am daydreaming of a few books, women's retreats, expanding my visions beyond just my jewelry and home decor. I am daydreaming of living out at my parents house and creating an amazing sacred space to create and live in, or at least being able to hold onto my parents land as a place for sacred retreats.
HM: Mmmmm. Yes. I can see this. And you. I bless these dreams for you, love. Thank you for whispering them here. <3
just for fun ...
HR: Grab the closest book to you. Open to page 26 and read the third line (not counting chapter titles or header text). What is it?
LM: “Creation is a process, not a final goal” from Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. How appropriate was that???
HR: Seriously! I love how intriguing and serendipitous that is. :-) Here is something else intriguing to discover ... I love to hear from artists about this: 1) What is your favorite color? Important: don't think about it ~ be spontaneous with your answer; accept the first color that comes into your mind and don't analyze your choice. What is this color? 2) Now: visit this link, find your color, read the expanded description, and tell me ~ was this accurate for you? Why or why not?
LM: Every time I think of my favorite color, two pop into my mind at the same time, so I'm going to list both ... Brown and Teal. And yes, they are both very true...
Lovers of brown have a deep need for a safe, secure, simple and comfortable existence with supportive family and friends.
If turquoise is your favorite color your deepest need is to create emotional balance in your life, to be able to express your hopes and dreams no matter how idealistic they may be and to make your own way in the world under your own terms.
HR: And finally, a trail of sparkling stars ....
You're filling a gift box with your top five favorite things. What's in it?
- the 'love' incense you send me
- a crystal of some kind
- a feather
- a set of the Medicine Woman tarot cards
- a bottle of whiskey
Mmmmm... Can I send myself this package??? Ha ha.
HR: Describe a daily ritual you can't live without.
LM: My morning coffee & my quiet time.
HR: You have a completely free, no-obligation day to do anything you like. Describe your dream day for me. :-)
LM: I would sleep in, then wake up to already made La Colombe coffee, and drink it with the birds on my back porch. Then I'd go for some morning garage sales and thrifting. Then James and I would take a drive through the countryside with the windows down listening to some Steve Earle or Fred Eaglesmith. We stop at a river and go for a dip, and then walk along and pick up river rocks and sticks. Then if I happened to live anywhere near a crystal shop, you'd find me there. Then we would drive up to Austin to have lunch at Bouldin Cafe and grab some Jos coffee. Then you know, Ray LaMontagne would just so happen to be playing down the street, so we would go watch that. And of course my sweet friend Robin would be along with us since she lives in Austin. Then we would come home and have a twinkle light lit dinner out back, and then lay in the hammock and watch the stars and moon.
love love love
HR: I am honored and thrilled to have you here with me! I wish so much wild love to you and your life and all of your gorgeous, soulful endeavors. Anything else you'd like me to know about beautiful you?
LM: I just want to give you a huge hug and thank you for having me in your new beautiful and oh so sacred space. You are such a light in my life and I'm just honored and blessed you came into it.