maker: lea redmond of leafcutter designs
1. please introduce yourself?
i consider myself a maker of things and experiences. and i have a big heart. i grew up on the southern california coast and spent a lot of time out on the ocean as a child. i like to think the vastness of the ocean was a big influence. now i live in oakland, california. my home is also my studio and i love bouncing back and forth between projects in the studio and my tea kettle in the kitchen.
2. what do you make or do?
i love to design and make objects that are more than just things. i try really hard to make things that are infused with poetic thoughtfulness and invite people to experience the world in new ways. i especially like making things that help us connect to each other in positive, playful ways. one good example of this is my world’s smallest post service, which is a transcription service in which i turn your message into a custom teeny tiny letter (just one inch wide!) and send it to your recipient in the mail with a magnifying glass. it’s a whimsical way to connect with each other. i also make other fun toys like theaters that pop out of matchboxes for spontaneous performances. and then there’s the more “fine arty” sorts of projects that involve things like my clothes tag exchange and shirt made of woven maps.
3. where can we find your creations?
everything is for perusing, participating, and purchasing on my website: www.leafcutterdesigns.com
4. how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
it became my full-time job a couple of years ago, mostly due to all of the business i got for teeny tiny mail. and that came mostly from lots of lovely and generous press online and offline. i feel like i got lucky. i certainly didn’t expect the idea to take off the way it did. it started as a goofy little performance art project. one thing that i think is interesting about this is that i wasn’t trying to make a living with my art. it just sort of happened. i’d like to think that this is because i followed my heart and was simply doing something in the world because i was inspired to. then the world hollered “yes! do more of this!”, so i did. now the tricky part is finding time for the other projects that are close to my heart that don’t have the same mass-appeal and income opportunities as the tiny mail project.
5. is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
oh my goodness, absolutely a necessity! as i see it, i really have no choice but to make things. it’s in my blood. a lot of people have this idea that art in general is a luxury. while, yes, perhaps food comes first, i have tons of faith in the role of the arts to help actually create the sort of world where people don’t go hungry. art can raise consciousness and inspire action.
6. where do you find inspiration?
i’m most interested in the extraordinariness of the everyday, so i’m inspired by lots of simple things – tea bags, napkins, spices, antique toys. and then i like to put a creative twist on the forms in a way that calls attention to their ever present potential for marvelousness and meaningfulness. i love browsing ebay for curious old objects. books have also been a huge spark. in undergrad, i spent most of my time reading and writing about culture and i think this sort of work influenced my current work much more than any artist or maker of objects. i don’t really keep up with the art world much. i wish my philosophy professor from undergrad lived around the corner so he could comment on what i’m making! oh and i think joseph cornell and i would have been fast friends.
7. what would be your perfect day off?
day off? boring.
8. what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
be careful that your creativity isn’t dependent on institutional structures. find a way to make it happen in your life no matter what sort of support you may have or lack. you can do it!