Rhea and Sarah are embarking on a new adventure as their pop-up creative space, Echo chamber, is on the verge of starting up. This is a two-for-one interview….enjoy hearing from both of these artful creatives and go check out their new space when it launches on July 3rd!
Please introduce yourself!
Rhea: My name is Rhea! I grew up in Seattle and have been living in Los Angeles for the past twelve years. In that time, I’ve lived in a variety of neighborhoods; downtown, west Adams, west Los Angeles, the valley and now frog town. Each area I’ve been in feels like a new city within this great big one, with different communities to connect with and unique creative identities that reflect the surroundings.
Sarah: My name is Sarah Cisco and I grew up in the inland empire about thirty miles east of Los Angeles. I’ve lived and worked in LA for the past 5 years, currently in the northeast region right next to the cemetery where Michael Jackson lives!
what do you make or do?
Rhea: I am a co-founder/organizer of L.A. Zine Fest, an annual event that showcases the work of independently published writers, illustrators & comix creators. I work in the shop at Sew L.A. in Atwater Village where I also teach embroidery classes and soon, printmaking classes. I’m a musician and writer as well as an obsessive collaborator! My latest collaborative project is a three month pop-up creative co-op in Echo Park, called Echo Chamber, spearheaded by myself and Sarah.
Sarah: I create visual art with a focus on surreal maximalism. I like to make music and make people happy.
where can we find your creations?
Rhea: At L.A. Zine Fest each February you can see the culmination of one of my curatorial adventures and pick up a copy of my own handmade zines! July-September, at Echo Chamber, I will be making a variety of crafts, facilitating workshops and storytelling events. It will be a collaborative laboratory and I’m really excited to see what happens. you can see more info here.
Sarah: I sew clothing for myself, often my creations can be found on my body! A majority of the work that I’ve made is on display in the parlor and showroom at my apartment, but I also love to make things for friends, so I’ve got art scattered all over Los Angeles.
Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?
Rhea: The building this pop-up is located in has a very special history. Between 2006 and 2010 it housed a DIY venue called Echo Curio. This was one of the first spaces I was exposed to the local music, art and creative community that is now so dear to me. I wanted to try and incorporate that name into the new space and when I researched the definitions of an echo chamber, I was really intrigued! Not only is it an enclosed physical space where sounds bounce around, but in media, an echo chamber refers to a group of individuals being exposed to a common idea that is repeated over and over until everyone is in agreement. That kind of homogenous experience is precisely what the independent, DIY community resists! Resistance to mainstream.
How long have you been creating and is it your full time job?
Sarah: I’ve been creating things my entire life, but it’s never been a major source of income for me. I would consider my full time job to be altruism which also has a low financial return. The need to balance reality and my ideal reality in terms of monetary compensation is something that I struggle with daily. In some ways, feeling the need to earn money by creating can be stifling as this compromises the original aim of the project by forcing the creator to consider other’s perceptions during the invention process and allowing the project’s value to be influenced or informed by what a third party is willing to pay for it. Ideally, I’d like to create a situation for myself wherein I’m producing work freely of my own volition and I’m then able to sell it for what I feel it’s worth.
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity?
Rhea: Creativity is definitely a necessity for me. It’s what I live for!
Sarah: Creativity is free, but I don’t believe that it’s afforded to everyone equally. For instance, a writer or an illustrator can produce their craft with as little investment as a pencil and paper, their only limit being their ability to imagine. However, unbounded creativity is a luxury for a visual artist. The ability to produce whatever the creator can conceive is often limited by cost and availability of materials.
What is on the horizon for you and what you do?
Rhea: For the next three months, Sarah and I are co-curating Echo Chamber. This pop-up will be a fully collaborative headquarters for the L.A. independent art and music community aimed at creation, experimentation and storytelling. We are involved in a variety of independent artistic communities in the city and have always dreamed of creating more opportunities for these worlds to intersect. KXLU, the local college radio station will be broadcasting from the space, zine makers will be using is as a headquarters to produce a new issue, plus we are coming up with, and encouraging people to curate, one of a kind collaborative events. It’s going to be a summertime laboratory! A creative incubator! I can’t wait!
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Sarah: I’d like to think that my ability to create would exponentially expand if the limitations that exist around it were to disappear. Realistically, I think the struggle and the striving that come along with my current situation help further my ambitions and enhance my creativity by forcing me to explore avenues I might typically ignore. I enjoy the sensation of desire and traversing the pathways which connect present, past, and future.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Rhea: Don’t be scared of being scared! Most of the advice I’d give to anyone are also things that I need to remind myself. Don’t let fear keep you from sharing your creations with the world. Support comes in waves. Don’t follow every bit of criticism that comes your way, especially if it comes from yourself. Trust your friends. Let people help you. Ask for help when you need it. Collaboration is the greatest tool we have to empower our communities. Enjoy yourself or it’s not worth doing. No matter what risk you take, you will learn something from it. Keep a journal. Laugh at yourself when you mess up. Remind yourself what you are doing right. These are just the things I told myself today!
Who are the makers that inspire you?
Rhea: The artists in my community are the most inspirational to me!