Inside the Artist’s Studio
An Interview with Trilogy at Monarch Dunes Artist Perky Fisher:
Trilogy at Monarch Dunes member, Perky Fisher, has been inspired by the feel and look of fabric and natural fibers since high school. What started as a desire to design clothes has evolved into a passion to create a variety of artistic works – from silk scarves and purses to her signature dolls and chickens. When Perky and her husband Stan moved from the Bay Area to Trilogy at Monarch Dunes in 2009, she was able to take her artistic vision, creativity, and productivity to a whole new level. In fact, she created an art studio within her home – devoting her entire second floor to her passion for creating fabric art.
The following interview with Perky takes us “Inside the Artist’s Studio,” and shows the evolution and inspirations of this talented Trilogy artist.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your passion for fabric art with us, Perky. How long have you been a fabric artist?
I was given my first sewing machine by my dad when I was twelve. I pleaded for it, despite the fact that I did not know anyone who sewed. I was designing clothing in my high school years and went on to Stephens College where I majored in Fashion Advertising and Haute Couture Fashion Design. I went to New York City to the Fashion Houses and was blown away by the tension of it all. I decided it was not the way I wanted to spend my life.
I married my high school sweetheart when he was a third year college student.
We had our first little girl there and a second girl two years later. Of course, I made all their clothes and even made my husband’s suits.
I quit sewing for years and raised Llamas when we moved to a ranch in Oakdale, California. After many years, I began to make and sell Llama dolls in dresses and pants. It fulfilled a part of my life that had been missing.
How has your art evolved over time?
I am now much happier experimenting with all art forms. I rarely do the same thing twice as I enjoy the challenge of learning new ways to create in many different venues. I love making outrageous dolls and animals; it is fun to see the joy people get out of them. I have a favorite saying on a pencil box that my husband gave me: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Another favorite is “Make the difficult possible,” quoted from Alan Alda. These are my mantras.
What mediums do you work with?
I love all natural fibers, silks, llama, alpaca, vicuna and qiviuk fibers, and all forms of woven fabrics. I have some treasured assorted rare fibers, brought home from Canada by my husband, that I am looking forward to felting and knitting. I also like working with fabric paints and I am trying out some new ways to make people’s pet pictures into purses by putting them on cotton canvas. I have taken many multimedia classes searching for something new to try. I want each of my pieces to be unique and try not to duplicate my work.
What is your greatest inspiration as an artist?
The feel of material is what I love, along with color and design in nature as well as fiber. I am particularly fond of Kaffe Fasset materials at the moment. I love painted art and admire some of the avante guard artists who give me inspiration to paint on fabric and felt images on wool. I also have many “Chickens” that need to come to life, purses, and silk scarves, embroidered books, and wall hangings, and special aprons….my head is full of ideas!
Which other artists have influenced your work?
I am in awe of Annemeike Mein. Her work is what I really aspire to, and I am constantly studying techniques to attain that goal. She is a fiber artist and biologist, and her work is very organic. I love Elinor Peace Bailey’s dolls, as well. Her creativity is over the top. My husband’s love of nature shows in his photography, and this is another major source of inspiration for my projects and creations.
Before moving to Trilogy at Monarch Dunes, what was your old studio like? Did you feel like this space may have hindered your creative output?
My “studio” was an 8X10 bedroom with one wall being a closet and one wall taking up part of a hall and doorway. I was crammed in. It did hamper my creativity. I could not have more than one machine and did not have a real worktable. I could barely move around let alone create.
When you decided to search for a new home, was studio space a top priority in your search?
It was the entire reason we moved! My husband called me one day and said, “Come on over to Trilogy, I have just found your new studio.” It was love at first sight!
Did you and your husband both envision the second floor as your studio right from the start?
Yes, the entire upstairs was immediately visualized in our minds! We knew we could create an extraordinary studio. My husband likes space planning and was excited about the new sewing cabinets, machines and work tables we needed. We had the rooms laid out before we moved. (Am I lucky or what?)
Did you have to do any major renovating to make the second floor space work as your artistic work space?
We had to do nothing but fine tune the layout of the room and buy the equipment, cabinets and shelves for storage – and that was easy as we have such a large space. We did build shelves in the closet, which, luckily, is a walk-in space. We had lighting added to the ceiling. We also had a UV blocking film put on the windows to protect the machines and the fabric.
Can you describe the layout of your studio space for us?
I have three wonderful sewing cabinets, two of which are perpendicular to the large windows overlooking the golf course, dunes and ocean. The first is for my embroidery machine, the second is for my serger, and this gives me ample natural light from the northwest. The third cabinet has a lift on it for height adjustment and is used for cutting as well as sewing and embellishing. It is on the opposite wall from the other cabinets. I have a large TV on the wall at the far end and use it for training with DVDs. The second floor bedroom houses my office and my commercial ten-needle embroidery machine and walk-in closet. The sitting area at the left of the stairs is used for my free motion machine and has bookshelves along the side wall for all my sewing and art books and more fabric. There is a rocking chair at the end of the large room overlooking the living room. My husband and friends love to sit there, watch TV, and be my muses.
Take a peek inside Perky’s studio below. Click on any of the photos to view larger images.
Do you spend a good deal of time in your second floor studio? How does this space make you feel?
I spend about 30 hours a week in my studio. It is my fantasy world where troubles fade away. It fills my soul with happy colors and images. I literally lose myself in my own world. I truly get into “the zone”.
Have you had any of your fellow artists in your community come by to view your studio?
I have artists visiting quite often. The Trilogy Art Studio has been a wonderful venue for meeting other artists and I belong to the Nipomo Quilt Guild, the American Sewing Guild, and the Silk Guild. Last year I had a group of six artists come to the studio once a week and we all made giant chickens. We laughed and played and one of the women had a chicken party, spouses included, when we were all finished. She even did a photo shoot on top of her red convertible with the chickens.
Has this dedicated studio space helped your artwork to flourish?
This space has given me the freedom to do just what I want and to buy the tools I want to do it with. I have flourished beyond what I could have imagined before we moved here! Most of all, it feeds my soul. I can enter another world just by walking upstairs, and no one needs to see it unless I choose to extend an invitation.
Can you share some of your near and long-term goals as an artist with us?
My near term goal has been to set up a website and store online. I’ve worked with web designer Les Blevins of Palette Arts to create my website at www.perkyfisher.com. Please feel free to visit the site to see more of my work or to order a custom design. It is a privilege to create unique works that will bring pleasure to my clients for years to come.
My longer term goal for this year is to create as many one of a kind items as I can by October for the San Luis Obispo Open Studios Art Tour. It will be my first time exhibiting, although I never miss the opportunity it gives to see where the artists in this county live and work. It is the biggest show of the year on the Centeral coast of California for artists of all kinds, though fiber artists are in the minority. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new or meet someone incredibly interesting. I am indeed fortunate to be a part of this local extremely talented artist community.
Thank you so much, Perky. It has been an absolute pleasure virtually visiting your art studio.