The Liberty Interview

My second interview regarding my art and my life was written recently by my new friend Patti Friday Jan 30th, 2013.

I loved how Patti searched and used many images of my before and after photos of paintings during their creation! It was so cool to see some of the works side by side with the images of them in the making. I enjoyed discussing all kinds of interesting questions with her, and especially talking about my new home here in Asheville NC.

The Liberty Interview by Patty Friday

I knew you would want to learn all about this magnificent talent; her art, her world, studio, thoughts - fears - she is so open and authentic. You will fall in love with her.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Heather Shirin.

Q:Tell us about the day you realized you wanted to be an artist.

A: I don't remember any specific date that I wanted to be an artist - but I do remember a time when all I wanted to be was better at one thing than my older sister.  I went on to become a Digital Media Designer and Fine Artist.

Q: What mediums do you work with and do you feel that will change over time? What medium will come next for you?

A: I am a mixed media artist, so I work daily with many art supplies. I currently use acrylics, gold leaf, fine art paper, glue, glitters, pencils and work on birch wood panels. I definitely think this will shift since as I grow and change - as I used to work with oils and canvas primarily.

Q: Why North Carolina? I feel there is a journey here. Would you like to share?

A: I researched places to move to while living outside of Boston. A very long story short - Asheville is a beautiful mountain art community with tons of galleries, and a vibrant art scene. There are over 5,000 working artisans in this area, specializing in handmade exquisite crafts. Many ceramics, glass, painters and metal smiths. We have furniture makers and wonderful fiber artists galore.

Its a small town with less traffic than a large city, and is more affordable too. I love that is has less snow and warmer weather as well. Its the perfect balance of beauty and weather with art and music. I can now see the milky way from my front yard!

Q: Can you describe your studio and what a typical day is like there?

A:  My studio is in my home. Most mornings are slow, and I get into the studio after breakfast and some computer time. Some mornings I fit in yoga as well. Then I get the music and apron on, and work until my husband comes home at night. Its usually in and out of the workshop too for varnishing and staining the works.

Q: Do you snack, graze or eat full meals while you work? What is your favorite food?

A: I grab something quick for lunch and snack as needed. 

Q: Do you listen to music while you work? Any favorites?

A: Yes! My music is always on. I love Imogen Heap for her original sound and lyrics.

Q: Do you like to paint alone?

A:  Yes, I am too social to have company to concentrate well when I am at the easel, plus I love to sing while I paint :) I do keep company with 3 studio cats who are my best companions.

Q: Who helps you with your promotion and business side?

A: Since I am a professional Graphic Designer, I handle most of my own marketing materials, design my own website etc. My husband helps me with everything else. He's my biggest fan, my art photographer and my hardware installer. He carries anything heavy and helps me with some business things when needed. He is amazing - and helps me with also providing our health insurance and emotional support as my best friend.

Q: What is your ultimate goal?

A: To teach workshops in Italy, and to have a show in Paris!

Q: Can you share any upcoming series you’re thinking about?

A: Nope, never plan that far ahead.

Q: What is the art scene like now in your region?

A:  Its amazing. Asheville has been ranked as the #1 small city in the US for art buying. There are a ton of galleries and artists making a living here.

Q: How do you use social media for your career?

A: I use Facebook for a fan page... post works in progress and create events for my openings. You can also follow me on Twitter.... @heathershirin

Q: What jobs/careers have you had in the past?

A:  I am also a Digital Media Designer. I specialize in user interface design for enterprise ecommerce sites and mobile phone apps.

Q: Coffee or Tea?

A: coffee with organic stevia extract and lactose free milk.

Q: Do you have an altar or meditation area in your studio?

A:  No, I have a Japanese zen garden in the backyard.

Q: Who is your creative muse?

A: Other artists.

Q: Which artists have influenced you?

A: My favorite artists right now are

artists like Gustav Klimt, Audrey Kawaski and more influence me greatly.

Q: Any art ed?

A: Not yet.

Q: Do you teach art?

A:  Yes! I have taught mixed media collage and this spring I am teaching 'Art Nouveau Portraits'

Q: What do you do when you become ‘creatively stuck’? How do you recharge and refill?

A: I go online and rest. Go shopping. I watch movies, and go to galleries to be inspired.

Q: What are the worst things that have happened to you?

A: These are hard to discuss. I will keep it short, since most are a very long story with deep sadness.

I went thru a broken engagement - calling off my first wedding 2 months before the date... after the invites had been sent. It was a terrible time, and then I lost my cat Kabuki - she was 1.5 years old and never found her. I cried everyday for the kitty and the children I would never raise.

Last year I had a loss of my kitten Totoro, who was diagnosed with a fatal disease - and he passed away at 7 months old on new years eve 2011. The worst thing in the world was watching my "baby" die in my arms with nothing we could do about it after trying so hard to save his life. It was so emotionally devastating. The loss of my kitten was one of the most trying times of my life.

Q: What are the 3 best things that have happened to you?

A: The best so far was making the right decision to marry my love, Paul. He has made all my dreams come true! I couldn't do what I do without him! Secondly moving to Asheville was a great thing. It changed everything. Being in the right place makes it easier to be who you are meant to be.

Thirdly the best thing that ever happened to me? Not sure yet. I wanna keep that one for the future.

Q: What makes you sad?

A: I worry about things, the stress it brings - all that type of stuff brings me down. Basically fear, worry and stress make me sad.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: My husband, family, friends and especially my cats make me happy. Singing. Gardening... Camping. The Beach! I love eating out, relaxing, being in my garden, watching shooting stars, bonfires, traveling, and laughing until you cry and your belly hurts.

Q: What do you wear while you work in the studio?

A: Comfortable clothes, soft cottons, soft everything. I usually shop in the pajama section for most of my wardrobe! Then I wear an apron for painting. I wear gloves and face masks when handling toxic supplies.

Q: If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

A:  I have been a web and graphic designer professionally for years and still practice the digital design side of my life... right now I would want to work at a garden center or work with animals. 

Q: Name 10 people you would invite to a dinner party.

A: I would invite just Ewan Mcgregor. Anyone else I would invite would simply be completely ignored! 

If I must it would be many other artists - Joan Dumouchel, Amy Sol, Audrey Kawaski, Sabrina Hard Harrison, the author Tama Kieves, David Tennant and my favorite musicians.

Liberty Post says, Thank You Heather Shirin - We think you are a fabulous artist and amazing person!