November 11, 2009

Interview with Flight Path Designs

The other day, while trying to demonstrate to Jeff, my partner, how limited the selection at Etsy is for men (I think he is envious of the great handmade finds I've been getting for myself) - I stumbled across an amazing shop that has products that are sure to appeal to both women and men.

I found Flight Path Designs, home to gorgeous leather goods created by artist, Naomi Joy Yamamoto. As I perused her Etsy shop, I found myself completely enamored with not only the unique "tattoo process", but every illustration that graced her collection of stunning belt buckles, pendants, and handbags. When I fall this hard for anything, being the curious cat that I am - I need to know more.

Naomi was kind enough to answer my questions about her art, her process, and business secrets. She has inspired and educated me with her answers, and if you find inspiration here, too - I hope you'll thank her:

I'd like to know what your greatest source of inspiration for your work is? My wanderlust is kicked up ten notches looking at your art - I wonder if I'm onto something here?
I find inspiration in all sorts of places, people and objects. I love to travel, and did quite a bit of wandering before beginning Flight Path as a full time venture. The aspect of traveling that informs my work is being out of my day to day context and immersing myself in the various textures, sounds and views of different cultures. I also love heading out for adventures in thrift stores, looking at the discarded objects of our past. The most mundane objects were produced with so much thought into function and design and that's something that I try and incorporate into my work as much as possible.

Surely all artists struggle with creative blocks. I found a very inspirational quote on your web site:

"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” - Lao Tzu

How do you nurture your dreams? Any sources for creativity you would like to share?
I love quotes-and that one in particular, as words offer me a lot of support and inspiration. Otherwise, I find that having a good support network around you is important, because more than often when you are acting out of passion you will be encountered with road blocks along the way. I do believe that anything a person wants to do with enough determination and conviction is possible; but in order to achieve that there has to be a great deal of positivity and optimism surrounding you, being 'careful what you water your dreams with'. As much as possible, I try and surround myself with creative, like-minded people, and I am fortunate to have a partner who provides me with a great deal of care and emotional support.

I have also recently discovered the act of goal making and how the act of writing these down can actualize your present and future - magic, really!

Perusing your business web site, I was very impressed with your level of professionalism: you have a brilliant media kit, a knock-out booth for shows, and have successfully had your product sold in numerous brick & mortars. What would you say was the most important component of reaching this level of professionalism and branding?
Thank you! But at the same time, I feel like there is much to improve upon and perhaps this is something that keeps me striving to be more professional, more organized, and create a more cohesive identity for my work. Every show I try and work upon one element, whether that be adding a new design to my line, modifying my display, or streamlining the product line. Its never-ending! And that is partly why I enjoy this work so much: its always challenging and there is no time to get bored. I also think its super important to find your resources, which may vary from person to person; I've found it in some amazing books, peers and mentors.

Who are your three biggest influences, artists or otherwise?
  • My parents who raised me surrounded with handmade objects and designs of their own making.
  • My friend, Kari Woo, who has been my roomate, employee, studio mate, collaborator and motivational speaker all rolled in one!
  • Countless designers and artists who fill our world with thoughtfully designed work.
What are your other interests or unique talents?
Prior to beginning this venture I was really into installation based art with a emphasis upon human rights. Part art and part activism - I'd like to be able to get back to that in the near future and possibly complete a masters in fine art/activism - if such a program exists! I also love to cook when I can, and would like to have more time and energy to create more elaborate meals and expand my culinary vocabulary.

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