Here is a Q&A I recently conducted via email with the lovely and talented Beth from Queen B. Check out her amazing designs HERE, view my recent outfit post featuring one of her designs HERE... and become a fan of Queen B on Facebook HERE! Read on to find out more about Beth and Queen B...
Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I’m from a small town in north central West Virginia . . . Mannington is a town that’s about 70 miles or so south of Pittsburgh PA, and quite similar to an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. It definitely has a cast of characters that would rival any sitcom to date.
What's your educational background?
I always laugh a little when people ask me this . . . I STRUGGLED with school as a child and teenager. I have a reading disability . . . and at the time that coupled with a complete lack of interest in things outside of art, I BARELY graduated high school (finished my studies in summer school). Later, I decided to give college a try and suddenly RAN with “it” . . . I have an Associates degree in Graphic Design, A B.A. in Fine Art – Print Making with a minor in design. A portion of my MFA in Graphic Design, and a Masters in Art History with a specialization in curatorial services; area of expertise specifically in the lithographs of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and other works/movements in and around the turn of the century Europe. It was an amazing time in history and I’m fascinated with the dynamic it created socially . . . I can only imagine having been an artists during this period in time.
What are your general professional and non-professional interests?
Well, professionally I’ve been EXTREMELY blessed in being afforded the luxury to have worked almost every avenue offered within the visual arts arena. I’ve worked as an artist, graphic designer, interior decorator, art history professor, design professor, museums, galleries, children's instructor/programs, volunteer, photographer, artist rep. & advocate, curator, gallery owner... and now beginning this new adventure with the works of art as clutches. It’s funny you would ask what are my interests professionally and non – professionally . . . As an artist, it proves difficult to separate your work from your life because it’s such an extension of “who you are.” So I’m not sure how to navigate those thoughts as separate categories so to speak. I don’t generally categorize where those “lines” are concerned . . . but rather think a bit more organically where my life and work meet. I hope that makes sense.
When did you realize you wanted to become an accessories designer?
As far as “wanting to become an accessory designer” … I used to alter clothing in high school. I never really dressed in a conventional way, if you will. It was the 80’s…I had pink hair, and wore OUTLANDISH things to school daily. So it’s always sort of been something that I was fascinated with. I suppose it stems from having a love of utilitarian design . . . well, and fashion of course. I find it interesting that people sort of “save things” or that they categorize their belongings into guest towels, the nice china etc . . . I love examining what moves through my fingers, how I use something, what it looks and feels like. There’s such beauty in that! The clutches just make so much sense to me. I mean who wouldn’t want a REAL painting as a purse?! Life is fun, art is fun . . . they shouldn’t meet in the middle . . . they should exist cohesively. Art has always been for the people, not an elitist thought only existing on a gallery wall. Don’t get me wrong those works have their place and should be celebrated . . . but let’s be mindful that life is always in motion. Why shouldn’t art and accessories come with us for the ride? That was a LONG way around how I came to know I wanted to be an accessory designer, but I suppose it’s always been there and the Lord is allowing me to entertain it for this season of my life in way He never has up to now.
Tell me about Queen B? Is there a story behind the name?
The story of Queen B. Queen B is a nickname I acquired in college and it stuck! I still have friends who call me “Queenie” . . . So that’s where it began I suppose. While living in Nashville I created some custom pieces for my friend, Tonia. She was being featured in an article for the magazine, The Nashville Scene. She asked me to create some jewelry and a small clutch for the shoot and I knew then if I perused this that this is the name I would carry with me. Once I created the logo, I knew it was solid.
What was the first accessory you ever designed? In that moment did you know you would eventually be creating these amazing clutches that are basically like carrying a piece of art?
I honestly can’t remember the FIRST accessory I ever created. I was always messing with things, altering clothing, hats and jewelry. There’s never really been this “ah-ha” moment . . . my parents gave me my first easel for Christmas while I was in the fifth grade . . . my Dad made it for me. So I’ve always been producing art of all kinds. It’s tough to pinpoint in terms of narrowing that down specifically. As for the works of art as a clutch . . . well that came about this past winter; after leaving Nashville and having moved in with my folks, and being unemployed. I had a great deal of time on my hands. My folks let me set up my studio in their basement and after MANY cups of coffee and conversations with the Lord about where my life was going . . . I made a clutch. Started selling them on my facebook page and . . . voila!
Who are some of your favorite designers that inspire you?
Favorite/Inspiring designers . . . oh my . . . there are SO many! First, I must say . . . I LOVE Oscar de la Renta. The fact that the word eponymous has been used to describe him/his work clearly speaks to the level in which he creates. I could go on and on so I’ll simply say, I believe him to be the blueprint for MANY of the contemporary designers. I also admire Bob Mackie and Alexander McQueen. Oddly enough, I find both these designers creations to be foundationally and structurally reminiscent of a classic “de la Renta.” They hold a delicate, feminine sensibility . . . but both designers, however, have added a twist by taking the element of art and risk that force us to deal with fashion in a new and exciting way. It’s really quite exceptional when you stop and think about it.
Everything you use seems very unique. How do you go about finding items to put into your work? Where do you buy your fabrics and other materials?
First please allow me to say, thank you. I’m THRILLED that you find what I create to be so unique. The process of choosing the items is as random as the end result of each work. I’ve been an avid collector of things since childhood. I have boxes, containers and jars FULL of a myriad of items. People have always sort of known this about me and would literally save things . . . give them to me during a visit or mail me random items they thought I might enjoy. I always like to think about the journey of each trinket or button . . . it’s amazing to me that they found their way into my path and now get to be transformed into something else. Other items like, bottle tops, scraps of metal . . . just junk or garbage . . . stuff I find in the street or in places where there might be construction happening . . . you never know where that next interesting shape will be. My family has sort of called it a “second glance gift” . . . you know . . . when you see something that looks like nothing or maybe just what it is, but now it’s something new and interesting in a different way entirely? Other materials such as canvas and paint I purchase at Hobby Lobby. I use a great deal of Kwik Seal caulk I purchase at Home Depot. Other fabrics I occasionally purchase from JoAnn Fabric, but vintage scarves (which are the lining) come from friends, and vintage shops, and Goodwill’s ALL over!
What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
Hmmmm … my favorite part is probably that moment when my thoughts begin to take REAL shape. Things rarely turn out the way I begin, so when I see real evidence of that, and know it works . . . it’s very satisfying.
Where do you see Queen B in a few months? In a year? In a few Years?
This might sound a bit strange, but I haven’t a real clue. I’m a follower of Christ . . . so my footsteps are ordered. Where Queen B lands isn’t up to me. I’m just going to move through this season with hope and a lot of hard work and see what the Lord does with it AND me. If things keep going the way they are, that’s totally cool. If not, that’s also fine. I’m FINALLY learning that not everything needs a final answer in life. I worked to control things for a LONG time in my journey. Today . . . I take things day, to day and sometimes moment, to moment. Faith is amazing when you we allow it to be. I hope that’s evident in my work, life and testimony. I’m thankful to finally have great revelation and “get” that life as a gift, and my skills as an artist are certainly an extension of the Father. I pray that I can be a wonderful steward of not only the creative aspect that is my life, but that even my journey can bring Him glory. Can’t wait to hear, “Well done, my faithful servant.” speaks in faith
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?