An Interview with Renata Stone
Some call her Nata, some call her the Beyonce of the fiber art world (or maybe just me?), whatever you call her, she is queen. The first time I met Nata I admit that I was a little star struck! I had admired her work via Instagram for quite some time. But, she quickly made me feel comfortable with her warmth and kind words. With the goal of creating a supportive artist community by way of sharing the stories of artists I admire, I instantly thought of Nata and how she needed to be my first interview to kick off this goal of mine. She is such an example to me of kindess and has been a supportive friend from the day I met her. Enough from me, lets get to the interview so you can love her as much as I do!
Tell us about yourself and your art background. How did it all begin?
I guess I have always had a love of all things creative since I was little, but never pursued art until a few years ago - my parents are pretty practical people and I was taught to always choose the safe and stable option in life. I kind of fell into the fiber art thing - having always had a decent aptitude for arts and crafts and my hubs and I had just purchased our first house and needed to decorate - it was a wrap from there. My full time hustle is as a computer programmer and my part time hustles include fiber art, styling, and photography. I also don’t really have a formal art background, but I’d like to think it was inherited from my mom. My mom is a painter and my dad is a nuclear physicist...I’m probably a good mix of both of em.
I know you have several jobs, tell me about them and how do you manage your time between all of these responsibilities?
Well, I’m honestly not sure I have a great grasp on that multi-job struggle; I feel I suck at it! If I had to break it down, I basically have to prioritize my day job first since it’s the one that pays the bills and contributes to my retirement account. All of my free time after that is basically dedicated to the side hustles (fiber and photography). With the fiber art, I only really make custom commissions (no inventory to worry about) - so the biggest thing is making sure my estimates and lead times are accurate and that my calendar is up-to-date. Calendaring kind of saved my life TBH.
What is your creative process like?
My creative process is mostly involves a lot of quiet time and meditation. One thing that I’ve realized I require in my creative process is making sure I’m in the right mental head-space. When I was pursuing creative full time while unemployed for a few months, I realized doing creative as my primary job is not well suited to my personality. During that time, I was the least inspired and creative because I was trying to do as much as possible in the shortest amount of time for the most amount money - taking on ANY and EVERY job. It really killed my joy. And when I’m not in it mentally, I can’t really create my best work.
What inspires your work?
I look for inspiration in other artistic mediums (like painting, sculpture) and read at a ton of art books - but I think my greatest inspo is actually nature. Have you ever just stared at the veins on a leaf or a rolling mountain vista? Those are the patterns I love trying to emulate in my work. Something I’ve really been into lately is trying to create very fluid movement.
How have you and your work grown since starting your own business and where would you like to see it go?
I’d say it’s definitely grown - like most new artists, you try to emulate things you’ve seen before because you haven’t developed an eye of your own at that point. Like the very first piece I made for my house was a large scale Sally England-style headboard I saw at a hotel in Portland. You practice, practice, practice and eventually find your own way. As far as where I see it going, I don’t have a huge lofty business goal because this artistic medium isn’t really scaleable (like say a painter who can sell prints of their paintings). I guess I would love to see my work in a hotel or maybe work with the Sundance Resort as a resident artist. My goals are more about personal fulfillment vs monetary success.
Do you ever catch yourself in a creative rut? What do you do to pull yourself out?
ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Haha. The only way for me to pull myself out of it is to take a break. I wholeheartedly believe that every artist should have more than one artistic interest - I think this is why I also love photography so much. I toggle back and forth between the two and it keeps me feeling inspired and fresh. You can also gain additional inspo from one to use in the other. As an example, I sometimes use the photographic Rule of Thirds in certain my pieces when I’m mentally composing.
With so many fiber artists on instagram, do you ever find yourself comparing yourself to others? If you do, how do you stay positive? If you don’t, tell us the magical cure to this epidemic.
My cure for that was super easy: I don’t follow any fiber artists anymore. Period. I just can’t get wrapped up in the game - it’s not good for my mental health haha. Due to how I run my business, I don’t really get a lot of social media exposure: I don’t produce a large volume of work, I don’t have an online shop, I don’t do website SEO optimization, I don’t do influencer marketing...I don’t even do hashtags on instagram. That being said, any comparison I’d be making with others isn’t apples to apples. How can I compare my part time side business with x followers to some other fiber artist with 100x followers who does this full time and actively trying to grow their business? I find it to be such a emotional roller coaster, ranging from inspiring to annoying to sometimes downright hurtful. I have a number of fiber artists that follow me so I’m definitely not immune to comparisons - it’s human nature...I just need to do whatever I can to minimize that impact on my life...so my tactic is “out of sight, out of mind”.
What are your favorite activities when you’re not working? (that is, if you ever get some down time?! hah)
Hiking, camping/backpacking, hosting beautiful group dinners, crafting/eating/drinking with friends...in no particular order :)
I’ve seen glimpses of this lovely tattoo on your back, I’d love to see the whole thing! What is it? Is there a story or special meaning behind it?
Ha! Believe it or not, it was my first tattoo - go big or go home! The tattoo goes from my neck to my bum and it’s a lotus (on my neck) and the rest is a Japanese dragon. TBH, there is no deeper meaning other than I love tattoos and art...and had it placed on my back so I can still be conventionally employable.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
I’d say the best advice I could give to any artist, is to find regular time to create work for yourself. Creating work without any external pressure is so freeing and it also reminds you why you love it in the first place.
She's amazing, right?