Red Table Press

detail of screen printed image from Red Table Press

I first came upon Mike O’Brien’s work at the Fenton Street Market, where a poster of his caught my eye. It was all black and white and a bold sunset orange. As is typical for me, I was drawn to the colors long before I even noticed what the images were or what the text said.

Turns out it was a poster for a concert, and although I was unfamiliar with the band, the first thought that popped into my head (after “wow, what a gorgeous orange”) was: I haven’t been to the Black Cat in a really long time.

detail of Defiance Ohio poster

Not only was it obvious that Mike had a great eye for color, it was also clear he’s really into music. A lot of Mike’s artwork is for concerts, bands, and musicians, and his love for music is evident in the energy of his illustrations. He loves the DC music scene and is inspired by punk rock and its DIY mentality, and it really shows, to spectacular effect.

poster for the PieTasters

Mike is a graphic designer with a passion for screen printing. Although he studied journalism in college, he was secretly much more interested in drawing comics for the school paper than writing articles.

After figuring out his true calling was in illustration rather than in writing, Mike found himself intrigued by the process of screen printing. His natural DIY spirit led him to experiment on his own, with zero background knowledge on screen printing, which (as anyone with a DIY spirit is familiar with) led to mixed results.

whirly monster from Red Table Press

Mike eventually began collaborating with a friend Kevin Gomes, a much more experienced screen printer, who was happy to show Mike the ropes and the finer points of the process. Mike fell completely in love with screen printing, so much so that he built his own equipment! And the rest, as they say, is history.

poster for Arts and Craft from Red Table Press

Technically, screen printing is still Mike’s hobby and graphic design his job, but the two are so closely related for him that the lines blur quite a bit. “Graphic design is the organizational aspect of illustration – ie figuring out where to put what,” he explains. “Illustration is the raw creative aspect of graphic design – developing the imagery that then gets organized.”

glow in the dark neener

Whenever he is able, Mike is creating images and using his home screen printing studio to replicate them by hand, in what he calls “an exercise in patience and tactile precision.” Although both his illustrations and his graphic design work start out as sketches in a notepad, his illustration work keeps him “grounded in the analog world.”

Visit Mike’s website to purchase his artwork, and to find out where to find him at DC area art events.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Win a lovely felt necklace
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Melissa Lew Jewelry

Interview with Amanda of Shawk Stitches

1

What is your craft / art / creative endeavor?

I am a fashion designer who is out to create fashion that you can’t buy in any one store. I am inspired by so many things which I think is reflected in my shop. I am also the seamstress of my art. I get to know my pieces very well by the end and pretty much want to tell anyone who buys the piece my process behind it. Sometimes I feel I end up as a storyteller also.

2

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?

I have known since high school I wanted to go into fashion. I got my BA in theater Costume Design and then proceeded to go into fashion school. After working a bit more in theater I started participating in small fashion shows and making my corsets. After a while someone mentioned etsy and I have been working on my etsy and doing art shows.

3

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?

Shawk is a combination of my last name and my husbands. One of our theater friends came up with it and we thought it was great. We thought it worked on so many levels. Great for a fashion name and great for his last name because he is a lighting designer working with electricity.

4

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? What is your process? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?

I mostly work alone. My husband gets to hear all my ideas and encourages me constantly. He also lets me know if my ideas are just crazy. Usually right before a large craft fair my husband and I (sometimes friends too!) sit on a couch together grommeting corsets, tagging clothes and doing last minute prep work.

My friends and family also give a good deal of support. I defiantly need it as I always need to be reminded that brakes actually make you more productive in the long run….

5

Where do you sell your work? Which venues are your favorites? Do you prefer selling online or in person? Do you attend shows or fairs? Is your work in a gallery or brick-and-mortar store?

I mostly sell online during the year on etsy.

But I do some shows and find I am more successful at that. I want to find some small stores to start having stuff in.

I love selling in person. I love meeting my customer and putting them in a corset. I love the reactions I get!

6

Do you have any favorite handmade shops or sellers?

I just got back in touch with a friend from college. He was an amazing scenic designer and welder. He just opened up shop on etsy and he stuff is so creative! He is also pursuing his passion in art and learning tons about sculpture work too!

Its so inspiriting to look at his awesome creations!

What inspires and motivates you?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes an abandoned shack on the side of a road, a picture of paris, one piece of lace, a piece of fabric or a neat pattern in the sky. I don’t look for inspiration in something, it tells me what it wants to morph into.

7

Thanks Amanda! And if you would like to be interviewed in this space, just head over to DIY Interview.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Win a lovely felt necklace
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Melissa Lew Jewelry

Get the Look: Yoga Class

I took a hiatus from yoga class for a few months, but this week I’m making a commitment to get back in the studio. Previously, I went to class every Sunday morning, and left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the week’s tasks. I can’t remember exactly why I stopped going, but I’m excited to get back into a regular yoga routine–breath, stretch, repeat!

If you’ve ever been to a yoga class you know that the right pants can make or break your stretching session: too tight and your movements will be restricted, too big and you’ll be pulling at them throughout the class. The solution is to pick a fabric that is stretchy, breathable and light. Enter the Hamsa from Kaya Yoga Wear, a capri pant made from cotton lycra. With just a little bit of rouching, these pants are cute enough to wear to a cafe, the grocery store or on whatever errands you need to run after class.

It’s just as important that your yoga top is comfortable. I prefer to practice in loose fitting tanks that keep me cool and allow me to move and twist easily. This tank from Purusha People is made of a cotton blend, and hand dyed a beautiful shade of blue.

Yoga mats can be a pain to carry around, but a cute yoga bag makes the task a little more enjoyable. This option from Lslie Art features a thick shoulder strap, drawstring closure and an eye-catching bold and organic pattern.

I typically don’t wear any jewelry when I practice, but these sweet lotus sterling silver studs from Shizen Designs are too cute to leave at home. They’re small enough that they won’t distract from your practice, but big enough to add just a bit of sparkle to your outfit.

A higher level of consciousness awaits! Grab your mat, head to the studio and breath your way to relaxation. Namaste!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Rainbow Crochet Toasties
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Win a lovely felt necklace
  • Woolly Fabulous
  • Melissa Lew Jewelry