The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Teresa Grasseschi: Teresa Grasseschi, Age 27, Freelance Illustrator & Owner of Pilgrim Paper Co.
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
TG: Hobby is a bit of a foreign word to me. I am mature enough to admit I am a total workaholic and maybe naive or wise enough to suggest that for some/most creatives work, hobby and life are all the same thing. I have never been able to separate that. Whatever I have been passionate about I have always been completely consumed by.
This past year I have had the opportunity to work on a lot of nature-based projects which suddenly has me itching to own far more plants. My apartment is now a small jungle. It all feels like a cycle. The more I dive into a project the more I take parts of that home with me, which in turn ends up kicking around in my brain and gets painted into my work.
I will admit to having an all-consuming love of a good estate sale. If I was to have a hobby that would absolutely be it. I will happily stand outside a house in line during the wee morning hours at the chance that I will find something I am totally inspired by inside. My previously mentioned jungle apartment is full of troved furniture and odds and ends from other time eras. The history behind objects fascinates me. I have always in some way or another been interested in the act of collecting which is why my paper goods company, Pilgrim Paper Co. focuses on creating small batch collections.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
TG: I am not sure if I have ever set out to create work that is distinctly one or the other. I don’t think you can make great work if it isn’t personal. You have to be invested in it. I have never been very fulfilled in creating work that was just for my benefit.
That being said, allowing myself to be vulnerable and create work out of that without shrinking from it has been my favorite scary thing I have ever committed to on a repetitive basis. In my mind it is attuned to conquering Coney Island’s Cyclone - which should be noted, I chickened out on riding on two separate occasions before I actual got on. It was hard to look past the fact the support beams seem like they have made a secret deal with a termite colony. But once I committed to that I was suddenly Wonder Woman in search of a larger, more intense, possibly termite-infested rollercoaster to talk myself into.
I think every creative has moments where they question their worth or validity. I also think that in one’s adult life there are points where your personal life crumples you up and slaps you sideways. For me, every time I have chosen to jump in and sludge through that to the other side I walk away more myself, questioning my validity and worth as a creative less. There is no way to create genuine work without it coming from a really human place. This past year has been one of those “other side” moments for me and I have tried my hardest to remain really vulnerable in my work. I think it shows.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
TG: I am such a night owl and a truly terrible morning person. There are moments where I try quite hard to rebel against my natural night owl tendencies because there is such a different flavor to the morning. I love watching everyone start up their day. Sometimes when I crave morning interaction I will pack up my computer or sketchbook and camp out somewhere I love. But when I paint I always go back to late night studio binges. My best painting streaks start with a late night grocery store snack run, followed by turning on whatever show or book I am watch/listening to at the moment (right now it is the West Wing), spreading out my snack haul and settling up to my desk into the wee hours. I have worked until 5 am recently and found that is a bit too bananas even for me. Working until 2 - 3 on a regular basis is my ideal time span.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
TG: I have never been one for small dreams. I am constantly adding to the list, which I hear is a healthy tendency.
I have gotten to work with some pretty inspiring freelance clients this past year and I can’t wait to see that expand. I would love to illustrate more books and work with more printed matter publications - illustrating a children’s book is pretty high up on my dream list. I am also really itching to create a giant pattern mural somewhere, illustrate a magazine cover and partner up with someone one to create a wallpaper line.
As for Pilgrim I am really excited about it’s next year. Pilgrim has been in this huge stage of silent growth for the past year. The line has grown a whole person! I am sublimely happy to officially announce that Ms. Kelly Bjork is now my partner in crime! I could not ask for a better partner. Kelly’s work is so thoughtful and fun. I am constantly in awe of what she brings to the table. Together we have been really producing like crazy. The card line is tripling in size and expanding into the wholesale realm. We cannot wait to give our favorite Seattle stores the first peek at the new line come Fall.
TCU: Can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
TG: I derive a lot of my inspiration from interaction and research. I am a big fan of the giant old newspaper volumes at the Downtown public library location, books on ancient weaving patterns and cataloged scientific journals. On the flip side I am equally inspired by daily use of shape and color. I have a box of color & shape odds and ends. Whenever I come across something really interesting it finds its way into the pile. I have everything from ribbons to feathers to gum wrappers. When I am planning out a piece I always end up consulting the crazy color & shape hoarding box.
TCU: What scares you?
TG: Doubt, missed opportunity, eye injuries, tsunamis.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
TG: Success for me deepens and widens with time. But I think at its core, it is growth.