Its been quite a while since our last studio tour, so to rectify that, we have a new one to share today! Its the cozy, South Dakota studio of artist Patti Roberts-Pizzuto of Missouri Bend Studio. I asked Patti a few questions about her mixed media art, her studio, and how she promotes her work. So, let’s just jump right in…
Hi Patti. Happy to have you here. For those not familiar with your work as an artist, can you tell us a little about your work, to get things started?
My work consists of one-of-a-kind mixed media pieces on paper. I work very intuitively combining painting, drawing, collage, embroidery and sometimes beeswax to build layers and surface. These days Im exploring used teabags,layered on various paper surfaces, as they provide a beautiful mottled color andmake an interesting drawing surface.
How long have you been pursuing work as an artist?
I have been an artist for decades, having gone to art school at Ringling School of Art and Design (now Ringling College of Art and Design) in Sarasota, Florida in the mid-1970s. Once I had my BFA in Painting, I stayed on working in the library until I figured out what my next path would be”¦.I ended up being there 25 years in a job that grew and changed, until by the end I was not only cataloging all the wonderful art books, but was in charge of building the Artists Book Collection. Id been there some time before I fully realized what an ideal place it was for an artist to work, as I was exposed to all the wonderful resources of an academic art library, supported by a community of artists and was able to spend the rest of my time painting.
I remember though, that it wasnt until about a decade or so ago, that I felt I had really grown into my own skin as an artist. Somehow at that point, I had made enough work and had enough life experience to create what I think of now as my mature work. I began working entirely on paper, in drawing and mixed media”¦thats when the embroidery found its way into the work and I understood that I was thinking through my hands. It was in communication with the drawings that I understood what I was thinking about such things as memory, history, the cosmos and the slow accumulation of days.
My husband accepted a faculty position in Printmaking here at the University of South Dakota in 2005, and after having a short stint working at the university library, I now spend my days in the studio. I started my Etsy shop, MissouriBendStudio, in February of this year and have been busy building a new body of work that is smaller and more affordable, yet remains essentially mixed media on paper. My work continues to evolve, as I believe it should if one is making art. Now my only income is from the sales of work, as I left my part-time library job here at the university library in May.
Where is your studio located?
My home and studio is located in Burbank, South Dakota, a zip code away from Vermillion, home of the University of South Dakota. South Dakota is essentially a rural state, very sparsely populated (relative the places Ive lived before) and so living in a very small town has taken some getting used to. But, the big plus is that we have built a beautiful home with large studios right on the banks of the mighty Missouri River, overlooking the bluffs and farmland of Nebraska.
Its a gorgeous setting and we try not to take it for granted! My husband are I are both artists, who seem to require a lot of space, mentally and physically, so weve finally, after all these years, got enough studio space to keep us happy. We each have studios about 12 x 24″ and then a large common area as well”¦its the whole downstairs of the house (not fully a basement as we have windows at groundlevel) so there is plenty of light. My studio is a kind of sanctuary and it has to be a fun and relaxing place to be, along with one that has enough desk space and is functional.
In what ways do you promote your work online?
A year ago, I never imagined Id be so involved in the online world, but here I am heavily immersed in facebook, twitter, flickr, maintaining two blogs, all to support Missouri Bend Studio. Ive learned an incredible amount in the last year about how to manage these things, and am starting to understand what seems to work for me and what doesnt.
In the very beginning I sought advice from various sources about how to promoteyour on-line presence, all of which said something different. I think each persons situation is unique and the tools that will work effectively for one may not be the best combination for the next person. So far, my experience has been that blogging is the most rewarding. Ive “met” and interacted with an amazing number of wonderful artists, made wonderful contacts and have been exposed to all kinds of new ideas and ways of working. This has been especially important as we are fairly isolated here in this corner of the world and dont have much exposure to many contemporary exhibitions.
I maintain a daily found text poetry blog, which I started even before my Etsy shop, and another blog Missouri Bend Studio, more focused on the creative process,ideas, etc. I have a page on facebook and post my new listings, some of the treasuries Ive curated or those in which Ive been included and other sporadic news. My following continues to build slowly, but for me, it doesnt seem as effective or rewarding, perhaps because there isnt as much two-way communication there.
I send tweets out on twitter about new listings, Etsy treasuries, etc., but only once or twice a day. The amount of tweets coming in is overwhelming and I cant begin to see them all, so Id have to say the jury is out for me on twitter. Im sure Im not making the best use of it and if its having an impact on my shop, Im not aware of it. Im still new to flickr and find it to be a great site for connecting with other like-minded artists”¦
Ive seen some fantastic work there! Of course, Papernstitch is a wonderful resource and Ive been happy to be part of it for a few months now and have found some really exciting work there as well. Im getting more involved with Etsy, as I learn the ropes, and am pleased to be a new member of the Artisans Collective team. I find them to be a group of dedicated, supportive and highly motivated artists and artisans and Im looking forward to learning and working with them. One last promotional plus for me has been the etsy treasury. Curating treasuries is not only challenging and fun, but exposes you to new shops and gets your shop name and work out to a larger audience as well. Its a wonderful way to support and promote each other. I try to make two or three treasuries a week around a different theme”¦always a new challenge!
There is plenty to fill my day and if Im not careful I can easily spend more time at the computer than in my studio, so I have to watch it. Im never bored, thats for sure. So much still to learn!
That’s going to wrap up our interview and studio tour. Thanks so much Patti for sharing her space with us and answering a few questions. I wanted to end the tour with a photo that Patti took of the view from her backyard….
Amazing, right? This photo is making me want to pack up and move to South Dakota.
Be sure to visit Patti’s links below for more from this talented artist…
Missouri Bend Studio (shop on etsy)