Female Maker Spotlight: Part 2


As a follow up to our piece yesterday, we're spotlighting creative women following their passions and building unique businesses. Whether working in ceramics or weaving, jewelry or illustration, they're an inspiring example of determination and self confidence. Yesterday and today, we'll be sharing two of our favorite female artists challenging the status quo and building a new kind of creative business. 

Credit:  Boss Dotty

Credit: Boss Dotty

Theresa Berens

Illustrator, Boss Dotty

How did you first start illustrating?

Originally I actually worked in journalism. So I was working at a newspaper right out of college as a page designer. And I think at that time I knew I really wanted to do illustration but didn’t know how I would get into it. So I started doing that there. I eventually left that job and moved [to New York] and started working for a nonprofit and there were no opportunities for illustration at all. And I was freelancing at lot at that point as a graphic designer and at one point I got really burnt out on that and I just started making my own stuff. And it kind of took off from there. 

What drew you to the creative process of illustration?

I’ve just always made things. What actually kind of got me started with illustration in this current iteration was that I started silkscreening. It was a class at SVA, continuing education. They teach you how to print, but they don’t teach you what to print, there’s really no direction there. So it kind of forced me at that time to figure out what I wanted to make and what my style would be. And I think before that, as a designer, you’re always trying to figure out what the client wants, or at the newspaper doing what’s right for the story. So that kind of forced me to figure out what I wanted to say. Which is hard, you know. It’s kind of a process to figure out. 

Where do you draw inspiration for your work? 

Obviously I make a lot of work surrounding idea of feminism. And positivity which are really broad. I think that for a lot of the women, because I draw a lot of women, it’s women I see in the city. It’s like amalgams of people that I’m drawn too, whether they seem confident or interesting or really just of the moment, I think a lot of the women I draw are based on people I see in life. For the rest of the stuff, I think a lot of it comes from me making stuff that I would want to give to people. So at one point I had a birthday card with Bob Ross on it because I had a friend who listened to Bob Ross painting videos to fall asleep every night and I kind of made it for him. And eventually the Bob Ross foundation found out and they told me I couldn’t use his likeness. But a lot of the other stuff are things that I think that people in my life would like. And a lot of times people relate to that. Other times I’m surprised. I made a La Croix card a couple years back and at the time I was just like “Ha! This is funny, I love La Coix” but like, it’s my most popular card, so you never know. 

Who’s another woman in illustration who you admire?

Libby VanderPloeg. I think she’s amazing. She lived in Green Point for years, and I think that’s kind of how I heard about her. And I think she did events and stuff like that. She’s from the Midwest too, she does a lot of book covers now. She makes a lot of work surrounding ideas of women, and women supporting women, and she’s really talented. But I think that’s she’s also just a really cool person. I took a class with her once, and I really just admire her. 

What’s something you’re proud of that you’ve done in illustration?

I’ve been doing this in this shape for about a year. Before that it was part of a blog I ran with my friend, and we had a different name. And since doing that, I’ve gotten a lot of wholesale accounts and we’re in around sixty stores now, and that was in about a year’s time, which, as it was happening it felt like slow growth, but when I looked back on that at the year mark I was like, “Woah, how did that even happen?!” So that’s probably the most exciting thing. 


Credit: Mud to Life

Credit: Mud to Life

Geesun Lee

Ceramicist, Mud To Life

How did you start making ceramics?

My background is in design, so I used to work for a digital agency full-time for a really long time, and it was kind of tiring me out. So I wanted to try something new, something where I don’t have to sit on a computer, so that’s how I started. I was though maybe clay, it’s messy and crazy and it was something that I really wanted to try. So that’s how I got started. 

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

Definitely nature. Again, taking a break form by computer. I love taking a walk to the park or the lake. I used to live around Prospect Park so that’s where I used to get my inspiration. I’d just go to the park and walk around and a lot of my things are nature inspired. So like tree bark, or splashes of water, something like that.

Is there another woman in ceramics who inspires you?

She’s not alive, but I admire Lucie Ree, a British potter, and I really love her. So I get a lot of inspiration from her. 

What is something you’re proud of since starting this pottery business?

I’m shaping my life and I’m the boss.