inspire me: Horrible Adorables

Monday, February 8, 2016

This week's inspire me is very exciting because not only will I be showing you the gorgeous work of the etsy shop Horrible Adorables, but also I am fortunate to be able to include an interview with the shop owner! 

I am head over heels for the whimsical creatures you can find in this etsy shop. They are everything I look for in art: fun, colorful, unusual, and (obviously) adorable. These quirky critters resemble something that might have been been plucked out of a dream and put upon a wall.

But enough of my jabbering. It's time to see what shop owner Jordan Elise has to say!

Let's begin at your beginning! How did you get your start? Did you work alone at first? 

I graduated from art school in 2009 with a degree in textiles. While there I met Chris; my future husband and partner in Horrible Adorables. Horrible Adorables was initially my brainchild. I was creating these odd hybrid animals from wool and felt for my thesis project; which was centered around ideas of hoaxes and deception. Upon graduation I continued to create a menagerie of beasts for fun. They evolved into playful brightly colored creatures, as influenced by my job as a freelance designer for the toy industry. I was interested in starting my own business and selling the creatures that I loved to make, but was unsure if anyone would respond to them the way I did. After encouraging from Chris, I applied to an indie craft show and nearly sold out! We were both pretty excited, and decided to pursue Horrible Adorables together.

What are some artists/creators that you admire?

There are so many, it would be hard to name them all! Charley Harper, Walter Potter, Yoshitomo Nara, Friends With You, and Amanda Visell, just to name a few.

I absolutely love the colors you choose for your creations. They are so bold and playful! How do you get inspiration for your color pallets?

It’s mostly intuitive! I see a lot of art and follow design blogs, so I have many influences there that shape my color sense. I’m aware of the things around me, and take a mental note when I see a color combination I like that I can use in our sculptures. Chris works on the creatures as well as my assistant Emma. Everyone is just putting together color palettes that work aesthetically to them. I feel this makes the work stronger, because a huge array of colors are represented and can appeal to a much wider audience.

Your pieces have a sort of vintage-inspired feel. What sort of references do you use while in the planning process? Do you ever have to look up animal anatomy for a sculpture?

We look at different animals and plants, and piece together the parts that we like. I’m personally drawn to woodland type animals, and believe they are most reflective in our work. 

Your sculptures look so well made, and I'm sure putting on all of those "scales" is time consuming (but with fantastic results)! What is the basic process for creating a creature?

Each creature starts as a hand carved or hand molded foam base. Most of our ‘standard’ shapes are cast from molds that Chris has made. He is incredibly skilled in this production side of Horrible Adorables. Patterns of wool felt scales are then meticulously applied across the form. We have invested in some tools and a machine to speed up this process, but it is still the most timely aspect. Each scale is hand placed. Detailing comes last, with the addition of resin horns, expressive ears, eerily realistic glass eyes, and a painted wood plaque.

What is the one tool you use that you have to have while creating?

A good pair of scissors!

How do you keep yourself and your shop organized?

We use clear storage containers so we can see all material we have in stock. We also have wire bins for creatures in various stages of completion, and pegboards on the walls to hang all the finished ones.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, would you mind sharing a few of the songs from your go-to playlist?

I love listening to podcasts! Current favorites are ‘Mystery Show,’ ‘Reply All,’ and ‘Serial.’

Do you dabble in other forms of expressing yourself?

I do a lot of illustrations that I am working on getting it into more commercial markets. I’m also a very colorful dresser. I love expressing myself through clothing and personal style. Chris is a great craftsman and always has some sort of woodworking project going on. In addition to that, he’s an avid gardener and beekeeper!

I find my mind wandering while I make art, and often I create back stories for the characters I'm sketching. Do you ever name your creations while working on them? Do any of them have a distinct “personality”?

All of our creatures have names! Some are scientific names, created through a combination of the animals that they resemble. Other names are silly ones like ‘Ethel,’ or ‘Maurice.’ The personalities are created as I detail them. Once I attach the eyes, I feel like I know a bit more about who the creature is, and how to express their emotion.

If you could own a physical shop that only sold your products, what would it look like? How would it be decorated?

It would be very colorful! There would be a lot of fibery decorations, patterns (I have a thing for gaudy wallpaper!), and Horrible Adorables arranged prominently on the walls.

Where can my readers find you?

Our website:

All photo credit goes to Jordan Elise.

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