Enjoy the delightful collage portfolio of artist Sharon Tesser. ABI caught up with her to talk about her background and how she developed her body of work.
ABI: Tell us about your background.
ST: It’s not uncommon in the business of creating art for people to ask “How long have you been an artist?” I think they expect an answer commensurate with a newly found hobby. For me, I was a kid with a crayon. I have always been a maker of “things.”
I have no memory of my life without the desire to create. I was fortunate enough to attend Washington University in St Louis and get my BFA with a specialty in illustration. I worked doing editorial freelance work for several years. My life took a dramatic turn when I married and became a stay at home CEO of our very large family; seven children and husband.
During my years at home I became an art quilter using scraps of cast-off clothes, curtains and sheets from the kids. I love the simplicity of recycling. I believe that the cloth has already had one life and when it’s made new in a piece of art it brings along a bit of its past. There is some organic beauty in that. As the children have grown and left home, I have found my passion and more time for making again. When the art quilter in me met the former illustrator, they combined and became the current full-time collage artist and maker of “things.”
ABI: What makes your collage process unique?
ST: I collage using 100% fabric. My palette is vintage, recycled, boutique and hand dyed fabric that I use to create my images. They are often mistaken for paintings. People are surprised by the detail I can get using just fabric and dye. The finished piece is comprised of hundreds of small cut pieces of fabric which when layered create depth and texture.
This wasn’t a process I was ever taught. It came about as a natural progression from art quilting and wanting to tell stories more quickly than the sewing process would allow. I’ve never seen anyone else work this way. The images are from my original sketches and the body of work feels very “unique”.
ABI: How are you selling your work now?
ST: I sell in Art Fairs predominately in the Midwest, however, with each year I venture farther from home. I am in a few galleries and do quite a bit of commission work. The commissions are always interesting. My previous training as an illustrator prepares me to handle whatever subject a customer needs. I’ve had vacation photos, pets, houses and many portraits of people’s most cherished memories immortalized in fabric.
ABI: What plans do you have to grow your business?
ST: I will continue selling my work at art fairs as talking to people while they are looking at my work is always satisfying. Next year I will be using my collages to illustrate several children’s books. In addition, I plan to increase my gallery relationships throughout the country as I incorporate trade shows and wholesale into the schedule.