Artist Spotlight : Natalie Ciccoricco
As we toured around with the Tiny Sketchbooks to London and Paris this summer, we were super excited to find artists that created “companion books.” Tiny Sketchbooks that the artists created to match their Vol. 14 Sketchbooks! When we found Natalie Ciccoricco’s Tiny Sketchbook matched a similar technique and color scheme to her Vol. 14 Sketchbook, we knew we had to write about it! We reached out to Natalie to hear a little bit more about her practice. Check out the interview below!
Natalie’s website: www.mrsciccoricco.com
How long have you been participating in the Sketchbook Project? What makes you continue?
I have been participating in the Sketchbook Project for the past two years. So far I have submitted two regular sized sketchbooks and one tiny sketchbook. To know that my sketchbook lives on in a library is a great motivator to keep things going. I hope to one day visit the library with my husband and son Lou (who is now 2 years old), so I can show him what I’ve been working on when he was little.
Have you always kept a sketchbook?
No. A couple of years ago I took a course at Stanford Online with artist Trevor Tubelle about developing a creative practice and my biggest takeaway was that a sketchbook can be a safe space to experiment and work on new concepts. The practice of creating without the pressure of not having to produce a masterpiece is liberating and can lead to wonderful things. I started participating just after my son was born and working in a sketchbook was a great way of staying creative when I didn’t really have the time or energy to work on larger artworks.
Do you have a formal art background/consider yourself an artist?
In college I took a lot of courses about art, but it was all theory. So I am not a formally trained artist, but I have learned a lot about art and I have been creative in one way or another for most of my life. As a kid I loved to draw and craft. When I get a new idea, I can’t stop thinking about it and even though it can take a while before I actually start creating, I have thought about it in my head for a long time. Now I have found my own style, I feel more confident to call myself an artist, but it’s been a long time coming.
Do you have a specific goal in mind while you’re creating your sketchbook or do you experiment as you go?
Both. I usually think of a certain theme or goal and set rules to create a framework. This helps me to focus on creating a coherent series within my sketchbook. I usually pick a particular color scheme or materials to use beforehand and then when I’m done prepping, I try to be as creative and experimental as possible within my framework.
All three of your sketchbooks incorporate textiles and collage. Is that your favorite medium to work within?
Yes! Although I also create more traditional illustrations and graphic designs for clients, I love to experiment with embroidery on paper. I like to play around with it and seeing what it does when combined with other media has been very fulfilling. Working in sketchbooks helps to envision new concepts and combinations, which can lead to new larger artworks later on.
When did you first start experimenting with textiles and collage?
Years ago (when I was still in college) my mother found a big pile of embroidery thread at a thrift shop, which she gave to my sister and me. I always kept it and a couple of years ago, after buying our first house where I had a creative space, I started creating mixed media collages that all incorporated embroidery thread. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it. Stitching on paper has become a meditative practice for me. When working on my art, I lose all track of time and it’s a wonderful flow to be in.
Your first sketchbook, “Gone West” is a tribute to San Francisco. Do you mind speaking more to that?
In 2012 I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from The Netherlands, to be with the love of my life. I love the California landscape and wanted to create a tribute to my new home. In the sketchbook I referenced many places I visited in California and it became my most personal work so far. I love to take road trips to explore this diverse state further. It feels like an endless source of inspiration that is just out there to tap into.
What made you create a Tiny Sketchbook companion?
When it comes to working with embroidery thread, going small is usually better than working big. When the Tiny Sketchbook Project was launched last year I immediately signed up for it. I finished the tiny sketchbook in one evening and had so much fun with it, that I used a similar approach with my second regular sized sketchbook, so my tiny sketchbook got a larger sized companion.
How do you come up with the concepts for your sketchbooks?
Ideas usually bubble up in my head right when I’m on the verge of falling asleep and if I’m lucky enough, I will remember them the next day. Once I get the idea for a new concept, I tend to think about it a lot and let it develop a bit in my head before I start.
What inspires you while creating?
My son. My husband. Love. Nature. Travel. Music. Movies. Art. Inspiration can come from anywhere. I try to quiet the mind by practicing yoga and meditation and I feel that opens up a creative flow.
Any advice for someone starting their sketchbook?
Have fun with it and be fearless. A blank page can be intimidating, but if you let go of expectations, wonderful things can happen. A sketchbook can help you to find your own voice as an artist, as it is a safe space to experiment and be original. There’s absolutely nothing on the line, so embrace imperfections and enjoy the process as best as you can.