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Artist Profile: Lori Greenberg

Artist: Lori Greenberg
Location: Cave Creek, Arizona

Website & Blog:
Lori Greenberg
Bead Nerd

How do you describe your work, Lori?
The tagline on my web site is “defying the ordinary”. I like to make pieces that are different than anything else you see out there and will keep you coming back to see what I’m up to next. Beads that make you want to look deeper into them or make you wonder, “How did she do that?”

I originally named my business “Bead Nerd” because that is what my husband called me when I’d be obsessively trying to learn about beads and the making of them. While looking at other beadmakers’ work I realized that I was getting to know business names but cound not remember who the actual artist was. I decide that I’d rather be known by my name than Bead Nerd so I transitioned into using my name for my business name. I still use the title Bead Nerd on my blog though because it does fit me and how I go about everything glass bead related.

What is your creative process like?
Many of my ideas come when I’m doing production work and my brain is free to wander. I cannot draw to save my life but I am constantly jotting down little notes with ideas and rough sketches. Unfortunately, I often forget to go back to them but it’s at those times that the ideas are flowing that something starts to form in my head. Up until now I’ve just made what I have felt like making and it has been good. But as I build a business and a client base, more is expected of me and I am already starting to think about next years show line and being able to show customers something new and fresh. I find that the designing process is not very enjoyable for me but I know the end results always are.

My creative process is passive. That is, if I listen to what’s inside and am obedient to that, things flow and I know what to make without a struggle. When it starts to feel like a struggle I know I’m starting to veer off the path and I need to sit back again and listen…”What do I really want to be making?” rather than, “What do I think people will want to buy?”

Right now I am making bold round beads with colorful dots and I can’t believe it. (I say that a lot because it’s almost like I don’t have control over what I make). I do not like dots. I do not like bright colors. I am known for making pressed shaped beads. So I fought it and struggled and tried to come up with something my brain was designing and it got to be so frustrating I finally said FINE! I’ll make the dang dotted round beads! And now I love them.

Music is a big part of my day in the studio and I often listen to talk programs on XM Satellite Radio’s NPR Station. I love the morning programs because they’re quirky and interesting, often about artists or people who think differently than the norm, and that inspires me to not always try to run with the pack. As for music, I’m all over the board. It depends what I need to get done that day. I listen to everything from techno jazz to country to world music and, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but lately I’ve been listening to heavy metal. Really loud. Just like my creative process, I just have to listen to what’s inside and I’ll know what I need that day. Sometimes it’s a driving beat, sometimes it’s hokey disco dance musc.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
If any training was influential in my life it would have to be a high school teacher that I had. Mrs. Stelton. Boy, she and her husband were quite a pair and they definitely marched to the beat of a different drum. I look back and think about everything they taught us about art and architecture but also about different cultures and their art and practices. They even had a gourmet club where a group of us would go into the city (Chicago) to some really funky ethnic restaurants and eat things we’d never heard of. They taught me to be open-minded and diverse. I guess my whole high school was big on teaching kids to be individuals and not conform.

I have a couple degrees, one of them even in art, but nothing that compares to what I learned in high school.

I went from being a hobbyist to a professional in one day. I realized that I was being paid $12 an hour for a job that required a masters degree and they treated their people awfully. Some conflict came up where they demanded just one thing too many without any additional compensation and my boyfriend (later to become husband) told me, “just quit”. So I did. That was uncharacteristic of the practical me, I mean, wouldn’t just walking out look bad on a resume? But I knew it was the right thing at the time. I watched my husband and friends being successfully self-employed and they really helped me start to think differently about this whole work thing.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
You know, the more I get into this the more I find that I can make pretty nice pieces with very little. Of course you need a kiln, torch and fuel/oxygen source but other than that, a few marvers and some tweezers and I’m good. I do have to say that I love my GTT Lynx torch. I worked on a different torch last summer and nothing compares. Nothing. I also do love my XM radio.

Something I can’t imagine living without is my web site shopping cart from I can’t believe how much time I save now that I’m not coding my site manually. Wow.

What inspires you to create?
I get cranky if I don’t create. That and there is just this drive that I can’t get away from. I can’t really explain that one.

I am most inspired by people and their stories. I don’t know if I would call it inspiring but how people interact is an influence on me too. It is such a creative dance and is just interesting. That is the counselor in me. If you take the time to get to know someone or just listen to them for a little bit you learn so much. Everyone has something to say that is interesting if you open your mind and start to view the world as being interesting. Kate Drew-Wilkinson taught me that…look at the world differently. It’s amazing how your life can change if you change the way you see things. I only wish I had the skill to sculpt in glass how I see things. I’m starting to try and transition my perceptions into my art more.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
This is another area that just comes from within. When things are frustrating it is a good exercise in realizing that some things in life are just frustrating and it’s ok. But then I have to think, am I going to give in and be beaten or am I going to go with the flow until it passes? It’s
important to remember that it always passes and if you fight against it, it only gets worse.

If it does persist I will try and figure out why. Is it just time for a vacation? Do I need to get a massage? Is there something hanging over my head that I need to complete before I can move forward? It’s kind of fun to figure it out and feels like a victory when you come out the other side.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
If you are really serious, learn to listen to what is inside of you. I believe that whatever your spiritual practice is, that is where your answer is. Get in there and find it.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
Blogging, marketing and business-related issues, of course. I absolutely love blogging and I love some aspects of marketing just as much. It’s time consuming but it’s actually a creative process too, if you let it be. It’s that whole seeing the world differently game. I love coming up with marketing ideas or new venues that I don’t see anyone else doing.

What’s your favorite comfort food?
I love Korean and Indian food. Really, anything ethnic is a hit with me.

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