Los Angeles-based fine artist and illustrator Shelley Kommers creates art with a joyful, whimsical style. She is author and illustrator behind Make Cute Stuff with Polymer Clay. We asked Shelley a few questions about her artistic process.
Quarto Creates: How did you first become interested in polymer clay?
Shelley Kommers: Several years ago I was asked to teach a sculpture class and was given some polymer clay to work with. I’d never used it before, and as I read the instructions I thought, “Wait: you bake this clay and it keeps forever?? This is amazing!” I was up all night coming up with projects to teach. It was like I was a kid again, and when I showed up the next day with my first project my students were over the moon excited. I’ve been kind of obsessed with polymer clay ever since.
QC: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from creating?
SK: To stay as loose as possible and not be “precious”. I can always tell when I’m trying too hard: my work looks blah.
QC: Who was your most influential teacher, and why?
SK: I’ve been lucky to have many amazing teachers along the way, but my high school art teacher, Mrs. Sherrill Kahn, was a major influence. I made my first collages in her class, strengthened my drawing and painting skills, and became a more confident artist. It was during the two years with her that I realized I wanted to have a creative profession. She encouraged me to enter an art contest, and I won a scholarship for Saturday classes at a school I’d never heard of before: Art Center Collage of Design in Pasadena, CA. That experience changed the course of my life: I fell in love with the school and ended up enrolling full time two years later.
QC: Where do you find inspiration for your art?
SK: I find inspiration everywhere, especially in nature and in my daydreams. I often doodle in the margins of my To Do list, and some of my best ideas have sprung from those tiny, sloppy sketches.
QC: Have your finished products ever turned out different than your expectation, and how do you deal with that?
SK: Ha! Yes, they almost always turn out differently. The disconnect between my original idea and the actual outcome used to frustrate me a lot. Now I know that it’s just part of creating. The nice thing about art is that you can always try again… and the great thing about polymer clay is you can always ball it up and start over!