In celebration of Omaha’s many artists and crafters, OmahaHa! is launching the holiday series, “Omaha Is Gifted.” Each week we’ll feature a local artist and their art, gifts and wares.
When compiling your gift-giving shopping list this year, please consider supporting our local Omaha-area artists. You gift from your heart, so why not have your gift be made from the heart? You can browse for quality, handmade and unique gifts online, visit one of the many local holiday fairs and open houses, or search for “Omaha” on some of the popular online artist sites such as etsy.com.
First up in “Omaha Is Gifted” is Rachel O. You can see her, along with many other local artists, at this weekend’s “Modern Makers” Holiday Show, Saturday, Nov. 24, from 12 to 6 pm, at Bancroft Street Market, 10th and Bancroft.
Describe what you create.
I specialize in fine art, accessories and home goods. I’m not tied to any specific genre, theme or medium. If I have a creative idea, I pursue it no matter what.
How did you get started?
I graduated with my BFA in 2005. I got into the art world from nearly as many angles as humanly possible. I’ve shown in upscale galleries, in little temporary event spaces, and in stores (even a butcher shop). I don’t turn down many opportunities; you never know where they will lead you. Eventually all this randomness has settled down into a cohesive (sometimes) business plan. There are definitely things I do today that I wouldn’t if I hadn’t done a “crazy” thing a few years ago.
How do you approach your craft?
I work most evenings and weekends on my projects. I turn on some good music, or watch a movie while I work. Usually the cat hangs out with me and tries to get involved in what I’m doing.
How many hours a week do you spend working on pieces?
Too many. But I’d rather be doing this than just watching tv or doing nothing.
Why do you do it?
Why? Because I have to. Not because of any external reasons, but because of a very strong, very personal drive. I just don’t feel myself if I’m not creating.
Do you have a favorite piece?
I’m so proud of my tatted lace necklaces. They are one of those great projects that turns out just how I hoped.
Is there a craft or medium you want to or wish you could tackle/master?
Always. I love learning new skills. I’ve spent the last year perfecting my tatted lace. That was a fun but difficult skill to pick up. Most books are well, antique, and hard to decipher. Through persistence and YouTube tutorials, I feel pretty confident. I don’t know what my new skill will be yet, but it’s about time I learned something new!
As an artist, how would you describe Omaha — what is it like being an artist in Omaha?
I love Omaha! There are so many opportunities here, and so many great people to work with. I was a little nervous moving back here from Chicago. I had done some gallery shows there and I wondered what on earth I would do here. I should never have worried. I work with some great stores and galleries here. I have much better working relationships than I ever had before. I think it’s that great Omaha work ethic and reliability.
On a side note, I can run errands and make deliveries in mere hours compared to the all-day epic journeys that I’d have to make in Chicago. It’s just an easier place to live and work.
Do you have an additional occupation — if so, what do you do?
I have a full-time job working in marketing. I’m lucky to have a job where I can be creative. I get to work with photography, video and advertising. It’s great.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’m inspired by the unusual, by curiosity cabinets and needlework samplers, vintage photographs and old industrial equipment. I love using vintage elements and styles to create new works. I studied abroad in London and fell in love with Victorian curiosity cabinets. I would visit the Natural History Museum as often as the Tate Modern.
I’m also influenced by the handmade things that were left behind. Quilts made by distant family members, a well-loved piece of jewelry, or anything used and worn is a great source of inspiration.
Who inspires you?
I love Jonathan Adler more than is reasonable. I love his aesthetic, the way he mixes retro and modern themes.
I love how Betsey Johnson just does what she wants. Her jewelry is just a mess of sparkle and whimsy, and sometimes octopuses.
Do you own a favorite piece from another crafter/artist — if so, what is it and why is it a favorite?
I bought a set of squirrel prints from Berkley Illustration at Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago a few years ago. I now have quite a few of these. Do I need to explain how awesome animals in clothes are? I think not. It’s pretty obvious.
Where can we see your work?
My main website is Rachel O’s, I blog from there, and there are links to my online stores.
Shop from me directly at RachelOs.etsy.com
And in Omaha, you can visit:
505 S 11th St
Omaha, NE 68102
4916 Underwood Avenue
Omaha, NE 68132
Benson First Friday
Handmade Omaha Artist Market
First Fridays May-October, 6-9pm
Old Benson Theatre
6054 Maple St
Omaha, NE 68104
Odd Bird Collective
La Vista, NE 68128
What forms of payment do you accept?
Cash, credit cards (LOVE that Square App!), check, and I’ve even been known to do a trade or two.
Do you do special orders?
I love special orders. Especially when people tell me the story behind what they want. I’ve made some pretty epic Christmas ornaments. I’ve outfitted a dental hygienist graduating class with hand-sculpted teeth for their tassels. I also love making jewelry for a bridal party. It’s just nice to be a (tiny) part of someone’s special day.
On average, what’s your turn-around time?
Depends on what you want, but usually about a week to ship.
To save on shipping, can a buyer pick-up their purchase?
Eh, I feel weird about going to people’s houses or having them come to mine. I feel awkward and try to get them to meet me halfway at a coffee shop. Then I usually buy a coffee, so we may as well have just shipped the thing and saved time and money.
Confession: I once shipped a print to someone who lived down the street. It was actually further to take it to the post office than to their house. I just didn’t want them to see me and wonder why I was hand delivering things.
Thanks Rachel, for spending some time with OmahaHa! readers. I’ll be seeing you at the “Modern Makers” Holiday Show this Saturday, 12 to 6 pm, at the Bancroft Street Market.