A couple of my husband and I's favorite booths to visit at any given craft fair are The Frantic Meerkat and The Mincing Mockingbird. One booth features all kinds of fun clip-arty type images with hilarious sayings accompanying them--the other, poignant artworks focusing on all kinds of birds. I got to talking with Kim of Frantic Meerkat for a brief moment at this summer's Unique L.A. event, and it turns out the reason we're always seeing these booths right next to each other is they are two halves of a very artistic couple!
After the jump, join us as we chat with Kim and Matt, and find out how to enter a giveaway for a free art print and set of notecards.
OC Weekly: Tell us about yourself - what's your life like? What do you do when you're not making things?
Kim (Frantic Meerkat): I do have a 9-6 day job as a web administrator for an agency that works with movie studios. I like it because I love movies and we post all the photos and info for the press. I also work with a great bunch of people who make work fun. So that's what I do when I'm not making things... that, and sleeping.
Matt (Mincing Mockingbird): I'm a "full-time artist," which means I mostly pack up Kim's orders and ship them. I used to like to hike, but now all my favorite hiking spots are burned to cinders.
OCW: Did you guys know each other before you started your respective Etsy sites? If not, how did you meet?
FM: We're engaged, but have been living together for more years than most marriages last. Definitely next year we're going to work a wedding into our craft show schedule. We're from the same small town in Illinois, but met because I had a little indie art and lit magazine, and he was a writer/artist who had too much time on his hands.
MM: She must have thought, "Oh, a neurotic weirdo. I'm in love."
OCW: Any plans to join forces under the name Mincing Meerkat or Frantic Mockingbird after the wedding?
FM: Actually, Mincy had already said that we need to change it to The Mincing Meerkat after we we're married.
OCW: Will you give me money for using the names I obviously came up with?
On the next page, some background on Kim and Matt's art supplies of choice.
OCW: What's your craft of choice? Tell us a little about how you came to work in your current style.
FM: My real craft of choice is oil painting, but since that's a slow process and I don't like to wait for things to dry, I'm currently doing digital collage. Working as a graphic designer, I always liked the old clip art, especially the ridiculous ones that someone obviously took a lot of time with, but why? I like to re-purpose those and make absurd images that I then turn into greeting cards, magnets and/or prints.
MM: I paint in acrylics, mostly for the speed of it. I do much more beautiful work in oils, but I don't have the patience for it, even though the smell of mineral spirits gets me high a little.
OCW: Did you go to art school?
FM: I got my Bachelor's in Studio Art from Bradley University in beautiful Peoria, Illinois, with a concentration in painting and photography.
MM: I studied oil painting in art school in Chicago, and I had this tough old teacher, just tough as nails. She would walk up behind me and, um, strike - yes, strike is the word - me on the bottom, and growl, "You're going to be a helluva painter some day!" I think she thought they were little playful spanks, but they really hurt. After art school I worked for the director John Hughes for a bit, and worked in movies and commercials, but came back to art. Because I missed being poor.
On the next page, where do those captions come from?
OCW: Frantic Meerkat, how do you get such damn funny captions on all your work? Where does the inspiration come from?
FM: Thank you! The inspiration comes from old trashy novels and the unique phrasing in some of them. Plus Mincy and I basically sit in the studio and try to make each other laugh. We're hoping to come up with a joint line of cards where we collaborate on both the images and sayings.
OCW: Mincing Mockingbird, do you paint other animals or do you heart birds the most? What's your favorite kind of bird?
MM: For a while I was painting apocalyptic scenes of Los Angeles. Paintings with no people in them, just overpasses and architecture with cars flying through the air - some unseen calamity happening right off-screen. For some reason, birds are more appealing to people. My favorite bird would be the Secretary Bird. It's rather "bad-ass," as the kids say.
On the next page, the recent fires hit a little close to home.
OCW: I've been reading your Twitter updates about being located really near the Station Fire - tell us a little about what that's been like for you. Has the cabbage patch dance kept the flames at bay?
MM: It was spooky. I mean, we hike up in those mountains all the time, and to watch from our house to see those hills going up in flames...it gives you a new respect for nature. When we lived in Illinois the cabbage patch was effective on a number of things, from garter snakes to tornadoes. Ineffective against wildfires, unfortunately.
OCW: Would you recommend dance classes for firemen to deal with future flare-ups?
MM: It certainly wouldn't hurt.
OCW: Do real life shenanigans ever influence your artwork?
FM: I have a magnet that's called "To Hell With the Neighbors", which is funny to me because we have a particularly loud household across the street from us and often at midnight on a Wednesday, they'll be playing instruments and dancing in the front yard.
MM: The titles of my work are often influenced by things going on in my life. After observing a slice of urban society on a trip to the post office I have two choices: weep openly, or make art. Sometimes I do both.
On the next page, where you can find this dynamic duo next and how to enter to win some of their work!
OCW: What upcoming shows can folks come visit you at?
FM: We're going to have a booth at the Chicago Renegade Craft Fair Sept. 12 & 13, and we'll also have a table at Roadworks: Steamroller Printing Street Fair in San Francisco on Sat., Sept. 19. Also, I'm excited because some of my cards will be in Paper Source, as well as Book Soup, this fall, along with a lot of other cool indie gift stores in the Los Angeles area.
MM: I have a book of my paintings coming out this month. I'll also be a featured artist in January at the Bird Show at Cactus Gallery in Eagle Rock, and there is a show of my work up now at the insanely cool shop Henry Road in Studio City. Oh, and my work is currently in the Enormously Tiny Art Show 6 at Nahcotta gallery in Portsmouth, NH .
So are you hooked on their work or what? Then it's time to enter a giveaway! Leave a comment on this post telling us what you think and you'll be automatically entered in the contest - one lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win the above 4 pack of greeting cards from Frantic Meerkat and this 11" x 14" print from Mincing Mockingbird:
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You can comment as many times as you like, but only one entry per person will be counted and if you've won a giveaway in the last 30 days you'll be ineligible so everyone's got a turn at awesomeness. Contest ends at midnight on Friday, September 11 so get crackin'!