I am so excited for you to meet Armani. She is the creative beauty behind Retablos, a sweet and wonderful little Etsy shop that sells handmade items reminiscent of home, family warmth, connectedness and love. I am particularly fond of how her items evoke memories of growing up and being with my own grandmother in the the kitchen. Armani very kindly answered some questions about herself, art and her inspirations. She is also very generously offering a giveaway. Read on to found out more!
Armani of Retablos
*Tell us a little about yourself and where you live.
I’m a spoiled California girl (a day that is not over 65 degrees is like the arctic for me), living in a teeny house with a teeny family-1 husband, 1 daughter, 1 dog, 1 cat, and 1 rabbit
Though I’m easily chilled, I absolutely adore autumn, and find so much of my inspiration on overcast days. There’s magic in the mist, and it calls to me. There’s nothing more beautiful than a blue and gray walk on the beach.
*When did you start making things?
I’ve always created, having grown up with very little in everyday comforts. Rarely was anything new or unbroken, so I took what there was and transformed it into something that could make me smile. Broken bits became archeological wonders that I buried in the backyard, and made treasure maps to follow later. Worn out pants had the legs cut into squares to make “stuffies”, little square, stuffed, friends. Picture books that were falling apart became greeting cards, and so on.
*Your shop name is Retablos. Tells us a little about what that means and why you picked it for your shop name.
In Mexican iconography a retablo is a drawing or painting that asks for God’s intercession, such as to alleviate a sickness. Raised Mexican Catholic, I was acquainted with this art form from a very early age. And yes, it’s important to distinguish the “Mexican” Catholic, because it is… a bit more pagan. There are many indigenous traditions, and these also influenced my art. Obviously a biggie – Dia de Los Muertos as an example.
This became my favorite form of prayer, finding scrap wood to draw on, or painting on rocks, always, always, always, praying for food, laughter, and understanding, not just for myself, but for the world around me.
I continue this in my artwork, secret prayers and hope for wisdom either hidden within or plainly seen.
*How do you find your inspiration and what inspires you?
Growing up in a less than ideal neighborhood, I withdrew into myself, and learned to view the world in a different way, looking for the underneath and behind, (and, unfortunately, sometimes oblivious to the people before me)… I’m intrigued by what is unseen. This heavily influences my writing.
In artwork I’m incredibly inspired by loving homes… by contentment in the space that is meant to nurture families… something I always wanted as a child, but had to wait until I had my own family to find. I’m inspired by that need to feel secure and see what lies behind the darkness.
*What are your favorite materials to use.
I LOVE painting on wood, and love my ink pen for line art. Recently, I discovered pastels, and they make me swoon almost as much as watercolors.
And I adore book binding, which I had to learn to publish and bind my own book. It is soothing to me to sew up a manuscript, since my favorite all-time love is the written word. In my childhood I often felt mute, and wrote down all that I could never speak.