An Interview with Andrea Courchene of Paper Sparrow

Andrea Courchene, the artist behind Paper Sparrow

Art Star: Tell us a bit about your work.  What inspires your imagery?
Andrea Courchene:  As an artist and musician I am divided between two creative worlds. My process of creating art is intrinsically like refining a passage of music through practice, writing original pieces, or listening to my favorite recordings–it is quite involved. I have always found a special interest in the connections between the sound of music and visual art. Performing music inspires my art with an appreciation for the audience as well; people of all ages can find an instrument, an animal, or a scene which may capture their imagination.  I’m also inspired by vintage illustrations, nature and living in New York City.

AS:  Are you formally trained? If so, where did you study?
AC:  My formal education is in music.  I have a bachelors and master’s degree in music.  I’ve always loved creating art as a hobby as far back as elementary school.  I’ve taken a few art classes at both my undergraduate college as well as in graduate school.  I recently completed two courses at Columbia University: one in painting and the other, lithography.  I’m also starting an etching class there this Spring.

Andrea working on a lithograph

AS: Are you originally from New York?  What are some of your favorite places in NYC to go for inspiration?
AC:  I was born in England and immigrated to Florida with my family when I was in high school.  Since then I’ve been lucky to travel around and have recently lived in Chicago, Portland, Oregon, and am now based in New York City.   New York City is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city but I find that I am most inspired by my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which is always bustling and has the added advantage of two great, enormous city parks on each side: Riverside and Central Park.

poster by Paper Sparrow

AS: Are you able to focus on your work full time?  Do you have a day job?  Any employees?
AC:  Paper-Sparrow is currently my full-time work.  I am fortunate to be able to supplement my income with freelance performance and teaching music.  I do get a lot of support and an extra pair of hands for shipping packages from my partner, Paul, who is also a cellist.

AS: What materials do you use for the original illustrations?
AC: It varies from piece to piece.  I tend to gravitate towards paint: gouache, watercolors and acrylics with added textures and backgrounds.  Other times I simply draw in pen and ink and digitally manipulate the images in photoshop and illustrator.

AS: Any new and exciting projects in the works?
AC:  This year I’m focusing on expanding my line of greeting cards and taking on more freelance opportunities.

AS: Aside from Etsy & Art Star, where else do you sell/show your work?
AC:  I tend to sell at a few craft fairs every year in the summers and the holiday season.  I also wholesale my cards to a number of boutiques and stores across the US and to a few in Australia.

“Smoky Mountain Gypsy Jazz” by Paper Sparrow

AS:  Who are some of your favorite artists/illustrators?
AC:  I have pretty eclectic taste but I particularly love art of the bauhaus movement and mid-century design.  I love scouring vintage children’s books for illustrations by Martin and Alice Provensen, M. Sasek, Sandy Hoffman, Aliki Brandenberg and Brian Wildsmith.

AS: What music are you listening to these days?
AC: We always have music playing in our apartment.  You can bet on lots of classical and chamber music, jazz, Django Reinhardt and some 60s pop.

Check out our collection of work by Andrea’s line, Paper Sparrow, HERE

2014 Wall Calendars

We created two Art Star Exclusive 2014 Calendars this year with Jamie Fales of Noosed Kitty and Minnesota based artist Amy Rice.  Each calendar features a full color image that accompanies each month and the calendar was designed so you could cut and frame the images once the year is through!  Both calendars were designed in house at Art Star in collaboration with the artists and printed right here in Philadelphia at Fireball Printing!

We love Jamie Fales’ Narwhal illustrations so much that we asked her if we can do an entire calendar dedicated to this beloved animal. It includes some old favorites but also some new pieces that she made just for the calendar.  Only 50 of these were printed, so it is sure to become a collectors item.  Pick this up for $24 before it is gone!

 Back by popular demand is our 2014 Amy Rice Calendar!  We made one with her back in 2012 and her fans were so sad that we didn’t have one in 2013! This calendar is filled with a selection of Amy’s art work from the past year.  We love how she combines her stencil work with antique letters and other found materials. Her use of color and pattern is absolutely stunning!  Her adorable dog, Pumpkin, makes a few appearances too!  Only 25 of these were printed.  Grab one for $34 ASAP!

We also have a few different wall calendars by Paper Sparrow.  These are single 11×17″ digital prints that feature 2014 at a glance. Choose from Two Foxes above, Animal Party or Instruments.  These are just $15 a pop and fit in a standard sized frame.

Affordable Art for your Walls

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring!  I am sick of spending so much time indoors……Unfortunately, I think we have a few more weeks of cold and blah.  Since I’ve been inside so much, I’ve been dreaming about redecorating my own space and hanging some new prints.  Here are some of my favorites from the shop that are sure to bring some pops of color and happiness to your walls and (hopefully) a temporary cure for the winter blues.  Most are motivational and remind me of sunny days to come, others just put a smile on my face.

Root PrintThis print is of an original piece titled “Root” from Jen Corace’s solo exhibition at Art Star.  It is an archival pigment print on Hahnemuhle 100% cotton rag paper.  We use Silicon Fine Art Printing here in Philadelphia, so it is extremely high quality.  It is a signed, limited edition of 100 and is $40.  Buy it Here.

Amy Rice Grow Where You Are PlantedYou’ll see there is a theme here.  I have plants and nature on my brain.  This print is by Minneapolis based artist, Amy Rice.  Amy is a prolific artists whose work we’ve carried since we opened in 2004.  She is one of our absolute favorites!  Luckily for my wallet, Amy offers a line of affordable art prints like this one.  She enjoys painting/printing on antique letters, journal entries, maps and even high end wallpaper, like this one.  This is a hand set and hand pulled letterpress print.  I just love it!  $40 Buy it here.

Keep Going PrintAnother floral piece with a motivational phrase.  I need it this time of year!  I love Mai Autumn’s delicate watercolors, they are so beautiful!  This one will also add a nice pop of color to any room!  This piece is available in both 8×10 and 11×14, which are both standard frame sizes.  Printed  with archival inks on Canon Pro Luster Pape and $20/$35, depending on which size you choose.  Buy it here.

Yardsale Press Keep it TogetherA daily reminder – ha!  Plus, it makes me laugh a little b/c there are seriously bobby pins all over my house.  In the oddest places too!  For this reason, I think they are the bane of my husband’s existence.  Just kidding.  This is a screenprint by Bryan Sculthorpe of Yardsale Press, who I fondly refer to as “talls” because he is a giant and I am a midget. Just $15 – buy it here.

Paper Sparrow Adventure AwaitsMy husband and I have already begun planning our camping trips!  This reminds me that in a few months we’ll be sleeping under the stars.  I. cannot. wait.  This is an 11×17″ poster illustrated by Andrea Lauren of Paper Sparrow and it is printed with vegetable + soy based inks.  $18. Buy it here.

Reflecting Pool of ShameAnd finally, this gem.  Because I love art with a sense of humor most of all.  It is titled “Reflecting Pool of Shame”.  It is a reproduction of an original painting on top of a photograph by Mauro Biaocco of Naughty + Nice.  It was printed using archival ink and paper.  Don’t lie, you’ve been there!  $20 Buy it here.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my favorite Art Star prints and maybe you are inspired to pick out your own.  What are your favorites? Shop our online collection here. Or stop on by – there is WAY more in the actual store.

Bisy Backsons at Art Star

We’ve been super busy over here at Art Star HQ.  I always think of when Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh finds the sign on Christopher Robin’s door that reads “Bisy Backson” (which is supposed to read Busy Back Soon) or something like that………Then in the Tao of Pooh they explain that Rabbit is a “Bisy Backson” (always too busy) and that is so me!  At least that is what I took from it….
 We just released a new Art Star branded product – this annual weekly planner, in collaboration with the wonderful Julianna Swaney of Oh My Cavalier.  As you can see, I’ve got a good amount on my agenda this week.

starting to fill out my weekly planner….complete with doodle collaboration with my hubby

I know that I am not great about always remembering to write in these things, so we thought we’d make one that is dateless.  So if you don’t keep up, no worries –  you can add the dates yourself!  There are 52 weeks & some space for notes in the back.  We are so happy to be working with Julianna Swaney – her illustrations make me swoon!

Check out our entire collection of Art Star branded products!  

The holidays are right around the corner, so we’ve been looking for new artists & stocking up on all of our products.  We just got in a box from Paper Sparrow filled with prints, plush, party invitations, calendars, + notecards.  I really love her illustrations of animals, instruments and animals playing instruments.  Very sweet!  Above is a sneak peek of some of her work, which will all be added to the site soon!  Look out for a full blog post on her soon too!

Ceramic Beer Cups by Hope Rovelto

We’ve also just got in these ceramic cups by local artist, Hope Rovelto.  These are cast in ceramic from actual plastic party cups & feature Obama, John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and more!  She does have Mittens but I just couldn’t carry that one – sorry!  These will be up soon too & I’ll also be posting a really cool exhibition/event that these will be a part of…..

 We are now fully stocked with 2013 calendars & planners!  Many of them are made in limited quantities, so grab one before they are gone for good!

And finally, I decided to paint these doors with chalkboard paint.  It was driving me crazy the way it was.  It still needs a few coats, but I plan on using it to write a blurb about Art Star & also hang the magnets.  Maybe I’ll let our little customers draw on it too while their parents shop.  That might get too messy though.



Meet Rachel Sherman of Malagueta

Rachel Sherman makes impeccably crafted clothing and accessories under the name Malagueta. Her surface manipulation on each garment is pretty amazing.  Learn more about her techniques & what inspires her.  And be sure to check her out at the bazaar at Booth 48 – all of her items are always neatly displayed by color!

Art Star: Did you go to art school?  If so, where did you study?
RS: I went to Moore College of Art and got my BFA in Textile Design.

AS: What types of items will you be selling at the bazaar?
RS: Skirts, tops, dresses, and wristlets….all of which will display some type of surface manipulation.

AS: What materials do you work with?
Lots of jersey and woven fabrics all of which are plain on the surface, nothing printed, and textures are kept to a minimum. Whenever there is any leftover, which there usually is, I save it and use it for appliques, piecing, etc.

AS: How are your items made? Describe your process.
: I buy limited amounts of yardage that I first cut into the pattern pieces. Some styles I assemble COMPLETELY before I add any surface detail to them, while others can only be assembled AFTER the pattern pieces are cut then covered with surface work.  The techniques I use are found in traditional folk textiles such as Kuna Molas, Rahasthani dresses, and Korean Bojagi cloth.  Those techniques are reverse applique (layering fabrics then removing one layer at a time to reveal specific colors underneath), couching (sewing yarn onto fabric with thread, either by hand or sewing machine), piecing (gathering fabric pieces of different shapes and colors and sewing them together to emphasize bold color compostions or using the opaque seams to emphasize line compostions).

AS: Are you able to make your work full-time?  If not, what do you do for your day job?
RS: Malagueta is almost full-time work, however I do squeeze in block-printing one day a week, the occasional sewing project for someone, then top it off with a samba performance or a gig teaching design to high school students.

AS: Who are some of your favorite artists?
RS: EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY ARTIST FRIENDS of course and Lee Bontecou, Friedrich Hundertwasser, Francoise Gilot, Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine

AS: What are you reading/listening to right now?
: Chet Atkins, The Might Sparrow, Jorge Ben and other Brasilian Artists.  I will be reading Bossy Pants as soon as my sister is done with it.

Art Star + School of Vintage

If you have been to our shop recently, you may have noticed that our whole back gallery space is now a little School of Vintage pop up shop that will be up through April.  If you haven’t been by to check it out, do it soon! Their stuff is the absolute best!  We have loved working with Erin + Jeannine of SOV and have become friends in the process.  I think our shops really compliment one another, so we hope to continue to work together outside of their Art Star pop up.

We recently opened up a tiny little space with them inside the Tuckerton Emporium.  The emporium has been family owned and operated for the past 20 years and is home to a bunch of little shops in one big, beautiful old house in Tuckerton, NJ. Our space is located right by a big, bright window and you will find a nice selection of SOV clothing, accessories, jewelry and some housewares.

an assortment of Art Star prints

We sent them 2 boxes of our merchandise and Erin + Jeannine were kind enough to set it up for us.  We decided to start off small to see how their customers respond to the types of work we carry.

You will find affordable prints like this one by Paper Sparrow for $12

Right now you will find an assortment of prints, soy candles by Melo, wallets by Shara Porter,  Necklaces by Julianna Swaney, a couple Horrible Adorables, Farmhaus Candle Holders, Coin Pouches by So Softies, Cherry Box Eye Masks, Printed Tea Towels from Art Goodies and some small ceramic pieces. So if you live out in that area, please stop by and pick up a little something to adorn your home, find a special gift for a friend, or treat yourself to a little handmade goody. If we do well, we will stock more products.  And please let us know if there is anything in particular that you’d like to see there!

Our necklaces by Julianna Swaney, Wallets by Shara Porter, and Coasters by Yardsale Press are amongst the Art Star goods you will find at the Tuckerton Emporium.

 The Tuckerton Emporium is home to a bunch of shops that sell a variety of goods, including vintage, antiques, new items, and some art + handmade items.  Here are some more photos I snapped inside the Emporium:

A collection of School of Vintage housewares

Off to Renegade!

We are off to Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this weekend! If you plan to come check out this awesome indie craft explosion, please come say hi!  We will be at booth #167. Our booth will be chock full of handmade goodies by a variety of artists from our shop, including some favorites like Horrible Adorables, New Academy Press, Noosed Kitty, Kristin Tercek, Paper Sparrow, and Julie Moon!

#artstarcraftbazaar Thank YOU!

We just wanted to thank everyone that played a part in making the Art Star Craft Bazaar such a huge success!  Our small weekend staff, Philebrity, volunteers, the bands, our community partners and sponsors, all the vendors, DRWC – there are too many people to list! Most of all, we want to thank YOU, our customers, for coming out in droves to shop handmade and support so many talented makers.  We REALLY loved how many of you Instagramed your purchases – that was so awesome to see.  Please keep sharing.  We especially love seeing your purchases in action – hanging on the wall, being worn, used, etc.  Be sure to #artstarcraftbazaar so we can see them all!

Here are some of our favorite customer pics from the weekend – enjoy!  And please continue to support our vendors by going to this link to be directed to all their websites. We’ll keep our vendor page up throughout the year.  And don’t forget – we carry work by many ascb artists, so come by the store to shop in person, year round!

@alison_lucile shared a pic of a whole bunch of goodies that she picked up at the bazaar. I see a Xenotees Pizza Tank, Red Prairie Press top, Anthropolis Design Print, Andrew Zangerle Drawing, T-Rex by Lenny Mud, print from the 50/50 Company and a few more gems.


@babyjives and her kiddos picking up some felt masks from Opposite of Far

@caitlinthetoute picked up a new tank from Wear Liberty!

@chrissylicious shared her entire bazaar haul! Lots of good stuff there – Olive + Bo, The Maple Ridge, Laura George (from us), Leroy’s Place, Trinity Framing, etc.

Another good haul from @elle_melinda – I spy Seeing In Fabric, Cut + Paste Photobooth, Nice Things Handmade, Mai Autumn, Paper Sparrow (from us), Kayte Terry and more!

@kittfraser looks great in her new Jay McCarroll Top!

@leeannfenderson in her new necklace by Old Blood Designs

@nilorthenile scored these awesome Bowie cufflinks by Leroy’s Place

@soydark shared her new woodcut by Red Light Press

@staceydoespics posed in a felt unicorn mask by Opposite of Far and one of our Unicorn masks made by CherryBox

and last, but not least, @youmisheardme lookin’ cute in a Better Than Jam handprinted dress

Thank you again to all of our customers for supporting us + our vendors and for generally just being awesome and having great taste!