“There is a level of serendipity when sourcing these materials because each time, we manage to find what we need. Who would’ve guessed someone would have 60 used mannequin arms laying around or 10,000 used toy capsules?”
INTRO: 2014 has been a busy year for the two-woman team of INDO. Linsey Burritt and Crystal Hodges create work that is as much about materials as it is about vision. Their schedules vary, and they try to find a balance between the hands-on and digital work. They primarily worked side-by-side in the past, but now, they tend to divide and conquer. Whether it’s in the context of a window display or an environmental space, Linsey and Crystal’s captivating work demands the attention of anyone passing by. I first came across their work thanks to this Creative Mornings talk. I was particularly intrigued by their sourcing process and conscious business model. After researching and admiring INDO’s work, it was an honor to learn more about the process behind the magic. Before we go any further, check out the "Close-Up" video below. It was created by the Creative Mornings team, and it gives an interesting look into their individual perspectives.
S: What is your daily process like?
L / C: It changes week to week. There is a nice balance between the hands-on and the digital work. This year is a really busy year for us so for the first time, we are in different stages of a project individually. In the past, we've worked on projects side-by-side, but we have started to divide and conquer. So this week, one of us is in production on a project that gets shipped out to Seattle at the end of the month, and the other is working on multiple proposals. In a few weeks, our roles might switch! Some of the best moments of the process are those pauses in between where you get to reflect on what you've just accomplished and anticipate the next step.
S: Do you get to experiment with a lot of different media during your process?
L / C: One of the very first articles written about us coined us as 'the Paper Dolls', and for a while, paper was what we mostly used! Used paper is both affordable and abundant so when we were first starting out, it was the easiest thing to get our hands on. We have definitely been experimenting with more types of materials in the last two years. We've worked with vintage 35mm slides, recycled glass rocks, scrap brass and felt, expired hibiscus tea, deadstock fabric and thread. Our current project is being made out of the capsules from vending machines that hold little toys and trinkets. While we have a growing supply of the staples like cardboard, plastic and paper, more of our projects are inspiring us to seek out specific materials. There is a level of serendipity when sourcing these materials because each time, we manage to find what we need. Who would have guessed someone would have 60 used mannequin arms laying around or 10,000 used toy capsules?!
How do you define art?
L / C: Art tells a story. That's what makes it so appealing and meaningful.
S: When do you feel most inspired and/or creative?
L / C: After a nice relaxing trip somewhere beautiful. Taking time to reflect is so important. It gives you the space to make meaningful connections.
S: Do you structure your routine more around inspiration or structure?
L / C: We are habitual creatures so our days are pretty routine and this is also true for our creative process. We put limitations and boundries on our process and find inspiration within structure. There's also something to not overthinking an idea...
S: Do you have any all-time favorite installations at this point?
L / C: This changes all the time. And there's something special about each project. Right now, I'd say our favorite is the Honey Maid LOVE sculpture. It just won an award!
S: What life lessons have you learned by being artists?
L / C: Let go. Trust the process. We had students from Kentucky visit recently, and one of them compared our work to Buddhist sand mandalas, which symbolize the transitory nature of our material life. They use rakes to design beautiful sand installations, and when they are complete, smooth them over. It's a great analogy for our work.
S: What resources/voices are missing from the art world?
L / C: We are much more tapped into the design world than the art world. We feel there is a wealth of support and resources within our ceative community. It's what has kept us going all these years!
S: Is there a specific type of music you like to listen to when making art?
L: I tend to listen to music without vocals when I'm trying to focus - this is more the case for when I'm on the computer. Depending on the type of focus I'm looking for, it is either jazz (Dizzy Gillepse) or more dreamy, soft electronic type music (Bibio). When I'm on my feet, it's usually something funky (Curtis Mayfield) or something that makes me feel nostalgic (Talking Heads!).
C: Lately I’ve been listening to Angel Olson, the Dirty Projectors and I always love listening to Fleetwood Mac. Really, I just like music that sounds like a friend and is beautiful. Usually, I have no idea what I’m listening to.
S: What distracts/discourages you from making art?
L: Stress! Anytime life feels out of balance or if a client is hard to work with, it can be really deflating. Thankfully, that doesn't happen very often. We are lucky to work with such great people. It's important to work with people who respect and understand what you do.
C: Mess. I really like to work in a clean, organized environment. Even if the project itself expands, grows, is messy, when my surroundings are happy and tidy, so am I as a thinker!
S: In your opinion, how has the digital revolution impacted the art world and creativity in general?
L: In general, it has made art and creativity more accessible. There are a few ways we can look at the digital revolution. The social media and connectedness, which is bringing people and ideas together more rapidly. Then there are the tools we use to better our work. We have technical design backgrounds so the computer is an important tool in our work. I was on the cusp of this shift in technology in college. We were still being taught how to create illustrations in layers with transparency paper before we had the ability to do such sophisticated edits in Photoshop.
C: Being connected to social media/email at all times can be rough. As small business owners, we handle the production of our work plus all the admin and client relationships. So we need to be available more often than not, which can take away when we need to focus on a project. Everything is always accessible, but its important to be able to shut off the digital sometimes and focus.
S: How do your creative pursuits benefit you personally?
L: Making an idea a reality is so satisfying. I'd say what makes our work unique is the instant gratification. Our work takes a lot of time to create, no doubt, but it really depends on who is looking at it. I thought about this recently when feeling really rushed on a project and I stepped back to think, wow most art takes months or years to create and we do this in weeks and sometimes days!
C: I love people's reactions to our work. It is extremely satisfying to finish a project and have people just love it. The process is rewarding, too. We are constantly creating new relationships and pulling people into our process (like people in the recycling industry or people we hire to help us out) and they are so supportive and interested - it is a great feeling to be doing something that people react so positively to.
S: Do you have any daily rituals that keep you on track?
L: I'm still figuring out what works for me. Right now I do a combination of digital and hand-drawn lists. The digital list is more for week to month planning and the hand-drawn lists are more day to week. Other than that, I get a lot of good sleep, wake up early and make sure I'm eating good, wholesome foods!
C: I make up a new to do list every day or two. I keep it on my desk and love updating it and crossing things off it. Progress!
For a good listen, Crystal and Linsey recommend the podcasts: The Moth, 99% Invisible and Radiolab. For a fun playlist of tunes, check out this Spotify playlist created by Linsey. It was inspired by the music they listened to at the coffee shop where they both worked years ago.
There's nothing I love more than getting to see the sketch-versions of projects. Crystal and Linsey were kind enough to send along a couple of sketches that show a glimpse into the early phases of the 88 Brand Partners project and the Honey Maid LOVE sculpture: