Beyond the racks and stacks of vintage that we offer at Stash, we're also known for having a selection of handmade goods and ever-changing artwork. These works all come from special individuals, many of whom are part of the Central Pennsylvania community. In this ongoing series, we'd like to introduce you to some of the friendly faces behind the products you know and love.
First up, Liz Laribee of Liz Laribee Illustration (Harrisburg, PA).
We've got a special place in our hearts for Liz. Not only is she a friend to all of us and a mega-talented artist, but she was also the one, three years ago, to sit all four of us down at Little Amps Coffee Roasters and say, "Hey, you are all interested in something similar. Talk it out." Gee, we sure are thankful for that.
Without further ado, meet Liz:
Tell us a little bit about your brand. What do you create?
LIZ LARIBEE: I specialize in hand-drawn portraits and illustrations, and I especially like doing this when I can use ephemeral or unusual materials. Cardboard is my favorite medium to work with.
When/Why/How did you start your business?
LL: I've been drawing portraits since 2011, and I began freelancing as an illustrator in 2012 when we launched The MakeSpace Arts Collective.
How did you get into this line of work?
LL: When I was working for the Midtown Scholar Bookstore a few years ago, I wanted to teach myself to draw. So I used materials that I found laying around the bookstore: cardboard, Sharpies, and box cutters. These are still the materials I use the most often. My first portrait series was of authors I loved. I remember including a portrait of Mary Oliver in which I had ultimately removed her face after having ruined it beyond recognition. And then put the whole thing in a frame. It was a disaster. I've learned a lot since then.
What do you like best about what you do?
LL: I love that something I've made can play a part in someone else's life story, and that I may never actually know about it. If I sell a portrait of Kurt Vonnegut, it might be because the person buying it has a very specific memory of a window seat at her aunt's lake house where she pretended to read Slaughterhouse Five but was ACTUALLY writing love letters to someone she had met at camp the year before. And now they are life partners for all time, and they need a piece of art to hang in their bathroom.
What inspires you in your life and in your work?
LL: This may sound disingenuous, but I mean it fully: I get very excited to research the subject of the portrait I'm drawing. Lots of people will commission a portrait of a person I've never heard of, and so I then have the chance to learn about them. Through freelance portrait illustration, I have been able to fill out my understanding of incredible people who have shaped the world. The research part of it is important, because an illustrated portrait has the ability to evoke a spirited characterization of that person. I like to know what I'm drawing about.
How do you spend your time outside of your business?
LL: I promised myself that I'd apply to grad school this year, so I have started studying for the GRE. Generally, I am extremely project based, and I fill my time by working on initiatives in Harrisburg that I find helpful, creative, and interesting. These days, I am involved in The MakeSpace, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and Sprocket Mural Works. And I'm hoping to get more involved with Recycle Bicycle. I'm also ashamed to say that "Sports" is my worst category on Trivia Crack, the only iPhone game I've found irresistible.
Do you have a favorite vintage or thrifted find, or is there something in particular that you're always looking for when you vintage shop?
LL: I think I have bought a pair of post earrings in every vintage store I've ever gone into. I cannot say no.
Anything else you'd like us to know about you?
LL: My favorite thing to talk about on dates is science.