In addition to their art supply business, the Perrodins are also the founders of The Little Craft Show, a curated artisan show that counts more than 60 vendors and 4,000 shoppers each year in December.
The Perrodins have been a vocal force in promoting the city of Springdale. We caught up with them at The Hatchery, which serves as a workspace and home to classes, workshops, exhibitions, pop-up shops and other events, all designed to promote art and provide access to artists from all around the state.
What drew you to your craft? How did you learn the craft?
Jonathan Perrodin: I got into woodworking out of necessity: We were poor college students and Amber needed large canvases. I taught myself how to make canvases through much trial and error.
Amber Perrodin: I began studying art at a young age and knew that I’d pursue a career in it. I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the University of Arkansas [at Fayetteville]. It was in college that I really began to see my artistic career begin to unfold. The rest is sort of history.
What are tools are essential to your craft?
JP: Obviously there are the power tools, but it’s the hand tools that I have much more fondness for. I have a couple of combination squares that I acquired from my father that are the most pleasing to use.
AP: I have a fascination with machines and tools in general, so when I began printmaking I was really attracted to the etching presses and equipment involved in the printing process. Now, I proudly have two etching presses of my own that are critical to my craft. Additionally, my paint brushes and art boards that Jonathan creates are essential to creating my mixed media pieces.
Is there a certain aesthetic you aspire to with your work? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
JP: I love clean, minimal lines. The midcentury modern aesthetic is very inspiring. I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram, there are so many talented folks that are so willing to share their learned wisdom.
AP: I really love small, clean, detailed lines that seem to tell a story in their quietness. I love trying to capture this in both printmaking and painting. I find a lot of inspiration in my studio. If my studio is in good shape then I tend to create a lot more. I’m also constantly looking at other artists’ works by visiting galleries and scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.
Has there been one piece that you’ve worked on that has been particularly challenging? Is there one that you liked so much when you finished it that you didn’t want to sell?
JP: Any time I get a custom job from an artist there is always a challenge of trying to not only deliver the goods but to also help deliver what the artist’s vision is. There’s a pressure to make sure that my work doesn’t get in the way of what the artist is trying to accomplish. The upside is that, once completed those jobs are the most rewarding and satisfying.
AP: I designed and hand printed the Fayetteville Roots Festival poster a couple of years ago and that was probably the most challenging piece I’ve ever done. It was a large three color print that took lots of carving and printing before it was complete. But the end result was very rewarding!
Do you listen to music while working? If so, are there certain songs or artists that you tend to listen to most often?
JP/AP: There is almost always something playing while we work. Jonathan tends to get hooked with certain artists or albums for long periods. For a long time, we would start everyday listening to Arcade Fire’s Suburbs album; right now Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan have been doing it for us. Podcasts are also on a heavy rotation. We really enjoy listening to Fresh Air interviews. Most afternoons and late nights are sound-tracked to NPR’s lineup of news and classical music—we really like being able to feel what time of day it is just by tuning into NPR.
Is there any advice you’d give aspiring artisans looking to make a business from their craft?
JP: There’s so much to learn, so always be learning. And there’s always going to be work waiting, so make sure to take time for yourself—maybe it’s as simple as a walk after lunch or stopping to talk to a neighbor.
AP: I think it’s important to remember to be yourself. We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to our peers on the internet, but staying true to yourself will help you build a really sustainable brand from the get-go. Also, you need to brace yourself for a lot of hard work that not everyone will understand and appreciate in the beginning.
Are there mistakes you made early on that wound up teaching you more about your craft?
JP/AP: Yes! And the biggest thing we’ve learned is that you’re not alone. There is a rich community of makers that are there to support you through those hard times.
How do you combat creative blocks?
JP: It might sound crazy but I clean—sweeping, putting tools away, clearing off work tables. It helps get my mind where it needs to be and it’s productive towards getting future work done. Having a go-to album/artist to listen to is also helpful. It almost acts as a Pavlovian cue to begin working for me. And if none of that works, a good long walk will usually do the trick.
AP: Jonathan is teaching me the art of walking. Sounds funny, but when I’m stuck or feeling artistically drained, a good walk cures a lot. I’ve also started turning to podcasts like Elise Joy’s. She interviews a lot of makers on a variety of topics and it’s refreshing to hear the humanity behind these folks. That tends to help me pull out of creative blocks and push through! Also, just removing myself from my work helps a lot. Jonathan and I both really enjoy taking day trips to Crystal Bridges museum of American Art. That’s always refreshing and totally inspiring.
In this day and age of instant gratification and mass-produced goods, do you see people yearning for unique, handmade products like yours more as a way to express individuality?
JP/AP: Yes, definitely. We agree that people want both. We love Instagram, but there’s something special about that one photo that you’ve decided to print and frame. It’s deeper than simply expressing one’s individuality; it’s about connecting to the world in a less transitory way. People want history and heirlooms, something worth passing down to their children.
Photography by Novo Studio.