Beetle and Flor specialize in helping under-served communities that depend on making and selling crafts as a livelihood. Our aim is to help their designs flourish, whether it be by spicing up traditional creations with a modern twist, or developing a strong visual identity giving the artisans an edge in the global market.
Wow what a wonderful mission statement!
What influences your current work?
The “North American Wildlife” series, which I have been working on over the past year, is mainly influenced from my work at the natural history museum as a science illustrator. Its quite satisfying having time to fully understand the structure of something though both visual and tactile observation-having enough time to draw and look and draw and look over and over again until you have processed something of dimension into a line drawing that needs to convey the shape and curvature of its original counterpart. After a while however, I just wanted to recreate these objects into 3-d through clay, and see how close to the real thing I could get.
A lot of my other work is influenced by socio-economic or environmental issues, especially in “developing” countries: I’d like to think that design is something that everyone can benefit from, aesthetically and usefully from a consumers perspective, economically, culturally and “environmentally” from a producers or makers perspective. This is probably illustrated best by the example of Kallari, a coalition of artisans in the Ecuadorian Rainforest who started out weaving baskets from abundant weeds and selling them in the west (they now make chocolate). Basket weaving was a tradition long gone by the influx of foreigners to that region, scouting out oil, and bringing in cheap plastic counterparts to these baskets. However, Judy Logback, a passionate young lady revived this lost weaving tradition and helped bring back a way for this community to make a decent living, without jeopardizing their beloved rainforest.
The skulls have become a great (and surprising!) hobby that have supported some of the projects I have worked on in places such as Nepal and northern India in the Tibetan refugee community, working with organizations and small artisan coalitions in design aspects such as branding and product development. Beetle and Flor also make our own line of goods, commissioning these very artisans/orgs we have worked with in the past.
Favorite contemporary artists:
I love my school friend Natalia Ortega’s stuffs-probably because she so deliciously mixes local materials such as clay and basket weaving so well together! But I’m always scouting out new stuff on the web and I recently came across Ann Woods apt on design sponge, and some luscious looking boats hanging from her apartment ceiling. I’d love to have one of those…
Otherwise my major influences tend to be people like Judy Logback, Jeffery Sachs, Edward O. Wilson and Jane Jacobs who all were and are people with inspiring minds (and whom I’d love to do a project with).
Baked salmon with a white wine cream sauce, potatoes and greens. I’m (a Norwegian) vegetarian, but will eat that dish in a flash!
My process (for skulls):
I make quick decisions on the best way to cut up a skull, based on limitations of ceramic mold making. All pieces are further sculpted by hand, adding plasteline and getting rid of major undercuts, as well as clogging nerve openings and suture cracks. I then start making the molds, moving quickly to avoid rot and fungus to the skull (fowl smelling!)
“Everything I know about business I learned at McDonalds”–it’s by my uncle Paul, so I’m naturally obligated to read!–and a bunch of national geographics. I’m also desperately trying to get though Jeffery Sachs book “The end of poverty”.
Daily, I can seek and find inspiration in my surrounding people,
buildings, nature, art, etc. All I have to do is turn on music I want
for the mood I'm looking for, pick up a book, browse online, take a
But what really sticks with me are the things I don't have to seek out.
The everyday, business as usual, yet uniquely inspiring things I come
across just by living in the world. All I have to do is be and the
world drops inspiring jewels right to me. Here are some things I've
come across and taken photos of. These everyday moments noticed
continue to inspire me as I refer back.
Work may get hectic, but when I stop and look, I realize I lead a lucky
life and am blessed with what I get to do and take home money for. I
think my computer desktop is even aesthetically pleasing for the most
Coffee with a friend is always nice. For the conversation and company,
yes, and when the coffee is its own art you want to take a picture of,
Walking around, I never know what I will find. I love when I find symbols and things that reflect the inner, core me.
Definitely core material.
I wish I spent more time walking around in Italy, but looking back at
when I did, this moment of laughter, friendship, and being comfortable
as is makes me smile and pushes me forward.
And the silliness of people just being people inspire me to let my silly out.
I’ve been sort of obsessed with notebooks for as long as I can remember. Back in my junior high days I’d meticulously re-copy (slightly) messy class notes into a neater, more legible Five-Star. Five-Star was always my brand of choice, all the way through college. They were more durable and my OCD mind didn’t need to worry as much about the cover bending since it was plastic. Oh my.
I’ve stopped copying notes, more or less, by now but I still love a fresh, clean, new notebook. And when back-to-school time rolls around I’m inevitably trolling the aisles looking for one to buy. The unblemished pages just hint at the possibility of genius that might eventually adorn them in my script. Yeah, I’m a dork.