Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Allison Patrick and Zipper8Lighting is my lighting design company. I grew up in New York City, where I now have my own apartment, which I share with my dachshund puppy, Basel. A year ago I graduated with a master of architecture from Columbia University. I learned more in those three years than I ever could have ever imagined, including the knowledge that, deep down, I’d never truly be happy following the traditional career path I thought I wanted. I took a bit of time off after finishing school and focused on learning all I could about Etsy and selling online. Once I realized that I had a substantial number of lights designed, I split them off from my more general design business and opened Zipper8Lighting.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I still think I’m trying to decide what to do when I “grow up,” so right now I’m interning at the Guggenheim Museum in the exhibition design department. I love being able to use my architecture degree in a more unconventional way. But when my internship is over in December, who knows? If I could make selling lights on Etsy a full-time job, I’d jump at the chance, but for now I’m just looking for more unique ways to use my creative skills. For instance, I’d love to get into the business of designing shop windows; I think that would be so amazingly cool.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Thriving in Organized Chaos.
My life is a really strong balance of super (slightly obsessively) organized pieces and completely chaotic, visually overstimulated pieces. I know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without both parts.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Truly anywhere and everywhere, both in my daily life and online. Whether I walk into a hardware or 99-cent store, my mind just starts whirling, wondering what I can make next. I love rethinking a material and seeing how I can transform it beyond its standard function into something new and wonderful. Sometimes I feel like I keep a digital catalog in my head of all the inspirational ideas I’ve seen.
What does handmade mean to you?
It means that someone has sat down and put real human thought into making this product for me. Maybe it was one of 100 identical items that they made, but at some point they thought through each and every little detail and step. I think this is also true of great product design; even if an item is now widely produced, you can always tell when there was real love and attention behind the design of something.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
I have always been a crafty person, but growing up I was lucky enough to have the most amazing babysitter who really taught me most of what I know. She is one of the most crafty people I’ve ever met, and we were constantly creating things together. She gave me my first glue gun when I was eight or so, and we used to make decorative wreaths and flour dough and all sorts of different art projects. I’m lucky enough to still see her and sometimes we even sit down and craft together!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I’ve been making things as long as I can remember; I even freaked out my college roommate a bit because she would always come home and find that I had decoupaged something new, like our boring blue recycling bin. But it was only last summer, when I really got started with Etsy, that I realized I could actually make things for other people to buy and use. That was a pretty special realization. In fact, it still takes my breath away when someone purchases a piece from me, because I still have that moment of thinking, “Wow, someone actually wants to bring something that I made into their home.”
How would you describe your creative process?
I’d like to say that I sit down and carefully plan each project, but that’s just not the way my mind works. My process is probably closer to throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks! Once I have all the materials I need, I usually just jump right in.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Charles and Ray Eames. I love their combination of gorgeously designed items which are also 100% functional (and the idea that they worked together as husband and wife).
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have this broom that I actually made when I was around age 11. I had been sent to live with my great-aunt and uncle in Des Moines, Iowa for two weeks to attend the Living History Farm Day Camp. We learned that the sign of a really good broom is its ability to stand up on the straws, without any support from a wall or a person. I still remember the pride I felt when my broom stood up on its own! To this day it;s displayed on top of my bookshelves, standing up on its straws just as it is supposed to, and it still fills me with that childhood pride every time I look at it.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I’d love to have a family and to be able to do my own thing, outside of the norm, without having to explain or justify to anyone. Though as long as I can be creative, it really doesn’t matter where I end up, because I know that I’ll be happy.