Old stuff becomes quirky, new wall and neck garnish. Alexa Lett enjoys the art of giving casual items renewed life and a fresh new purpose. Her inspiration for art comes from contradiction…rust and lace, pearls and wood, metal and fabric…books and paint…and a pure affection for anything considered vintage. Her ideas and art have been featured on various HGTV and Discovery Channel segments and shows, numerous crafting books and magazines, and her own book “Homemade”. All of her creations are best described as old, new stuff! Re-purpose…re-do…re-invent…re-use…thus, the art of being renewed. This is the philosophy of the arsty-craftsy merchant, Alexa Lett.
On your profile it says, “Alexa Lett enjoys the art of giving casual items renewed life and a fresh new purpose.” How did you begin this process of making art?
Sometimes creating is not a choice, it’s kind of like a can of coke you shake for two days. If you don’t open that baby, it’s just going to explode. If you are someone slightly creative, it becomes impossible to only think about it. You have to create it. Art for me involves three basic elements…word or words, a conglomeration of old stuff, and my insane need to add something stitchy to everything! Most written contributions to my art tend to be quirky and humorous. Serious prose, generally do not accompany my work. I have been known to make up quotes and sign them under a pen name (Secret: I’ll never tell the name of my inner whack-a-doo child). Mixed Media has become my medium. It seems to allow my lack of painting skills to be celebrated in a non-traditional form, nurture my quest for finding the ultimate piece of old junk and somehow mounting it on some other piece of old junk; then cap off the entire piece with a little fabric and thread that probably holds a portion of my DNA, for I’m not a very good seamstress. My secret to artistic style is simple….less is not enough, more can get enhanced, and enough occurs when it is too heavy to hang on the wall!
A reoccurring theme in your artwork has been described as, “The art of being renewed.” In what ways does this theme reflect your own life?
The beauty of creating art to me is this simple fact; there are no rules, guidelines, expectations and/or quotas. Being a gal from the south, I once had a fellow farmer friend I deeply admire, share this simple metaphor, “Just live your life like a goat, every time you get up, it’s a new day.” Not a mantra for daily life, but certainly an approach to creating. Every time I stop at a yard sale, estate sale or auction…and every time I step into my studio, I consider it a new day. I never hunt for any specific thing, and I never sit down to a canvas with a definite plan. It kind of just happens. Oddly enough, the process is always quite gratifying. Not always pleasing to the eye…but, always a renewed attempt to assemble my pleasing opinion of what I consider art. Just when you think you’ve read every possible philosophy book…or deep ethereal meaning of life…or digested the unlimited inspirations that so many artists say they need to create… a simple farmer summed it all up for me, by comparing life to world’s chewing-est, simpleton creature…the goat. Why not?
The materials you use are incredible. Where do you find them? Tell us about some of your most inspiring finds!
My DNA spiral is riddled with generations of “junking” genes. I have always needed to include my home…my clothes…my jewelry…and my art with what I call “old stuff formerly owned by someone else”. To me, vintage goodies add a little history and aesthetic interest to everything. And, after years of accumulation, you must share it in some kind of way…why not weave it into my art?
When I grab the paper every Wednesday, find the Estate Sale listings and see my Saturday morning includes a little junking, I begin to tingle. Not to sound too cliché, but it truly is a treasure hunt every time I cross the threshold of a room full of someone’s discarded stuff. I immediately know if this person was a kindred spirit.
One of the most memorable sales I have ever attended was in Chicago, IL. One of my junking buddies was with me, and we went to a flea market that started at 5pm and ended at 1am. Certainly a window of the day, and method of shopping I was not accustomed. We literally schlepped across the fairgrounds and hunted for junk with a flashlight. I ended up finding some outstanding ephemera (which happens to be one of my favorite things to use in art). Authentic hand written letters, cancelled checks, photos, game cards, receipts and advertising are essential in my creations. I’m somewhat of a purest to use the “real” stuff. Some find it the ruination of good vintage papers…but, I see it as a vehicle of love and preservation.
Your work has been featured on HGTV, Discovery Channel, and Better Homes and Garden. How has this success changed your business?
Having the privilege and opportunity to be featured in national media outlets is…the bomb! Face it, I can create all day in my studio, but having someone exchange their hard earned currency to make a purchase, hire me for my ideas, or feature my art, is confirmation that what I do is liked by someone other than me…and it sometimes brings in much needed revenue to further my “junking” habit… “baby always needs a new pair of shoes”. I am not at all blinded to the fact my buying market is but a teeny tiny minutia of the public. What then becomes my task…is finding them. Television, books and print media become that vehicle to reach liked minded artisans. Every form of success, know matter what it is, opens the door for new creative adventures.
Where can we expect to find you around Nashville and online?
I currently have no art outlets in Nashville…but, I’m working on it. I have a very active art blog available online at:
Online Retail Store:
*Shows and outlets will soon be finalized and available online.
What a great interview! I want to thank Alexa so much for sharing her art and life with us! She is such an inspiration. If you know someone you would like to recommend for a featured interview spot on The Music Inspired Blog, please email me at beth@binglishART.com.