Tamar Mogendorff is a soft sculpture artist based in Brooklyn, New York. This talented artist has serendipitously found herself creating beautiful stuffed textile pieces that have found a home in the children’s market. Creating pieces that speak to her and come about through an organic process, Tamar’s whimsical sculptures connect with the child within us. The artist shares her inspirations, process, and even lets us in on the fact she has a collaboration with The Land of Nod in the works.
When did you begin creating these magical creatures?
I started around 12 years ago. It was a hobby that took off and became my main thing. It was unplanned, it just happened and has shaped itself over the years. I needed some time to actually figure out what is that I am doing – as it all surprised me. And still does. I had no idea that I was making objects or decor for children, until I realized that the bird cages are mobiles. The heads were also one of the first pieces I created. I loved the idea of the taxidermy aesthetic and now there so many of them around.
Did you complete formal studies in the arts or are you self-taught?
I went to art school and studied graphic design. It has been a part of my evolution. It taught me a lot about editing, colors and balance. I learned how to sew from my Mom. I consider myself an autodidact when it comes to my own work. I enjoy following my ideas rather than focusing on technique. I have a vision and I try to see how I can make it come to life the way I want. I taught myself to use a sewing machine; and I also taught myself how to crochet and sculpture. I am not sure I do it the “right” way, but it somehow works.
From where do you draw your inspiration? How is this inspiration then materialized?
Inspiration is so random. I sometimes get inspired while working on something and get ideas for other pieces. Inspiration can come from a fabric or from a new technique I’ve discovered. I am also inspired by colors and imagery from movies and my travels. I really believe in being present in the studio. Trying new things and letting myself go with all the ideas that flow while working. Fabric is also a great inspiration for me. The right fabric can help me create so many stories.
Is there a story behind each sculpture? You mentioned finding inspiration in fabrics, do you source textiles first or start with a sketch?
It varies… I always look for interesting fabrics. I often find a fabric and set it aside until I find the right use for it. Textiles provide endless opportunities – colors, patterns, textures. If it is a wool or a cotton or a linen, etc… Mixing textiles is a challenge that I love. So many stories can be found in this process. Dying the fabrics also adds to the layers and stories.
How does childhood inspire you?
The simplicity of happiness found in childhood inspires me. There is a kind of freedom that we long for as adults. In a way, I still have that feeling. I don’t create specifically for kids. I don’t think about what kids would like, I think about what looks and feels right for me. I think it is more about telling a story, we all like stories…and we are all a bit sentimental.
Is there a place that fuels you creatively, for instance, a room in your home, a street in your neighborhood or place you travel to?
New adventures, new places, people, nature and culture always fuel me. My studio is where the creativity is really happening in a physical sense. The ideas become objects. I love having this room for myself. My sanctuary.
Among the pieces you have created, do you have a favorite?
I like many of them for different reasons. Sometimes I make pieces to accompany a collection, so they are more of a story. I like when things come together easy and beautifully, such as the colors and sizes working together. I don’t think I have a favorite one. There are times when I feel that I need to make something I have not made for a while and it is really fun. Like realizing that I missed that design. I enjoy the little features, like the eye lashes, the long thread like feathers, etc.
You have collaborated with designers like Atsuyo et Akiko, what is this process like? Do you enjoy those sorts of collaborations?
I have collaborated with many designers and few years ago with Atsuyo et Akiko. It is fun and many times it gives you the ability to reach a new niche of clients and new styles. It has to be a successful combination between my work and whoever I collaborate with. It can be challenging at times, like collaborations I did with the Neue Galerie in New York, Megan Park Australia, etc. When it is a collaboration with a textile designer, there is the opportunity to work with unique fabrics and follow the vision of their collection and then I bring in my own view and style.
Are you currently working on a piece or project that you are excited about? Would you like to tell us a little bit about it?
I am working on a few very exciting projects, but I cannot reveal much at the moment. I will be doing some fun stuff for Land of the Nod, including a few display pieces for their main store in Chicago and some exclusive pieces. I have also made some exclusive pieces for other home decor stores and will have a fun special end of the year big sale/event.
Tamar Mogendorff// Website
Interview by Leslie Schor