Art is a gift to be received and shared and comes in many many forms. Paint, Cook, Travel, Poetry... you name it, if you're sharing creative energy, that's an Art. ~Steph

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Dawn of a New Diva - Renaissance Austin

Meet Renaissance Austin - Artist, Designer, Poet, Dancer, Singer, Dreamer, Entrepreneur. This Queen of creativity and style is indeed Fearless and Living In Color.


Renaissance, one of my favorite parts about being born and raised in Los Angeles has always been the colorful people and Art and you definitely personify that! 

Thanks so much!

First of all, I love your name Renaissance Austin, Talk to me about that.

Gladly! Renaissance Austin for me is like going from Norma Jean to Marilyn Monroe. It's an artistic name that embodies completely who I am and I believe it was destined for me. Considering that I record music and perform every now and then, I was always toying with the idea of what I would name myself artistically as many artist do. As I played around with my own name and being dissatisfied I finally went to the dictionary to look up the word renaissance as the Italian and French Renaissance periods I love greatly, the French Baroque period being my favorite. I discovered that it meant "rebirth" representing these time periods where love, music, poetry, the performing and visual arts, and freedom was so high, thriving, and all worth living for. It was perfect and exactly who I was. To me, it was the divine rights of passage crossing over into a greater part of myself that will impact the world through my artistic creativity!

I had a blast growing up in Los Angeles. Childhood was sweet! For the most part it was just me and my twin brother being raised by my father actually which was very rare because I didn't know any other children who were raised by a single father, so I believe that my upbringing was quite unique to began with. He was very, very smart and as my older sister says, on the edge of genius, an odd ball, and a computer wiz. Growing up we had about 7 computers in our home, tons of books, school materials, and plenty to eat! My dad was a great cook who had spent 9 years in the navy as a chef. You see I love talking about him. He was a biker previously, but by the time my brother and I were born, he didn't bike much, but would take us on the motorcycle for a couple of rounds around the block. I think we were like 6 years old! LOL. He worked at the mechanic shop around the corner from our home taking us with him and it was great. He had wonderful friends that took really good care of us. I remember climbing through cars that were being worked on and one friend in particular that came with his pet snake. It was huge and I was so fascinated. He put the snake around my neck and I knew that I wanted one of my own because I wanted to be like Michael Jackson! LOL
 

I tell you, being raised from the male perspective is highly interesting. Every Saturday was beach day. We would go fishing at Playa Del Rey, El Dorado Park, or Redondo Beach. My brother and I would leave my dad as he tended to the fishing poles and run off to the other side of the beach or play under the bridges pulling mussels of the rocks and grabbing crabs. Those were the days where kids could run off and parents not have to worry about them. (I sound old now LOL). We were just like regular children playing on our block with other kids on the street, playing with bugs, riding bikes, climbing my neighbor's avocado tree. Those were the good days, the beauty of the 80's.

I was still much more shy than my brother and I figured out early on that I was sort of peculiar, different from the other kids, and as we started growing older I would stay to myself more, dreaming, visualizing my life, reading, writing, all of those things. Overall it was a very sheltered life within the city, but what I loved most were the road trips to Vegas or just taking a Sunday drive after church, with no traffic by the way, that allowed my imagination to go beyond the city limits...

Were there heavy influences there for you as far as your Art and Creativity are concerned?

Indeed there are many. My grandmother and designer uncle are my two greatest influences when it comes to fashion, sewing, and crocheting. I don't remember this story, but my grandma tells it all the time how I would try to sew on the sewing machine when I was like 4 years old. She says I would make the sounds and try to make the fabric move but my feet weren't long enough to touch the petal. So I really believe that family I was born into is where I was meant to be. I would flip through all of my uncles sketch books and by the time I was 11 I was already sketching my own designs. The greatest lesson that my grandma taught me was quality and to always make sure the inside looks just as great as the outside. A person should be able to wear an outfit inside out. That's how well it should be made, so I try, with every piece that I make, to implement that golden rule. It's a must and you can never get around it. It's definitely the influence of "excellency".


Is this what you always wanted to do?

That's an interesting question because what I've always really wanted to do was sing, and yes, I do sing, and record, perform, and do some small traveling, but I believe that all of this other creativity is like icing on the cake. I actually never imagined I would be crocheting, knitting, and running an online shop. But with more mature thinking these days and looking back, I realized that I was on that path anyway. So I understand that there are some things you can dream about and visualize that don't always take place and there are some things that you don't dream about all and they do take place. Because my father was a single father, so many women would give him trash bags full of clothes for me. I would rummage through those bags excited to see what was in them. Many of them were too big, so that is where I would began altering things by hand and redesigning them to fit my taste and I was younger than 10, you see! I would pull curtains off the window and make skirts. But did I ever think or dream I would be a designer? Not at all! But here it all is right before me and I accept it with enthusiasm and grace.

Renaissance you do so many things. What are they and of them which is your favorite?

I think I do almost everything that has to do with the visual and performing arts. One day I will pull out an old video of me dancing on VHS for crying out loud and put it on YouTube! I haven't danced in a few years now, but I do dance, sing, write songs, poetry, and stories. I love sci fi the most. I am really good at choreography, hairstyling, and makeup. I paint and have used my paintings in designs that I've sold in the past. I am a photographer and most of all I love to inspire through all that I do. That's the greatest skill. And of course my favorite is singing.

Are you self taught?

I am self taught on a few things, not on all. I was taught to crochet at the age of 8 by my Grandma. I caught on so fast that I just took it and ran with it. Once you know the basics, learning other stitches and techniques come very easy. Singing for me is a natural gift, but I always believe that natural should still be honed too. I took a couple of voice classes to have a better understanding of what I was doing and to come out of my shyness. Rhythm and dance come very easy to me but again, I've had some of the best instructors in military drill, ballet, modern, and jazz dance, teaching me discipline and perfection. When I picked up knitting and I just decided to learn really quickly just to be on Knitty Gritty on the DIY Network! I watched a couple of videos on Knittinghelp.com and voile! It was more simple then I thought. I also believed that already knowing how to crochet played an important factor in learning how to knit. Same as jewelry design and assembly. I am still learning new techniques every day, but I always take into consideration what my grandma tells me, "learn everything, learn it all".


You’ve been on some Television shows. What are they? What was that experience like?

In the crafting arena, I was a knitster on Knitty Gritty and had the opportunity to meet Lily Chin. She was so wonderful to me, very positive, and upbeat. The experience was really great and inspiring. For singing, I've been on numerous shows on both MTV and VH1 networks, such as, Next, Celebrity Fit Club, Flava Flav, who is actually one of the sweetest men you could ever meet. He actually brought tears to my eyes with his positive words and appreciation of us being there. I was on a wedding show and have sang at number celebrity weddings with coverage in US magazine. I have one commercial under my belt and look to do more. The experience for me is like home. The stage, lights, sets, and being around costumes and props feel more like home to be then being home sometimes! It is where I am able to fully express myself artistically and display my gift as I was meant to.

You have an Online shop. Are there plans for other businesses?

Yes, I have lots of plans for other business ventures. I am looking to expand my music more and am very excited about that. After selling online for 2 years now and seeing that Etsy has a music section, a section I never really thought to go after, I am now looking to use that section very heavily. I look forward to doing a lot of fun things with my favorite music genres, house music, R&B, relaxation, Soul, and Pop. I am planning to record my poetry, create CD's and poetry books to accompany the CD. I am very, very, happy to get this other expression of me out there for the world to enjoy. It's very difficult right now in music, labels have pretty much crumbled and Artists have to find their own way and go back to grass roots and that is what I am doing. 

What colorful things can we expect to see from you in the future?
Everything that I have to give is what you will see from me. I leave no stone unturned. I am expanding my Etsy shop even more and will eventually have vintage pieces, mainly clothing, and jewelry. It's a true passion of mine. I've spent my whole life shopping in thrift shops while my peers were going to the mall. So far I have my Body Knit collection and the new Goddess collection. I am working on a California collection as well which will be more lightweight yarn, ribbon yarn, and lightweight dresses and a line of lingerie and swimwear.

I will be creating a bridal line of crocheted dresses and accessories for the earthy, simple, but queenly bride. My sister keeps on insisting on this one dress that we saw in a magazine a couple years ago, so influences from that particular dress will be included in the California collection. My brother who is a driving force in my business and who just finished a wonderful fashion class helps me design for our men's collection. We have finalized the new designs for crocheted and knit hats, 70's inspired knit skinny ties and bow ties, and cardigans and sweaters, both knit and crocheted.

I will be expanding my YouTube channel greatly this year finally being able to get more crochet and demonstration videos uploaded. And because it is a channel, I have organized shows to display every talent I have, mapping out my show called "Blue Light Sessions", a music show. There will be a dance show, craft show, and a round table discussion show for those who have a voice and can talk about their experiences and the current times bringing solutions on how understanding can bring all people together no matter what "pedigree", upbringing, or side of the tracks you come from. So I really look forward to invited guests, from musicians, producers, writers, and activists.
 

What Inspirational words do you have to share with us Renaissance?

I will say, live your life to the fullest and with integrity. Don't be afraid of anything. If you are holding off learning a new craft or haven't tapped into your creative side, which I believe no matter what, everyone has one, then do so now. Every decision we don't make, but the ones we can make, think them through well, but do not prolong them, set your heart on it and go for it. Whether it was the right choice or wrong one, you learn from it and then in the learning you receive what was right true...Live with a good and pure heart, love what you do, be patient in what you don't love doing because it's not forever. Life is a journey, so keep driving!

Another fun and fabulous interview! Life is full of so many wonderful colorful people. Thank you so much Renaissance.  Be sure to update us on all of your fun upcoming wonders! 
Live In Color!

8 comments:

Linda G said...

Just a GREAT interview !!

Kathryn Magendie said...

This is wonderful - made me smile the entire way through. And, Renaissance: you have a gorgeous beautiful smile!

Renaissance Austin said...

Thank you ladies so much. I had a blast doing this!

Ren

Angie Ledbetter said...

Well, that's a lot of talent, inspiration and grace in one lovely package. Great interview.

Renaissance Austin said...

Thanks so much Angie!

Ren

Steph Jordan said...

Thank you ladies. Ren is an absolutely colorful spirit. I had a blast with her interview. We will keep you updated on Ren and her career! :-)
Steph

HeArt Collective said...

so glad to see ren's interview on here! she's such an inspiration! good stuff, steph!
xoxo
jul

Joe Average Brother said...

This is Joe Average Brother. Sorry I'm so late to the party. I met Renaissance in 2012 at Sabor Y Cultura and The Last Bookstore. In my poem, "Zulu Alpha", I called her "Happy Girl". She was always so positive and upbeat. She always brought a smile to my face.

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