Pittsburgh Technical Council

Get to know the Co-CREATORS: Monica & Lori

Get to know the Co-CREATORS: Monica & Lori

Article Published: January 23, 2017

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Co-Create is more than just a program. Co-Create is made up of local entrepreneurs and each individual brings own purpose to the program and are at different stages of their own journeys.  To help you to get to know each of these amazing entrepreneurs, over the next few months, we will be sitting down with each of them.

This month, you’ll get to learn more about the collaborative craft workshops of Pittsburgh native Monica Yope and the hybrid digital art of Lori Hepner.

First up, is Monica Yope of Pop Craft:

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Q: Describe yourself in one sentence.

A: I’m a Pittsburgh native and creative entrepreneur who loves entertaining, cats, and figuring out how to make all things craft related.

Q:  Why did you become an entrepreneur?

A: I’ve been dreaming up business ideas since I was young.  Starting my own business is something I’ve always wanted to do and how I want to make a living.

Q: What’s been the most unexpected challenge you have had to face since becoming an entrepreneur?

A: When I was starting my business I had read that loneliness is something that entrepreneurs face.  Despite having a supportive husband, family and friends, going through feelings of being alone in my business was a big challenge for me. Joining different groups and networking with entrepreneurs has helped me overcome those feelings.

Q: What's your favorite creative space in Pittsburgh?

A: I love the Warhol Museum.  It has Andy’s works from his early career as a commercial artist, as well as some of his most notable Pop Art works, two genres of art which I have been attracted to since I was in middle school.

Q: Who is your favorite local artist?

A: With the risk of being too easy to predict, Warhol is my favorite Pittsburgh artist.  Mundania Horvath is my favorite current local artist, I have a few of her Nautical Map Diagrams in my home that I absolutely love.

Q: What is a business that has inspired you?

A: I was inspired to make the leap into entrepreneurship when my best friend since age 4 started her own business, Little Star Ultrasound, in the South Hills.  I saw myself in her shoes as a strong female entrepreneur, and she gave me great insights as we exchanged our experiences starting a business.  

Q: How can people see or get involved in your work?

A: Pop Craft is a pop up crafting business and I keep regular dates with the bars and maker spaces where I teaching my craft workshops around Pittsburgh.  You can find out where I’ll be, what craft projects you can make and buy tickets on my website, http://popcraftart.com.  

 

Next up is artist Lori Hepner:

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Q: Describe yourself in one sentence.

A: Light-enabled, LED ninja, visual creator of imaginative landscapes to run wild in. Oh and artist, residency-founder, and professor.

Q:  Why did you become an entrepreneur?

A: I’ve spent a good amount of time exploring Arctic Landscapes through artist residencies over the past 3 years. These are times and places where artists are plopped down, either in the outdoors or in studio spaces, outside of their comfort zone and asked to make or think about art.  These experiences have been times where I learn more about myself while also meeting some fabulous people who become cherished friends through the time spent together that I knew I wanted to facilitate experiences for other people.  There is something about being in nature with artists that creates space for unexpected conversations and laughter that has been life-changing for me. I hope to create times and places in Western PA where this can happen, for both artist and adventurers, which is what I’m doing with River Routes first canoe trip residency in June 2017, which is  open to applicants now!

Q: What’s been the most unexpected challenge you have had to face since becoming an entrepreneur?

A: The whole “sales” aspect of it.  I’m pretty idealistic when it comes to artmaking and have always made work based upon a concept and not how easily it might appeal to a market.  Turning this around in my head, as when it’s done well, it isn’t a mere swap of money for art, was difficult. The relationship that is in there is key, so once I had that lightbulb go off, it has been easier for me to describe what it is that I do, whether it is with the River Route residency or my ownLED photographic practice that I create in my studio.

Q: Who is your favorite local artist?

A: Would it be wrong to say, all of them?  I’m always delightfully surprised by the levity and humor in Lenka Clayton’s work. Casey Droege has done a fantastic job creating opportunities for artists through her SIX X ATE dinner series, which is also a part of her artistic practice. Matthew Conboyhas similarly created opportunities for artists through Start with Art, where he has partnered with local hospitals to create the youngest art collectors in the world when he presents newborns and their families with a free artwork, which features a different artist each month.  April Friges’ abstract photographs and photo-sculptures push what you can expect from a photograph. Michelle Illuminato, who just left Pittsburgh for Portland, has always inspired me with her approach to making work that fits unexpectedly into everyday life (& who was also my teacher in MCG, back in high school)! I could keep writing, but I know the internet is not infinite, or maybe it is for artists!

Q: How can people see or get involved in your work?

A: To apply as an Artist or an Adventurer for the first River Route Residency, people can do so here. Do it soon, as the deadline is March 1st! I’m always happy for people to contact me to stop by my studio at 57th Street Studios in Lawrenceville.  I have work on my website and online shop, but am also open to commissions for new work for clients who might want something more exclusive or customized. I have 2 pieces in the exhibition Doubt curated by Nadine Wasserman at the SPACE Gallerydowntown, which runs from  2/10 - 3/26.

There is a new LED performance piece that I’m doing, INTERSECTION*OLOGY  with Kendra Ross as Hepner & Ross through the Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s Freshworks! Residency program on March 3rd at 8pm @ Alloy Studios.  It’s a Pay What Makes You Happy event where you can set your own price, so be sure to get a ticket early!

Check back next month to learn more about two of our other Co-Creators! 

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