ARTIST INTERVIEW: Alexis Joseph of Case for Making
Company: Case for Making
Artist: Alexis Joseph
We are thrilled to be welcoming Alexis Joseph and her beautiful array of paints and papers to the Craft Fair for the first time. Case for Making, her storefront and workshop space, serves as a hub for exceptional craft, exploration and creative experience.
Alexis Joseph lives and works by the beach in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. Through Case for Making, her storefront and workshop space, Alexis handcrafts her line of pure-pigment watercolors and letterpress watercolor paper goods, and curates a premium quality collection of creative supply basics. Her work as a business owner and artist intersects art, architecture and design, and strives to highlight the presence of creative inquiry in multiple forms.
The Echo Park Craft Fair is celebrating our 10 year anniversary this Holiday, 2019. Can you speak to how long you’ve been doing the Fair and how the EPCF community has contributed to the evolution of your work and business?
This is our first year participating in the Echo Park Craft Fair, and we’re excited and honored to be included in the incredible lineup of designers and makers! I’ve followed along with the EPCF since the beginning and have always admired their ethos, and the strength of the creative community they have cultivated is so abundantly clear. We’re very much looking forward to being a part of all things EPCF in December!
Please tell us about the current work you will featuring this Holiday and speak a bit to how you/your work as evolved over the last decade?
Case for Making is coming up on our 5th anniversary and I feel more excited about who we are as a business right now than ever before. We opened as a curated art supply store selling only goods purchased from larger art material manufacturers. Now we are known primarily for goods we make ourselves here in San Francisco, including our line of handmade watercolors and letterpress watercolor paper goods made by our team at our two workshop/storefront locations.
At EPCF this year, we’ll have over fifty colors of our paint and all eight of our experimental letterpress watercolor paper pads. We’ll also be featuring two exciting new collaborations with local artists/makers and friends: our previously sold-out slipcast ceramic watercolor cup and matching mixing palette, made in collaboration with Julie Cloutier of Cloutier Ceramics, and a limited edition watercolor brush roll and travel set, made in partnership with Gravel and Gold, and featuring their colorful, patterned fabrics. The brush roll will be released at only a few craft shows this season, before the official launch online later in December (if any are left!).
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come into play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
Case for Making’s paint making team is comprised of a wonderful group of women who schedule themselves for paint making shifts based on their availability. Some of them are in school and have other jobs and some of them own their own businesses—they come in because they find the process of making paint interesting, creative and relaxing.
People who have been with us for a while recruit their friends to come help make paint, and we’ve developed an amazing community around the back work table. We chat and laugh as we help each other talk out the intricacies of each color or the best way to get the paint into the little half pans. There are no production quotas, the colors we need to make are handwritten on a piece of paper and crossed off when they are completed . . . we make what we are able to make, and that is all. People are here to help because they want to be here; we have fun, we play with and talk about color, and they want the shop and the work that we do to continue—this is something that feels sustainable to me.
Can you speak a bit to your process? What inspires your work? What techniques do you use to produce your designs? What is the history behind those techniques, and does that inform how you utilize them in your process?
We are inspired by people and their creativity. We are curious about color and texture. We believe that all people are creative. All of our paints are made by hand in our shop in very small batches on a glass slab using a small, handblown glass paint muller. We source our pigments from all over the world and have built a core collection consisting of historic mineral pigments, lakes, natural earths, metallics, synthetics and fluorescents, because we love all of the colors! Our watercolor medium is made primarily from gum arabic, a sap from the Acacia tree. Humans have been making paint for close to 100,000 years—it’s a tactile and elemental process and one that is rarely taught in art classes today. We want to expose people to this process and use it to foster curiosity about art materials, as a way to reengage our people with their own creativity.
We also make a line of letterpress paper goods printed by our friends and collaborators at The Aesthetic Union in SF and bound by hand by our own team. Letterpress printing has been around since the mid-15th century and we’re trying to use it in new ways, to alter our collective ideas on how we approach a blank piece of paper.
What is your underlying philosophy/core vision for your work? And what impact do you hope your creative work will have on your community?
All of us at Case for Making firmly believe that all people are inherently creative and we are here to remind everyone of this fact. Our paints are made from pure pigment and natural binder. To us, being creative and making art is not about drawing, painting or executing something well, it’s about being interested in developing the marks you make and ending up with a series of marks that could only ever have been made by you. It’s about asking yourself questions and testing your ideas, only to look back and determine for yourself what you like and why, and from there posing more questions. It is experimental, inquisitive and self-reflective. Our hope is that more people turn back to their creativity and carve the time out of their busy lives to engage in this important work.