The Garage Girls are taking over Atlanta and making sure the city’s creative and artistic spirit is alive and well. Rachel Herzog, Jen Singh, Lou Callaway and Patty Rollins are the four local artists and friends who united and dreamed up Garage Door Studio, a collaborative concept that highlights emerging artists in the retail shop and promotes a love for creating with classes and camps for all ages. We sat down with the Garage Girls to learn more about their individual connection to art and how they all worked together to create such a cool outlet for artistic expression in Atlanta. First, get to know each woman and her artistic passion, then find out how these women see their business, the local art scene and their connections to the city.
Rachel Herzog, creative mind behind Tickleworm
You use upcycled materials and vintage buttons, sweaters, etc. Where’s your favorite place in Atlanta to find some discarded materials? And where did the name Tickleworm come from?
I like to hit up flea markets, the occasional garage sale and, of course, thrift shops. Value Villages in the area has half-price clothing the last Wednesday in every month. The name came from playing with my son, who was, at the time, 2 years old. He isn’t super ticklish. So I would try to tickle him; he would humor me.
If resources, money, time, etc., weren’t an issue, what’s your favorite piece of art to create?
If I had more time, I would love to create more clothing. I experiment for myself, for fun, but not enough to sell it.
Patty Rollins, creative mind behind Bliss 108
Tell us about LoveBeads.
LoveBeads have changed my life. I began practicing yoga in 1999 with Kashi Atlanta. I was already creating jewelry and had started my jewelry business called Bliss108. I created hundreds of custom jewelry pieces and sold them at wine and cheese shows at girlfriends’ houses. During one particular yoga class focused on love and devotion, I had a vision to create a necklace that had 108 beads to represent a spiritual mala and use all seven chakra colors. I immediately went to my beading table and created my first LoveBead necklace. That next week I met a metal designer, Judy Parady, in Decatur, and she helped me to create a sterling silver piece that would hang in the front of the necklace, serving as the guru bead. I found a metal caster who created my first mold, and I bought enough sterling silver to cast 100 LoveBead tags.
My creation had become reality. I gave my very first necklace to my yoga teacher. Months later, I was able to give another LoveBead necklace to the Dali Lama when he visited Atlanta. I now have created and sold thousands of LoveBead necklaces and bracelets all over the United States.
Creating art seems like a spiritual process for you. Can you explain what art, in any form, means to you?
To me, art is reaching inside oneself to tap into deep emotions and release whatever one is feeling. Whenever I do that, I create what’s living in my heart. And, most importantly, I am able to connect with my higher power and therefore connect with other humans around me. I find such strength in connecting with women as we travel our path called life together. I am enjoying teaching art classes to women since we opened our art center. We create art together and leave with a new-found skill and connection with each other.
Jen Singh, creative mind behind Jen Singh Creatively
How does your process differ when creating art for a client (based on your work as an art director/commercial illustrator) versus creating art for yourself and just the love of creation?
An assignment given with an art director’s vision is definitely more of a challenge than creating for myself. But one of the greatest things I took away was the deadline structure. Sometimes I had to come up with concepts in 24 hours to present. There are moments when I imagine I miss those days, and for kicks, try to give myself a similar structure in order to crank out my own work.
You’re president of the Avondale Arts Alliance. Why take a leadership role in the effort of spreading arts awareness throughout Atlanta?
Engaging community and supporting the arts has always been a draw for me. Working in collaboration with other creatives is rewarding and really satisfying in making ideas and projects come to life.
Lou Callaway, creative mind behind Skipping Daisies Designs
You are a jewelry designer and started Skipping Daisies Designs to put “smiles on the faces that wear your creations.” What’s the piece you’re proudest of creating and why?
I have two pieces that I am proudest of — the first is my first daisy pendant for Skipping Daisies (it is a hand-fabricated fine silver with an 18-karat yellow center). The second pendant I’m proudest of is my very first vitreous enamel daisy pendant that added color to my metal work. Each one of these begins a new stage of Skipping Daisies Designs. I love and cherish both of these pendants.
What’s inspirational about flowers to you?
I have always loved flowers for their beautiful colors. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and colon cancer in 2008. The next three years were a little crazy and unpredictable. I wanted flowers around me all the time; they just made me feel better and gave me a little happy. Flowers inspired me, and that is when Skipping Daisies Designs was created. I wanted to make jewelry that would put a smile on your face when you wear it.
Lightning round, everyone share your answers!
Besides the other Garage Girls, who is your favorite local artist?
LC: Right now, I would have to say my favorite artist is Ricky Frank — he is an awesome cloisonné enamel artist in Marietta.
PR: Oh, I have so many, it’s impossible to list one person. We have over 70 artists in our shop right now, and I’ve watched how hard each person works to deliver their craft to us. I don’t always connect personally with what they create, but I’m constantly inspired by their dedication to their work.
JS: Sarah Watts — I love her quirky pen-and-ink illustrations.
RH: Kathy Wolfe — we have her in the boutique, and I have two of her chicken/rooster pieces in my house.
What’s it like working with three other powerful women?
JS: We’re all very different, but in the end, we’re pretty good at respecting each other’s strengths. It’s all about balance … and tolerating each other’s playlist.
RH: I am so glad I have partners that have different strengths than I do. It is nice to have people to share the ups and the downs of the business and to bounce ideas off of.
PR: Women, especially these women, are amazing! Not only have we started a new business together, we also continue to create our own art, raise our children and support our husbands and our families. And still find time to take care of ourselves.
LC: I am so grateful to have such powerful business partners. Starting a new business is not for the weak.
Why is art education important for the next generation of creative minds?
RH: Growing up, I had the most fabulous art teachers, all through school, even into college. They just taught to think outside the box, change your perspective on how you are looking at something, and even when you think you’re done, you may not be. Everyone should have a chance at being able to be who they are in the classroom.
JS: Having the opportunity to express yourself through drawing, inventing characters and imaginary worlds — it’s intoxicating and makes your brain buzz. Everyone needs to feel that.
PR: Education in general is the way we teach and learn ourselves. To create art and feel free, one has to look into their life choices and use art to reach deep and create and grow as a human.
LC: With technology being so important in our everyday lives now, I believe kids and adults need art to be creative and use a different part of their brain. Art and creativity is known to build confidence and help destress.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
LC: Never be afraid to go after what you want; if you fail, learn from that and try again.
PR: I am in perfect timing with the universe.
JS: Wear sunglasses and sunscreen, take your vitamins and floss.
RH: What stands out is a piece of advice that was said when I was learning to whitewater paddle: “Look where you want your boat to go, not where you don’t want it to go.” I find that I use that in life and in business.
Where’s your favorite Atlanta gallery/studio/art space?
RH: MudFire — they have a great working studio and gallery.
JS: Little Tree Art Studios in Avondale. There are studios and workspaces tucked inside this warehouse stretched along Franklin Street in the Rail Arts District.
PR: I will always be attached to The High Museum of Art.
LC: It would have to be Garage Door Studio. My second, is Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. I grew up taking classes there and took many with my mother after college.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding family, friends and faith.
RH: Crafting, my iPad (I read A LOT), exercise
JS: Yoga, Amazon Prime and wine (without the last two, life simply would not be as engaging)
PR: Music, adventure, love
LC: My phone, red wine, sunny days
Thank you to Rachel Herzog, Jen Singh, Lou Callaway and Patty Rollins of Garage Door Studio for sharing more about their own creative processes, as well as their thoughts on the Atlanta art scene.
And as always, we give a digital pat-on-the-back to the extraordinary CatMax Photography.