Ursula Norris – Tin Wings / Mixed Media Artist

Please give a brief description of your background as it relates to your career.

I went to college in North Carolina (my birth place) where I majored in design.  I’ve been drawing, painting, crafting and creating as long as I can remember.  I started an art business in Baltimore with my best friend which really thrived for a few years.  After moving to Nashville, I lost a little steam and got a little bogged down with other things for a while.  But recently I’ve had a ‘rebirth’ so a friend of mine thought the name ‘Tin Wings” would be appropriate on so many levels.

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Describe your approach to your art and the mediums you work in the most:

Most of my artwork is re-purposed and focuses on creating something out of discarded materials and random found objects.  I work mostly in mixed media: old wood, wire, metal, copper, nuts, bolts, knobs-you name it!  The idea of turning tossed materials (that would otherwise be headed to a landfill or littering our streets) into art is what makes my craft so rewarding.  I often find a “treasure” when I’m out on a run or doing errands and think, “wow!” what can I make out of this?

When you consider your life as an artist, is it rewarding?

ABSOLUTELY!  I feel really fortunate to be doing something I am passionate about.  I love being able to work out of my home and have the flexibility to be available for my daughters (such as) volunteering at their school, etc.

Where do you sell most of your work?

Right now I am selling most of my work on my ESTY website www.tinwings.com, at A Thousand Faces in Hillsboro Village, Simon and LuLu (in Franklin), by word of mouth and through home shows.  I’m hoping to expand in the near future and I’ve been talking with some other art store owners in other cities.  I’d LOVE to participate in some larger craft shows.

What are some of the challenges?

Probably my biggest challenge is promoting my work…getting my art and my name out there.

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What or who gives you inspiration?

I am inspired by my girls and their uninhibited creativity, by other artists, by nature, by a random washer or piece of wood or metal that I might find.  By people who aren’t afraid to take a chance and go for their dreams; (I’m inspired) by a really colorful sunrise. I seriously could go on and on.

Describe the Art Community in Nashville.

I am really just starting to get my foot in the door of the art community here, but from what I’ve experienced so far, it seems to be very supportive, inclusive, and diverse and allows room for a lot of opportunities!  I hope to become more involved over the coming months.

What advice can you give to first time art buyers?

When you are buying art, buy with your heart!  Buy art you absolutely LOVE and don’t worry about name or popularity or color or style.  If it “speaks to you” buy it!

What is the most common mistake people make when purchasing art?

Probably the biggest mistake people make is buying a piece of art because it is trendy or because of the “name” and not necessarily buying art that they love.  Art doesn’t have to be expensive.

Name your favorite artist(s) and why?

Ooohh, again, really tough…there are so many…I’ll mention a few:

  • Rey D’Alfonso (Chattanooga, TN) I love his story and his spirit and I am REALLY drawn to his art because of the time and energy he puts into his craft.
  • Tommy Crow (Santa Rosa Beach, FL) his style of photography speaks to me.  I enjoy his creativity and his eye for things to photograph.
  • Trevor Mikula (Nashville, TN) for his choices of vivid color and his technique of painting with a palette knife is amazing!
  • Kathy Frey (Chicago, IL) is an outstanding jeweler. I love the wire balls she makes for her pieces.

In Nashville, what local artists have you noted and why?

Linda Turner, owner of A Thousand Faces; I love her paintings and her jewelery.  She has been so easy to work with and so helpful getting me started here in Nashville.

What is the greatest trend you see for the next year?

I see art heading more in the ‘green’ direction: more eco-friendly with more upcycled/repurposed art, more vintage things, and more environmentally friendly pieces.

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Give us one of your favorite personal extravagances that just makes you happy.

Going to the movies!

Can you tell us a funny story, perhaps something ludicrous that has happened to you in your career?

When I was doing an art show in Baltimore a really sweet woman commissioned me to make a painted mirror for her young daughter with a ‘flower and butterfly theme’.  She wanted the word “butterfly” written in metal on the frame so I worked long and hard making it just as she specified.  As I pulled the mirror out of it’s packaging to show her, she was raving ‘oh it is PERFECT!  I LOVE the color, and the flower, and the…GASP! It says “BUTTFLY!” Needless to say, I stuffed it back in the bag, remade the mirror, delivered it in time and everyone was happy.  Meanwhile, I hung that mirror in my studio as a reminder to always TRIPLE check spelling ;>

What are the three things you simply can not live without?  (Exclude family and friends!)

  • Running
  • Diet Coke
  • Sunshine