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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Monday, July 4

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Feature Mon Jun 09 2008

An Interview with Lana Crooks

Visitors to The Crooked Art of Lana Crooks won't actually find too much that is crooked, at least in the literal sense. Her plush pieces -- of animals, armies of little men, frogs, and other delights -- are soft and round, and a bit more huggable than angular. We recently spoke to Crooks about her craft.

Tell us about your artistic education and background.

I have always been artistic in some way. I focused on painting in high school, and basically filled my schedule with art classes. I attended Savannah College of Art and Design and received a BFA in Illustration.

How did you get started with plush materials?

I wanted to figure out a way to mix illustration and costume design. Plush was what I came up with.

As a kid my grandmother would make my Halloween costumes. I think I learned more by watching her sew. She taught me a little, but really only the very basics. The first sewing project I remember was a costume contest at a stable -- I made a Halloween costume for a horse. I must have been about 13.

Where do you draw inspiration?

Ideas come to me randomly/sporadically. Sometimes, I will be walking down the street and an image will pop in my head. I'll think "wouldn't it be funny if (insert comical situation)," then I'll go home and sketch it out.

Besides making plush creatures and things, you are a costume designer. Tell us about that.

In college, I started making costumes for parties and for other people as a hobby. For example, I made a costume for a post-apocalyptic party that was made out of gas mask parts and lengths of plastic hose.
After making stuff like that for a couple years, I started making costumes for films and shorts. I still do some work for -- random specialized costumes and props. We did some commercials for the Comic Vault here in Chicago; I made a couple classic super-hero costumes for that. And I recently wrapped a pilot for MTV.

What is the pilot about?

I am not at liberty to take about the pilot as of yet! I can tell you I also worked on the sets for it.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Sometimes I will draw something out that takes a lot of "engineering" to make it translate well into plush. I guess physics is the most challenging aspect of what I do.

Tell us about your collaborations. How many? Who? How do you know when a collaboration is going to work?

I have done collaborative works with Max Bare (one of the owners of Get Knifed Gallery) for our group show at A.Okay Official, which runs till June 22. I made a limited edition series of plush with the artist Matt Sharp. I also am currently working on a piece with Alex Willan for a show coming up in L.A. in August. There is talk of other projects with several other people, but nothing solid as of yet.

What's coming up for you events-wise?

Get Knifed is having a group show with an Arcade theme on June 13 (1932 S. Halsted #201, from 6-10 p.m.). I am also participating in a benefit called Rock the Future at the Debonair Social Club on June 19, which will have artwork from several artists projected on the walls as well as a slew of DJs. Then I have my solo show Nov. 1-30 '08 at A.Okay Official (3270 N. Clark).

About the Author:

A native of Johnstown, PA, Lauri Apple is a contender for the title, "world's most renowned bag lady," thanks to her somewhat popular (at times) website, FoundClothing. Lauri has a JD and doesn't know why, but it will take about 30 years for her to pay it off, and that worries her. Her favorite cities are Prague, Pittsburgh, Austin and Chicago. When she's not looking through people's trash, she's either painting, taking pictures, or making/thinking about making cartoons about her weird life.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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