Friday, June 12, 2015

The Gossip Column with Taheerah Atchia No. 3 | Interview with an A-Lister


BLOGLAND, Jun 12 (w&w HQ) - Intrepid Gossip Columnist, Taheerah Atchia, returns with an exclusive for The Gossip Column, featuring a hot-off-the-press, behind-the-scenes scoop on one of papercrafting's hottest A-Listers: Jocelyn Olson.


Hi there everyone, and welcome back to another issue of The Gossip Column!! It feels like seasons have passed since last month's focus on Geometrics. Judging from your comments and amazing entries you seemed to really be sparked by the trend and the challenge!! I trust that the anticipation between issues has not been too unbearable, but if so, the wait for your latest Gossip fix is finally over!! This month's issue takes another twist as I continue in my aim to bring you something different with each article, and I just know you're going to be enthralled with this month's interview with one of the industry's hottest commodities...

"Are you ready?" I ask, my adrenaline starting a slow course through my veins. I'm nervous, as although I've spoken to Jocelyn a thousand times through messages and e-mails, this will be the first time we've spoken 'face-to-face'. I needn't have worried, though, as once we finally get technical difficulties out of the way, I'm greeted by a smiling, familiar face, and we're instantly at ease, swapping stories about work, our day, crafting, and so much more. It feels like we've been friends forever, and we easily bounce off each other and conversation is easy, and flowing, and fun.

Jocelyn[1] is probably one of my all-time favourite designers, and I've no hesitation in gushing about her work until I've exhausted my vocabulary of all its superlatives. Having known her for years I've witnessed her style change and grow, and that in itself has helped keep her designs at the forefront in terms of incorporating trends. Her accomplishments are many and varied, with competition wins, publications, teaching classes, and countless design teams littering her crafting resumé. Jocelyn's work always keeps me guessing, keeps me trendy, and leaves me always wanting more. I mention that she's one of the people whose work I dissect to subsume into my own style, and she laughs with a mix of warmth and humility. We're gonna get on just fine.

I ask her how she got into crafting, and her journey and evolution in her style. Having been typically creative as a child, Jocelyn decided (when heavily pregnant with her first child) that it would be a fantastic idea to create her own baby announcements after a trip to Michaels ("I'd never seen anything like it [Michaels] before!"). The idea didn't seem as great when she was sat, newborn infant on lap, creating 200 announcements. I remark that she was seemingly ambitious with her crafting from the start; it certainly appears to me that her constant striving to create something new and different is what sets her apart, and must hark back to her being unafraid to take the path less travelled.

A visit to her local craft store a while later (in upstate New York) was what got her hooked on stamping. She started with technique-heavy Tim Holtz styled work - a far cry from her classy, Clean-And-Simple style that has become one of her trademarks, but with her own twist on it, of course. So how would she describe her style, and what makes it trendy? Light, bright, textural, natural are adjectives I tout at her. "Wida[2] said I have an earthiness about my design, which I kinda see" she ponders. We discuss her evolution from technique heavy, to clean and simple, her love affair with digital/hybrid cards (she still uses many digital elements in her work), to her use of layers and mixed media which dominate her style today. I have to confess her current style is my favourite, and provides a constant source of inspiration to me, particularly in the times when I am 'stuck'. Does she have any designers that are go-to inspiration when she's similarly blocked? "No- but I have a Pinterest board full of styles and scrapbook pages that I like, and I'll often use those". We also bounce ideas off each other when we're mid-project, and that's helped us get a good handle on the other's style too. One of Jocelyn's other signature tells is her ability to effortlessly bring in elements from the scrapbooking world and into cardmaking. This is not an easy skill to master but she has it in spades.

I ask her where she thinks the trends come from, and we conclude that stationery and fashion seem to be far ahead of papercrafting product. Jocelyn mentions that the digital designs are also several months ahead of physical product trends, owing to the reduced lead time involved in creating a digital element. She rattles off a list of digital designers and companies I should watch out for and I'm left with a list of 'homework' to research for a later date.

Our conversation continues on the topic of trends. Does she have any favourites that she loves and/or regularly uses? Watercolour, fruit (pineapples are very in right now), Scandinavian style, scribbles, stripes, yellow and grey ("grey is the new black"), gold... we discuss major and minor trends, and how she'll keep her style foremost in all she does. She does incorporate a lot of trends in her work, but she will move on to something different when she feels there are no more 'new' ways to use it. Are there any trends she dislikes or can't wait to see the back of? Yes, but we agree that's a discussion for another day. On trends she predicts could be the next big thing- large floral patterns are top on her list, followed swiftly by the 'spy' stuff we've started seeing appear on the market just recently, cobalt blue as a colour, and mixed media continuing to feature prominently. I'll be watching intently and with anticipation for her prophecies to be fulfilled.

Over an hour has gone by, and we've yet to speak about what should be the most obvious topic of conversation: Gallery Idol[3]. This is how we met back in 2012, as we competed against each other and 18 other amazingly talented designers for the coveted crown of Gallery Idol champion. Jocelyn was selected for Gallery Idol twice (her second innings bagging a Top 5 place) - a testament to her talent and her trendy creations. We discuss the competition and where we've all ended up (it's fair to say the contest catapulted all of us onto bigger and better successes), but the most enduring thing of all is the friendships we forged in a situation where perhaps others would have been at odds for the nature of the circumstances.

Does she have a funny story to share from our Gallery Idol days? "When I was crafting with Miriam [Prantner], and JJ [Bolton], and Tessa [Wise]" she begins, name-dropping several of our competition friends, who also happen to be completely trendy, "and I had an assignment to make a card...  I could not commit to that card [design]... 4 hours I worked on that [card], I would do a sentiment on vellum in different colours, wondering which one looks better... I got done with this card and I'm like 'this is terrible!' - and I threw it away". She laments that in the 17 hour crafting marathon with our friends, she made a grand total of three cards. I feel her pain. My process and work rate are very similar.

That's not where the similarities end. I quickly learn that Jocelyn is a very analytical designer, much like myself. We muse if our scientific/technical backgrounds (she has a degree in Behavioural Neuroscience, a counterpoint to my degree in Astrophysics, and both of us now work in technical fields) have a bearing on how we approach our designs. Much to my chagrin I point out that I thought I was using crafting as a means to escape my day-to-day work, and yet here we are, thinking of every possible angle and technical reasoning before committing something to paper. And we laugh, as it's the only means to counter the pain we feel from the agonising process of making. a. decision.

Is there anything she wouldn't miss if she gave up crafting/blogging tomorrow? "Photographing the cards" she says, without hesitation. She takes approximately 75 photographs per card to settle on the final one or two - and even those she doesn't always like. Having long dispensed with using artificial lighting, she follows the sun and uses natural light for her shots. I say 'follow the sun' and this is no exaggeration - she keeps track of the best time of day, over the entire year, to know what time she should photograph her projects by. Technical, through and through.

She tells me she has many sunny days in her state of South Dakota, having settled here after stays in many locations, and having originated from Phoenix, AZ. She shows me typical images of her neighbourhood and of Phoenix, and by the end of the conversation we've shown each other pictures of our homes and vowed to visit the other whenever opportunity allows.

We talk about the card she's created for today's column. "I was thinking about what stamps I was going to use, and that's how I start off... then I think about the layout... the doilies just came to me... they worked with my repetition of circles, that I was going for". She looks through her stash and supplies, frequently using scraps from the creation of other projects that are on her desk. A heaping of other elements and trends ("fringe, watercolour, mixed media layers... ") and using her stamps in a creative way (using the tree rings stamp as a flower is the kind of thing I *so* would do myself) and it's actually a card that's come together (relatively) quickly for her. I marvel at how she perfectly balances so many layers, textures, techniques, media and colours, and yet her work is light and bright and full of white space.

I couldn't let the column go to print without showcasing a few other projects Jocelyn has created using Winnie & Walter supplies:

With our time drawing to a close, talk turns to a discussion on The Gossip Column and Winnie & Walter's take on trends (how could we not?). To my relief, Jocelyn is a fan of The Gossip Column, and hasn't missed an issue ("that's a kinda loaded question though!" she chuckles). She loves how the articles combine information, inspiration and challenge, and I'm delighted to hear that she learns something different with each article (the money's on its way, Jocelyn) *wink*. We discuss how Winnie & Walter's stamps are super-versatile, and so even with the timeless nature of many of the designs, many of them are easily adaptable to a variety of styles, including, of course, the trendy. We of course discuss hand lettering (another fantastic trend we both love) and remark that Winnie & Walter's 'The Big, The Bold... ' series really almost kickstarted the appearance of hand lettering stamps and contributed to that trend immensely.

With daylight fading on my end, I hit her with one final question: what advice would she give to someone looking to make their work trendy? "Geez, I dunno that I'm an expert on that and able to give any advice that's worthwhile!", she says modestly, "but maybe look at different inspiration and styles and try to see them in different ways, look at the newer products coming out. Find a trend that you like, and put your own spin on it, keeping it to you [your own style]. You don't need to do every trend, but try something new, otherwise your work will always just stay the same". And she claims that she can't advise.

Our schedules now dictating, we bring the interview to a close; but we keep on talking for several minutes after the questions have ceased. We have to each keep reminding the other that we do need to leave, though it's clear we could continue to speak for hours. I eventually hang up, with a rush bordering on the euphoric; thoughts flying through my head for writing up my article for the Column, trends, crafting, and friendship. I'm already thinking of the next time we can speak ("We'll have to make this a regular thing!"), and I already know that once my funds allow, I'll be booking my stay at Casa Olson. Not that we'll manage to complete any cards in any reasonable amount of time - but we'll sure have a great time analysing and thinking them through.

My ears still ringing and my mind still buzzing after my stimulating discussion with Jocelyn, I actually found it easy to channel my design nous to come up with a card that's reminiscent of her style:

I hope you can see a bit of Jocelyn in there - but still in keeping with my own style, just as she advised!

I used the Cover Model: Multifaceted Cutaway die to impress my cardstock with Jocelyn's signature texture, and still allowed for plenty of white space in my design. I thought a lot about mixed media and how to combine it in a light and airy way in my card, and decided to stamp the frame from The Write Stuff: Leave it to Mom onto acetate and heat emboss it before trimming it out and stapling it to my panel. Jocelyn told me she loves to use yellow on her cards so of course I did too!

I added a die cut solid flower, cut from patterned paper, using the In Bloom: Maggie's Roses Cutaways, and slid it underneath my frame, then added a die cut/impressed vellum rose using the same dies. I added a small amount of vellum tassel fringe, cut using the Lulu Fringe Cutaway, then to finish up added a partially inked 'you' from The Big, the Bold, and Extras, also adding some heat embossed black leaves from the set. I used the trio of dots from the set to add some extra black and follow the rule of threes. Although I didn't incorporate repetition in the same way that Jocelyn does, I put my own spin on it by applying it to colours, materials and so on.

One final detail, and in keeping with Jocelyn's love of layers, is a small snippet from a previous card I'd made, featuring stamping from Scenery: Big Bang Bling. I challenged myself to use a few scraps for this card, just like Jocelyn does, and am really happy with the end result - I love this card so so much!!

No Gossip Column is complete without a challenge, and so after learning all about Jocelyn, her work and her style, I had the perfect challenge in mind!

Your challenge is to create a project which is inspired by Jocelyn's style! This could be in any way you choose - from a CASE of one of your favourite designs of hers, to incorporating her favourite trends, or perhaps taking elements from her signature style and putting your own spin on them! I'm asking you to think outside the box and push yourself outside your comfort zone - Jocelyn's style is stunning but there are definitely a few tricks to master! Pick something that speaks to you, but as Jocelyn says, put your own spin on it! I will be looking closely for interpretation of Jocelyn's style, use of trends, but also favouring your own originality as well as execution when it comes to picking winners, so be true to you and show me what you can do!

The Rules

  • Create a brand new project which is inspired by Jocelyn's style
  • Post on your blog or to an online photo album. Ensure you link up to this challenge post in your blog post
  • Your project can be a CASE of the inspiration in this article (or any of Jocelyn's work), or you could take the elements of her style to come up with something unique of your own. Perhaps try a technique or medium that Jocelyn is known to use and feature that on your project. There are no strict rules - as Jocelyn says, do what feels like you and put your own spin on it!
  • You must use at least one Winnie & Walter product for your creation. This can include our free digital products too!
  • Link up your creations to this post using the Inlinkz below. Please use the link to your actual post rather than the link to your blog
  • You can enter as many times as you like!
  • The deadline for linking submissions is Monday 29th June at 11:55pm CST. 
  • I will select one overall winner ('Gossip Queen/King'!) and two honourable mentions ('Hot Gossips'!). The Gossip Queen/King will win $30 credit to the w&w store, and the Hot Gossips winning a $15 credit a piece!
  • Winners will be announced on the following Thursday (2nd July).

Are you ready to put your gossiping skills to the test?! I can't wait to see your creations!!

Just one more thing before you go! We would love your feedback on The Gossip Column and the challenge, so please do leave us a comment on this post! Each and every issue of The Gossip Column will focus on something different and we can't wait to bring you the future issues if you love this feature!

'Til next time, Gossipers... !


Further Reading:


  1. What a great interview! I love Taheerah's take on Jocelyn's style too.

  2. Loved hearing more about how Jocelyn got started crafting and her take on current trends. Her work is always fantastic and so well thought out. You can see the care she takes in adding each element to her cards.

  3. I've always admired Jocelyn's work and it's wonderful to learn more about her, great interview!

  4. I seriously admire both of you wonderful ladies and I am so glad you got to visit with each other!! Looking forward to seeing if I can come up with something for this challenge!! Have fun and thanks for the great article!!!

  5. What a wonderful article ! I am a fan for you both and love all the cards you create! Thanks for sharing and allowing us to get to know both of you better!

  6. Thank you, I really enjoyed reading this article! Jocelyn is one of my favorite designer's! Her work is so beautiful,fun and stylish! I loved hearing about her process! Fun read. Both cards are simply gorgeous! Thanks again!

  7. Loved getting to know more about Jocelyn's style and her creative process..Her cards are just so stunning .I absolutely loved your take on her inspiration card ..This whole post is so inspiring ..Hope to play along this time !!

  8. Another great interview Taheerah!!!
    I feel how much fun it must have been, because it is has been fun reading it :)
    Fabulous cards to INSPIRE too, looking forward to trying my hand at Jocelyn's STYLE!!!

  9. Absolutlely love this girl! "What would Jocelyn do?" A question I ask myself on occasion when stuck in front of a card not knowing what to add next.

  10. Taheerah, I want in on that next phone call! Loved this chat ... LOve Jocelyn and her unmatched style. I can't wait to CASE her... thank you for sharing your obvious friendship. LOve everything about your CASE - right down to that little scrap of patterned paper in the bottom-right corner!
    =] Michele

  11. Yeah girl!! Great write-up and your card is FAB!!!! Adore you both!

  12. Yeah girl!! Great write-up and your card is FAB!!!! Adore you both!

  13. Awesome!!! I LURVE me some Jocelyn!!!! I just LURVE her style too!!! Soooooo can't wait to play!!!! AWESOME cards by both of you ladies!!!! Werd!!

  14. Wow awesome love Jocelyn's style can't wait to CASE it and your CASE is awesome too great inspiration.

  15. Great interview and love the creativity in the cards.

  16. I absolutely love the column - so much information and inspiration! Love the content and you are such an awesome writer Taheerah!

  17. Love Jocelyn's work and will try to CASE her. Fun to know that Jocelyn started with Tim Holtz styled work... something I would never imagine. Gorgeous cards from both!

  18. Such gorgeous cards! Love this!

  19. SUPER post! Jocelyn is as fresh as her work:)

  20. What a marvelous interview and the the cards are spectacular - thank you both :-)

  21. great interview, great cards, great gals!!! xoxo


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