Traci Bunkers is a mixed-media and fiber artist living in Lawrence, Kansas. Through her one-woman business Bonkers Handmade Originals, she sells her creations such as hand-dyed spinning fibers and yarns, original rubber stamps, handmade books, kits and original artwork. She also designs knitwear and is a knitting, spinning and crochet technical editor. On the mixed-media side, Traci is known for her visual journals and the photography that she uses in them. She’s written two books herself, Print & Stamp Lab, on alternative printmaking techniques and tool development, and The Art Journal Workshop, an in-depth and hands-on approach to visual journaling. Her visual journal pages and artwork have been also featured in many books, including 1,000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspirations by Dawn Sokol, and The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery by Karen Michel.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: Lots of things: my journal, printing with thermofax screens on fabric and paper, altering my original photos, and getting geared up to write another book. But right now I’m doing “30 Days of Get Your Art On” where I do some sort of art every day, then post it on my blog. This is my third round of “30 Days.” In January, I did “30 Days of Carving” where I carved a stamp every day. Then in March I did “30 Days of Journaling” where I worked in my visual journal every day. Both of those got a lot of attention on my blog, so this time I invited anyone who wanted to take on the challenge to join me. It’s great to see how it’s inspiring people to get over that hump and do some art work. You can see it all on my blog.
Q: Why do you make art?
A: Because I like to. Because I want to. Because I have to. Because I lose my center if I don’t.
Q: What’s your current favorite, can’t-live-without-it item?
A: My iPod touch and the camera apps. I love the instant gratification so I can use the photos in my journal right away. The runner up is my Copic Air Brush System.
Q: What’s your favorite tool or material?
A: My favorite is what ever I’m using at the time. Right now I’m in love with Stabilo Woody watercolor pencils. I love them because they are chunky, making it easy to hold, and they are a combination of a watercolor pencil and watersoluble oil pastels. LOVE. But I’ve had an ongoing love affair with Pilot Pocket Brush Pens (well, really any Japanese brush pens, but the Pilot Pocket Brush is my favorite), and Sakura Glaze Pens.
Q: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
A: I have a lot of books that I’m reading all at the same time, all piled around my bed, so that’s a hard one to answer. But here are some of the ones I’m reading right now. Kick-Ass Creativity by Mary Beth Maziarz, I’d Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson Stanfield, and The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. But I absolutely loved Eat, Pray, Love. And I think I’m going to re-read for about the third time Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.
Q: What’s the most inspiring trip you’ve ever taken or adventure you’ve ever had?
A: In college, I studied abroad for a year in Nice, France. We were out of school more than we were in because of all of the student strikes that year. So I traveled all over Europe visiting friends who were also studying abroad and seeing museums and works of art I had studied about in art history. Venice was my favorite. I went several times, including during Carnival, which was other-worldly and very magical with everyone walking around in costumes. For my costume, I made a Carmen Miranda style dress out of plastic grocery store bags. It was pretty cool.
Q: What’s the last thing you cooked?
A: For lunch, I made a potato/veggie omelet. Here’s my recipe: In a large skillet, fry up some sliced potatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper & curry powder (I put curry powder on everything when I cook). When the potatoes are almost done, throw in some chopped veggies (fresh or frozen) and more seasoning. While that’s cooking, beat 3-4 eggs in a bowl. When the veggies are almost done, add the eggs to the potato/veggie mix and stir it all up. When the eggs are almost done, shred some cheese on top. Then eat it.
Q: If you could surround yourself with only one color, what would it be?
A: Orange. Or maybe ochre/mustard gold.
Q: Do you have a talisman/power garment/magical thing you wear?
A: No, but I’ve always wanted one! Any ideas, or love-gifts?
Q: What’s your favorite place in all the world?
A: Probably Italy or France. I dream about living in the Italian countryside with other artists like in the movie Stealing Beauty. We could make art, then talk about it over lovely meals while sitting outdoors looking over the vineyard and olive trees, and drinking wine. Then we’d go into town and hang out at a cafe. We’d draw and I’d also take pictures.
Q: What one thing do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
A: Go to Russia. I have quite a collection of Russian cameras and I would like to see their homeland. In fact, I’d like for them to see their homeland again. So I’d take them with me to shoot my journey.
Q: What’s the best day you’ve ever had?
A: I try to have a lot of best days that I’ve ever had. But one thing that pops into my mind was the first time I saw one of my books in a bookstore. It made all of my hard work seem real.
Q: What’s today’s Word to Live By?
A: Get Your Art On! That one is for everyone. But for me personally, right this second, “It’s Time For a Revolution! I’m a vigilante for my own life.”
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Chocolate ice cream. And right now, watching True Blood. Better yet, eating chocolate ice cream while watching True Blood.
Q: What do you listen to when you create?
A: My iPod on random! I have a very wide taste in music. Here’s some of what you might here on my iPod: ABBA, Florence + the Machine, Gogol Bordello, Sly & the Family Stone, Macy Gray, Jolie Holland, Iron & Wine, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Elliot Smith, Sparklehorse, Coco Rosie, Nick Drake, Johnny Cash, Josh Stone.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
A: What do you mean IF. I do have superpowers. I’m MacGyver’s Love child. I can turn anything into a printing or stamping tool. See my first book Print & Stamp Lab.
Q: With whom would you love to spend one day making art?
A: Frida Kahlo, Francesca Woodman, and Hundertwasser, Chagall & Miro. We could have a fantastic art making day together.
Q: When is your favorite time of day?
A: It varies. I like working at night, but am trying to get out of that so I can get more sleep. But whenever it is, I like it when it’s quiet out. Even though I do often listen to music, I also like to work in silence.
Q: What is on your workspace right now?
A: Oh, a whole lot of stuff! Mainly my journal and some art supplies.
Q: What is your earliest memory?
A: I’m not sure if it’s my earliest, but making Shrinky Dinks when my grandmother was babysitting me. I’ve always made stuff, even as a little kid.
Q: What’s your one favorite material thing?
A: My iPod touch because of the camera and all of the photography apps.
Q: What’s your best piece of advice for artists?
A: Get Your Art On! No excuses. Just do it. And do it everyday! Don’t worry about what other people think. And, try to find your own voice, your own style.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS