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BengjyMinu – Sunday Artist Interview

Continuing with my Sunday Artist Interviews, now it’s 5 months in and going brilliantly! I can’t even describe how happy I am that these have caught on… Please do take a look back at the other artists who have willingly answered the questions, but for now, here’s the lovely Carmina from BengjyMinu to tell us who she is and of course, her favourite cheese – plus a very Happy Birthday Carmina! x

First of all, who are you?

I am Carmina Andra Ardelean, but for most I am one of the halves of BengjyMinu, since work seems to be all I’m about lately. I own a design & build leather workshop, focused on handcrafted, timeless leather goods, minimalist in form and versatile in function. Although Romanian at origins, I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I share my home-based workshop with Bengjy – my husband & other half of BengjyMinu.

When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  What did you answer?

For most of my life I believed I was going to be a writer, or a literary critic, a stay at home bookworm (kind of a stay at home mom, but with books and coffee my sole responsibilities) or a librarian, in some old library that no-one sets foot in, so I could spend my days reading and avoiding people.

What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?

Perhaps the funniest thing that I can put my finger on right now is that, while I was studying to become the artist I wanted to be – writer – I ended up creating a leather shop, all because of a handful of tools and leather scraps I bought to start a new hobby… and never had time for writing since.

What is the hardest part of being creative?

For me, the hardest part of being creative is having to fight against everything that society deems ‘normal’ and creating an environment that nurtures my creative flow. Finding like-minded people to surround myself with and accepting the fact that I might never be able to conform to a work routine and work -life balance are the best things that help me stay inspired. I need chaos to create. There’s lots of sleepless nights, coffee and, most importantly, insane amounts of self doubt at the heart of most things I create.  

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

For anyone just starting out, I can only say this: keep exploring your imagination. Forget about what is expected of you, and don’t focus solely on what others, or you, deem important and needed. Play. My best works started as silly experiments. Also – try to create something every day. Many times I have accidentally created best sellers just because I sat at the table and fiddled with pieces of leather and tools, with no clear design in my head. You don’t have to create only when you feel inspired. Sometimes inspiration shows up while you’re in the middle of the project, and that’s great. Sometimes it doesn’t show up at all, but you’ve done your part.

What subjects inspire you?

I draw inspirations mostly form the material itself. Sometimes I take a piece of leather, study its scars, colour and texture before I find in some hidden jars in my brain the perfect design that would work with that particular piece of leather.

Other times, a walk in the forest, a good book, a trip to an exciting city or a simple thing, like the curious shape of a leaf can trigger a rainfall of ideas that I can barely find the time to write down before they wash away.

Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)

The 3 best living artists, in my little corner of the Universe, are:

 First, the very best artist currently walking the Earth is Justin Vernon of the band Bon Iver. I dare anyone fight me on this.

Second, I admire Stephen King to a degree my Christian friends might perceive inappropriate. I wonder from what dark, dark rooms of his brain he comes out with his incredible stories and how can he sleep at night with a head so full of macabre and horror universes.

Third, Stef Butler of Agni Prasada Burning. Her pyrography is mesmerizing, shocking and inspiring, all at once and more.

Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?

The 3 greatest, but sadly – dead – artists I admire are Michael Jackson, Edgar Alan Poe and Audrey Hepburn.

What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?

Not necessarily my most favourite, but my greatest labour of love is The Raven Bag. This item takes me roughly 17 hours to create, which I need to spread on at least 3 days.

What was the last piece of art you sold?

The last item I sold was actually a custom order that I am not allowed to share yet, until the customer posts the official press release. Prior to that, there were a few wallets and accessories, all going to the same person in Germany.

And finally… Because this is really important….

What’s the best type of cheese?  (haha)

The best type of cheese is baked Camembert.

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Photo credits: Eluch

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