We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Jacobs Handler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lisa, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
Do your best at everything you do and finish what you start. This is the mantra I use as a teacher, and in my own practice as an artist. This mantra pushes me to use the highest quality materials, to sketch, practice, and make prototypes, and to try things over and over until I get them just right. I teach high school art, and I find that most people have great ideas but as things get hard to problem solve, few people want to push through to the finish. I often have to use my teacher’s persuasion to get students to finish their work. Following through to completion is the step that takes the most passion and vulnerability. I always have many projects going at once, sometimes a project gets pushed to the side, half done, but even if it takes me years, I always try to finish things. Doing my best and finishing what I start allows me to grow as an artist and a person, and gives me the most satisfaction.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For 20 years now I have been working full time as an art teacher and an artist. I am equally passionate about both. As a high school art teacher, I work tirelessly on developing meaningful lessons and I try to be a role model for how art can be a part of who you are, no matter what else you do with your life. As I reflect over my tenure with dual careers, I can see the struggle has been in finding balance between the two. One of the fortunes of teaching is the schedule. In the times that teachers are on break I am dedicated to full time art production. This is when I put my energy into creating my line of jewelry, accessories and home decor. I am focused on fiber art and textile techniques. I proudly work with vintage components, upcycled materials, and natural dyes. The use of these exclusive materials and techniques contributes to the individuality of each piece and helps preserve our planet. Summers off allow me to work all day/all night in the studio. During this time I can work larger and produce a full body of work. During the school year I still take time to make art each day, and often stay up late to see ideas through. I enjoy pushing myself to constantly produce new work and I sell my work online, at art markets, in shows, and local shops.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A list of favorite spots in Phoenix is an ever evolving roster. I’m a Phoenix native and there has been huge growth and change in my lifetime. Now more than ever, Phoenix is growing and changing so rapidly. My favorite hangs expand as each new business opens. There are a few that are timeless and a few that are new. If I had friends in town that had never been, I would take them by morning, for coffee at Jobot or Trans Am. For baked goods we would go to JL Patisserie, and breakfast at the quaint Melrose Kitchen. A break for hiking in the Phoenix Mountain Preserves, and then lunch on the patio at JoyRide Tacos or for my veggie friends, The Coronado Cafe. Afternoons are perfect for The Phoenix Art Museum, Desert Botanical Gardens, or Wonder Spaces. For a Phoenix shopping experience we would go to Retro Ranch, Antique Sugar, Desert Crafted, Noons, Phoenix General, and Practical Art. By night dinner at Authentic Thai Kitchen and a show at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, live music at ValleyBar, or dancing at Ziggy Stardust. We would end our night by walking over to the Thunderbird for cocktails and the neighborhood hangout experience.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It only takes a moment for me to think of over a dozen people who have influenced me, supported me, mentored me and inspired me. I am going to narrow it down to a few notable influences that have transcended through the years and still currently are a daily influence. Phoenix painter, Abbey Messmer and I spend hours talking about our ideas. She is my biggest supporter and critic and pushes me to develop my ideas, for my work and my presentation, further that I might have on my own. Saskia Jorda is a local textile artist and art teacher for Maricopa Community Colleges. I have taken her classes in textile art and we have developed a supportive friendship. She has helped me grow my practice and skill set as a textile artist, she influences me to think of the conceptual side of art, and inspires me to strive for greater expertise, bigger opportunities, and deeper meaning within my work. The publication that I love is GreenCraft Magazine. Its main focus is on sustainable arts and crafts and I find each of the issues to be very inspiring and useful for thinking of what I am using, where I am sourcing my supplies from, and how am I communicating about the environment through my art. Lastly I want to give a shout out to Lara Placas of Desert Crafted. Lara and I have been friends for many years. She has been carrying my work in her boutique for quite awhile now. She is very supportive of my ever changing work, and eager to share my textiles and jewelry with our community, in her beautiful brick and mortar and on her website.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/retromodehandmade/?hl=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/retromodehandmade
Other: https://www.etsy.com/shop/retromodehandmade

Image Credits
Photos are all my own.

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