We had the good fortune of connecting with Mimi Damrauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mimi, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I grew up believing that owning your own business was possible. I always knew from a young age that I wanted to work for myself…it was just a matter of what.
My father was an accountant and took what would have been a real risk in the early 70’s leaving a solid firm to start his own with a few other junior executives in Ohio, where I grew up. He and my mother also encouraged my older sister to open up one of the first Children’s book shops in the country, because of her love of reading and children.
Growing up with a very creative mother and sisters meant that art and cooking projects were a constant in our home. When I declared, at 9 years old, that I wanted to learn to sew, my mom promptly sent me to the Singer sewing shop at the mall. One bungled tennis dress later, the foundation of my self-taught style and business was laid out.
The next layer would be added that same year, when I took art lessons at the Toledo Museum of Art where I learned my primary and secondary colors. The inklings of a business were planted! That lead to my whimsical style of painting, stitching, drawing & hand-cut wobbly designs.
Throughout the years, art and “making stuff” was always part of my life, though my work life veered off into party planning, which suited my outgoing personality. I was able to grow my art business, while having a job that I loved, until I was able to fully support myself on my own.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Mixed Media Collage is a culmination of everything that I love…painting paper, & sewing. Collage enables me to use many small pieces together that create one unified design. I am able to control the color and shading as I build my final design. The end result is a simple design that is more complicated when you look at the composition.
My work is Outsider Art (self-taught) and has a primitive folk art feel. I create my own materials to collage by painting, stamping, resisting and direct application of acrylic paints onto paper. Then I carefully select the proper pieces to collage together an image, mainly using a bright color palette. My current obsession is called “Arizona Barnyard” which has been influenced by my recent move out west and includes animals and scenery that I am surrounded by…Horses, Chickens, Cactus and Mountains.
I mainly work in a series, creating an original piece and exploring that idea/design by altering color and/or size to create related pieces.
A highlight in my career was a collaboration with retailer Crate and Barrel that resulted in the fall 2008 debut of the best- selling “Sebastian” rug at Crate and Barrel retail stores nationwide and internationally via the Crate and Barrel website.
I have mainly built my business by working the national fine art fair circuit to sell my work. Along the way, that led me to many connections with interior designers, corporate art consultants, and private collectors that I continue to work with. I also made so many “art” friends from all over the country by being neighbors at shows and have built such a community of wonderful people.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A drink at sunset in the garden at Virtu (in the Bespoke Hotel) and dinner at FnB!! Every night!
Breakfast and lots of lattes at Local Johnny’s in Cave Creek…dinner at sunset in the garden under the twinkly lights at Keelers in Carefree.
I would also visit the Botanical Gardens, the Phoenix & Scottsdale art museums, and the fabulous local art gallery “Thunderbird Artist Gallery” in Carefree.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My sister, fabric designer, Marcia Derse. We encourage each other and give each other advice.