An Interview with Artist Rochelle Udell

I can easily say that Rochelle Udell is one of the most creative people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. From the moment we met to discuss the possibility of a partnership with us at J. Pocker, Rochelle has been a constant source of inspiration.  I am so excited to host #WhereDoYouSitInLife here in our Manhattan gallery and share the work of such a talented artist with our clients. 

Read on for my interview with the former media, fashion, and advertising executive turned artist:

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Robyn: Tell us a little about your creative process for #WhereDoYouSitInLife and the framing process with Robyn Pocker.

Rochelle: In business, I used behavioral research and studied cultural trends to answer questions. This often created more questions, and along the way I realized that I was always asking and answering questions and observing people.  It started when I was in fifth grade, our teacher gave us a gold star for a good answer, but we got two gold stars for a good question. I learned where to find the reward.  My job has always been to raise the questions and to make those answers actionable, with words and visuals.  I always drew what was around me, my everyday objects. And, as I made more and more pictures of chairs, I realized that they were asking questions about identity, relationships and power. They were some of my everyday icons.  Drawings came first, and then I started to celebrate them in gold leaf.

When it came to framing the art, I knew that it would require a unique sensibility to complement the art without overwhelming it, so I turned to J. Pocker.  With Robyn’s leadership, her team guided me through the process of creating frames that considered the entire artist message. The result were beautiful frames that complemented the art that could be used in multiples and paired together.  I created modern art but in the old technique of gold leaf and the frames mimicked the art in classic wood in white with clean edges.

Robyn: You were recently interviewed on Debbie Millman's podcast Design Matters and mentioned that, "The strength of creative people is to be the outside observer of ordinary things".  How do you think this comes in to the play with #WhereDoYouSitInLife? 

Rochelle: I often paraphrase Italo Calvino, who said that to be creative is to be an outside observer of ordinary things. It reminds me to look at situations from many perspectives. I believe that the strength of being an outsider, so that you can see in and make visible, what without you would not be seen.

Robyn: You are a cross-genre creative with successful careers across many different industries (publishing, advertising, retail to name a few!) How does this experience factor in to your work as an artist right now? How do these collective experiences shape your work for #WhereDoYouSitInLife? 

Rochelle: I have had great experiences in business because I worked for many people who knew how to manage the creative process. They knew that the creative personality was curious, insightful, motivated intrinsically as well as extrinsically, with the energy to find solutions. As a creative leader I knew my responsibility was as a steward of that organizational energy.

Robyn: You recently posted on Instagram an incredible visual timeline "Why We Wear What We Wear" and wrote, ”For every trend there is a counter tend at the same time." Can you speak to what you think are some of the trends / counter trends happening right now?

Rochelle: Designers are responsive to many things including politics, sociocultural issues and economics. For example, today, lots of people want to go to work wearing their gym clothes and some do.  It identifies you as a person who is fit or wants to be regarded as engaged in activities or maybe a fan. How did that happen?

Here is an over simplification: we have sports as entertainment, a big part of the daily diet of information, health and wellness information driving people to participate in sports and activities. And the invention of new materials, i.e. lycra. So we have the motivation meeting the technology and overtime it yields athleisure. There have been many other events like title IX and the relaxing of dress. Take theUNTUCK IT phenomenon. And the same time, we have high heels and embellished dresses with waists. Sneakers and heels in closet. There is always a pull to edges, Hi Tech - Hi Touch.

Robyn: Where do you go to find inspiration? 

Rochelle: Inspiration is every where when you are ready to allow it. Creativity is ultimately your decision.

Robyn: And finally, where are you sitting in life right now? If you had to design a chair what would this look like? 

Rochelle: My favorite chair is the Corbusier. I feel protected in it. It swaddles me.  In a world that feels under attack, I retreat to this chair.  I have also done several paintings of my husband, Doug, sitting in the Corbu, meditating.

All of Rochelle’s work showcased in our gallery will available for sale, for inquires please contact Alison White: