Wrappr: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
PONNOPOZZ: Yes and no. As a child, I did want to be an artist and I would say so whenever asked. By age nine, I had shifted that perspective and wanted to be a lawyer. Then a meteorologist. And finally, a graphic designer. By the time I decided on graphic design, I figured art wouldn’t make me any money so I’d have to go the commercial design route in order to have a career.
W: Tell us a bit about your background, and how you got to where you are now
P: I went to college in Chicago for graphic design and worked in the field for over ten years before I finally felt suffocated enough to start pursuing art on the side. As a designer, my favorite part about any website / branding / logo project was choosing the color palette and I channeled that love of color into paintings, textile designs and collage. Design didn’t allow me to pursue what I really wanted because I was always creating work for my employer or for my clients – never for me. That frustration led me to the artist I am today. These days, I balance a full time job doing UX design (remotely) and running Ponnopozz. The balance between the two keeps me in check and motivated.
W: What type of work do you do for your clients?
P: I actually no longer have clients! It’s the most freeing part about being an artist. I don’t take commissions because they activate my anxiety so all the art I create is for me and what I’m feeling in the moment. Occasionally, I collaborate with another business that fits my brand values. In those cases, I may have to create work that fits within the parameters of the project – but that’s fine because the work is shared and I truly feel like I have a stake in the project’s outcome.
W: Which of those do you enjoy most right now?
P: Lately, I’ve been into painting with gouache on paper. I started out using only acrylic on canvas, so this departure has been fun and interesting. I also recently teamed up with a local candle business here in Chicago and together, we created a line of candles that smell like colors! I got to mix scents until we came up with what we felt pink smelled like (and blue, green and yellow). I also did the labels for the candles and had free creative reign. It was fun to do something so unique!
W: What type of work do you do for your own enjoyment?
P: Sometimes, I make collages. They are relaxing for me because they have nothing to do with the paintings that I sell. There isn’t much expectation with them, I simply make them to see what happens. This has proven to be hugely healthy for me mentally. Plus, they are quick and are an efficient way to test out color palettes and other ideas!
W: What work of yours would you like to be remembered for? Or is it something you are working on?
P: It’s hard to say. I think I’d like to be remembered for how my art made people feel (the adjective I hear the most is “happy”). I’d also like people to remember my funky, color filled shop/studio – many have said it brings them joy to visit. Ultimately, I want people to see a piece of mine and know immediately “that’s a Ponnopozz.” I think I have a ways to go on that as I’m still refining my style.
W: What is your creative process?
P: It varies by project but it almost always starts with a color palette. Color is the way I anchor my thoughts and how I make sense of the world. Before I create a new painting, textile design or collage, I typically think about the color palette. Warm vs cool? Monochromatic vs complimentary? Busy vs minimal? The answers to these types of binary questions help me shape the final piece.
W: What are you planning to create next?
P: I’m working on a tarot deck that’s composed of 78 original gouache paintings. The theme of the deck is plants. I love tarot and I love plants so I thought it would be nifty to re-imagine the classic deck with a cast of houseplant characters. I’m hoping to launch the deck this year.
W: What is your biggest indulgence?
P: Pizza Hut. I know it’s gross but I just can’t get enough! Oh, and skincare. I’m always looking to try something new and perfect my regimen.
W: Where do you find inspiration?
P: I am inspired by color combinations (is this surprising, haha). Whether it’s a sign for a hot dog stand or a colorful floral garden, I’m always on the hunt for colors that look good / unexpected together. I’m also personally inspired by Iris Apfel and her fearless approach to life.
W: How do you feel about being involved with Wrappr?
P: Wrappr is precisely the type of brand I want to work with. I really respect the idea of using fabric wrapping paper and the collaborations Wrappr has done to date are really impressive. I’m excited because Wrappr is a product I want to own! I’m actually working to build my collection up thanks to my sister who introduced me to the brand.
W: What are your thoughts on the climate crisis, zero-waste products, things you’re doing to be environmentally friendly, etc.
P: I can do better. Sometimes I forget how wasteful I am and seeing products like Wrappr remind me of that. The climate crisis feels hopeless and it’s infuriating when lawmakers think it’s a hoax. I have a friend who works in the sustainability space and he reminds me that even little changes help. Personally, I’ve been trying to use less single-use products. I recently got some reusable makeup pads and paper towels and it’s been nice to use those instead, it feels more purposeful.