Where I am
Midwest – suburbs of Chicago
Tell us a little about you, what is your background & where do you come from?
I was born in raised in the Chicagoland area, however I’ve lived in Minnesota and North Carolina for college. My degree is in Communication and Psychology and my master’s work was in Organizational Development.
I’ve spent the last 17 years as a leadership and diversity consultant for Fortune 500’s. I love guiding and sharing with people a new perspective in the workplace and understanding the human element at work.
I also went to floral design school and worked in the industry. It gave me a great eye for color and balance.
I married my best friend 11 years ago on September 11 and we now have a beautiful and soulful 8 year old daughter, Mirabella Rose. I also am the co-founder and managing editor and art director of an exclusive magazine for a local country club and surrounding neighborhoods. It keeps me busy and I love it!
Which came first, horses or art?
My love for horses came when I was 9, then my love for art – photography, art history, impressionism, and floral design. As a teenager, I would spend hours wandering the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago. I could just be with my thoughts and the art. My love for horses rekindled when my daughter began to ride. I realized I could combine both.
What inspired you to start creating your horse shoe art?
When my daughter began riding I researched all things horses. I discovered a side of the horse industry I knew nothing about – horses being brought to auction. Some individuals were buying these horses, but many were being bought by rescues, or being sent to slaughter. I didn’t even know what that meant.
After more research, tears and being horrified, I felt helpless. What could one person in the Chicago suburbs do to make a difference?
It came to me when I attended a spiritual horse workshop. We were asked to bring something that represented horses to us. I had an old horseshoe from the barn and starting designing it with gems and stones. Now I donate a portion of all sales to organizations dedicated to giving horses a second chance.
Do you get a feeling about the animal through their shoes & does it guide you as you create each piece?
Yes, I really do get a feeling which is why I only design with used shoes. It requires much more work using an old shoe because of the cleaning, but it’s important. I will often ask a client to send a photo of their horse. The picture and shoe will tell me something about their personality. I did this with the shoe from Monty Robert’s horse.
Some horses are turquoise and others are pearls. Some clients send shoes from their riding partner that has passed and I always feel a strong connection. I am lucky to know so many horses I haven’t even met.
You’ve also designed a line of the cutest locally made tees & totes using your horse shoe motif & clever slogans. What does sourcing locally mean to you?
I started my line once I knew I could have my designs made locally. I could have had them produced overseas for much less, however, I feel great about creating work here in my community and helping to support another business owner. Supporting local businesses can make a community strong and come together.
Do you (or did you) have an animal that is the muse behind your work?
Not really, every horse I see…I love!! However, I do have two of the cutest cockapoos – Cooper & Lewis who I talk to all day long in my studio!
During the month of September you are donating some of your proceeds to The Second Race, can you tell us a little about it?
I contacted Sharla Sanders who started The Second Race after following her on Facebook. I love the work she is doing – working directly with race tracks, owners and trainers to re-home the thoroughbreds at the end of their racing career. Finding them homes from the track prevents them from being at auction or worse. She loved my work and it felt like the right fit for us. I am excited about working with her. Hooves crossed we can raise a nice amount of money for them!
Is there a particular place that brings you inspiration?
I love the mountains in Colorado and Arizona, I feel connected and more at peace.
Locally, I bring my camera to the stable and just watch the horses in the pastures. My daughter and I spend hours there just hanging with horses.
What effect do you think the Internet is having on art and handmade items?
It has changed the landscape for everyone and allows us access to great artist and products that we may have not heard of. Etsy.com is a perfect example.
Has it had an effect on yours?
Definitely!! Because of the internet and Facebook, I have made the most amazing connections and why I was able to showcase my designs at the United States Equestrian Team Gala in Wellington, FL and also launch my apparel line at Rolex in Lexington. It is a brilliant marketing tool.
Which one is your personal favorite shoe design so far?
That’s a hard one! I really do love them all. The Sedona brings me back to the crystal blue skies and mountains of Arizona. However, I just designed a shoe from a filly that ran in the 2010 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. It will be presented to the owner shortly. I chose the Bella design – garnets, rose quartz, pearls, and Swarovski crystal because Kentucky Oaks day is all about the fillies, lilies and pink!
Many artists never leave time to make anything for themselves; do you keep any of your own horseshoes that aren’t for sale?
I have one. I designed a shoe for the USET Gala and I asked Monty Roberts to sign it. I used green apple jade, amethyst, peridot, fresh water pearls and Swarovski crystal. I keep it in my living room, it brings me great luck!
When we get a horse someday, I will then design his shoe and somehow I think it will be the Bella design – named after my daughter Mirabella Rose.
What else are you passionate about?
I am all about my family and spending time with special people. I love photography and always have my camera in hand. I have been the president of our school’s PTA for 4 years because I believe in giving back and staying connected to her school community. I love romantic comedies, reading mysteries, any horse book, and most importantly – anything chocolate!
Working on anything new?
Always! A new apparel design Live Simply. It will be available on all items this fall. I will also begin designing custom sterling silver and gem embellished hand stamped necklaces and halter tags. I feel it will be a nice addition with my designs.
More to Come
Thanks to Laura for answering the interview and sharing her work. Be sure to check out her website to check out her art and her adorable clothing & accessories.
Also stay tuned for more interviews with horse artists and photographers. Are you a horse artist or do you know an equine artist you’d like to see featured? Add your name and website in the comments below or drop me a note to get involved.