Helen Groom Poser is a multi-talented artist specializing in portraiture. Lately though, she’s been mesmerizing us with her marbling collection, Niffich. Helen was gracious enough to capture her inspiring Milwaukee studio space, and to tell us a little more about herself. Meet Helen!
How did your business start? How does it reflect your journey as an artist?
Niffich started at the end of 2015. I was a caregiver for the past 5 years and had put aside art for a bit. After the man I cared for passed, I was at a loss and needed some healing. I went to school for painting and drawing, and this is where I feel confident. I wanted to sell my art…but at the time I did not want to make prints on paper, so I watercolored cows, had them printed onto fabric, and sewed some simple tops. I like the look of depth within monochromatic color, and I needed to keep working with paint, so I took to painting blood moons on high waist panties. I like creating things that are individual, the process of thinking each piece through is engaging and is an adventure of small sorts. I do not mind small batches, but I am not good with doing the same thing over and over. From printing art onto fabric, then painting onto fabric, something clicked and marbling found me. Whatever happened I feel like I blacked out, because I just don’t understand how I got into it. I think maybe it’s just following a path and all the small things added up…I hope that did not sound religious. I fucking love marbling, the satisfaction when colors come through, the meditation of the process, creating things people are mesmerized by, I get a lot of joy from it.
What do you love most about marbling? On the opposite side of the spectrum, what are the challenges when it comes to marbling on different materials?
Well I think I professed my love at the end of that last paragraph…but to add to that, I don’t think marbling could ever get old, there are so many directions it can go. I appreciate that. I am also always learning new things from the process and the mistakes, and it always feels good, figuring it out, or sometimes not, and moving on.
Sometimes I’ll play around with paper, wood, and shells, the challenge with that is how to get it to stick right and stay.
What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?
The first time I marbled onto fabric. After tons of research, buying supplies, making tools and carefully reading through my collaged instructions. I prepped everything and marbled. Seeing the paint float, expanding in perfect circles, creating a design and watching the slow continuous movement of the colors, placing the fabric on top of the design and watching the paint settle in, pulling it out and seeing bright, wet color perfectly contained to itself and onto the fabric. I was SO HAPPY. Everything turned out just right, a real pleasure that I hadn’t felt in a long time, of just like, “damn I did that…” Maybe similar to the way a child is pleased with themselves when they just learned how to do something new and monumental in their development. It just felt right.
Where do you want your business to be in 5 years?
I would like to be making custom fabric for anyone who wants to make something out of it. I’m an EXTRA basic seamstress, it would be neat to see what someone else would do. I would like to be able to hire people (but shout out to my fam who are always there for me!) someone to manage the business side of things would be nice.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Just be a do-er, and when something needs to be learned and addressed, research and ask questions. Figure it out and learn it well. Stay organized and if it’s something you really want, give it what you got.
What are some inspirations for your work?
My Mamachi, my cultures, my desires, learning from others, the amazing women in my life + my dad.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
I like what I know and I admire what I see other people doing…I’m not sure I could handle learning something outside of this right now.
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
Adventures with my cousins, paint…move slower than I already do.
What is your favorite part of your studio?
I love having my own space, with everything all in one place. I was marbling in my parents’ basement and sewing in the sunroom of my home. My studio is a good size and compared to my last two, I feel like I’m really getting my steps in. It’s sectioned off for marbling/sewing/cutting/drying
What is the latest project you’re working on?
I was having some difficulty with black paint for a bit, and I just marbled some granite-inspired tea towels, where the blacks of different hues turned out really well.. Now I am working with linen for the first time, marbling them dark and stormy and hoping to sew some comfy loose pants out of them.
What are 3 of your favorite things in life you’d recommend to anyone on the street?