What Inspires Marjie Kemper - The Tag Artist

Posted by Marcea

Kemper studio pic.jpg

Using ink and paper, Marjie Kemper creates layered and textured works of art. Art journaling and stamping since 1999, Marjie, who describes her style as ‘shabby chic’, uses her creativity to make a variety of mixed media pieces. Read our interview with Marjie to learn more about tag art, what color palette she loves and why she’s game to try anything new.

How long have you been stamping and how did you get started?  When my first son was born, a friend showed me a scrapbook she had. I had no idea you could do anything with a scrapbook other than put pictures in the little plastic sleeves! So I got hooked on scrapbooking, which led me to stamping. Then I started taking classes. I still take classes. I love learning and there’s so much you can do with all the different products.

Mixed media art journal - Marjie Kemper CC3C#27B.JPG

When you’re creating your art journals, are you reflecting your own emotions or are you just creating art? I’m really creating the art journals for the sake of art. I have some private journals, but the art journals I show are forms of art.

Do you have a favorite color that you like to work with? Ranger Ink’s Mustard Seed Yellow is a blending favorite of mine. It can bridge the gap between the other colors and blend them all together.

Are there any colors you aren’t fond of or thought you weren’t fond of? About a year or so ago there I was involved in a challenge that involved bright colors, particularly pink. I thought ‘oh I don’t like pink – I’m not a pink person at all.’ And then I started looking back on my art journals and pink had kind of crept up in the year prior to that. So in fact I like the bright colors.

On your website is a section called “Tag Art”. Can you explain what tag art is? Tags are one of my favorite things to work with and that’s something I got from (designer and crafter) Tim Holtz. He’d say ‘Go ahead and experiment on a tag. They’re inexpensive, they’re small and you’re not committing.'

Sometimes people get very anxious about working on a large canvas or even a single art journal page. They get caught up in looking at the blank page and having to work on it. If you’re looking at a 5”-12” tag you can say to yourself: ‘it’s a little thing; if it doesn’t work I can throw it out and start over again.’ It’s a great way to experiment.Marjie Kemper Tag Art

They’re also a great way to keep track of things you’ve done and liked. You can keep the tags on a metal key ring, like wallpaper swatches, and reference back to them later on.

Your use of mixed media and layered patterns is very unique. How did you discover that this is the medium that you wanted to work in?  I’ve been doing this a really long time. However when I discovered Tim Holtz and Ranger Ink’s Distress products, I fell in love. I was able to take a three-day certification course with them a few years back and that expanded my palette on what you can do with the bright colors.

Where does your inspiration come from to create your art?  My inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m looking outside the window right now. There are pinks and greens and yellows out there after months of brown and grey.

I also hang up a lot of the things that I’ve done in my studio so I have a lot of visual inspiration all around me.

Do you have a favorite medium that you think is more fun or exciting than the others?  I like so many different techniques! But if I had to pick one, I’d say inks first and then paints are a very close second.

Is there any type of medium that you haven’t tried yet that you’re interested in?  I love trying everything so if there’s something I see that I haven’t tried, I’m definitely game for giving it a go.

One thing I’ve started to dabble in a little bit is encaustics (paints created with beeswax). I took a three-day course on it at R&F Paints in Kingston, NY and that is something when I can find some time I would really love to work with.

You teach classes online and in-person around the country. What do you like best about teaching? I love seeing someone who comes in thinking they can’t do what we’re teaching that day and walking out with the biggest smile on their face. I just love that. It’s empowering.

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Growing up there’s always that one person in the class who’s really great so everybody else feels like that’s the designated artist in the school. When my students start to loosen up and say ‘this is fun’, that’s when they start enjoying it. It makes my day when people walk out happy saying 'I can do this'. Hopefully it’s something they’ll want to do over and over again as a release in their creative life.

How does your OttLite help you? It helps me so much especially in the winter months when it’s dark here. I like it for showing me up close what I’ve done with blending. A lot of times, because photos are so important on a creative person’s website, I will take a photo, upload it on my computer and then go to add it to my site and I’ll see that I missed something. If I first look under the OttLite I rarely have that problem because I can see where I missed something. It clarifies it so I see everything before I’m looking at it on a screen.

Many people say they don’t have time to be creative. As an artist who is also a wife and mother, how would you suggest people find time to do crafting?  I think it’s hard. I’m lucky that I work full time at this but when I wasn’t doing it full time I would get up early and put in an hour or so before the rest of the family was up. But that doesn’t work for everyone, I know, depending on where they are in their lives.

I think that if you find something you like, you’ll find a way to do it. I’ve sat in the school carpool line with an art journal in my car or you can make lists while you’re at the dentist office. That way when the time comes and you do have time you can go ahead and start.

Is there anything you think that holds people back from their own creativity?  People get caught up in feeling they have to finish something they start. Very rarely do I finish something in one sitting. I might do a background one day and come back later and do some journaling. It comes together in pieces. You can maybe find time in smaller chunks and it’ll all add up into a project when you finish up.

Right now I have about  three dozen unfinished pages in the works in different books. Someday I’ll sit down and know exactly what I want to do that I couldn’t figure out two years ago.

Do you have any suggestions for anyone who wants to get involved in stamping or mixed media?  Look around online and use Google to find some mixed media classes. There are so many classes you can take. If you’re lucky enough to have a local scrapbook or stamping store go in there and ask them. Even the big chains now are starting to offer classes. Also go on Pinterest for ideas – I love Pinterest!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?  I enjoy mostly art. This is a 7-day a week thing because it’s what I love to do. But I also enjoy doing yoga and going to the movies.

For more information on Marjie, visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Marjie also teaches an online class, Innovative Ink – Colorful Mixed Media Effects, on Craftsy.com.



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  • Becky 8 years 236 days ago
    Her work is beautiful. I have never seen stamping taken to this art level before!
  • Fern 8 years 270 days ago
    Great look behind the scenes at how Marjie works and thinks, really enjoyed the interview.
  • Marjie Kemper 8 years 300 days ago
    Thanks for this feature, OttLite! I really appreciate everyone taking the time to leave comments about it here and on my blog.
  • Stephanie Rodgers 8 years 302 days ago
    I love Marjie's art, and I've taken a few classes with her when she's in my area. She has a very relaxed teaching style, and she's very generous with her supplies. I always come out of her classes with a little more knowledge, confidence, and new friends, and love everything I've made! Thanks for the interview on one of my favorite teachers/artists!
  • kathy/NorthCarolina 8 years 302 days ago
    I began following Marjie's wonderful blog some years ago, and I can tell you she is the real deal! Not only is she incredibly talented, she is genuine, warm and personable. She encouraged me to start my own blog, and has been a real encouragement to me along the way. Her use of color is inspiring. I'm always uplifted when I visit her blog, and learn something new every time. This was a great interview!
  • Gigi Black 8 years 302 days ago
    Great interview. I have been following Marjie's blog for quite a while and I always enjoy her work. She is very creative. I also love my OttLite and I wouldn't be without it. Just like Marjie said, it makes a huge difference when doing my art.
  • Shari T. 8 years 302 days ago
    Fabulous interview with Marjie!! It's fun to get to know a bit about the behind the scenes with her!!
  • Kay Wallace 8 years 303 days ago
    Marjie is a wonderful artist and one I continue to follow. It has been my privilege to be a fellow student in class with her as well as to take in-person classes with Marjie as the instructor. Her enthusiasm for art is infectious! What a wonderful interview here.
  • Belinda Basson 8 years 303 days ago
    Great interview, I love her work and style and she is a brilliant on line teacher. This was great insight into how she "ticks"! Thanks for doing this!
  • Dawn Gold 8 years 303 days ago
    Great interview, love Marjies art and space
  • Seth 8 years 303 days ago
    Great to get to know the very talented Marjie a bit better. Thank you!
  • Anne R 8 years 303 days ago
    Marjie is a very inspiring artist and it has been lovely to learn a little more about her crafting life - a great interview!
  • Karenliz Henderson 8 years 303 days ago
    Great interview. Marjie is a very creative person and her art journal pages pop with color. You must take a class with her! I have and you learn so much.
  • Renee Zarate 8 years 303 days ago
    I love Marjie's style and work so much, it is very inspirational. This was a terrific interview, there was a little something for everyone who is or wants to be creative.
  • Ruby C 8 years 304 days ago
    I've been following Marjie's blog for a while. She is very creative and loves sharing what she creates. Like Marjie, I am also started with scrapbooking then discovered Tim Holtz. I Love the picture of her i her studio. I've been thinking an Ott Light would be a great addition to my studio and one like she has would probably be perfect. I enjoyed reading your interview with Marjie and finding out a little more about her.
  • Astrid 8 years 304 days ago
    Great interview and wonderful to hear a bit more about Marjie's creative process, - I love her work!
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