RANDITAN by Randi Tannenbaum
I met Randi Tannenbaum, owner of the Randitan brand, by pure coincidence, while doing a Google search. I found her through some photos on the subject “Saturday Recycling”, covered by our blog. Unfortunately, when you do a search on DIY topics, you find all sorts of things, and not necessarily something cute or elegant. Randi Tannenbaum‘s work stands out: it is very special, elegant and out of the ordinary. In a single stroke, I had found something for our Saturday Recycling section and also something for Fashion and Accessories. That is right! Randi, in fact, among the many other things, creates fantastic belt buckles.
I looked for her site, her social profiles, and I observed her for some time. I noticed she is an artist with a strong character, but also kind and polite, qualities that today are as rare as hens’ teeth. The rest is history. I contacted her for an interview and, as I always say, I hope that reading about Randi’s path will give someone inspiration to realize his or her dream.
Thank you, Randi, for giving us some of your time, and thank you, Sergio Bellotti, for his simultaneous translation.
Enjoy the reading.
Gabriella Ruggieri for 1blog4u
GABRIELLA: I would like to start with basic personal data and your study path.
RANDI: first of all, I would like to say that I’ve been able to read your blog. I read all the interviews. I found your blog very interesting and fascinating: you did a great job and I’m not so sure that my story can be as interesting as some of the others, but … here I am.
I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in ’56. My dad is a doctor and I was born when he was studying at the University. I have 2 brothers and one sister. I majored in psychology and anthropology, and later I got a Master in Art Therapy.
GABRIELLA: how did you come up with the idea of using license plates to create belt buckles? One does not get up one morning and … bam!
RANDI: (smiling). It’s a difficult question to answer. I can say that as a child I was attracted to disused or old objects; I always looked at them with the idea of giving him a new life. Any type of object. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of bringing them back to life. I did not throw myself into this field necessarily for environmental reasons, but because of my passion for antiquity, for vintage and old objects. In the course of my artistic career, I have used many materials and different objects. For example, some pieces of car engines have become frames, with baskets I made lamps. License plates are part of my path and today, how can I say it, have become my landing point.
GABRIELLA: I see you use the soldering iron with the skill with which I would use a coffee maker to prepare coffee. I know what a soldering iron is, but frankly, it never crossed my mind to play with it or learn to use it. How was it for you? Did you perhaps see someone use it, an uncle …? How did it happen?
RANDI: good question. I began drawing, then I started working with pottery, and later I learned how to weld. No one in my family has interest or experience in this field. I began alone on my own accord, and, as I was progressing in this path, I felt the necessity of using a new tool. I devoted myself to learn on my own. I studied, tried, experimented, until I reached my goal and the desired results. Undoubtedly, my inborn manual dexterity helped me. Working, processing and transforming license plates into other objects is certainly the technique that has given me the greatest satisfaction: not necessarily tied to money, but real artistic and personal satisfaction and gratification.
Each plate has a story and it’s fascinating to be able to take a bit of that story and capture it in a buckle, for this reason, it becomes unique and unrepeatable. So, the story goes on.
Personally, I feel much more comfortable, free and happy while creating with these kinds of materials and techniques, rather than painting, or using pottery or other forms of art.
GABRIELLA: your parents, in your artistic inclination, what role did they have? Did they help and support you, or did they have other plans or hopes for you?
RANDI: as a small child, I was very shy, so my own parents did not know what my dreams or desires were. They knew I liked to draw, but nothing more. They always helped and supported me, but in a general sense.
GABRIELLA: do you remember what your first job was? To whom did you sell it, if you sold it?
RANDI: yes, I remember participating in an exhibition while I was in college, and I entered some of my works. They were designs on silk and … they were not a big hit because I did not even sell one. At that time, I had some doubts, thinking that, maybe, as an artist, I would never have the success I was hoping for. Fortunately, I did not quit. I can say that this was my real first debut.
GABRIELLA: when did you decide to make a profession of your creativity and art? Did you opened a lab … what did you do?
RANDI: I’ve always created art, but of course I was aware of the fact that if I did not sell anything, I could not continue with this job that also consists of research and dead times.
So, I made the decision to start full force immediately. Everything was made easier by the fact that at home I always had my own space where I could work, and later a small adjoining laboratory.
GABRIELLA: how do you manage to sell your art? What do you do operationally?
RANDI: a set of things. I attend trade shows, I have space in some galleries; with some I sell wholesale, I established connections with some show-rooms, I am enrolled in many e-commerce sites, and I also have my own site through which I sell my art. Diversifying has been the key word from the get go.
GABRIELLA: have you ever met someone in your career who told you: Why do you bother? Where do you think you’re going? Someone who got you demotivated?
RANDI: no, fortunately, not. Maybe someone might have thought it, but they did not tell me directly. Doubts are always there. For example, in the morning, before coffee, just to laugh a bit. But in my case, determination and belief in what I do have never faltered.
GABRIELLA: is there someone who inspired you from an artistic point of view?
RANDI: yes, of course, many, difficult to choose; a name among many: Richard Diebenkorn, an American painter. His early work is associated with the abstract expressionism and the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Many of his works just take my breath away.
GABRIELLA: I noticed that there are pieces of jewelry among your creations; are they part of your regular production or are you experimenting with them?
RANDI: they are not my favorite form of creation, but they have an important part in my production and sales.
GABRIELLA: if a person wanting to realize his or her own dream or project asked you for advice, what would you say?
RANDI: as I said before, in the first part of my career, I focused on sales and success, just because, if you want to create, make art your living, you also have to support yourself. So, my advice is to create or work on a project, not to let yourself down or lose motivation, instead engage at the same time in the commercial aspects. One aspect does not rule out the other.
I thank again Randi for making herself available and giving me a chance to know her a bit more. Undoubtedly, she is a well-established artist: she has been reviewed by many magazines, and among her fans is the well-known American film producer and actor Louis Herthum, known to many from the successful HBO series “Westworld”. As I said at the beginning of this interview, Randi remains a kind and friendly person.
See you soon!