Have you ever taken a stroll about the shops at 9th & 9th and found yourself apprehended outside Apt 202, unsure of why you just can’t seem to break away from all that lovely eye candy in the window? The answer is undoubtedly "yes", and you can thank the talented Megan Rider for keeping your double-shot, soy latte waiting. Megan is a visual display merchandiser, and a COLLECTIVE client of the best sort. She creates the window spaces from which businesses showcase their fine wares. Equal parts storyteller, engineer, and visual sorceress, the way Megan combines raw materials [think cement, paper, and metal, etc.--as in the pinwheels and jewelry displays you see below] into that perfect message is damn near alchemy. As an artist, she’s as interested in the exploration of and the experimentation with the process as she is in the final product. She’s a free spirit, and although she spent a bit of time in NYC [with the likes of Betsey Johnson, no less] honing her craft, she’s a local girl at heart. Part of the "why" for her "where" was in her deep need for room to breathe, to climb biting granite, and to wander a city without getting lost in it. We’ve known Megan for years, and we’ve been COLLECTIVELY smitten with her passion for rad design and solid presentation since day one. When she purchased a place with us a few months ago, we resolved to catch up with her during her latest installation at Apt 202. From there, we pitched a series of hard-hitting questions her way, and--like the glass and concrete and steel she manipulates on the reg for her trade--she handled them just swimmingly. Without further ado: meet the maker...
Break it down for us, elementary-like: what do you call yourself? Besides "Megan," that is. What's the appropriate artistic title/symbol? Generally I’ll call myself a designer, but that’s a very broad term. Some days when even I’m struggling to define what it is I do, I’ll just refer to myself as a "creative type," but it’s hard to put that on a resume or business card. It’s difficult to place myself under one definitive title because I feel like I do so many different things! One day I’m sketching and painting proposals, the next I’m pouring concrete, cutting glass, pattern-making or dying paper. Every day is a new adventure. Visual Display Artist or Installation Artist both encompass a lot of what I do. I’m a designer, a builder, an artist--I’m kind of a Jack of all trades, I suppose!
Aside from your obvious wicked talent, how did you come to this line of work? Did you prick yourself with a radioactive X-Acto knife or something? It took a lot of learning what I didn’t want to do to arrive where I am now. I’ve never been good at sitting still, and sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 drove me crazy. After college, I tried my hand as a buyer and an apparel designer, but working for someone else’s company never worked for me--I wanted something of my own; I wanted to be my own boss. I have a broad background in retail and design that created a great jumping-off point for me with my work. I started working on design projects for myself and friends, from furniture and lighting to ceramics and candle-making. I got to the point where I just wanted to make everything. Need a bed? I can do that. Concrete planter? I can do that, too! Large scale light installation? Check. I learned that I could learn to do anything I put my mind to, and I went with it. My first commissioned project was a total shot in the dark. I’d never made anything like it before, and I had no idea whether or not it would work. But in the end, I succeed with all the projects I set out to do.
Is there a particular artist [local or otherwise] that has inspired you? I have so many great, creative friends locally that inspire me every day. I feel very fortunate to be part of community that fosters creativity, and where artists are very supportive of one another’s success. Adam Bateman at CUAC has always been a great sounding board, and Tyler Blaine is an incredible craftsman who always pulls me out of the weeds when I get in over my head. The boys at Imbue Design always lead me to find new materials and give me great feedback on projects. Madelon Juliano is a fantastic local artist who always opens my eyes to the newest ideas in arts and crafts, and stimulates my mind when I’m in a creative rut. Apparel Designer, Andrea Black, is my voice of reason--she brings me back down to earth when my eyes get too wide or I’m overwhelmed by ideas.
What's your dream project? A job that you would just die to get [though hopefully, not literally]? A lot of artists doing work like mine strive to be in galleries or museums--I’ve never fancied myself that type of artist, though. My heart will always be in fashion. It’s what took me to New York, led me to school at FIT, and to work for companies like Betsey Johnson. I get inspired by designers who create wearable art; it’s a medium that speaks to me and that I understand fluently. I would love to see my work on Paris Runways or in windows on Fifth Avenue in New York. I’d love to create a magical runway space for Chanel, or see my creations adorning the windows of Barneys New York.