In late 2005, Kristin Tercek started Cuddly Rigor Mortis LLC, hand making plush dolls of her own creation. After a few gallery shows and 3 and a half years of sewing, she decided to put away the sewing machine and pick up a paintbrush. No longer limited by the constraints of plush design, the range of Cuddly characters quickly grew to include food, real and imaginary animals, and charming botanicals. Although her work has evolved from cute/horror to cute/creepy to just plain cute, the core of what Cuddly Rigor Mortis is stays the same: making people happy.
Maybe you’ve shared this before but what’s the story behind your artist name?
Haha, well, it’s all my husband’s fault! I was desperately trying to come up with a name for my spooky cute plush business and literally had dozens of names. My husband walked into the room and simply said, “Cuddly Rigor Mortis.” It was perfect and I’ve stuck with it ever since.
Do you think you’ll ever go back to making plush?
I had a love/dislike relationship with plush making. I loved the textile nature of it but really disliked that I couldn’t do more intricate designs in 3D. It just seemed natural for me to move into painting which I’m much better at than sewing! With that said, there may be some 3D felted works coming very soon that I think bridges the gap between my plushes and painting. Stay tuned…
I love how you incorporate food into your art. What’s the most memorable meal you’ve had lately?
Thank you so much. I just love food! Hmmm, well I have to say that my husband and I had a bit of a tradition around the holidays to order caviar, blinis, creme fraiche and escargot in puff pastry for a super decadent celebration. We hadn’t gotten it in a few years, so it was super special when he surprised me with it recently. Such a sweetheart.
How do you prepare for a solo art show?
The first hurdle is to come up with an idea/theme for the show. This can be the most difficult part since it has to be something I can work into 30 paintings. Once that’s done, I look at what time is left before I need to deliver the work and break down my schedule for how many paintings are produced each week. I’m currently working on my next solo (opens end of April) and doing something different – I sketched out the entire show ahead of time and now will begin to paint. It really helped take the pressure off having everything ready so early.
I thought you were really brave to expose a gallery that did not pay you for your artwork. What would be advice to artists who may be afraid to speak out?
Thank you, it was a very difficult decision to make but I had the support of other artists who were also willing to tell their story at the same time so I didn’t feel so alone. The main thing to realize is that you are not alone. There are so many artists who have had similar stories with other galleries, big and small that it’s time we all stood up for ourselves. Stop thinking that these galleries who are ripping you off hold all the cards. There is a website that Lana Crooks (a wonderful artist) started because of this problem called galleryratings.com. It’s a great resource for seeing what experiences other artists have had – and you can leave reviews as well.
Kristin’s paintings have been featured in Time Magazine online, The Huffington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle and have been exhibited all over the world, from NYC to Paris to Disneyland.
Kristin just announced that she will be participating in the upcoming Epcot International Festival of the Arts. This event takes place over six weekends from January 13 through February 20 and combines visual, culinary, and performing arts. For details about this event, visit her blog. Learn more about Cuddly Rigor Mortis on her website.