#Brite2020 | Q&A with Cool Critters

Jess Sheeran breathes life into the whimsical and oftentimes unusual plushies she calls Cool Critters. In her words, they are one-of-a-kind stuffed animals, monsters, extraterrestrial softies, unsettling couch companions and your newest best friend. Brightly colored fur, big eyes, and cheeky smiles await you at the Cool Critters booth this Brite Winter. 

Tell me about your background- what attracted you to working with fabrics?

I graduated with a graphic design degree and worked in graphic design for a long time and I love it. While I was at school I went crazy and took as many classes as I could, but I was really into the fiber arts. I just love the tactile experience that fiber gives you. 

Then I started hanging out with people who dressed cool and I wanted to be like them! So, my grandma gave me a sewing machine and I taught myself how to sew kind of overnight. I didn’t make a lot of clothes but I ended up making little stuffed animals. I made this really derpy shark and put it on my booth as a display and someone asked to buy it right away. So I decided I was going to go home and make a lot of those - because people are interested! I got to be obsessed with it. The stuffed animals were consuming everything! I’m so lucky to be able to do this. I feel like I'm a big child! 

How do you develop your ideas?
I'm really inspired by Where the Wild Things Are and The Labyrinth and off kilter stuff like that. I never know what my critters are going to look like until I sit down to make them. I think if I knew what they’d look like I’d be bored easily. It's my creative outlet to do whatever I want with. They’re one of a kind. 

How does the availability of materials and a workspace like ours impact the art you create?

When I first came here for Brite Winter, Emily Appelbaum, Brite’s Artistic Director, suggested I make snow critters, and I jumped on the idea. Totally out of my comfort zone, I started making the sculptures out of a snowy foam. I had never worked with foam before- ever! But I watched hours of YouTube tutorials and figured it out.

What do you love most about Brite Winter?

Doing things I’ve never done before, getting out of my comfort zone, and meeting new people. All of that combined. I love it- that’s why I’m here. Watching it go from nothing to this huge festival… It's fascinating to me. 

Catch Jess’ cool creations at #Brite2020 in The Campfire Tent.