Persephone Bennett

PHOTOS BY CADENCE LEE
STORY BY NICOLE KING

A dog, multi-colored yarn, and garment fragments greeted me at the door of Persephone’s room. A RISD apparel major from New Hampshire, Persephone has recently been pursuing a side project that fulfills her comedic artistic side. She starts with a simple doodle and if it makes her laugh she’ll use it to make stickers, stationery, and patches. Their “absurdist out of context humor” appeals to people of all ages. Persephone has sold her work at crafts fairs before where people of different ages ask for the same doodle in different media. For instance, she says, older people tend to buy the patches while younger people buy the laptop stickers. Her work is certainly appealing because of its versatility in style and its ability to be made into many different mediums. Persephone’s favorite doodle is what she calls “the inconvenient alien abduction”, but the one that sells the most, she says, is “spork”. Indeed, these doodles initially made me chuckle, but I was unsure as to what exactly I found funny. They seemed like an inside joke I was not intended to understand. Thus, it made no real sense to me, but the playfulness and silliness of the stickers were enough to render them funny and accessible to most people’s funny bone.  

Persephone’s process consists of importing the doodle to Photoshop and then putting the doodle onto whatever surface she is working with. Spoonflower is one of her favorite sites for the process of transferring doodles into these various mediums. She started selling her doodles when her friends saw her sketches and suggested that she make them into products for sale. She says that at RISD, students in studio are in such proximity to each other and so used to observing each other’s works that any sketchbook is bound to become public.  She says that her doodles were not a conscious decision to make, but have become a primary source of relaxation and enjoyment in a stressful RISD environment. Upon sneaking a peek at her doodles, her friends and peers began making requests. Now, however, Persephone mass produces her products and always has them handy for distribution. In fact, upon my departure, she handed me several laptop stickers to keep. My personal favorite was an image of pizza with a hand-drawn stick figure saying “bury me in pizza.”   

These pieces have created a way for Persephone to make art simply for fun. In this side project she does not have to respond to anyone but herself, so it has become a source of self-fulfilled and stress-free creation. At RISD, art can sometimes become a stressful academic challenge where it had previously been an escape. Thus, she says she must find new ways to make art relaxing. Her work for school is all about “making unusable materials usable again.” Indeed, she showed me a dress she made purely out of latex gloves. Persephone is a multi-faceted artist, doing work in apparel, painting, drawing, and other mediums. She says, “the art for public consumption is lighthearted, fine art shows the process of what has happened to me, and apparel is a way to embrace all people.”