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Accelerating Automation: Solid-3D & Claudiu Tanasescu Transform Warehouses & Manufacturing Facilities



On this episode of UrbanEBB, Claudiu Tanasescu, the CEO of Solid 3D, shares his entrepreneurial journey and the innovative robotics solutions his company is bringing to the logistics industry. Join us as we explore the future of warehouse automation, the integration of AI and robotics, and the importance of sustainability in business operations. Discover how Solid 3D is revolutionizing warehouse operations and shaping the future of logistics with its cutting-edge technology. Learn more about the exciting opportunities in robotics and the impact it will have on the workforce and the way we do business. Solid 3-D is based in out of The Curiosity Lab of Peachtree Corners where we shot our video podcast with host Rico Figliolini

Solid 3D Website: https://www.solid-3d.com/

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:12 – Claudiu Tanasescu, the CEO of Solid 3D
00:03:52 – Pivoting to Robotics for Warehouse Automation
00:06:35 – Robotic Solutions for Industry Challenges
00:08:46 – Automating Warehouse Navigation Solutions
00:11:05 – Warehouse Efficiency and Robot Precision
00:13:54 – Revolutionizing E-Commerce with Robotics Services
00:18:39 – Warehouse Automation and AI in the Industry
00:21:45 – Robotic Automation in Logistics and Beyond
00:23:58 – Chat GPT and Robotics: The Future of Human-Machine Interaction
00:25:50 – AI and Sustainability in Modern Technology Development
00:29:07 – Sustainability and Robotics in Business Future
00:31:23 – Robotics Innovations in Construction Industry
00:33:00 – Creating a Hub for Robotics Innovation in Georgia

Podcast Transcript:

Rico Figliolini 0:00:01

Hi, everyone. This is UrbanEBB, and I’m your host, Rico Figliolini, here in the city of Peachtree Corners, actually the podcast room of Curiosity Lab. And I have a great guest here visiting from Amsterdam for a German based company. And this is Claudiu Tanasescu. Just want to make sure I pronounce your name. And he’s CEO of Solid 3D. He’s actually visiting this week in March for a trade show that’s one of the biggest trade shows. I think it’s called Modex 2024. So he was sharing some insight from there and working with partners there in that show. So appreciate you giving us some time.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:00:42

Thank you so much. Good to be here.

Rico Figliolini 0:00:43

Yeah, you have a great company, and Curiosity Lab is always a great fostering place to host and base companies out of here in the US.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:00:52

We were extremely lucky to find Curiosity Lab, to be honest and extremely happy with our location here and the environment and the connections and networking that we can build up here are pretty good.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:03

Excellent. Cool. So tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about your company, and then we’ll dive right into what your company does.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:01:10

Sure. So, yeah, my name is Claudiu Tanasescu. I’m based out of the Netherlands. As you said you would call it, a serial entrepreneur. I built two more companies, software companies, before. The last one was in the cinema software. We built software that is able to forecast and schedule movies in a theater. And that was pretty cool, as you can imagine. You have to understand what the movie is about. Actors, directors, production budget. But then we would look at the weather and the holidays in that location and forecast based on that.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:46

Terrific logistics almost in a different way.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:01:49

Almost logistics in a different way. So I sold that company in 2020, and then through a connection from university, I came across solid three D. And now for three years, I became an investor, and I’m the CEO of the company. Very exciting times for the company and for the industry in general. Robotics is a hot topic right now, particularly with industry 4.0 and the challenges of manufacturing in China. COVID came and pandemic brought a lot of attention into understanding how can we insource, how can we bring the manufacturing back to Europe and the US and reduce the dependency in China? And that created a significant opportunity on the robotics side. So that’s how we engage in the robotics with solid three D. And I’m happy to say that three years later, we found a very strong product and we found a very strong industry, which is the logistic industry to explore with our products and services.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:54

I was going to say when you took over the company, it was a little different path they were on, but then you as CEO brought it to a different place.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:03:02

That’s absolutely right. So my two co founders, they were both very technical, both with PhD in computer vision. So they were working on a computer vision product for controlling robots. Essentially our motto at that time was we make robots. See, because robots were. If you think about robots in the manufacturing world particularly, they’re pretty blind. They just go and grab a thing and put it somewhere there, expecting that that object is there. If it’s not there, then there’s the conflict, right? So that’s where computer vision comes in and essentially detects that object and tells the robot, hey, it’s not there, it’s 5 left, go there and pick that from there. And they were pretty advanced with that product in there. But then when we did a comprehensive market analysis, we slowly started to understand that it’s a very complex market with a lot of competition and a lot of big players in there that made it very difficult for a startup to compete. So very early on we decided, okay, can we pivot towards robotics, this emerging field that’s coming up where everybody’s talking about automation, and particularly in the logistics and warehousing field, there was a gap combined with two thousand and twenty s, two thousand and twenty one. With the labor force shortage, it really created an accelerated wind in the back of all these companies that were looking into automating their warehouse operations.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:34

So how did you actually find. That’s almost like a needle in a haystack for me. How did you actually find that that was a need for that?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:04:43

That’s a great question, and as it always happens in life, same with the cinema industry. I wasn’t planning on going into the cinema industry, but I just met someone that, his father was a university professor writing an academic paper on demand driven movie scheduling, and they were looking for an IT company to implement it, and that’s how we ended up in the cinema industry. Similarly, in warehouse, we were just going about our computer vision challenges and understanding how we can attack the market. And in fact, one that is now the biggest customer of ours was looking to understand how can they enhance their operations and reach out to one of the manufacturers of the laser tracker technologies that we currently use in our products to say, I want to buy a laser tracker from you. And the guys were like, okay, we can sell it, but do you know how to operate it? And they were like, no, we don’t know, hey, here is a partner that can operate the laser tracker for you. And they introduced us to that warehouse automation manufacturer and, yeah, the rest is history. We started working together. We understand their business needs, we understand their challenges, and we essentially custom build a robot to attack those challenges.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:01

Opportunity comes, and if you’re not there to accept that opportunity, and you were there, so that was great.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:06:07

We were there. We were open for that. We were looking to pivot. It was almost like being at the right time, at the right place for sure to have that opportunity.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:18

And that’s helped you expand actually even further then, because other relationships, other companies doing somewhat similar to, like, for example, Amazon and robotics and some of these other companies.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:06:28

Right? Exactly right. Because once we start looking more carefully to the industry, we understand that it’s not just the problem of this company, it’s actually an industry wide problem. Right. So all of a sudden, the opportunity for us became clear that we can go from a customer robot for this company to a robot that we can make it as a product and that we can then serve other customers as well.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:53

So Claudia was showing me a few things, and it’s amazing to me, I mean, anyone that understands business and employment and the lack of being able to find help, even though supposedly it’s out there, no one wants to work, maybe, or they’re doing other things. A place like an Amazon warehouse that needs product moved and shipped around within the warehouse is using your. So, you know, you’re not, company’s not helping put people unemployed, but your company is actually making more efficient for these companies that are not just warehousing things, warehousing products, but becoming a shipping center or logistics center for these products.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:07:33


Rico Figliolini 0:07:34

So tell us a little bit about that in Amazon’s case.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:07:39

When I say maybe, the general public, when they hear robotics and robotics taking over jobs, it’s a very common theme, right? They think that robotics is going to take over jobs. But when you come to think about what we are doing, we’re putting down on the floor some stickers. They have to be put around at a foot from each other and not one, not 1000, 10,000, 20,000 of those, right. In a warehouse. Now imagine if you are a workforce, if you are a worker and you have to go and bend on your knees every foot to put that down with high accuracy. It’s not a job you want to have, right. It’s a job you want to move on from. And that’s where robotics is in my mind. The list is bringing those advantages in taking over that very tedious and very tiring work.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:30

Very tedious, for sure. And it has to be accurate.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:08:34

And it has to be accurate, right. That’s a very strong argument. I mentioned my previous companies, but in my entrepreneurial experience, I’ve never had a much easier sales pitch. Because you go to these companies on the trade show, you just mentioned modex, and you see them and they say, oh, I see your robots are using QR codes on the floor for navigation. How do you put those codes on the floor? And then they start sharing the pain. Yeah, I have to send my engineers down there, and they hate it because they have to be on their knees all the time. Right. And I have these computer trained, highly trained engineers that have to do that work on the floor because I cannot entrust it to temp workers or any other unskilled labor because they have to be very accurate. So when I tell them that I have an automated solution for that, I have a robot for that, their eyes open like that, they really understand that this is something that can help them immediately.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:28

So let me ask you this, because what comes to mind right now, Don, is you have a warehouse 100,000 sqft. So it’s probably more than 10,000 or 20,000 stickers that have to go.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:09:38


Rico Figliolini 0:09:39

Have to go really accurate. Really correct. Things change and move in the warehouse. Does that ever happen where you have to shift? Sometimes where you have to because of expansion or other things come into play. And how fast can your company, solid 3D, meet that? I know you use encoding, AI and stuff, but how fast can you deliver?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:10:03

Yeah, that’s a good question. And indeed, the reality of the field is that they design the warehouse to the best of their abilities, but obviously economic environments change and then they have to change. Typically when that happens with our customers, what they want is they want to expand, usually, right? And they want to add more of those codes on the floor so that their robots can travel further away. Or they design a new pickup station over there and they need to get the robots in there. So that’s when they call on us and we come in with our robots and our technology and we do it for them. Within a day, we’re done.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:37

The way you showed me on that video was like these scalable storage units, Rex, and the robot goes underneath it, lifts it and then moves it based on the stickers on the ground.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:10:47

That’s correct.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:49

So when things inventory changes, when other things change, stickers can stay there, but the data code may change somewhere in the background.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:10:58

Absolutely. So stickers are there. What usually changes is that whatever it’s loaded on that rack can change, right? So changing inventory and changing the layout is two different things that in such particular case. And for example, Amazon is a great example of how they are able to leverage the whole space, right? Like the whole warehouse is completely from day one designed to accommodate for that and then anticipate any sort of further growth in there by just adding another rack, another robot on the same grid, on the same code.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:35

So whether it’s a fraction of an inch or a fraction of a centimeter, you’re actually meeting that demand to be able to get the most efficient use out of that piece of property, out of that floor space.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:11:48

Just to give you a little bit of perspective about the accuracy level that we’re able to achieve with the robot, our system, right, robot and laser combined are able to place anything in that 100,000 square foot warehouse within a 1 mm precision, right? So within a hair pin kind of precision anywhere on that. And that’s extremely powerful.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:15

I think the things I was reading over the last couple of years of Amazon warehouse, just because they’re the biggest thing on there, right? I mean, there’s Walmart, there’s other types of warehouses, Ikea and stuff. But the fact that the efficiency of being able to pack products within a space is one of the biggest things that they were looking at. And plus, in a normal warehouse, you have sections, right? This is where the shades are, this is where the lamps are. But in an Amazon warehouse, heck, it’s not like that, right? Products are mixed in. The system knows how to get what it needs to where it’s going. And part of that is you, right?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:12:52

Absolutely. And I always give people the sort of visual example of what really happens the moment you press that buy button on the Amazon website, right? Like the second you finish that purchase and you confirm your order, that order arrives at a nearby distribution center, they call it, and one robot is already on its way picking up one of those wrecks with your product in it, and it brings it to a human operator. It’s called a pickup station. That human operator would grab it from the wreck and put it on another conveyor belt that sends it down to packaging, and it’s on its way to you.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:29

This is why you can order at 07:00 a.m. And get by 11:00 a.m.. Sometimes.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:13:33

That’s for sure. It’s an extremely efficient system, and it’s all revolutionizing the way we do online ecommerce.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:44

So when companies use your equipment are they buying it to use or is it temporary projects project by project?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:13:52

Yeah. So our business model is really providing services to those companies. We do not sell the robots.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:58


Claudiu Tanasescu 0:13:59

We come in with our robots, our technology, and our people on site, and we do the work for the customer. And then we take our equipment and leave and go to the next customer. Right. So it’s a lot of traveling because we are all over the can. We’re just doing a project right now in Nevada and another project in New Jersey. Right. So all over the US. And we travel on site. We stay there to do the job. A job would take anywhere between three days to maybe three weeks. Okay. And then we travel to the next one and so on.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:34

Do you stay there long enough to troubleshoot and do the things that need to be adjusted?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:14:39

We do that as well. We do quality control of all the work that we do to make sure that before we depart that our codes are precisely positioned. But what we typically do, and maybe just to walk you through a little bit of a day in a life of a robot operator, we call them, the one that take the robot over there is they arrive on site, and the very first thing that we do for that customer is we try to get a sense of the building. Amazon is in a lucky position that they purposely build their buildings. Right. So, you know, when you get there, it’s a new building, it’s built to specs. It’s perfect. But a lot of other of our customers, they sell to maybe small businesses, maybe larger businesses that already have the warehouse and have been using it in a sort of manual mode until now. And now it’s the first time they’re automating it. So when you arrive on a building, the first thing you do is you measure the building to understand. And we have equipment and technology that we can actually tell you. This column in the middle of the building is 10 mm off from where it was in the cat file when you designed the building. Right. So we tell them all that information. We call that Ses versus s planned. We give them that information to the customer so that they can choose to decide, okay, I’m going to move the grid a little bit to the right, because otherwise my robots will be colliding with that column. So we do all that work for them that services is a very strong added value to our customers. Then we lay down the codes, and then we do the QC on the codes, and then they bring their own robots and run it over the codes as well, and QC again, control again the codes.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:22

So when you’re doing this, the thing that comes to mind, because I’ve been in enough warehouses, and you’re right, these older warehouses and stuff, there could be seams and concrete. There could be areas where it’s up and down a little bit. Does that affect what you’re doing then?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:16:36

Luckily, the end robots that will run that warehouse, which is our customers, essentially, they have very strict requirements as to how the floor needs to be. So before we arrive on site, that floor has already been prepared for that. So it’s been sanded down, it’s been covered, all these things. Because not only our robots will have a challenge with that, but also their robots will have a challenge with us. It’s on their project checklist to do before we even start work there.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:08

So it’s safe to say most of your, all your clients at this point are warehouse type clients.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:17:15

Most of our customers are indeed warehouse type customers. They provide services. Know you mentioned Walmart. Walmart. We did projects for Walmart. Essentially, we’re actually doing one project here in Atlanta for Sam’s. And there’s a lot of industries, from retail to e commerce to even clothing manufacturers. We’ve done a project in San Francisco for a semiconductor company. Right. Like anything that can be stored in a shelf and needs to be moved can benefit from their automation.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:53

Do you have particular industries that you all work in? I mean, you did mention Walmart and Sam’s club and stuff, but it’s very.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:18:01

Interesting because I was at Modex at the trade show. As you walk the trade show and you see boots around and you see the visitors in there. And I just read a LinkedIn post that said models had 40,000 visitors this year, which is pretty big. You read people’s labels and you see, oh, this is Tesla engineering team looking for the automation solution. Then I see Home Depot guys looking for something. And then I go there and I see Nike looking for something. So it seems to be the whole spectrum of industries that have the same requirements. I have a warehouse, and I need to automate it. I need to retrieve products in and out very fast so that my production and my manufacturing can run smoothly.

Rico Figliolini 0:18:48

When you were at the show, you were telling me that I asked if you had a booth there, but now you have clients there, so you’re visiting their booths, their exhibition place, and answering questions and helping them. Clients, I guess, yeah.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:19:02

So it was very enlightening to be there to see those customers, the customers that we serve. Right. Having their boots fully, fully occupied the whole time during the show. Right. I barely managed to get a few minutes with each one of them because they’re in constant conversations with their customers. And I think I saw a gardener study that said that the warehouse automation is poised to do three times over the revenue in the next three years. Right. So it’s going to grow from about $2 billion right now to about $7 billion in 2025.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:37

So you guys are in a great position.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:19:39

I think I was encouraged at the show to have the conversation with our customers, and they’re all telling me, hey, we have this project line up, this project lineup, and we’re talking to this partner. And I know that every single project of theirs will end up with us as well, because we are the first to be on site.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:56

Do you find. So everyone’s talking about AI, and to some degree, there’s some AI involved here, whether it’s generative or language based. It’s a whole gamut of AIs. That’s just one.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:20:07


Rico Figliolini 0:20:09

Do you see your company using more of that in what you’re doing?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:20:14

We actually do use quite a lot of AI already in our robots. Just to give you an example, when we approach a site, a warehouse, there are columns I mentioned earlier, but there might be other obstacles on the way. And we use computer vision and AI to determine what is the best path for the robot to navigate. And that’s already a very basic usage of AI nowadays. I visited this company at a trade show called Agility Robotics that does those humanoid robots that are able to pick up things and take them over there and walk on two legs. Pretty impressive, right? But also the spectrum of AI applications in the logistic world, it’s just mind blowing, right? Like anything from unloading a truck, like you have a robot that will essentially coming into the 18 wheeler and be able to grab the packages by itself and ship them down a conveyor belt.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:17

I can see a big tractor trailer with having these codes embedded on the floor bed of the trucks.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:21:23

Luckily, you don’t have to do that. They use computer vision for that. They find out where they are. And if you think of it, Nathan Wheeler, it’s a very compact space.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:32


Claudiu Tanasescu 0:21:33

And you just see flashes from time to time as the robot is reading the space, and then it knows, okay, I have a box over there. I’m going to go as a vacuum grabber that grabs it and puts it back on the conveyor belt to be shipped out of the truck.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:48

I could see this working even in military applications when they talk about logistics of military equipment and supplies and stuff and keeping track which is probably one of the biggest problems they have.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:22:00

Absolutely. So another very strong spectrum of that is called robot pickers. Right. And it’s essentially, imagine a tray of products coming down the product line and you need to take them from the belt and put them nicely orderly in a box for shipping, right. Like, can be anything from candies to pharmaceutical to whatever. And then this robot is able to take a picture of the product, then know exactly where it is, grab it and put it exactly in the slot in the transport case that you want to have it. Right. So it’s this kind of combination of computer vision, artificial intelligence and robotics that is going to change the way a lot of things operate.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:44

So this is a bit of science fiction coming true, if you will. Right. Near future stuff. Do you see challenges ahead, though, in the next three or four years in the business world that you’re in? Challenges that you can address, maybe.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:22:59

I think there are two types, probably, of challenges that I see. One is, how do you make sure that you get the men and machine working together, right. I mentioned to you earlier, there are warehouses where no human comes in, right? The robots move with five meter per second. They will run over you if you go in there, right? And you want to have that because you want to have that level of efficiencies, but you also want to have the flexibility of having a human change things on demand. So that collaboration of man and machine working together, I think we’re getting there, but we’re still a little bit far away from that. The way they solve it today is that they slow the robots down because they do extra, extra careful when humans are around. But I think as the computer visions become much more powerful, you can then interact faster. And I think also to that point, chat GBT has been a revolutionary technology I cannot even comprehend. There’s been only one year on the market. But that combination of chat GBT, like power with a robot, can you imagine it would change the world? I don’t know if you’ve seen it. Yesterday, a demo popped up on Twitter from a company called Figma, I believe it’s called that they combine a chat GPT with a robot and you can actually talk to the. I mean, in the demo they were saying, what do you see towards the robot? And the robot was like, I see a table with an apple on it, and I see you standing next to the table. The robot can understand that. And then the guy says to the robot, I’m hungry. And the robot is able to grab the apple from there and offer it to him. In a very natural motion.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:46

I haven’t seen that.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:24:47

And that has not been pre programmed in any way. Right. It’s that human language barrier that so far, computers have not been able to overcome that. Now, with Chachimiti alike and large language models, it’s going to be less of that, of a barrier.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:05

It’s interesting how we are going away from coding. People won’t eventually need to know Sysql or any of the other coding. It’s just all be plain language based coding.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:25:18

Absolutely. I mean, the things that Tesla are doing in this field, it’s just on self driving cars, right? It’s unbelievable. I don’t know if you’re following that, but they’ve been working on this problem for probably about ten years right now. In the last year alone, they’ve been removing code that they wrote because they don’t want to write code anymore. Instead, they serve millions and millions of minutes of video to the machine. And the machine learns from seeing other drivers drive. Right. So you don’t have to write code to say to the machine, stop at the stop sign. It will learn from 100,000 videos of cars stopping at the stop sign that it has to stop at the stop sign.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:59

Yes. That makes more sense. It’s like almost like a child learning.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:26:02

Exactly. It’s very human like learning in training those models. In training those neurons, electronic neurons. If you want to learn like a child and then apply the same rules that you are doing, right, that’s what the child does. He looks at you, you brush your teeth in the evening. I need to do the same.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:24

If anyone has kids, they know that you can’t just teach them something. Say you do it this way because they pick up all your bad habits.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:26:32

Absolutely. Please unlearn that. Unlearn that.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:38

So it’s just amazing how fast things are going.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:26:42

So you mentioned coding because that triggered me. Because you mentioned coding. Nowadays, it’s actually going to. The world is going to a place. The technology world is going to a place where you don’t need to code anymore. You just need to have enough data to support knowledge and the computer will learn it.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:01

As long as you have a Nvidia chip, it might work. Great point. And in your particular industry, like all these industries, right, I mean, it’s a matter of AI will be in there and will be used in a whole different way that we don’t even know about today.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:27:19


Rico Figliolini 0:27:19


Claudiu Tanasescu 0:27:20

And then I think another area where we want to invest a little bit more time is in making everything more sustainable. Right? Like we’re in the world of ecommerce. We’re in a world where you expect your package to be here in the same day. How do we do that in a way that doesn’t impact the environment, doesn’t impact the planet? And there’s been a lot of talks, actually, the show, the Madak show, was the UPS president of supply chain and logistics from UPS, which is actually based in Atlanta.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:51


Claudiu Tanasescu 0:27:52

And he talked about how UPS is actually doubling down on the efforts to become much more sustainable, going for electric vehicles in their fleet, trying to optimize all their route and trafficking to make sure that you do less miles and all these kind of things. And I think I feel that responsibility also with us to make sure that we build products that help in that direction as well.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:17

Interestingly enough, I think sustainability, when it was first introduced some years ago and people saying, yeah, you need save energy, you need to do this, wasn’t being picked up as fast. It became a political thing. But now, like you’re pointing out, UPS is doing all that and it’s money driven because that’s the essentially. I mean, sustainability is a money driven aspect at this point. You don’t want to spend the money on energy to drive thousands of know, or even energy in your warehouse to be able to burn the lamps, if you will. Too long maybe, or something.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:28:55

Absolutely right. So it totally makes economic impact and economic sense for companies to be more sustainable. Being a European, there’s a lot of regulations in Europe, much more than here in the US in respect to sustainability. So companies are pushed from both sides. Right. Economic side and regulatory side. And I think it pays off. Right. Like, just from everyday business to running your whole supply chain. Makes sense for a company to invest in that.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:28

What do you see as the future for yourself, for this company beyond? Because sometimes companies like Instagram and other companies, they start one way, which this company did at one point, and you shifted it successfully to a different path. But as you’re doing it, sometimes you realize, well, I can do a little bit more here. I can do something that we can take this further. Have you seen that? Do you see that curve coming, that horizon?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:29:52

Yeah, I think we’re pretty set on the robotic side. I think we’re extremely lucky to have started on this. I wouldn’t say at the beginning of the robotic revolution because I think a lot of people will contradict me there. But at the beginning of a significant expansion in, let’s say, the western side of the world. Right, the US, Europe, same, mostly driven. As I mentioned earlier, by supply chain problems with China and others, where you want to have the manufacturing in, and then you need robots to be able to do that. So we’re pretty set on the robotic side. The question is, what other business applications can we do with our technology? Right. And we are in the high precision positioning field. And with that, we can see a lot of other business use cases for you. Just to give you one example is in the construction industry, right? Like in the construction industry, you lay down the floor and then you have to mark, where do you want to put the drywall? Where do you want to put the electrics, where do you want to put that? And today there’s somebody that needs to come in with some sort of measuring tape or some sort of measuring device to mark that in there. We can have our robot drive around there and print on the floor those things. Wow. So it becomes like a printer, a mobile printer on the floor of a high precision instructions about how to construct drywalls, for example.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:18

I didn’t even think about that. That’s phenomenal. I mean, you could do that in an apartment complex with 200 units.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:31:23

Exactly right. And every single floor, you have to map it in a different way. So that’s another opportunity where I believe we can enter in the coming years. We’re very focused right now on logistics. So this is just a little bit of brainstorming going forward as to where the opportunities.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:41

Yeah, for sure. I mean, a company growing needs to be able to know what other products they can put out there and stuff. And I can see that robots finish on the first floor. It moves to the elevator, it goes up the next floor, it just comes back out and does the second floor. So I can see that all working out.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:31:57

And there are robotics in the construction industry. There’s a lot of companies already being active in there. Right. So we just had here in the qst lab yesterday one of those companies called rug robotics that build robots for the construction industry. There’s actually another partner over here in the Curiosity Lab. It’s called Skymule. I don’t know if you’ve seen them. They build a robot dog that is able to tide in the rebars. Yeah.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:24

So it can work on another Curiosity Lab based company.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:32:28

Exactly right. I started this interview saying that we’re extremely pleased with Curiosity Lab because of this environment. Right. It’s an environment of creativity and innovation in the robotic fields, and that’s where we want to be positioned as well.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:42

You can’t do this remotely.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:32:44

You cannot. And maybe just on that to was two days ago, I was invited at the Georgia Aquarium by a group that is affiliated with Georgia Tech, and they just launched a non for profit initiative called Robot Georgia. It’s maybe something that will be interesting for you as well to interview them. They want to build sort of an environment to stimulate the robotic field in Georgia and Atlanta.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:15

That’s an excellent idea.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:33:16

It’s really an excellent idea, and I’m happy to be part of that and try to contribute in that respect.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:22

Excellent. We’ve been speaking to Claudiu Tanasescu.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:33:26

Very good.

Rico Figliolini 0:33:27

Tanasescu, this is Rico Figliolini. The name’s just as long italian heritage, but born here in the states. This has been a great conversation. I loved finding out more about your company and where you all are going. Anything else you want to share or website that we should know about? I’ll have some of the stuff in the show notes, but feel free.

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:33:48

No, definitely. I think we have seen some great opportunities ahead of us, and we plan on expanding into the Atlanta area. So we’re always on the lookout for great talent. Right. So if you have a passion for robotics, if you’d like to learn more about how we can automate the warehouse solutions in the know, please reach out to us. We’re always on the lookout for great people.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:10

Are you taking interns?

Claudiu Tanasescu 0:34:13

Absolutely. Yeah.

Rico Figliolini 0:34:14 Okay, cool. All right. Thank you again. I appreciate your time with us. Thank you so much and thanks, everyon

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Exploring Israeli Innovation in the Smart City Sector with Einav Gabbay [Podcast]



A brief interview at Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners

Exploring Israeli Innovation in the Smart City Sector with Einav Gabbay

In a recent segment of our podcast, we had the pleasure of interviewing Einav Gabbay, a Business Development Coordinator in the mobile and smart city sector at the Israel Export Institute (IEI). The discussion centered on the IEI’s role in promoting global Israeli innovations and its recent visit to Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners.

Role of Einav Gabbay and the IEI:  In her capacity, Einav Gabbay facilitates partnerships and growth opportunities for Israeli startups in international markets, particularly in the mobile and smart city domains.

Event Overview at Curiosity Lab: The brief interview delved into the recent event organized by the IEI at Curiosity Lab, which was chosen as a significant venue for the United States delegation (one of three cities.) This choice underscores Curiosity Lab’s commitment to pioneering transportation, sustainability, and smart city technology. The event featured one-on-one meetings between startups and key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, aiming to explore and expand the horizons of smart city technologies.

Highlight on Participating Startups: Einav provided insights into the innovative Israeli companies that participated in the event at Curiosity Lab, emphasizing their contributions and potential impacts on smart city technologies:

  1. Adasky – specializes in developing advanced thermal imaging technologies for automotive applications. More about Adasky
  2. Gallery IP – focuses on integrated smart city solutions that enhance urban infrastructure and management. More about Gallery IP
  3. Connvas – offers a unique platform that streamlines communications for better customer engagement and service delivery. More about Connvas
  4. GIV Solutions – provides comprehensive solutions for smart building and urban environment management. More about GIV Solutions
  5. ITC – innovates in the internet technology space, specifically tailored towards enhancing connectivity across urban areas. More about ITC
  6. Tondo – develops IoT solutions focused on improving environmental sustainability and operational efficiency. More about Tondo
  7. WiseSight – specializes in AI-driven analytics for urban data, optimizing city operations and decision-making processes. More about WiseSight

Conclusion: The interview with Einav Gabbay highlighted the synergistic efforts between the Israel Export Institute and Curiosity Lab, showcasing how international collaboration can foster innovation in smart city technologies. The event provided a platform for Israeli startups to present their cutting-edge solutions and opened doors for potential partnerships that could lead to transformative impacts on urban landscapes globally.

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Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market 2024: Meagan Brooker



The Wesleyan Artist Market takes place in Peachtree Corners on April 26-27, 2024

Listeners are taken on a journey into the colorful art world through the eyes of high school art teacher Meagan Brooker. With 17 years of experience at Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Brooker shares her passion for creativity, sharing how art has become a form of therapy and a source of inspiration in her life. From discussing her artistic process and inspiration to highlighting the importance of art for mental well-being, Brooker’s infectious enthusiasm for art will captivate and inspire listeners of all backgrounds. Brooker’s art will be displayed at the Wesleyan Artist Market 2024, April 26-27.

Tune in to discover the transformative power of creativity and art in this enlightening and uplifting Peachtree Corners Life Podcast episode.


00:00:00 – Introduction of Artist Meagan Brooker
00:01:32 – Teaching Art at Wesleyan School
00:04:00 – From Science to Art: Following My Creative Passion
00:08:42 – Balancing Creativity and Exhaustion
00:10:18 – Painting as Meditation and Process
00:13:53 – Tuscany Landscapes to Inspire Artists
00:17:29 – Finding Inspiration in the Unexpected
00:20:32 – The Healing Power of Art in Challenging Times
00:23:16 – The Pros and Cons of Social Media for Artists
00:25:49 – Embracing Digital Art Tools and AI in the Creative Process
00:29:08 – Exploring AI’s Role in the Creative Process
00:31:23 – Closing

Podcast Transcript

Rico Figliolini 0:00:00

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. This year, this month, today we’re doing an interview with an artist that’s going to be at the Wesleyan Artist Market, Meagan Brooker. So let’s say hi to Meagan. Hey, Meagan.

Meagan Brooker 0:00:13


Rico Figliolini 0:00:14

Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. Thank you for being with us. Before we actually get into all of this, I just want to say thank you to our sponsor, EV Remodeling, Inc. They do a great job when it comes to remodeling, design and build, start from scratch up. Eli, him and his family live here in Peachtree Corners, does a great job. Lots of people know them. Anything from your bathrooms and kitchens to your whole house almost. So check them out at evremodelinginc.com. We appreciate the support of these podcasts. So now let’s get right into it because we’ve done this, I just did this interview a little while, a few weeks ago with two student artists that are going to be featured at Wesleyan Artist Market. Their stream is actually going to happen Wednesday. For Meagan and I to know you all that are listening won’t know which Wednesday that is, but it’s going to be on a Wednesday. Actually, before we go to press with the next issue of Peachtree Corners Life magazine, which has three profiles, including Meagan, of the Wesleyan artists, three of the artists that are going to be there. So this is a compliment to that. We’re going to be talking a bit about art and what inspires Meagan. So let’s get right into it. Meagan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe how you started at Wesleyan.

Meagan Brooker 0:01:36

Yeah. So I teach at Wesleyan school. I teach high school art. I teach all levels of AP photography, and I’ve been there for 17 years, which makes me feel very old.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:51

You’re not, though. You look fine.

Meagan Brooker 0:01:54

Thank you. So I went to the University of Georgia and went after getting my degree in undergrad of art education. I taught elementary art in Gwinnett county for two years. And then I did missions work for a year, actually, and was looking for a high school job because I thought the idea of the challenge of high school would be really interesting. And, yeah, I just love my job and I love Wesleyan. And I’m very grateful to be there because obviously I’ve been there for 17 years.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:29

Yes, it’s a great school. Wesleyan school is in the city of Peachtree Corners, and they do a fantastic job and they’re growing. I mean, they’re in the middle of actually a building project right now for their STEM building. So lots going on at Wesleyan. This is just one facet of what they do. So you’ve been there 17 years and you’re teaching high school students, I believe the high school, the upper level class. Upper school, yes. In particular, what are you teaching at this point? What subject or mediums are you working in?

Meagan Brooker 0:03:01

So currently I’m teaching all levels of 2d art. So drawing, painting, mixed media, anything that’s 2d from foundations all the way up to AP, the AP level, which is kind of college credit courses. And that includes AP photography. Previously I taught photography and way back in the day I used to teach 3d as well. But I love now that I get to specialize in two d. And then we have amazing teachers who teach focus on photography and focus on 3d. So we have a great team.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:33

Excellent. Cool. Let me ask you something, because as we grow up, as we’re young and we’re getting into school and we’re in elementary and middle school, we start discovering ourselves a little bit, right? We start discovering what we like, what we don’t like and stuff. Of course, people around us, including parents, may sometimes tell us what we should like and we shouldn’t like or what we should become. I know that you inspired early on to be an artist, to go down that route. Well, maybe not to be an artist, but to go down the route of the arts versus the science. So tell us, what inspired you? At which point did you decide you wanted to be creative versus being, let’s say, a doctor or something?

Meagan Brooker 0:04:17

Yeah. Well, that’s interesting, actually. I tell all my students, like, follow your innate gut and what fulfills you and stirs you up and makes you want to do more. I, from a very young age, was always wanting to paint, create, take classes, paint my ceiling in my bedroom, even though my mom wouldn’t let me paint furniture. I was always wanting to create or create my own space or do something creative. I had a very fast working creative brain and I came from a small county up in north Georgia, and there weren’t many opportunities in the arts. So in high school I had a great art teacher who was the first one who looked at my work and said, you know, you’re really talented. And I was, you know, so I got that encouragement and that fed in, which made me want to work harder. It made me want to do more and try more and get better. So I actually went to college and started in premed because I had good grades and was smart and my family was like, you, listen, go make some money. Don’t become a teacher.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:27

Not good money there.

Meagan Brooker 0:05:30

So I started off in premed and I just was bored to tears. And it was not life giving anyway. So I decided to switch to art and have never looked back ever since then. My family sometimes wishes I might have, but they see how life giving it is for me now and how innate it is and how much I’m able to do with the creativity. So it’s come around.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:56

So you’ve never really looked back and said, maybe I should put my brushes away and do something else.

Meagan Brooker 0:06:02

No, it’s too natural. I have too much of the creative and too much to put out there to stop. I’m not really that great at anything else either. Have too much fun with it to stop now.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:18

Right? Okay. And I can appreciate that. My parents wanted me to be an accountant, hated numbers, could never do that. And just not for me. My brain didn’t work on that side for that. But teaching art, this is one of the things I learned from my youngest, right? He says to me, I asked him, I said, what do you want to be? He says, I’d love to be a writer. I want to write. I want to write novels and stuff. So he’s creative, but he doesn’t want a job, that he has to write a lot during the day, because then all his creativity is gone by the end of the day. So how do you work that? How do you balance. It’s a life balance, right? Work life. How do you balance that creativity with the work that you do all day long with other kids? How do you do that?

Meagan Brooker 0:07:05

Honestly, that is probably the toughest part of my job. And I have two young boys, so that to complicate the.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:14

How old resources.

Meagan Brooker 0:07:18

One’S twelve, he’s in fifth grade and one is eight. And they go to Wesleyan with me, which is also a huge blessing. When I started off in art education and I got into the courses and started doing the practicum teaching, I loved being able to impart the knowledge of creativity and the natural working of all of the brain work that working with your hands does in every way. And it’s not about teaching methodology to me, as much as it is like pulling out this natural creativity. And I was always fascinated with art therapy. I considered studying that, but I think art is very much a natural therapy. And there’s so many studies about how when we’re working with our hands, how our brains calm down, they can think better. They’re clearly so. Even just a 30 minutes break in the middle of the day or an hour break to work with your hands and not have to just use a different part of your brain is so good for anybody. You think about how it works with four year olds. It’s the same with 80 year olds. Being able to use my creativity during the day, it is exhausting because I feel like being asked 20 questions every five minutes. I do come home depleted, but at night, when the boys go down, when I can, I will go down and just let it all out on canvas. I will say, currently, my work is not the most conceptual. It’s more reactive, but it’s kind of more guttural and things that I. It’s emotional in a way of things that I’m reacting to in my current life. And I feel like most artists do that. It’s like where you are, your work is breathing out of where you are.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:17

I think that makes sense, right? Because inspiration is in the moment when you’re doing these things. It’s not like most artists plan these things out. Sometimes you may have in your head, but you’re working in the medium you’re working in. It could appear different, and you’re trying to rough it and do different piece from it. When you are like that, when you have to be in your space, if you will. I know writers, for example, will write with the door closed, if you will, and they know that pages and chapters will go away at some point because they’re just getting into that space. Do you find yourself doing that with art? How’s the process? Do you sketch first and then go to the medium that you choose for it in the paper or the surface that you want to put it on? How do you do that part?

Meagan Brooker 0:10:04

That’s a really good question. I love sketching and planning in my current stage, just don’t have that much time. So I tend to work out my process as part of the process and build up my layers and build it up until it’s a complete being. So the art is very much a process as opposed to being a super planned, which is my personality, more free spirited by nature. And so sometimes I will write verses or quotes or things that are on my mind kind of in the canvas as I’m going as a meditation. And then I’ll build the color, texture, and design up as part of that meditation of whatever is on my heart at the time. And the art will kind of come out of that longing or prayer or moment that I’m having there. I do small ones that are, I call them little loves, but they’re all based off of an attribute or a thought, like prayer, contentment, love. That they’re kind of prayed over in a way.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:21

I know there’s one behind you, but I put one of your pieces on the feed right now. Tell us a little bit about that one.

Meagan Brooker 0:11:29

This one. If I had a gallery show, which I hope to one day, I would call it something like an affinity for winged things. I’ve always had loved angels. I love birds, butterflies. There’s something about them that represents such hope and freedom. And so the past few years, I’ve done quite a few butterflies. And so the one on the screen here, I love the color tone in it, but I recently started adding in kind of a duo tone background with the gold and white. That almost represents a duality of. It. Kind of brings in a contrast of emotion, if you will.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:11

I see two different color spaces. A border, ragged border. Same way with. I see this. Right. This is another piece that you’ve done. Same type of ridging, same type of look. Duality. Two different worlds, two places. What were you doing here in this one?

Meagan Brooker 0:12:33

Yeah. Similar to this one here behind me. I feel like there’s always a tension in our humanity of light and dark. Right. There’s a tension we’re pulled between right and wrong, light and dark, hope and failure, or anything that could pull us down easily if we don’t pull toward the light. So when combining these hopeful creatures like birds and butterflies, with that tension, to me, it’s this representative of choosing the hope, choosing freedom, choosing to do what you can do, to move yourself to a higher purpose and to truth and to light and to all the things that God offers us in this life. So it’s just kind of representing like, yes, sometimes life’s really hard, but there is hope.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:29

Let’s go to something a little different that you shared with us. This one, it’s a bit different than the other two. Can you tell us a little bit about this one?

Meagan Brooker 0:13:39

Yeah. This one was inspired by, actually, Tuscany and the green hills of Tuscany. I love traveling. I love Italy, especially has my heart. I’m actually taking a group of the high schoolers to France this summer, and I’ve not been this part of France, so I’m excited about that. But I often will recreate images or know certain landscapes of pictures that I take when I’m traveling. Not all overseas, some here, and recreate them. And so this is kind of representing, loosely, the villas that you’ll see dotted all over the hillscape. The landscape of. And Tuscany is dotted with farmland everywhere. And these are just hilly wineries and orchards.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:29

So this was done in acrylic? Correct. And you chose that over. Do you work mostly in acrylic now, or do you work in.

Meagan Brooker 0:14:38

I love oil, love watercolor. I love mixed media. For artist market, I choose to do acrylic in the same vein. And I hope that you don’t hear this as an excuse is more. It’s just a stage of life where it’s quicker. The acrylic, I’m able to move quickly and work quicker and layer in it and get the effect, because I don’t necessarily have time to sit and make 30 oils in this stage of life. So acrylic offers me the ability to work a little quicker in it.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:10

Okay. And this particular piece, I mean, they’re all relatively big pieces too, right? Like 30 x 30 or something along those lines.

Meagan Brooker 0:15:17

That one’s huge. That one is, I believe it was 40 x 60. It’s about the size of this one behind me. And a friend bought it for their piano room in their house. So it looks really good on that big wall.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:29

Nice. When people do buy your stuff, do you recommend certain framings for your pictures, or you let them do their own thing?

Meagan Brooker 0:15:37

Usually they have something in mind that fits their aesthetic, but I love float. Personally, I think float frames look so good.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:46

So when people buy your paintings like this, I’ve asked this of other artists, how do you feel about it? You’ve done it. It’s not like it’s the 30th piece that you’ve done of the same exact thing. So you’ve spent your time doing it, and it’s leaving you. It’s almost like a baby. It’s going away. It’s going to be in someone’s house. How do you feel about that?

Meagan Brooker 0:16:09

This new series with the duality are some of my favorite new ones. And to see one of my favorite parts of doing work for clients, when people are choosing work, like at artist markets as opposed to galleries or collected and stuff like that, is seeing people’s reaction to it and why they choose it. That is such a precious moment, because I think every artist, or most artists at least, pour so much of themselves into it. And to your point, some of them have trouble letting go of it because they become precious. But when they stop in their tracks and have a visceral moment of like, oh, my mom just died, and she loves birds, and that’s her favorite color, and they’ll just start, my goodness, there are tactile things that they will hold on to that become meaning to them, that may not be the eye assigned to it, but it doesn’t matter. That’s what the beauty of art is. The expression of the color, the movement, the feeling, and the hope that people will hold on to.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:16

Wow. Yeah. I can’t imagine that feeling. I’m not an artist, so I can’t imagine that. I’m a graphic designer, but not an artist, so I don’t know how that feels. I do know how it feels to put together a magazine and send it to the printer and then have it come back in a palette of, like, 10,000 copies or something. I don’t know how that feels.

Meagan Brooker 0:17:39

That’s a relief, is what that’s called.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:42

Yes. In fact, I have two deadlines this week, so it’s going to be a relief when this week is done. Yeah, it’s just one of those crazy weeks, actually. So we talked about keeping fresh and continuing to evolve. Well, actually, we didn’t talk about evolving as an artist. You touched upon it a little bit. But how do you do travel? You do find, like you said, Tuscany was a great, beautiful landscape to be inspired by. You can’t go wrong with Tuscany. Right? Do you find inspirations in some of the simpler things in life or places that you didn’t even think inspiration would come from, or moments? Does any of that happen sometimes?

Meagan Brooker 0:18:23

Yeah. Sometimes I think back to COVID, and we were so limited, and I’m a mover and a shaker. I don’t sit still well to a fault. And so having to sit still kind of shook me. But I found myself grabbing my camera and going out in the beautiful spring light and catching these abstracted flowers that were blooming across the street and the way that the light hit them or life, noticing trees in our yard that were blooming. And I hadn’t noticed how beautiful they were at the time. Things that I hadn’t stopped long enough to appreciate. And, of course, the beauty of my children and their just innocence at their ages. And so just taking time to stop that makes me want to highlight the beauty of life as opposed to the hardship. Because anytime we can have a moment, and if my art is a moment to stop and be like, okay, let me just take a beat and find some hope and find a little moment of truth and hope in our day.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:33

Okay. COVID was an interesting period. Right? It was a bad time for many families, but it was also, in some ways, a good moment in time because things stopped. We were forced to stop what we were doing. So it was so bad at one point that if you remember the supply chain issues, ships stopped delivering, and in fact, the sea woke up more. The creatures in the sea, the whales, things were happening, air was a little cleaner. It was just different time. Right. So I can see that quiet. But you’re basically forced into doing things that we weren’t. We were forced to stop doing what we’re doing. The inspiration, I guess, can be found in many places. You’re teaching lots of kids through the years, 17 years of teaching at Wesleyan. I’m sure there’s been talented, very talented kids across that time frame. Is there any story, inspirational time, particular student or group of students or class that you felt was a moment that you want to remember? Maybe that inspired you, maybe that inspired other kids. Maybe there was something going on at that moment, or maybe even creativity out of students that you didn’t think would be creative because maybe art wasn’t their thing.

Meagan Brooker 0:20:54

Well, for one thing, that just because we came out of the conversation of just talking about COVID is how important art was to the ones who had it during that time. Teaching hybrid was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And when we were, like, on camera and trying to teach art from home and all of that. But I have multiple stories of students who. Art was their lifeline at the time, because whether home was not safe for them or whether they just needed to be out and be social or whatever it was, art was their way of their identity, of finding some way of expression that pulled them out of the anxiety, the mire, the scariness, the loneliness of the time, and a way to express themselves and kind of think outside of themselves. When you’re so glued to your phone or your computer trying to do a thing, art pulled them back out. So that was a beautiful thing and a testament to the purpose, I think, of our dedication, and I think what comes to mind, and I’ll shout out to my current AP art class, who are just, they’re so much fun, and we’re actually having our art show next week, so I’m excited about that. And they’re so creative. But I think that in this culture of, again, what we’re seeing post COVID is a lot more anxiety, a lot more pressure, a lot more peer pressure. The social media is out of control, and culture has a lot of expectations. And I think that what is beautiful is seeing the kids respond to these pressures through their art and subverting them with truth and with showing their own personality and identity in a way that they wouldn’t in social media. So their own personality and their truth is coming out. So they’re becoming more confident through their expression of art in a way that they wouldn’t without it. Right. So it’s like, oh, I am good at something.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:01

Right? No, I get where you’re going. You’re right. I could see that. But I can also see social media is good and bad. Right? Instagram, TikTok. I mean, there’s different various levels. If you allow yourself to scroll for 30 minutes, you’re losing a bit of your life. Maybe. But there are artists out there that actually share online also, and they use that medium to be able to share their art, whether it’s ceramics they’re doing or whether it’s actually watching them create something in the moment. Yeah, because that’s TikTok. I mean, does that. Right. Instagram, to a lesser degree, I think. But you could be watching an artist, a street artist, or just an artist in a studio painting, sketching the whole process for an hour or two, which is kind of interesting, right? Because you get to see the creative process. Most people don’t see that. They see the finished piece. They don’t know what Meagan Brooker to make that piece or what. Brie Hill, who was one of the students I interviewed, what it took her to make a painting and what she invested in that painting. Or Esther Cooper, who’s the other student I interviewed who does creative pastries. Right. That’s a whole different long. There’s no longevity to that. It expires at some point, you either eat it or it goes bad, but in the moment, it’s a good looking piece, maybe. Right. Talking about 3d art. More than that. Right. The scent of it and stuff. So I could see how social media can be helpful in some ways with some students.

Meagan Brooker 0:24:33

Yeah. I think with social media, we have so much at our fingertips now we can appreciate art in a whole new way, because, like you said, you can see the process. You can understand it more, but it also makes you want to try more. And there’s always going to be cynics. There are going to be people who will try to poke a hole in it. But I think we will be students until we die. I think that’s part of the creative part of teaching. Like, we always have more to learn. And so that’s what’s so fun about social media, is being able to go on and try something new or to see new work, because we’re to be inspired by something outside of us which broadens our perspective and opens our worldview a little bit.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:22

Yeah. Now, just to stick with technology a little bit, because there are students that use Photoshop, procreate, other digital products and software where you can create online in layers, brushes. We create your own brush palette, if you will. Do you delve into any of that? Do you see students using that as part of the process of what they’re doing? Are they using it even to pre plan a physical, tactile piece of art? What’s the final piece?

Meagan Brooker 0:25:59

It’s such a big question right now in the art world, and my co worker Drew Phillips has actually done a lot of research and given some talks on this. I currently do not teach any AI in what I am teaching, but I see the value of. Well, also I will say there’s inherent AI almost in everything now, like in my AP photography, and know there’s always the option of generative fill. But AP doesn’t allow any type of AI, but I think the use of it for know. So speaking of Rehill, she’s one of my students. She’s amazing. She just did with a girl being lifted up by doves with a sheet and ropes. That’s hard to take a picture of. She just finished it yesterday and it’s stunning. So maybe we can do a recap and show the finished piece. Not yesterday, today, but it’s hard to take a reference picture for that, to get her full concept in there. And we made it happen. But you could put that kind of prompt into AI and have it kind of create a reference for you, but then you are drawing it. So there’s a lot of debate about that and the crossover of what’s allowed. And, but, and there’s a lot of people who think that AI is going to take over a lot of jobs. But I’ll tell you, and this is coming from conversations with people who are working with Microsoft, AI creatives will never be out of a job because AI needs creatives to be able to create the prompts to do the job. And so the people who can think outside of the box and creatives, there will always be a place for us.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:45

Yeah, there’s so many forms of AI too, right? There’s language based, generative, there’s very various levels of AI. So you’re right though, because you need to be able to, I’ve played in it a little bit as far as writing and stuff like that, and even dolly and some of the visual elements and even a different form of sora, which is more video based. Right. And it’s not everything that people make it out to be. It takes the process of doing it almost, like you said, in some ways you have to be an artist to be able to pull out from that anything artistic that makes sense. Yeah. So it’s not as easy as people think. I get that question sometimes. Can’t you just do this in Photoshop? AI is in there. It’s like, no, you can’t just do that. You have to really think about what you’re doing here. It’s never going to look like what know, you could go into AI and you could go chat GPT and Dolly and tell it what you want and say, good, close, you got to where I need it. Add this and this, but don’t remove that and it’ll give you something completely different. So I know the prompts might be a little, you have to work the prompts the right way and stuff, but yeah, AI is a good tool to derive inspiration from. I think I agree with you there. You’re going to need creative people still, but I’m sure that’s still within the next five years that probably will be part of being taught in the creative process. Right. How to use AI as an intern or apprentice, if you will, for yourself in some ways. So you’re going to be at the wesleyan artist market. You’re going to be showcasing some of your work. I’m assuming some of the work that I showed, that we showed may be there. What type of work will you be actually showing at the show?

Meagan Brooker 0:29:33

Yeah, I’m doing some more of the, like what we were talking about with the dual duality and kind of playing around with that more, trying out some new subjects and content, but mostly that. But I want to try out some landscapes and build in some more looser sunset sunrises along with the birds and butterflies and see what I can turn out there.

Rico Figliolini 0:29:59

Cool. Anything you want to share with us that we haven’t touched base, I really.

Meagan Brooker 0:30:06

If you haven’t been out to the artist market, I highly recommend it. Okay, again, I’ve been at Wesleyan for 17 years, and I’ve been displaying at the artist market for 17 years. And believe me, I’ve grown a lot. I would be embarrassed to show you what I sold the first few years. I think my first year was actually, I taught ceramics, and so I did some ceramics, but I’ve grown a lot. But the funds of the market come back to the students. So it funds the fine arts and so the marching band, the visual arts, the theater, and so it comes back to the students there at Wesleyan. But beyond that, it is such a high level event put on by volunteers from the school, which is almost hard to believe because it’s such a professional looking event and it’s indoors. It’s one of my favorite things that we do throughout the year and I’m so grateful for those who put it on. So come out to see us. It’s a really fun event for the family.

Rico Figliolini 0:31:10

It’s going to be April 26 through the 27th, so that Friday, Saturday, and if you want to find out about it, it’s Wesleyan artist market. Just google that and I’ll show right up. Do you want to leave a last maybe word for any aspiring artists or educators? Anything you want to leave advice for them before we end the show?

Meagan Brooker 0:31:32

Yeah, I think if you feel like the need to create, whether that be writing, singing, writing out songs, it doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. The act of creating is fulfilling and there’s a reason that you are stirred to do it. And I think personally, I think that’s God working in you to bring you to a higher light and a higher purpose. And so just do your thing. It doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks, as long as it’s for you and for him or for whoever else you want to see it. Just let your light shine.

Rico Figliolini 0:32:03

Cool. We’ve been talking to Meagan Brooker. She’s a 17 year veteran teacher at Wesleyan school, teaching high school kids about art, and she’s going to be showing at the Wesleyan Artist Market. So stay with me for a second, Meagan. I want to just say thank you to our sponsor, EV Remodeling, Inc. Does a great job design, build home remodeling, kitchen, bathrooms, everywhere that you can think of. Eli and his family live here in Peachtree Corners. They’re just wonderful people. You should check them out. Evremodelinginc.com. So check those out and thank you, Meagan. I appreciate you being with us.

Meagan Brooker 0:32:38 Yeah, my pleasure.

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Arts & Literature

Wesleyan Artist Market 2024: Students Bree Hill and Esther Cooper



The Wesleyan Artist Market takes place in Peachtree Corners on April 26-27, 2024

Join us as we dive into the creative worlds of Esther Cooper and Bree Hill, two young student artists showing at this year’s Wesleyan Artist Market with their unique talents and passions. From Esther’s tasty cake pops to Bree’s emotionally charged artwork, we explore the stories behind their inspiration, dedication, and drive to showcase their creativity. Listen in as we discuss the power of self-expression and passion in the world of art and baking. Tune in for a dose of inspiration and creativity that will leave you eager to explore your own artistic talents and passions. Hosted by Rico Figliolini

Wesleyan Artists’ Market Website: https://www.artistmarket.wesleyanschool.org/
Bree’s Instagram: @bubblycreationsbybreehill

00:00:00 – Introduction
00:01:37 – Expanding Artistic Horizons at Wesleyan Market
00:03:38 – Discovering Passion and Mediums in Art Creation
00:05:13 – Expressing Emotions Through Art and Beyond
00:10:53 – Preparing for the Artist Market at Wesleyan
00:13:24 – Finding Inspiration Through Music and Fantasy Books
00:16:01 – Dreams of Opening a Family-Friendly Bakery
00:17:42 – Interviewing a Creative Baker and Graphic Designer
00:19:43 – The Art of Evolving a Painting
00:21:45 – Baking Creations for Holidays and Parties
00:24:08 – Bree’s Artistic Process and Finding Joy in Sculptures
00:26:37 – Art Commissions and Wesleyan Artist Market Update
00:28:20 – Closing Thoughts

Podcast Transcript


Rico Figliolini 0:00:01

Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in the city of Peachtree Corners, Gwinnett County. I have a couple of great guests with me today. They are student artists at the upcoming Wesleyan Artist Market. But before I introduce them quickly, let me just say thank you to EV Remodeling, Inc. Who is a sponsor of not only this podcast, but the publications that we do, including Peachtree Corners magazine and Southwest Gwinnett magazine. So I want to thank them for being a strong sponsor, a community member as well. And if you want to find out more about EV remodeling Inc. Just go to their website, which is easy, evremodelinginc.com. So thank you for that. Our guest today is on the left. Depending on how you’re viewing this, Esther Cooper from 7th grade. Say hi, Esther.

Esther Cooper 0:00:48


Rico Figliolini 0:00:49

And Bree Hill from 10th grade. Hey Bree.

Bree Hill 0:00:52


Rico Figliolini 0:00:53

Both from Wesleyan school. And for one, she’s going to be at the Wesleyan Artist Market the second time, I believe. And for another, this is her first time. So let’s start with Esther Cooper, who’s interested in culinary arts. So, Esther, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Esther Cooper 0:01:13

Well, like you said, my name is Esther and I really enjoy baking and I’m going to be selling probably mostly cake pops at the artist market. So I’ve been working on kind of perfecting that technique for a while, so I think they’ll be pretty good.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:30

Cool. Bree Hill, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Bree Hill 0:01:35

My name is Bree Hill. This is my second year in the Wesleyan Artist Market. I have experience in different things with watercolor, acrylic paint, oil paint, and even mixed media and pottery. I’ve done animals in different subjects.

Rico Figliolini 0:01:53

Excellent. So last year, if I remember correctly from what I’ve read, you participated and submitted ceramic and clay sculptures last year.

Bree Hill 0:02:01


Rico Figliolini 0:02:02

Cool. And this year you’re going to do something a bit different, right? Using different medium. You want to tell us a little bit about why you chose that medium to introduce this year?

Bree Hill 0:02:12

So I did a little bit of acrylic paint last year. I was more focusing on ceramics because I did different animals like elephants and dogs, swans, that sort. But I have the most experience at acrylic paint and I wanted to expand the things that I did. Like I’ve done graphite self portraits so far. I will use acrylic with cars, flower bouquets. I wanted to show people something that I’ve been doing for a long time.

Rico Figliolini 0:02:47

Okay, cool. Artists can do whatever they please as long as it inspires right, Esther, let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing. The type of art themes that inspire you best, what inspires you. What do you look at when you’re thinking of culinary arts and deciding what to make or bake?

Esther Cooper 0:03:06

Well, I would say that I’m not going to lie. I actually do draw a little bit of inspiration from baking shows. That’s actually how I kind of got started with baking. Like, I saw these baking shows and I was like, wait, this is so cool. So I kind of picked up baking. So I get inspired by that. I get inspired by Pinterest.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:29

So you’re on Pinterest also building a board.

Esther Cooper 0:03:32

Not really building a board.

Rico Figliolini 0:03:34

I just scrolling through.

Esther Cooper 0:03:36


Rico Figliolini 0:03:38

All right, that’s fine. You have to discover your passion and your inspiration in a lot of different places. Right. When you’re creating your treats, your sweets, is there particular ingredient, favorite ingredients you have that you like.

Esther Cooper 0:03:59

I mean. Can’t go wrong with?

Rico Figliolini 0:04:00

No, no. Can’t go wrong there. Probably sugar too, I would imagine, but, yeah, for sure. All right, cool. Bree on yours, shifting from sculpture to painting, obviously you’ve used different mediums along the way. How do you explore what you want to do in oil painting or watercolors? Do you decide what medium you want? Depending on what inspires you, depending on the picture you’re doing, how does that work?

Bree Hill 0:04:27

It depends on what I’m painting. So normally, if it’s like a plant nature of some sort, I will use watercolor for different depths because I like layering. If it’s normally a person, I would either use pencil or acrylic paint and more. If it can turn into three d, I would effectively use clay.

Rico Figliolini 0:04:51

Got you. There was a part where I think you mentioned about expressing yourself without judgment. You mentioned that to be able to share time, creating art helps to communicate something that you feel or that you want to express that can’t be expressed in words. Is that something that you continue to strive to? How do you see yourself doing that?

Bree Hill 0:05:16

I have a really hard time explaining and reiterating myself in different ways, so I chose to do it through art. I like to choose an emotion and draw what I think that emotion would look like, what that person would look like in that emotion, or in that moment.

Rico Figliolini 0:05:35

All right, well, let me bring up one of your pieces. Actually, bear with me a second. We pop that out. Put that there. That’s one of your pieces, I believe, right? Yes. So when you drew that, when that came to you, when you inspired to do that, what are you trying to.

Bree Hill 0:05:55

Share here I was trying to show I chose a pretty complicated emotion because I feel like not a lot of people can put it into words. And this one was grief, where it’s slowly, each day, you wake up thinking about it, and you’re slowly getting tired. You’re getting exhausted of it. So she’s kind of laying there limp almost. And you always have a friend. You reach out to something, vent happens. So those are birds representing each thing. It’s not a finished artwork, but definitely in the middle of it.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:30

Gotcha. Okay, cool. Come back here now. So it mean. And that was the medium used. It was pencil.

Bree Hill 0:06:40

Yes, sir.

Rico Figliolini 0:06:43

Esther, we’ll come back to you for a little bit. When you’re doing desserts, baking, you’re in the kitchen, I’m assuming, right. And you’re doing your stuff, I’m assuming. You start almost off with the recipe. Right. But do you ever deviate from that recipe? Do you ever do something a little different, add a little bit more, a little less? What do you do?

Esther Cooper 0:07:06

Well, sometimes I do eyeball things. Not too much, because baking is kind of a science, but I think it’s definitely decorating, where I get very spontaneous, like, I’ll pull out all the sprinkles or the different ways to decorate a cake up.

Rico Figliolini 0:07:29

All right, that’s cool. And you were saying you find inspiration from tv shows in Pinterest. I’m assuming that life, any artist, when you go to a place that exhibits art or, like, a bakery, do you find things that, as you’re looking through, do you find inspiration there? Do you even buy the stuff to taste it and see how it came out and what you can do with that?

Esther Cooper 0:07:54

Much to my parents dismay, yes. They take me to a bakery, and I’m like, mom, I got to learn how to make that.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:05

That’s funny. True. Sweet tooth could do it, I guess. So when you’re finding, I guess, in your art is one thing, I guess, when you know the artist, maybe. But also, are there any particular bakers that you’re aware of or tv or personalities that you like?

Esther Cooper 0:08:25

There’s this guy named Jacques Torres who’s on this show called nailed it. I don’t think. I always thought he was pretty cool. He was always very good. Had a very good expertise in his field, which I think is pretty cool.

Rico Figliolini 0:08:42

It’s good to have someone to look up to, to emulate a little bit. Bree, on your everyday life, walking through school, walking home, or however, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. I don’t know. Do you do other things besides art. Like, are you into sports?

Bree Hill 0:09:04

I am a volleyball player.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:06

You’re what? Softball?

Bree Hill 0:09:08

A volleyball player.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:09

Oh, volleyball player. Okay, cool. So are you on the team then, or is this intramurals?

Bree Hill 0:09:15

This is year round volleyball, so it’s club.

Rico Figliolini 0:09:18

Oh, club volleyball. Okay. So when you’re out there and doing athletic work, do you find inspiration in what you’re doing there? Do you look at people and look at them as inspiration for maybe the next drawing or the next scene that you life?

Bree Hill 0:09:36

Definitely. And not just volleyball as well? If I travel anywhere, I will always have, like, a mini pocket watercolor to draw whatever scenes in front of me to kind of capture the moment, because I feel like it represents everything better than a picture because it’s how you saw the moment. It’s like how you read what was happening rather than it just being, oh, here’s a picture of what I saw.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:01

Right. The way you feel, I guess. So. I’m imagining you’re carrying a book and some watercolors with you.

Bree Hill 0:10:10


Rico Figliolini 0:10:11

Okay, so no digital stuff for you, or do you use an iPad too sometimes or one of those.

Bree Hill 0:10:19

Not really an iPad. No.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:21

Okay, so you’re not into Photoshop or using brushes on any of that procreate or anything?

Bree Hill 0:10:28

So I take my own pictures for my artwork. So the one you just showed up is actually a picture of me. I photographed it, and then I had to Photoshop some things with lighting and stuff. Then I drew it.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:41

Oh, wow. Excellent.

Bree Hill 0:10:44

It’s a long process.

Rico Figliolini 0:10:48

No, that’s good. You got to start somewhere, and using yourself as a subject is even better. You know what to do with yourself, right? That’s cool. So have you put together all your artwork yet for wham. For this year, or are you still working on stuff?

Bree Hill 0:11:06

Definitely still working. I have my inventory log done, and I have all the materials for it. But actually doing it is where it’s kind of a slow process, but definitely more than half are completed.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:19

All right, cool. Now, a little different for Esther, I bet, because it’s not like you can work on yours in advance unless you’re going to freeze it. So what’s the game plan for you? Are you going to be doing well.

Esther Cooper 0:11:32

We were talking about taking discretionary day, the day before the artist market, so I could just bake.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:39

I don’t wait. Discretionary days are those days you’re allowed to take off?

Esther Cooper 0:11:45

Yes, sir. You only get. Is it two, Bree?

Bree Hill 0:11:49

It’s two.

Rico Figliolini 0:11:51

You are invested in your art. I can tell. Putting those days off into that, that’s good. So you’re going to be working away in the kitchen, I’m assuming, getting things ready?

Esther Cooper 0:12:04

Yes, sir.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:05

All right, cool. What other interests do you have? I obviously, Bree does volleyball and sports. What interests do you have?

Esther Cooper 0:12:17

I played trumpet. I was in the Wesleyan marching band this fall. I participated in basketball this winter, and I have in the past participated in musicals, and I plan to try out again next year. It’s just this year, I want to do the artist market this year.

Rico Figliolini 0:12:38

Okay. All right, cool. Interesting. The Wesleyan student always is multifaceted, that’s for sure. So many different things are going on. I think I interviewed someone that had. She was doing club sport, school sport, and she had other things going on. It’s just like, I don’t even know how many hours in the day you have to do that. So when you’re finding inspiration, is there a special place or music you like to listen to? Other one can go.

Esther Cooper 0:13:07

Well, I just like to walk around my backyard a lot. It’s a fairly big backyard. I just walk around and kind of think about all sorts of things. But I definitely draw a lot of inspiration because it has kind of a forest area, so there’s a lot around me and a lot to draw inspiration from.

Rico Figliolini 0:13:30

So you’re not listening to anything. You’re just listening to nature and just walking around the backyard like that. Now, Bree, you’re laughing, but what about you? Where do you draw your inspiration from music, or where do you do that?

Bree Hill 0:13:44

So I actually have over 40 playlists of different emotions and things, and they all have, like, a description of a scenario or something. I’m an avid reader of fantasy, so I’m quite literally always thinking of something new and something that isn’t really realistic.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:06

Okay. No, I’m not surprised then. Okay. When you were talking about emotion and drawing that out, that almost makes sense. That segues a little bit into one of my other questions. So you like to read? Sounds like fantasy novels. YA novels, I’m assuming. Do you have a few favorites that you would recommend?

Bree Hill 0:14:26

Probably the caraval series and the Lunar Chronicles are most likely my and angel fall. Those are my three favorite series in fantasy.

Rico Figliolini 0:14:39

Ya and playlists. Any particular artists on them that you’d like to share?

Bree Hill 0:14:46

Beyonce. I have, like, 30. I mainly listen to r and B. We’ll keep that as flat ground because artists.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:02

That’s cool. Okay, Esther, what about you? Are there any books or types of books or titles that you like that you would share?

Esther Cooper 0:15:12

I also do love to read. I’m kind of basic in some of my favorites. Like, I love the Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series, but there’s this really good book that I read in this kind of group, and it was called Echo. So if any of y’all are looking for book suggestions, I would really recommend it because it’s very good. But it’s probably one of my favorite books.

Rico Figliolini 0:15:35

Actually. The Harry Potter. Have you heard that Warner Brothers is actually going to do a tv series now of the Harry Potter books, redoing the books into a tv? They are, yeah, ten episodes per book. It’s going to take them forever to get this done, but, yeah, they’re coming back. And JK Rowling is apparently all for it. I just heard that the other day. My kids grew up on it. I used to read it to them when they were younger until they got old enough to read it, because that’s how long, right. But, yeah, it’s a cool books. So what about playlists, then, Esther? What do you like listening to?

Esther Cooper 0:16:14

I like to listen to classical music a lot, but I really listen to pretty much all genres.

Rico Figliolini 0:16:21

Okay. That’s good. Eclectic. It’s good to be able to listen to different songs and different music. As far as we talked about inspiration a little bit and stuff. But let’s talk a little bit about. Let’s go back to Esther. I know that one of your dreams, apparently, is to have your own bakery. You’re still a young person, so who knows what may happen and transpire over time. But when you think of your dream bakery, what would you want in that dream bakery?

Bree Hill 0:16:54

Baked goods, probably. I don’t know. I’ve always really loved children, like, really young children. So I’d want it to be a place where parents could come with their young children and just kind of have a good time. Kind of be like a cozy little spot. I don’t know, like a family friendly place.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:19

Definitely. No, I can say that, yeah, that sounds good. When you travel, you’re in 7th grade, but have you gone anywhere to other cities that you may have stopped at a bakery or that might have inspired you in some way like that?

Esther Cooper 0:17:38

I do live by some very good bakeries. There’s some nearby. They can get very creative, which is something that obviously is very necessary for this sort of thing.

Rico Figliolini 0:17:55

Did you ever think of maybe seeing if you could get part time job working? I’m not necessarily, like, at a chocolatier or anything like that, but, yeah, that could be something you could do, I guess it’s funny because are you familiar with Peterbrook chocolatier?

Esther Cooper 0:18:12


Rico Figliolini 0:18:12

In the Forum okay. Yes. Jeff, who manages the place, is very interesting person. He has summer camps usually, but he also hires high school kids to work for him when they want to work, I guess. And they’ll do anything in chocolate. It’s just totally amazing. And the things they come up with, I don’t even know how they do them. Bree on to you when you’re doing your artwork.

Bree Hill 0:18:38

I do layouts. I do magazine layouts. I do graphic design work like that. I’m not an illustrator or artist by far, but I do layouts and stuff. And sometimes when I get into something, I almost feel like I’m doing clay. I start with clay, and I’m molding it into a shape. And that 72 page magazine is getting molded right on the screen as I’m putting it together without a mockup, almost, which is not the way you should do these things, but this is the way I do it.

Rico Figliolini 0:19:14

Right. Do you find yourself doing things and you’re like, that’s not the way I should be doing it, but let me try it anyway. Let me see how it works.

Bree Hill 0:19:23

Definitely. This is where the phrase abstract and mixed media come into play, where you really don’t. You’ll start out with the plan. You’ll never stick with the plan. I rarely ever stick with the plan unless it’s a self portrait. The painting that you actually pulled up was not supposed to have birds. I was not supposed to be floating. There were not supposed to be ropes. But it felt whenever you feel like it needs something or you want something else into it, obviously you add it, but then it’s kind of like a domino effect, then you’ll want something else to go with that, and it kind of just keeps going.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:00

Right. All right, so let me throw this one up here. Hold on a second. That’s another one you did?

Bree Hill 0:20:09


Rico Figliolini 0:20:09

You want to describe that a little bit to us?

Bree Hill 0:20:13

I think of this, like, as you’re in a sunroom, you’re kind of calm laying down flat on your back. Or even if you were like, if it was like a meadow and you were just laying on your back in the grass, tall grass with little dandelions around you, and the sun just reflects so many different shadows. And I like to not always do black and white. I really do like different colors in everything. I do, actually, most of my pieces, probably. You’ll find every single color in it, besides pencil, obviously, but I definitely felt this one as, like, a serene moment.

Rico Figliolini 0:20:54

It looks very serene. Let’s go with. There’s a couple of pictures I want to bring up of Esther’s. Try this one. Actually, let’s do both of these. I’m going to bring up three of them to tell us a little bit about these. What are they? And tell us what you want to show with that.

Esther Cooper 0:21:23

Well, I think the one with the m and Ms on it, that one was for. We were having a Christmas party for my basketball team, and I signed up to bring dessert, and I don’t know, I saw it on Pinterest or somewhere, and it kind of just looked like. It kind of looks like a barrel full of eminem. And I just thought that was a really fun concept. It was very fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:21:51

And those are kit kats on the outside, I guess.

Esther Cooper 0:21:54

Yes, sir. But another thing that you don’t see inside is that when you cut into the cake, it’s a red, green, and white in, like, a checkerboard pattern. So that was very fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:06

Cool. Yeah, that was complicated. I’m sure it’s set up like that. Right? What about the chocolate pops? If I’m looking at that correctly.

Esther Cooper 0:22:17

I made a fatal mistake when I started baking, and I told all my friends that I started baking, so they were all like, please bring in cake pops. So it feels like every other weekend I’m making cake pops to bring in for my friends. I think this one was probably, I made cake pops for my math class. I think this is probably those cake pops. I don’t remember.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:41

And this one.

Esther Cooper 0:22:43

That one, that one’s not looking so great. But I really liked the design. It was actually a cake I saw in a cookbook.

Rico Figliolini 0:22:53

Okay. You got a little patriotic, I think, on this one.

Esther Cooper 0:22:58

Oh, that one was really fun. That one was for 4th of July. You can’t tell. It was a s’mores dip. So there was Hershey’s chocolate bars under there. And then you would take graham cracker crackers and dip it in, and it was pretty good.

Rico Figliolini 0:23:16

That’s cool. That’s what you want. You want to be able to get creative and get it going like that. There’s definitely a lot of butter in that, I bet. Let’s go to brie. And we want to. This behaves. That’s the sculpture you did, I think, Bree, right?

Bree Hill 0:23:39


Rico Figliolini 0:23:40

And tell me a little bit about the sculptures.

Bree Hill 0:23:46

So these are polar bears. The animals that I did, I was actually experimenting with different glazes. So the dogs that I did were almost oreo. They were light brown, dark brown, cream, and white all swirled into each other. And this one, I wanted to try different textures. And this is actually a different type of clay that leaves a really hoarse. It’s a gritty clay, a different texture, and it has little black dots in it. And it reminded me of a polar bear. And so this was one of the ones that I made with smooth fun.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:27

Cool. Was this at the Wesleyan artist market as well at some point or not?

Bree Hill 0:24:31

Yes. I did this with my elephant, swans and dogs. I had did my elephant, which actually took around a week and a half because I drew every individual aged line in the nose, the legs, the body.

Rico Figliolini 0:24:54

So let me ask you something. When something like that sells and goes off with someone, do you, like, cry a little bit? Is that like my baby’s left?

Bree Hill 0:25:08

I like to think more on the positive side. Like, someone else gets to experience my art. If someone else came into their house or wherever it’s being placed, it gives someone else another emotion, which is kind of life. The sense of spreading whatever I was doing in that moment. And I was actually having fun creating different animals. And I was really happy that someone liked it enough to one buy it, but also have in their home to show it.

Rico Figliolini 0:25:39

Sure. Sure. That makes sense. Esther has a different way of people enjoying hers than literally eat it and it disappears. So how do you feel about that? One stays a while and one is a momentary delight. Yeah, that must be. If I skipped anything. Is there anything, Bree, that you would like to share that we didn’t cover or that your experience that you’d like to share?

Bree Hill 0:26:18

I started something new this year. I do commissions in every medium, so I could also do animals. I’m doing self portraits of any picture. You would just send me a picture via email or phone. I would draw it or paint it. And that’s something new that I’m offering this year at the Wesleyan artist market.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:39

Wow. Okay. Very good. And, Esther, what about you? Anything that I’ve not touched upon that you’d like to share?

Esther Cooper 0:26:48

Not really.

Rico Figliolini 0:26:50

Okay, that’s fine. It’s all good. We have been speaking to Esther and Bree. From all you’ve been through the programs, I’m assuming, like, Bree, you’ve been through some of the art programs and stuff. And Esther, you’ve been through. Does Wesleyan have bakery, baking, cooking, any classes? Like. No. Right. It’s all academic. Academic and sports and science, of course. Cool. So if people want to follow you on social media to watch you, to see your work, or would they visit, is there anything you want to share that way? I don’t know if yours are private accounts or if you have an Instagram that’s open to the public.

Bree Hill 0:27:38

I have an Instagram. It’s called Bubbly Creations by Bree Hill. And obviously I’ll be at the Wesleyan artist market. Those are ways you could reach me.

Rico Figliolini 0:27:51

Cool. Esther, anything on your end other than being at the artist market?

Esther Cooper 0:27:55


Rico Figliolini 0:27:59

Well, I’m having a great time talking to you, learning a little bit about your art and your passions. It’s always good to go through this. Every year we do this with a set of students just before the Wesleyan artist market. So it’s always fun to see different kids, different grades, doing different mediums and how they approach things. So I want to say thank you for sharing with us.

Bree Hill 0:28:22

Thank you for having us.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:24


Esther Cooper 0:28:24

Thank you.

Rico Figliolini 0:28:25

Thank you. So hang in there for a minute. I’m just going to sign off. Say thank you again to EV Remodeling, Inc. For being a sponsor of this program, along with other things that we do. You can check them out at evremodellinginc.com. They’re based here, Peachtree Corners. Great family. Eli is a great guy. Check them out. They do great work. So feel free and also check us out at livinginpeachtreecorners.com. And our magazine, the upcoming issue of April, May, will have coverage of three Wesleyan artists, adult artists that will be at the show. And you can find out more information from us there. And certainly you can search the Wesleyan artist market and find out about all the great artists that will be there in April. So thanks again. Appreciate it.

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