Naomi Broudo is a seasoned graphic designer, focusing her current art practice on creating inclusive archival family heirlooms for Jewish and Jew-ish life cycle events including weddings, baby namings, bat/bar mitzvahs. Naomi works out of her home office in Brooklyn, New York and travels the world looking for Jewish inspiration that informs her work. Her ketubot, baby naming certificates and bar and bat mitzvah gifts have found their way into thousands of households around the world.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. I come from a family of extremely creative people so I always had someone to look up to, learn from, and make art. Some kids dream of becoming doctors, actors, pizza makers, or teachers. I was pretty sure, from a very young age, that my future would revolve around making art.
I don’t think I can rem
ember a time that I was not making things, drawing, or painting. It wasn’t until I was much older though, already a mother, that my dream of going to art school came true. My husband and I were living in Israel, on a small kibbutz in the Western Galilee called Adamit.
I designed my first ketubah for friends about that time. I can hardly believe it, but that was more than 40 years ago! In those days, I had a drawer full of tiny brushes and a well used box of watercolors. But at art school, I was introduced to computers, and a new world of digital techniques expanded my toolbox to such a degree that I eventually gave up my physical brushes and paints completely.
In 2008 I worked with my son and his bride on my first digital ketubah. That experience — creating a lasting expression of their love for each other — a work of art that would find a place in their home — well — what can I tell you? This is a mother’s dream come true!
It also changed me. It was time to get back to something I loved — ketubah design!And that is how Fresh Ketubah, my online etsy shop was born.That was eleven years ago, and a lot has happened since then. I have retired from my design life, moved to Brooklyn, and am embracing the world by trying to see as much of it as I can.
Why Fresh Ketubah you ask? Well, I thought it was time to breathe some fresh ideas into an age old tradition.
What inspired you to pursue a career in art?
It was simply something I knew was in my DNA. There was art all around me all my life. And, truthfully, I had no other passion. For the greater part of my career though, I would not have considered myself an artist, but rather a designer or an illustrator. There is a distinction between these designations. I still see myself more as a problem solver rather than an artist. My work has always been to find solutions after working through the parameters of a project, whatever it may be. I work with people to create a design that speaks to them, created for them, with their input.
What is your specialty?
At this time in my evolving design/art practice, Judaica is my focus. As a digital artist with a design background and years of working with clients, I feel well equipped to help people create memories.
How and where do you work?
I have a small home studio. My work is digital, so my toolbox/paintbox is very portable. It also allows me to work while I travel, which I do quite a bit.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
Technology. I can not work without my computer and the programs that I use to create. I have developed a method of digital painting which I continually refine. In the last year, I am also working on my phone with my finger as a brush/pencil. This creates new and interesting results, which I am working on capturing for future work.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
That is always evolving. Initially my ketubah designs were based on tried and true Judaica symbols. I think I became known as the tree of life ketubah artist. I have a series of dancing trees that were very popular in my first years on etsy. But I have also been influenced by the world around me. I have traveled extensively, and am always looking for motifs and color palettes that speak to me. Most recently, I was in Central Asia. After learning that the beautiful Suzani embroideries of Uzbekistan often found their way to the wedding chuppah of Jews in Bukhara and other Jewish centers in the region, I had to create a series inspired by these amazing designs. Morocco also inspired me to delve into the arts and crafts that the Jews there were involved in historically, such as the silk trade and metal arts, and bring that to my work.
What projects are you currently working on?
It is wedding season, so other than fine tuning existing designs, I am hunkering down to the most exciting and the most hectic part of the year – working with couples on their ketubah designs. It is a busy time, but so wonderful and fulfilling. Each Saturday night or Sunday night of the summer and fall, I think of the many couples signing their ketubahs and know that I am part of that simcha. Really, it is hard to believe I call this work!
What are your favorite items in your current collection?
I have seen a shift from requests for colorful and detailed traditional designs to neutral abstract designs in the last few years, so I have been having fun simplifying my approach and coming down to the essence of an idea. My Central Asian collection really speaks to this aesthetic. I am feeling good about this direction and hope that it also resonates with my future customers.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
That is really hard. My process allows for do overs. I often go back to older designs and add or subtract. So, I guess, I am never really finished!
Do you do bespoke work?
Absolutely! My work is very adaptable, so commissions are often some combination of existing work and the couple’s imagination.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
I am not sure how applicable this question is for me. As a designer or applied artist, I have always sold my ideas and designs in one way or another. And as a young person, before I really knew what art or design was, I would make things all the time that were not for sale, but were given as gifts. I never really equated selling my art with success. But I am glad that I live in the time of etsy and online marketplaces which make selling the work I love to make so easy. I opened my etsy shop in 2010, and sold my first ketubah in the first week. I think that was the most exciting sale of my life.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
Making is my passion. I don’t have a favorite. Really, every time I begin a new project big or small, it feels like the best thing I have ever done. Creating is a kind of a miracle in my opinion. You never know where it comes from or where it is going. And it makes you feel good. That is why I keep doing it.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I don’t think about it too much. If my work continues to sell, I know that it is hitting a chord. If there is a lull, I need to work harder. But on a personal note, I am trying hard to draw more for the sake of drawing and not for an end result. There are so many art challenges out there these days. I know I can not find the time for that every day, but a few days a week is my goal.
Where can we find your work?
Online shop: naomibroudo.etsy.com
Instagram for personal work: @naomibroudo
Facebook Personal work: www.facebook.com/naomibroudosociety6
© Naomi Broudo