We had the good fortune of connecting with Micah Clasper-Torch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Micah, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My approach to risk taking is a little different – I actually believe the riskiest thing a person can do is to ignore an inner call to pursue their passion and share it with the world. We each have a unique set of gifts and a limited time here on earth, and what else are we here for if not to live into those gifts and share them with others? While it may not automatically lead to “happiness” or “success” as traditionally defined, I do believe it leads to a great sense of peace and fulfillment in life.
Ultimately, it is this belief that has fueled many of the major decisions in my life, from attending art school, to pursuing some jobs and quitting others, to starting a business and making art my full time work. As a result, many of the risks I have taken in my life haven’t felt very “risky” at all! It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had setbacks or even outright failures, but I have never once regretted saying yes to an authentic desire to pursue something.
For me? That inner call is to create art, to make beautiful, joyful work from humble materials, and to lift up and celebrate others along the way. The drive towards that inner calling has persisted (no matter how winding the road) and the journey itself has been so rewarding.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a fiber artist with a background in fashion design, who specializes in a technique called punch needle rug hooking. The work I make has evolved over the years from more traditional tailored fashion pieces, to joyous experiments with fabric and fiber that blur the line between fashion, art, design and craft. Each piece is time consuming, entirely handmade and one of a kind. Whether I am making a coat, a handbag, a pillow or a rug, I see each piece as a work of art, an expression of something inside me that I can bring to life and share with others.
I also teach punch needle, and am proud to be one of only a handful of formally trained punch needle artists and instructors in the world. Punch needle is not taught at any art institutions (yet!), and as it becomes popularized through craft (which often emphasizes the quick and easy versions of fiber art forms) the actual technique is at risk of being lost. I am proud of the knowledge I have cultivated about punch needle and it’s history, and excited by the future for this craft as it has a new resurgence!
Being an artist is a lifelong process, and I am learning to be patient along the way. My mind is overflowing with ideas for new work, for new techniques to integrate and ways to continue pushing the boundaries between fashion, art and craft, but working slowly and by hand forces me to be present with each piece and enjoy the journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is unlike any other city on earth. It’s size and sprawl means there is no central hub, no true “downtown” where all the action is happening. Instead it feels as though it is many different cities in one, and in the 6 years I’ve lived here I have barely scratched the surface!
In my neighborhood of Highland Park I’d recommend fried pickles and orange wine at Highland Park Brewery, having a frozen margarita at Block Party (with Villas Tacos, best tacos in LA!) or dining in the outdoor space at Nativo if you’re on York Ave. On Figueroa, grab gin drinks and paella at Otono, or an old fashioned at Gold Line.
Outside of my neighborhood, I love the San Gabriel Valley for Szechuan food — Chengdu Taste and Mian are two favorites, or going Downtown to Little Tokyo for sushi at Sushi Enya before ending up at karaoke. In Koreatown, I’d start the day relaxing at Wi Spa, moving on to Toe Bang for a pitcher of Hite and crispy pancake, before ending at Quarters Korean BBQ before rolling home like a stuffed potato.
On a more cultural note, one of my absolute favorite places is the Huntington Library & Gardens in Pasadena. I have never experienced such an incredible botanical garden, and their museums and buildings are just as inspiring. It is a true respite from the city. I also love the many hikes within Griffith Park! Los Angeles has it all.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my partner Harrison. Though my creative career is part of a larger journey that started long before we were together, it is his support, love and encouragement that creates the foundation for the creative and entrepreneurial work I am doing today. He inspires me with his passion and creativity as a chef and recipe creator @thesardinfluencer, as well as being a sounding board, creative collaborator, cheerleader, and a true partner on this journey!