Scott Pinter Interview
September 11, 2018
Who am I?
An interview by Brianna Pinter
Scott is my father and role model. He has been at every sporting event, theatrical production, and schooling event that I have been involved with. When I was in the third grade he cleared out a storage room in our house and turned it into my “artist studio”. He did this all before I even recognized my love for art. He himself is very STEM based, but has always pushed and encouraged my pursuit of the arts. He has supported me through every step of life. Not only is he a great father but he is also my favorite running buddy.
Brianna: What do you believe have been my greatest interest throughout my life?
Scott: You’ve always enjoyed being outdoors, you enjoy games (especially outdoors games), and you enjoy being an individual.
Brianna: How would you say these interests have changed or evolved throughout my life?
Scott: With being outdoors, you always loved rock climbing and doing things that were a little unique. Now you don’t do as much outdoor stuff but I think that’s still part of what you like to do, things that are a little different. Not a lot different, but just a little off the main stream. Now that is expressed more in your design work I think. You’re not way out there, but you have your own style and it’s a little different. That’s probably what drove you to design, off the rack clothes wasn’t really your thing.
Brianna: How would you describe my personality?
Scott: Fun, happy, loving, friendly, and smarter than you think.
Brianna: How would you say these traits have influenced my creative propensity?
Scott: I think you have the confidence to put yourself out there, I think you can only be truly creative if you have that confidence. I think it’s a combination of wanting to be a little edgy, but not too edgy. You’ve also always been competitive. I think that motivates you towards your design success.
Brianna: How would you say those same personality traits have influenced my interests?
Scott: Another trait is that you have always been interested in fitness and That’s kind of in sync with your love of the outdoors, and outdoor games. I think that body awareness is a big part of your interest in designing.
Brianna: How would you say that my personality traits have influenced my personal growth?
Scott: I think that you’ve continued fitness, not only through exercise, but through your diet. Because of that, I think a big part of your designs is that you’re good at knowing what looks good on different body types. You’re not just trying to make something fit because it’s what you want to design, if it’s not gonna look good on a particular body type.
Brianna: Within creativity, what would you say are my strengths and what would you say are my weaknesses?
Scott: I think you visualize well, it seems like you have something really set in your mind and then you start to draw versus drawing and gradually getting to that final product. I think you go the other way. You have in your mind where you want to go, and then you try to draw towards that. I think you’re confident, but part of your weakness is that you could be more confident. I think you’re a perfectionist. Sometimes that can get in the way of your creativity because you try so hard to be perfect and that it can slow you down.
Brianna: Within my interests, what would you say are my strengths and weaknesses?
Scott: I think part of the creativity, is being a little bit of a risk taker, and being a little different. I don’t like when you do that outside of fashion. Such as your interest with doing things like skydiving and rock climbing and cliff diving. And I think you like those things because they’re a little different and a little bit of a risk. You just need to know when to be appropriate with that. (Both Laugh)
Brianna: Within personal growth, what would you say are my strengths and what would you say my weaknesses?
Scott: Just in the time you’ve been in New York you’ve grown. You’re good at making contacts and connections with your teachers, as well as your peers. I think that’s a big part of any type of business, particularly fashion. I think you’ve made that growth and continue to grow in that. I’m not sure this is a weakness, but I think you sacrifice your social life for your academics and education. I don’t know if that’s a true weakness. I think it’s positive as long as you don’t take it too far.
Brianna: Within my personality, what would you say are my strengths and weaknesses?
Scott: Your strengths are that you are strong, you’re friendly, you’re helpful, and that you have a very positive personality and a positive outlook. For weaknesses, you can be a little bit of a procrastinator, and maybe sometimes lack structure or schedule.
Brianna: What things do you believe are most important to me as a person?
Scott: I think, being successful, having accomplishments, family, I think those are things that are important to you.
Brianna: What do you think motivates me as a person?
Scott: I think you have a desire for being successful, and creating things that people will like.
Brianna: How has my personal aesthetic or style of dress changed from when I was younger?
Scott: You used to wear Halloween costumes, little princess outfit everywhere. Although you were kind of tomboy and like the outdoors, you always dressed feminine. I don’t think that has changed much from when you were younger. You liked to dress different by wearing princess costumes everywhere when you were little. Then into high school when others might just be in sweatpants, you dressed up. So I do believe that that is something that has continued. I think naturally as you’ve gotten older you’ve become more aware of clothing and how it fits your particular body and other peoples bodies.
Brianna: How would you describe my design process?
Scott: I don’t know how you’re supposed to do it, but It seems that you have a decent idea of where you’re going from the start and then you research to flush out your ideas. Then go into the drawing with a pretty good idea of where you’re going.
Brianna: How has this design process the evolved or stayed the same?
Scott: I think in the past it was more about coming up with something that would look good. Now you’re learning how to incorporate other things such as research, values, or other ideas into your designs.
Brianna: How would you describe my aesthetic as a designer?
Scott: Modernized wearable classics.
Brianna: What do you think motivates me as a designer and creative person?
Scott: Ultimately, I think it’s to make people look good and to feel confident and attractive when they’re wearing your clothing.
Brianna: What things do believe are most important to me as a designer?
Scott: To create something that is unique and that people will buy and wear. You’re interested in creating things that are realistic, not just artistic.
Brianna: What would you guess inspires what I design?
Scott: The female body. Your designs are meant to show off and complement instead of distort the body.
Jennifer Pinter Interview
September 11, 2018
Who am I?
An interview by Brianna Pinter
Jennifer is my mom and a woman I aspire to be. She puts her family, faith, friends, and community first. She uses her creativity to plan charity events, organize family reunions, thinking of creative ways to supply the less fortunate members of the community with the help and support they need, and brings the family together every evening with a delicious homemade meal. She is always there to brainstorm design problems, and is my go to person for any kind of advice. She is my closest friend.
Brianna: what do you believe have been my greatest interest throughout my life?
Jennifer: You’ve always love challenging yourself and trying new things. Especially in the creative realm. Whether it be knitting, hand crocheting, starting a little business with your brother for massages, making beaded necklaces to sell for a little boy in Guatemala, or lemonade stands. You love the whole process. There always had to be a fabulous sign. I think you had more fun within the process of doing it.
Brianna: How have these interest changed or what involved every time?
Jennifer: I think you’ve just gotten more focused on where you want to spend your energy. Before you were testing out everything: drawing, painting, knitting. Now, I would say you’re fully focused on sewing. You still have interests in doing other things, but I would say that’s where you put most of your energy.
Brianna: How would you describe my personality?
Jennifer: You are happy, kind, focused, driven, Ambitious, independent, you are a lover of the outdoors, you are a lover of art. You have many interests, it’s not like you can say “she’s an outdoorsy person”; well, no, she also loves to get all fancied up/dressed to the nine’s. You are a great mix of everything, I think.
Brianna: How would you say these traits influence my creative propensity?
Jennifer: Because you’re independent, you will do what you want to do. You’re not gonna listen to other people, you have a drive, and ethic of work to really put your head down, grind it out, and work hard. You’ve never been afraid of hard work. You love trying new things and figuring things out. You love the challenge of figuring out how things go together. You’re Always putting more on your plate then maybe you are able to handle at that moment. You like to challenge yourself.
Brianna: And how would you say my personality influences my interests
Jennifer: I think, in the fact that you’ve just stuck to it. No one could tell you no. In a traditional high school, the focus really isn’t on the arts, being creative, or even doing things your own way. Like doing math problems your own way, you always did that. You like to make it hard for yourself!
Brianna: How would you say my personality has influenced my personal growth?
Jennifer: I think challenging yourself has pushed you do things that you weren’t fully ready for. But you push your way through because you’re stubborn and nobody can tell you no. You’ve been able to Blossom when you’ve been able to do what you love doing. It has allowed you to really come into who you are: understanding yourself better, understanding what you love about what you do. You’re so beyond your years in someways in your craft because of the fact that you love what you do.
Brianna: In my creativity what are my strengths and weaknesses?
Jennifer: Within your creativity, you don’t know the answer “I can’t do that”. You’re always “I want to do that, I know there’s a way, and I’m going to darn well figure it out!” I would say that’s your biggest strength within your creativity. Going along with that, your weakness is sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. You’re not willing to try less than what you really want to do. You see the stars and you want to grab them but you forget that you need to build a spaceship first to get up there. I think the key is excepting where you’re at, keep pushing yourself, but not thinking so beyond where you should be. You are just getting started.
Brianna: Within my interests, what are my strengths and weaknesses?
Jennifer: The answers are very similar. Again, you are very passionate about what you do, so you do work very wholeheartedly. I guess my concern, as a mother, for your weakness being that you don’t get enough balance. You get so consumed when you’re doing something that maybe you let other things go. I believe that balance is a big factor in living healthy and happy. That’s my concern.
Brianna: Within my personal growth, what would you say are my strengths and weaknesses?
Jennifer: I think your strength is that you know what you want to do and you’re very driven and focused on accomplishing that. Again, my thought on where you need to be careful is, you need to continue to make sure that you have people in your life that are good for you, and take time to do the things that are inline with your convictions and your balance.
Brianna: With my personality what are my strengths and weaknesses? I know these may be similar, but where might that differ?
Jennifer: Your personality, I think your strength is your enthusiasm, your drive, your tenaciousness. You know you got something and you won’t let it go. Those are all great personality traits. Some of your weaknesses are that you can be a little sloppy. Not with your work, but in life. You can get distracted when you get overwhelmed. That’s what happens when you take on too much. You can then retreat and allow things that are not important to become important.
Brianna: What things would you say are most important to me as a person?
Jennifer: Your God-given talents, and the values that he gave all of us. I think you hold those close to your heart. Also, family and being true to yourself.
Brianna: What do you believe motivates me as a person?
Jennifer: You are motivated by being successful; by Accomplishing things that that make you happy, and that you feel other people appreciate.
Brianna: How has my personal aesthetic/style change from when I was younger until now?
Jennifer: You always liked to be very creative in how you presented yourself. When you were little, and we are picking up your older brother from school, you would on any given day wear: a wedding dress, a scarf that you wrapped around yourself as a sari, or some concoction that made you a princess. Into middle school you always dressed different than your peers, Always. When everyone else was wearing shorts and jeans, you were wearing dresses, or those high top black and white converse that went up to your knees. You love those. If there was an opportunity to be dressed up or do something with a theme for school, you went over the top. You always had to be more than anyone else, crazier, Wilder. You just loved playing. I think that brought your creativity, you just loved thinking of something new unique and different. Then into high school, when everyone else was wearing leggings and a big sweatshirt, you always dressed up. I think now you’re more focused on designing, your craft, and being a student. Thank you still present yourself beautifully, but I think you’re not putting as much of an emphasis on that now. Maybe because now you live in a place that everyone dresses different.
Brianna: How would you describe my design process
Jennifer: I think your design process is: you come up with an idea, you’re tenacious and will not let it go. Such as, “I’m going to make lingerie” and so you’re gonna do it gosh darn it, you’re not going to change your mind.
Brianna: How would you say this process has evolved or stay the same overtime?
Jennifer: I think you are tenacious with your idea. You come up with something that you think is perfect the first time. I think with schooling and the help of your mentors at school you have learned that your first idea isn’t your best idea. I think you’re evolving into that way of thinking, you’re much more open to that now.
Brianna: How would you describe my aesthetic as a designer?
Jennifer: I think that you’re very particular about material, about how something feels, and about how that weight or material is going to lay on a different figures and body types. I think you love the details. You love even the simple details that maybe no one else notices. Such as, how it’s finished on the inside, not only how it looks on the outside. Is it constructed well, is the puzzle put together the best way it can be? Does it flatter that figure the most? You’re very interested in making sure that whatever you’re making is the best that it can be.
Brianna: What things do you believe are most important to me as designer?
Jennifer: I think what you want to be recognized for what you do, and that you do it well. I think that you love the whole process: the design of it and the construction. You also love the business of it: how can I market this? how can I sell this? how can I take this to the next level? How can I make it better the next time?
Brianna: Where do you think I find the most inspiration?
Jennifer: Pinterest (laughs). I think you’re inspired by classic lines, traditional, flattering, and things that you know are going to make the person look their best. I think with the influence of being at school you now think about, sustainability and what the role of a designer is in that. I think you’re learning more and I think those are all things that will be added in to your criteria. I think now you’re much more open to learning then you were in the past.
Melissa Manness Interview
September 11, 2018
Melissa Manness is my moms best friend and a second mom to me my whole life. My family and her family have gone on yearly vacations since I was born. We celebrate holidays and birthdays together, as well as any other excuse we can find to get together. I have babysat her children countless times, and am close to her whole family. She is one of the most creative people that I know. She is particular, confident, and knows exactly what she wants. She always sees the best in the people that she cares about and makes everyone around her feel important and extraordinary in their own way.
1- (greatest interests)
Brianna has MANY interests. She is such a versatile person. I think this is one of the reasons that she is a great designer because she has been exposed to many different things, people, events, and situations through these varied interests. I think that they serve as inspiration and contribute to her wide array of designs. Her designs are always innovative and creative. Much like Brianna can converse with the president of a company as easily as she can with a child. Her designs are as varied as she is.
She enjoys rock climbing, swimming, running, going to camp, competing in sports, boating, painting, sewing, cooking, health/fitness, going to the beach, skiing and shopping.
Her interests have evolved by the simple process of enjoyment factor and age. It is normal, as we get older to have less time to do the things that we love to do. Our lives get busier and more regimented and that is always restrictive to our interests.
I think that if Brianna had enough time over the past few years, she would have gone to camp/rock climbed every year (since age 9), but the unfortunate fact is, as we get older the we have time after the school day the time we have for activities in the summer is limited.
She has the amazing ability to combine her interests together!
For example, she combines her love of family (one of the most important things to her) with her love of sports (running with her Dad, walking with her Mom, boating with her family).
She has also found a way to share her love of sewing and design with babysitting. She recently helped one of her summer kids design and sew her own dress!
In addition, as her love for design gets bigger, it only makes sense that her interests are following that path.
I would describe her as versatile, optimistic, creative, energetic, athletic, and fun. My favorite thing about Brianna is her versatility. I believe these personality traits will influence her creativity in a positive way because, through them, it gives her the ability to interact with a broad range of people, in a wide-array of situations. She is very open-minded to ideas, concepts, ways of life; she is exposed to many influencers. I also think that because of this, her personal style is unique and will continue evolve with time. I can see this as being both motivating to her future work, but it could be perceived as being “non-focused right now” (some young designers already know WHO/WHAT kind of designer they want to be by the time they are 20 years old). I see this as a positive for Bri because she is still growing in her life experiences. These experiences will translate into inspiration that will help to create her own personal style moving forward. Her own point of view of design keeps getting stronger and more defines.
Strengths would be as mentioned above…your personal style is evolving because you are still growing as a woman and you are being exposed to many new experiences and people. Your creativity is limitless and you are open to try new things as a designer
Weakness as mentioned above, because you are so versatile, professors/classmates/self could perceive that you haven’t yet established your own point-of-view (POV) which is important for a designer, their clothing line and their expertise
Strengths: would be that she has such a broad range of interests (running, track, rock climbing, camp, family outings, boating, beach going, healthy eating, shopping, sewing, designing, cooking, etc) that these can translate into inspiration. For example, her love for rock climbing and camp may translate into a more earthy, casual style and may lead her working with fabrics that have stretch or fabrics that wick moisture away. I think that her experience designing clothing for the stage will inspire her to create looks that are easy to put on and take off (like fast costume changes between scenes). She also grew up in the midwest, which from a design standpoint translates into conservative clothing. I think that this inspired her to go in the opposite direction, meaning Brianna likes design that is more fashion forward and innovative than the boring things that she saw in Bloomington Normal. She like to be on the cutting edge of design, to take risks and not be afraid to do that around people who are more conservative than her. Bri likes to feel classy and sexy and her designs are inspired by the way clothing makes her feel. She likes drama and her ability to wear dramatic things is easy for her given both her bold personality and her 5’10” model body!
Weakness: would be that you are a jack of all trades and a master of none. This could possibly disallow Bri to really get really deep into one particular style and make that one style iconic for her. (Personally I really don’t perceive this will happen…I like that you are versatile)
Strengths: her personal growth has blossomed over the course of 13 years. I believe that her interest in fashion actually started as a way to show defiance to her mother and independence of herself at a young age. For example, as a 4 year old, she chose to wear tights on one of the hottest days in August. Her ensemble was complete with a flowered top and a scarf with fringes wrapped as a sarong. Much to her mother’s disapproval, Brianna did it and her mother let her. I’m sure this gave Brianna a LOT of personal satisfaction having won a fashion battle at such a young age. I often wonder, if this mother/daughter friction and battle didn’t help to define Bri’s love for fashion and how it ties into her strong sense of success and personal growth!
Brianna has always wanted to be her own person and not be defined by her peers, the media, or current fashion trends. She creates her own definition of style and is NOT intimidated to show it!
Weakness: We have all have moments of weaknesses of personal growth. My only comment here would be to make sure that Parsons develops someone who finds inspiration in life and helps you to achieve that inspiration. That personal growth is not stopped because you are in an institution that says that it has to be their way only.
Strength: Brianna is a very good communicator, she is optimistic, happy and carefree. She is very confident and well-spoken. She is very clear at who she is and her personality has not changed over the years. She is true to herself and is not afraid to be who she wants to be, even at the expense of popularity.
Weakness: A perceived weakness would be that she is so strongly confident that she may not take the opportunity to consider that there is a different way of looking at a problem. Also, she may be so confident that someone who does not have as strong of a personality, may be afraid to speak up around her. I think this may have happened in high-school. I think that her personality is so strong that many people were intimidated by her. Many kids are not that confident and I know that an environment like NYC and Parsons have allowed Bri to find other inspired and confident individuals.
4- (important to as a person)
To be true to herself, have a high level of integrity, have strong family values, honesty, and versatility
Bri wants to be successful, she wants to learn, she wants to gain confidence in her ability to design and is not afraid to let her teachers guide her inspiration. She is motivated by both herself and her own desire to gain knowledge in a creative environment. She is motivated to show her parents that she belongs in a world that is so foreign to them.
6- (personal style)
As a young girl, Brianna always knew what she wanted to wear. It wasn’t always the conventional matchy-matchy top and bottom. Sometimes it was winter pieces in the summer. Sometimes it was a simple outfit with exciting accessories. Other times, she wore non-traditional styles or highly (non-midwestern) trendy clothes. She is inspired by pieces that mean something to her (like an old fashioned ring from her grandma). She likes to mix things up…color, pattern, texture, shine.
She went through a period of time in elementary school when she had to wear a uniform: this was HIGHLY restrictive to her because it stifled her creativity. Once she moved onto a school without a uniform, Brianna was in full blossom. I think that she struggled because her creativity was limited to the clothing that her mother approved of and bought her. Also, I believe that Brianna went through a phase where she was trying to fit into “the norm”…so her clothing represented this for a short time. This is the time Brianna was trying to figure out what medium she liked best, paint, drawing, crafts, mixed media, sewing, art. It was a exploratory phase for her. Her parents were supportive of these talents and created a room for Bri to “hole-up” in and contain her pursuits of art.
Once she hit high school, her personal style took off. Her mother became more accepting of her personal style (which was sometimes a little sexy). Bri was making her own money and was now able to buy clothing/things that motivated a look or trend. She was able to start creative projects in the form of independent studies at school. She was able to express her design intent through costume design for the actors in the school play. Her mother was supportive in her aspirations and encouraged her to develop her talents. Her father was even involved in design conversations.
Her personal style was becoming more clear and her skills as a designer were becoming more apparent to the people around her.
7- (design process)
I think that Brianna is still honing her skills as a designer. She did not have much exposure to the design process in Bloomington, the artwork of design or the steps involved in design. She struggled (maybe still?) with implementing the design. Basically, I mean managing the steps from initial design to a finished product was difficult for her…meaning, she had a hard time understanding how much time to allow for a piece of clothing to be completed. She was not a great time manager. Also, in the past she has struggled with organization- her room, her school books, her clothing. Chaos was normal for Bri for a period of time (is it now? I’m not sure).
While I’m not exactly sure, I have a pretty knowledgeable guess that Brianna is getting adept at time management. I have recently noticed that she is handling time concepts successfully.
I also have a feeling (due to her recent success in creating her own business) that she has grown to being a good organizer. She is living in her own apartment, which is her own (not just a space in her parents house) and she is organized and regimented at keeping her space an inspiring and uplifting place for designing in.
To be classy and innovative without being overtly crazy, to be sexy without being too trashy, to dress the body with good design and flattering silhouettes, to try many design techniques and styles to help her figure out where she wants to her POV to be as a designer
10- (motivation as designer)
I think that Brianna is motivated by innovation. I think that she is really trying to push the limits of innovation and trying to achieve something from a unique point of view. She likes to surprise someone by figuring out a way to achieve something in the non-conventional way of thinking. Basically achieve a goal without following the rules. She wants to impress people, but this isn’t the only motivation. Success is the goal and innovation is the way to the goal.
11- (important to as a designer)
I believe the most important things to Bri as a designer are to be true to herself, to provide good quality design and construction, to give good customer service, to be accountable and be a great listener and learner.
In no certain order: a feeling or an emotion, nature itself, an event, a fabric, a teacher, the city, a color or a texture, a picture/photo
Key Quotes Interview 1:
“You’ve always enjoyed being outdoors.”
“You’ve also always been competitive”
“I think part of the creativity, is being a little bit of a risk taker, and being a little different. I don’t like when you do that outside of fashion. Such as your interest with doing things like skydiving and rock climbing and cliff diving. And I think you like those things because they’re a little different and a little bit of a risk.”
“ Your strengths are that you are strong, you’re friendly, you’re helpful, and that you have a very positive personality and a positive outlook. For weaknesses, you can be a little bit of a procrastinator, and maybe sometimes lack structure or schedule.”
“ I think, being successful, having accomplishments, family, I think those are things that are important to you. “
“You used to wear Halloween costumes, little princess outfit everywhere. Although you were kind of tomboy and like the outdoors, you always dressed feminine.”
Key Quotes Interview 2:
“You have many interests, it’s not like you can say “she’s an outdoorsy person”; well, no, she also loves to get all fancied up/dressed to the nine’s.”
“You see the stars and you want to grab them but you forget that you need to build a spaceship first to get up there.”
“I guess my concern, as a mother, for your weakness being that you don’t get enough balance. You get so consumed when you’re doing something that maybe you let other things go. “
“you can be a little sloppy. Not with your work, but in life.”
“You always liked to be very creative in how you presented yourself. When you were little, and we are picking up your older brother from school, you would on any given day wear: a wedding dress, a scarf that you wrapped around yourself as a sari, or some concoction that made you a princess.”
“you love the whole process: the design of it and the construction. You also love the business of it”
Key Quotes Interview 3:
“She enjoys rock climbing, swimming, running, going to camp, competing in sports, boating, painting, sewing, cooking, health/fitness, going to the beach, skiing and shopping.”
“She combines her love of family (one of the most important things to her) with her love of sports (running with her Dad, walking with her Mom, boating with her family).”
“I would describe her as versatile, optimistic, creative, energetic, athletic, and fun.”
“Strengths would be that she has such a broad range of interests (running, track, rock climbing, camp, family outings, boating, beach going, healthy eating, shopping, sewing, designing, cooking, etc) these can translate into inspiration.”
“Her personal growth has blossomed over the course of 13 years. I believe that her interest in fashion actually started as a way to show defiance to her mother and independence of herself at a young age. For example, as a 4 year old, she chose to wear tights on one of the hottest days in August. Her ensemble was complete with a flowered top and a scarf with fringes wrapped as a sarong. Much to her mother’s disapproval, Brianna did it and her mother let her. I’m sure this gave Brianna a LOT of personal satisfaction having won a fashion battle at such a young age. I often wonder, if this mother/daughter friction and battle didn’t help to define Bri’s love for fashion and how it ties into her strong sense of success and personal growth!”
“Brianna is a very good communicator, she is optimistic, happy and carefree. She is very confident and well-spoken.”
“She went through a period of time in elementary school when she had to wear a uniform: this was HIGHLY restrictive to her because it stifled her creativity. Once she moved onto a school without a uniform, Brianna was in full blossom.”
“This is the time Brianna was trying to figure out what medium she liked best, paint, drawing, crafts, mixed media, sewing, art. It was a exploratory phase for her. Her parents were supportive of these talents and created a room for Bri to “hole-up” in and contain her pursuits of art.”
“Esthetic: To be classy and innovative without being overtly crazy, to be sexy without being too trashy, to dress the body with good design and flattering silhouettes”
“Brianna can converse with the president of a company as easily as she can with a child.”
“She has also found a way to share her love of sewing and design with babysitting. She recently helped one of her summer kids design and sew her own dress! “
Interview and lookbook based on my Nana (done for a class last semester). My Nana has always been a huge inspiration to me. She lives with us a few months out of the year every year and her spirt has always inspired me. She has had a hard life, but she doesn’t see it that way. She has been able to find joy in every situation and has always seen the world as a magical place, even when she had nothing.
Bridge 2: interview
February 21, 2018
A Post War Austrian Experience
An interview by Brianna Pinter
Johanna Fanta Reitter is an Austrian, an American, a refugee, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a wife, a grandmother. Most of all Johanna is a free spirit who has always seen the good in life. Who, despite hardships at a young age, daydreams and marvels at the world and all the beauty that it offers. She is a nature lover with a wandering mind. She is vibrant, kind, and never fails to be her truest self. She is my grandmother. She is an inspiration, and to her I dedicate this project.
Brianna Pinter: Do have any memories of your first home? What are they?
Johanna Reitter: In the mountains, right after the war, yes I do. I was very very little. We didn’t have shoes and we didn’t have food, but we had a chicken. We had a cabin in the woods and I remember we didn’t have shoes we just had old rags we tied around our feet. I remember I had to go after the chicken, we had one chicken, it didn’t have a cage, and I needed to find the egg. One egg a day. I was basically naked, we didn’t wear many clothes. It was summer, luckily it was summer. That was the first place we were after the war. Then we lived in a little apartment. While we were here, Opa had a horrible accident with the woodcutting crew. A tree fell on his leg.
Brianna Pinter: Oh no. That is awful! Can you tell me more about Opa’s injury?
Johanna Reitter: He had this long cast, from his hip all the way to his toes. And he was lying in bed in the hospital. He was pretty much disabled and he would read to us. That is one of my big memories I have. Also, I had a doll and a neighbor of ours would sew all the clothes for my doll. One outfit she made me, too. A cape. My doll had a cape, too, the same cape.
Brianna Pinter: What was the name of the town that you were in at that time?
Johanna Reitter: Weir, in upper Austria.
Brianna Pinter: How long did you live there for?
Johanna Reitter: Shortly, very shortly and then we went to a small valley, outside of Innsbruck. We lived in a farm house for three years. Then the government offered a grant to help refugees be able to buy a house. We bought a small townhouse. It was a very small, tight neighborhood. The houses were very close together. There were about ten houses in a row, and they were all attached to each other. We had one bathroom, a living room, an extra living room for my grandfather and three small bedrooms upstairs.
Brianna Pinter: How many people lived in that three bedroom townhouse with you?
Johanna Reitter: My dad, my mom, my two sisters and my grandparents.
Brianna Pinter: And this was in Innsbruck?
Johanna Reitter: Yes, but then in 1952 or 1953 we got a house in a town on the outskirt of Innsbruck. You could walk to the city. Even when it would snow I would walk into the city.
Brianna Pinter: How long of a walk was the walk from your house into the city?
Johanna Reitter: It was about three quarters of an hour walk from the outskirts of Innsbruck to where we lived.
Brianna Pinter: What would you say is the most memorable moment in your childhood?
Johanna Reitter: Eating cherries, late 1949-1952, we lived in this small, little village. It was beautiful. We were refugees and the farmers were taking us in and I remember sitting in the cherry trees and eating cherries until I got sick. Black, wonderful cherries. In the house lived the Famers family. They had three daughters and several people who were working for them. It was a big community. It was a very active place. We would cook and then we would take the food out to the workers in the field. The kids would bring them their mid morning meal and mid afternoon meal.
Brianna Pinter: Are there any other memories that stick out in your memory about the time you lived at the farmhouse?
Johanna Reitter: Every other week I would get a bath. We would bring a big wooden bathtub into the kitchen, right next to the stove. Everyone would go out of the kitchen, which was also the living room, and then you would take your bath. I loved taking my bath with the warm water sitting next to the stove. And there was no toilet! At that time I thought it was far, far away. It was scary! You would have to go all the way into the big orchard to use the toilet. That was one of my memories as a small child.
Brianna Pinter: After those three years, where did you live?
Johanna: After that we moved into the government housing. And then I had to take the little train, the little street car which was electric, and I would take that into town to go to school. The ride was probably half an hour. I thought it was very nice place. I was very happy. We lived out in the country basically because it was on the outskirts of the city. There were corn fields and it wasn’t far from a beautiful, green, strong river. In the summer we used to go there, my dad and I and my sisters. A lot of people would go there on the weekend. It was very clean, absolutely beautiful. I would go there a lot and contemplate, and read and walk in it, you could get down to the banks. It was very cold, cold cold water. Mountain river water.
Brianna Pinter: What was your favorite part of living in Innsbruck?
Johanna Reitter: Everything! I just loved it. The town was beautiful, we had a lot of music, I would go to the theater, to concerts. I loved my school. Oh, the hiking, the mountains. I would go hiking with my dad. We loved to go hiking, we did lots of hiking. The snow was beautiful. I loved everything about living there. The only thing I didn’t like was people were very nosy.
Brianna Pinter: Was it a small town?
Johanna Reitter: In our neighborhood. The neighborhood was very small town.
Brianna Pinter: What can you tell me about the school you went to in Innsbruck?
Johanna Reitter: I had a teacher that went to the United States for a year. She was my German and English teacher. I loved literature. I always loved reading, and poetry, and theater. She came back and she was so enthralled about it. She was such a mentor to me. I admired her, she was a very influential teacher, very vibrant. She enjoyed being in the United States and that was when I decided I wanted to come and see that country for myself. A couple years later I had the opportunity to go but my dad said to wait since in 1964 Innsbruck had the winter Olympics coming.
Brianna Pinter: You lived in Innsbruck during the Olympics? That must have been quite the experience!
Johanna Reitter: Yes, I worked for the Olympics in public relations. I was in charge of meeting people and taking people to the different venues.
Brianna Pinter: Is this when you met your gold medalist, Olympic skier boyfriend?
Johanna Reitter: Oh, he wasn’t a boyfriend. I met a lot of athletes. We just had one date. (laughs)
Brianna Pinter: And didn’t I hear you beat him down the mountain?
Johanna Reitter: Oh no, (chuckles) he was a gold medalist. He was a very sweet man but we had one evening, then the Olympics were over and then shortly after he got killed in the avalanche. He wasn’t really a boyfriend, we had one date and exchanged contact information. He might have taught me a few things, but no, (laughing) I was not a good enough skier to stay with a gold medalist skier. Plus, it was so busy. During the Olympics the Olympians are so busy, the most you could do is have a small dinner. So anyway, my dad told me not to leave before the Olympics and that really was a big event in my life. I am glad I listened to him.
Brianna Pinter: What is your favorite Austrian tradition, or a tradition that your family had growing up?
Johanna Reitter: The 6th of December is really celebrated with St. Nicholas and his helper, Krampus, who looks like a little devil. St. Nicholas fills shoes and if you have not been good then you get coal. The kids are told that if you are naughty the Krampus will take you away! Another tradition I loved were the Balls. Between New Year and Ash Wednesday they have a Carnaval with lots of Balls. All the different universities have a Ball. It is beautiful, a very festive time.
Brianna Pinter: What kind of clothing would you wear for these Balls?
Johanna Reitter: Very elegant, very dressy. It introduces the young girls into society, with the white gowns. They have a procession. The girls and the young men walk in to a march and then they start dancing to a waltz. Then everyone else starts dancing. Very very festive, very elegant. Old fashioned in a way. It is better than Prom, I think (laughs), Because it goes on for two and a half months! A lot of student societies and a lot of professional societies put on those balls. It was a lot of fun, and I do miss that.
Brianna Pinter: What was your least favorite thing about where you were raised?.
Johanna Reitter: The people in the neighborhood were very nosy. Everybody knew each others business. For instance, if I would have a date who would come pick me up, everyone would look out the window and they would tell my mom. They were very nosy.
Brianna Pinter: Hmmm, so did they know about dates that you were not supposed to be going on? Did you get caught doing anything because of your neighbors that your parents had not know about?
Johanna Reitter: Oh, no, it was just kind of gossipy. My family didn’t really fit in all that well, we didn’t speak the same dialect as everyone else did. My dad had a profession, he became a lawyer again. They were jealous, even though we did not really have much. They were kind of judgmental. Austrians can be a little judgmental. Too many people living in one spot. You stay with your parents. It was not acceptable that you would move out and go away. You were a little more tied down. The kids were supposed to stay with the parents. My sister got married and left. It was very tight knit but they were very nosy. Not very generous in opinion. I felt they were watching everything I did. Not that I did anything wrong. But they would know right away if somebody took me home and gave me a kiss at the front door. Everyone lived very close and I needed more space! There were some women who were homemakers and they sat at the window and watched what was going on in the world, and then they gossiped.
Brianna Pinter: Is there anything else that stands out to you that you saw in Austria or other things that you found important about the culture?
Johanna Reitter: In the culture that we had we already recycled and were concerned about the environment. That is what I loved about Austria. That and the traditions they have.
Brianna Pinter: Recycling even back in the 1950’s-60’s?
Johanna Reitter: Yes, we reused paper, writing on the back of it. You would always go to the store with a shopping bag to put your stuff into. Austria is a small country, and they treasure their country. In the streets there is never garbage lying around. It is a very clean country. We were concerned about the environment. Also, the cars were much more efficient in Europe. They were much smaller than the American cars in the 1960’s. The American cars were huge! Austria always had the smaller ones, we didn’t have the space. Austria is contained. They have small houses, small cars, small roads. It is much tighter and more concerned about the future. They try to be more natural. They are more concerned about conservation and keeping the countryside clean. They are not as wasteful because they have had many hardships. The wars have really taught them to be more conservative.
Brianna Pinter: Thank you so much for talking with me. It was so great talking and hearing about your childhood and what it was like for you growing up in Austria. We’ll talk soon!
I enjoyed this experience and getting to talk and learn more about my grandmother. There were some stories I knew and some that I heard for the first time. I definitely feel that after this interview I know much more about the places my grandmother lived in Austria and what it was like for her growing up there. I was surprised to hear that after the war they did not have shoes or clothes! I knew that it had been hard to find food but I did not know about the lack of other basic necessities, as well. I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise! My grandmother is quite the talker! I had hoped to have more of a “conversation” with my grandmother. Regardless, I feel that I learned valuable information about her and my Austrian heritage. I know this interview will both enhance my look book and serve as valuable information to me personally.