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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Q&A: Ze Treasure Troll on decorative concrete, not living under bridges

When she isn’t bogged down by technology and finances, Chico State student Kirsten Springer, aka Ze Treasure Troll, creates art and sculptures using concrete. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Springer.

Like most people, it has taken Chico State super-senior and concrete technology major Kirsten Springer, aka Ze Treasure Troll, some time to discover herself. Now that she has, her path to a successful future is practically set in stone.

Of all the aliases available, why Ze Treasure Troll? And is it possible to say it without using a bad French accent?

That’s definitely part of it — it’s just fun to say. But I’m strange and say “ze” instead of “the” sometimes. When I still lived in Humboldt County, I’d been seeking an art alias. I dyed my hair green, and it was super-long, and my friend was just like, “you look like a treasure troll.”

But the thing that made me like “OK, yeah, I’m gonna go by Troll” is when I was in Arcata. It was sort of hippie-central, and there were a lot of people probably taking drugs. I had a ring of hippies dancing around me chanting “Ze Treasure Troll” after I introduced myself. Reactions like that just make me so happy. Either that, or I’m like “Hi, I’m Troll” and they just say, “OK” and that’s it. And you know they’re just thinking “Nope, I’m not even gonna acknowledge this.” But pretty much all my good immediate friends here in Chico know me as Troll.

Did you see that happening before you decided to take on the persona?

I had no idea that it would create such a good thing. I thought I would lose myself. In the beginning, I wouldn’t even want to hear the name Kirsten. I didn’t want to be associated with it at all. But then I missed it. I missed the name that I was given, and I could tell that it was affecting my mom, and some of my friends were weirded out by it back home. They acted like I’d changed for good, but to me it was really as simple as adding a persona. It’s been the coolest thing ever I think, having an art alias. It’s like, “I’m Troll and I’m Kirsten,” and it’s fantastic. Kirsten gets shit done and Troll makes art. I don’t feel a separation at all anymore, I don’t have that conflict of like, “Who the fuck am I?”

So it’s not two separate things. It’s more like two sides of a die?

Yeah, it’s like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. I’m one person, but I happen to have this art persona that’s brought me all of these amazing opportunities in addition to Kirsten, the professional businesswoman. But in my case, there’s no violence, murder or insanity, and I have clean records on both sides. Troll’s not an ex-convict. But I don’t even really think about it anymore. I mean, it happened when I was 17, and I’m 25 now. It’s just who I am.

Well, hopefully you don’t live under a bridge or anything. Wait — do you?

Oh, no. But we’re distant cousins though — bridge trolls and treasure trolls. Treasure trolls live in the treasure coves hidden within the rainbows, if you didn’t know. It’s kind of like leprechauns — we’re allies with them, but we’re cordial, and leprechauns are assholes. They’re pretty greedy. But bridge trolls, no. I think that’s why people don’t want to call me Troll — the negative connotations. Or the stupid Internet trolls that give all of us a bad name. I’m like, “You don’t know what a troll is. You’re fake.”

So why major in concrete engineering? What can you do with that?

I got into this knowing that I would be able to express myself artistically and eventually owning a decorative concrete company. I want to be kind of that specialist that people would hire because they like my work. And, as an artist, I’ll be apart from other people doing it because I’ll be able to make it look cool. You look around and everything around us is concrete, and we just don’t realize it. And I’m just like well, I think that’ll work. I think I might be able to switch from sculpting mud to working with this other mud with rocks and sand in it. It’s really simple, and I’ve been working with it my whole life.

Is it really that simple of a transition or are you having to make a compromise in taking up the engineering side of it?

The compromise was that I had to get a business minor, and that’s the thing that’s set me back. I’m in financial accounting right now, and it might as well be rocket science. I can’t understand it. You would think it would be so easy. I mean, I’ve had my own little business to sell art, but learning how it all starts in the books — in one ear and out the other. But the art is still the same, and I’ve always loved math and science. I love actually doing something that pushes me technically that also involves my artistic side. So by merging both of the things that I love to do, I can be technical and sporadic.

Ze Treasure Troll is influenced by Cheng Design and will be heading up a major park project this semester in Red Bluff. Follow Ze Treasure Troll on Twitter at @Alien_Owlz for more information.

Trevor Whitney can be reached at [email protected] or @nicegrandmas on Twitter.

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Trevor Whitney, Public Relations Team Member

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