Posts in Interview
Inner Worlds: Interview with Tanner Mothershead
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Tanner Mothershead is a midwestern born artist. He attended undergraduate school at the Northwest Missouri State University before going on to attain his MFA at the University of Iowa with an emphasis in ceramics and minors in painting and sculpture. He has exhibited work at NCECA and published in New American Paintings

A driving force in the creation of his work is a desire to make sense of both people and place. The work stems from a fascination with the human mind's ability to interpret, transform, and create the world around it. Much of the work formed acts as an apparatus for viewing and experiencing a conceptualized inner world in relationship to tangible reality.  His research delves into the functions and meanings of symbolism, spatial relations, and degrees of abstraction. Elements of Jungian psychology, philosophy, and architecture are woven together in these biomorphic surreal narratives.  

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Briefly tell us about your current work.

My current work focuses on the relationship between physical and perceived reality, with an emphasis on the inner worlds people create either for idle pleasure or to escape traumatic experiences. Everyday in the news we hear about mass shootings and are bombarded with senseless acts of violence. I think about events that have happened to the people closest to me as well as a deeply traumatic event in my own life, the dots and lines of happenings and how they connect. The work I make becomes objects of connection. They appear outwardly as fun fantasy worlds with bright color, enticing one to look deeper. Neon doors, steps, and pathways act in contrast to darker, more sinister, elements buried further in.

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At first glance your work looks very material based. Can you give us some insight about your use of materials?

I suspend layers of paint and other materials in transparent resin in order to form sculptural paintings. This drive stems from my compulsive desire to give physical form and depth to these imagined spaces; I wish to make more concrete the fact that the mental landscape is just as real as the one we all share. They take the shape of geoded doorways or shards, reminiscent of transitional spaces, as well as how our perceptions of reality build up over time and pressure. Most recently I have begun making them in the form of the midbrain and visual cortexes, the parts of human anatomy linking the eye to the brain. They remain as fragmentary images of places alien to outsiders and have a shallow, ghostly, topographical map stamped on its surface.

Spiritually, I work to embody elements from two notable psychotherapists, who also dabbled in creative practice: Carl Jung, who was a leading pioneer in the understanding of the inner human, and Herman Rorschach, who utilized a delicate balance of pure abstraction to that of recognizable objectivity.

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Who in the art community inspires you?

Currently the artists I have found inspiring, and thoroughly enjoyed following their practice, have been Lauren Clay, Michael Reeder, Alex Eckman-Lawn, and Donté K. Hayes.

Interview with Mari Shaw
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Over the summer, Create! Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with Mari Shaw, an intellectual property lawyer, author, and art collector. While the original purpose of our call was to discuss Words, Books, and the Spaces They Inhabit, Book One of her series on The Noble Art of Collecting and her forthcoming book, The Noble Art of Art Writing, we ended up having a lively conversation about how she became interested in art, her experiences in Berlin where she lives four months a year, trends in the art world, and more.

Mari Shaw’s interest in art didn’t happen by accident but it certainly wasn’t by design. It began bubbling at a young age. In her upcoming book, The Noble Art of Art Writing, she explained:

“When I was a child, the place that most impressed me was my Uncle Martin’s three-story house with a clinker brick façade topped by a pitched roof that sloped down to one side. It sat on a narrow lot of a block of shorter symmetrical houses in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. My father called Uncle Martin’s house an eyesore. Admittedly its irregular dense blocks of cement burned into various colors and patterns was at odds with the surrounding mostly beige homes and curtained windows, but I found my uncle’s house brilliantly modern and enchanting, both outside and inside. The living room furniture included an Eames Molded Plywood straight-backed Lounge Chair, a flat sleek fireplace with a stack of logs at the ready, a phonograph system and a collection of classical records. The walls were lined with pictures, most of them made by my uncle, and shelves and shelves of books. When I visited, which was often, my uncle talked to me about art and music, frequently illustrating his point by reading from one of his books. “Art reshapes how we respond to the world”, he would tell me. And so it was that I came to understand the restorative and uplifting powers of art.”

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On her eleventh birthday, Shaw’s nascent interest in the arts hit another gear when her parents granted her permission to ride the ‘El’, the elevated subway line that runs from the suburbs, including Skokie, by herself into the heart of Chicago to visit the Art Institute. With unfettered access to this renowned collection, she became a museum regular. Closer to her suburban home, she spent untold hours in bookstores and libraries feeding her omnivorous reading addiction, a compulsion which served her well when she wrote for her college newspaper, alongside its editor Roger Ebert, who went on to become among the most important American film critics of his generation. Surprisingly, Shaw never took an art or art history course in college or graduate school. In fact, although she loved going to museums and circled around the arts in a meaningful way, she wasn’t much engaged in collecting art until later on. Like most young collectors, she started with inexpensive prints and posters.

Shaw says that moving to the east coast in 1972 marked a turning point for her. Already a self-described ‘art addict’, she was thrilled to be living across the Parkway from the Philadelphia Museum of Art which she visited every Sunday, capped by a weekend in NYC every couple of months. Before long, frequenting Philadelphia galleries sparked an enthusiasm for collecting original works by Philadelphia artists. The art of these Philadelphia artists still hangs in the five-story home she now shares with her husband Peter Shaw, including works by Thomas Chimes, Tristan Tristin Lowe, Quentin Morris, Bill Walton, Eileen Neff, David Goerk, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Kocot and Hatton, and Jon Poblador Poblkdor. She became an active participant in the arts community in Philadelphia and still is.

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In The Noble Art of Collecting, Shaw explains how her collecting jolted into an entirely new dimension in 1985, the year after the Shaw’s married.

“The first serious fight I ever had with my husband Peter was over whether we should collect [expensive] art. I had been buying art for decades…But Peter was proposing a whole different thing: buying a 5-foot oil painting on canvas by Dorothea Rockburne, titled Balance (1985). Though Balance enchanted me with its brilliant colors and scrumptious strokes, the notion of possessing it was abhorrent to the vestiges of my 1960s flower-child mentality. This painting is a masterpiece that belongs in a museum [not in our house]. ”

On the Shaw’s next Sunday visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Peter pointed to labels indicating most of Mari’s favorite works were donated. Mari softened, but, ever the lawyer, she required conditions for collecting, which the couple have followed with only a few exceptions, before agreeing:

(1) They only buy the work of living artists in the primary market, rather than at auction or through secondary market dealers, to ensure the artists profit from the sale of work the Shaw’s buy. Similarly, they seek out artists who are out of favor in the market, or emerging artists and artists in their local communities who have demonstrated a serious practice when they first buy their work.

(2) They do not buy to sell, though on rare occasion they do sell work they have owned for more than a decade to raise money for a non-profit. Shaw believes conservation and patronage are integral aspects of collecting. “I think the privilege of living with art in your lifetime comes with the responsibility of conserving it and supporting artists and cultural institutions.”

(3) Finally, Mari was and is passionate about sharing their collection with the public. She did not want works to sit unseen in storage permanently. Peter agreed, and the couple makes sure their works are exhibited, loaned, or displayed in their home most of the time. They accept at least one museum group per month for a private tour of their collection during the times they are in Philadelphia, and Mari enjoys making the artworks available to students, including repeat visits from classes she has taught over the years at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools. Her granddaughter Lucy’s preschool class once came for an art tour.

Read an Artblog feature with Mari Shaw  here .

Read an Artblog feature with Mari Shaw here.

So, it was that in 1985, the Shaw’s bought Dorothea Rockburne’s oil painting from the Andre Emmerich Gallery in New York, which at the time seemed a very expensive acquisition. The painting still hangs in their living room, but is promised to the Whitney Museum. Other works from their collection have also been promised or donated to other museums, including ten film and video works they donated to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2017. They do not turn down requests to loan work in their collection to museum exhibitions if the artists who made them request that they do.

In 2004, the diversity and pace of the couple’s collecting took a leap when Mari bought an apartment in Berlin, where she spends four warm weather months every year. While their collection which began primarily with American artists had already broadened to include European and Latin American art, and unwittingly, a concentration of women artists, the Shaw’s knowledge and access to art dealers and art knowledge soared when they established a Berlin base. Every spring, Peter joins Mari the last weekend in April for Berlin Gallery Weekend and spends two weeks looking at art in German’s exciting capital. Peter returns in early summer to travel with Mari to other European cities for a couple of weeks of Biennales, Museum exhibitions, or art fairs.

During her time alone in Berlin, Shaw reads, draws, walks, and haunts bookstores and galleries by day and often goes to the theater or a concert in the evening. In 2007, Mari served as the first American representative on an advisory committee for the quinquennial Documenta XII art exhibition held in Kassel, Germany. In 2009, she began to write her first book, Painter and Pataphysician Thomas Chimes alone in her apartment and across the street at the internet café housed in a museum dedicated to the Ramones, the band that introduced punk. She went to the café as soon as it opened, long before the Ramones crowd roused, where the owner supplied her with free tap water, a rarity in Berlin, and, now and then a free cup of coffee. In 2015, Mari met Caroline Schneider, owner of Sternberg Press in her morning Yoga class. Schneider encouraged her to write a book to be published by Sternberg Press, which eventually became The Noble Art of Collecting.

Among Mari’s current on-going projects in Philadelphia is working with Artblog to enhance its annual Art Writing Challenge. Shaw has been connected with Artblog, Philadelphia’s top online art publication, for decades. She has gone from having been featured in interviews to contributing guest posts, serving on the advisory committee and now sits on the Board. She loves the story behind the organization’s founding and its commitment to diverse, quality writing.

To this end, she saw an opportunity to expand expend and secure Artblog’s annual Art Writing Challenge by making a three-year commitment to up the amount and number of money prizes awarded to the winners. In 2019, she established a new award category in music writing as a match to contributions from others to the Art Writing Challenge. While it was exciting to solidify this online platform for celebrating emerging writers, She wanted to do more. Recognizing that there is something special about having one’s work published on printed paper, she decided the next step was to create a paper book to memorialize the history of Artblog, its Art Writing Challenge, and each of the winning essays selected since the inception of the competition. Voila! She introduced the idea for The Noble Art of Art Writing, which will be hitting bookstores next year as Book Two in her “Noble Art of Collecting” series.

We end our conversation thinking about the iconic opening to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of Incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…

Shaw pointed out how beautifully these well-crafted words give us perspective in our own troubling times, 160 years after Dickens wrote them.

“Bravo to Artblog for continuing to encourage and professionally acknowledge a new generation of art writers in Philadelphia”, bravo to the artists who took the Art-writing challenge, and bravo, to the winners,” she said.

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Mari Shaw will be moderating a discussion on November 15, 2019, from 2 to 3:30pm at the Kislak Center of the University of Pennsylvania at 3420 Walnut Street discussion called “Invisible and Illuminating illuminating”, based on a chapter in her upcoming book The Noble Art of Art Writing. Two-time Art Challenge winner Janyce Denise Glasper Glazer, Manager of the Percent for Art Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia and Artblog Board member Jacque Liu, and multidisciplinary artist and educator, Shelley Spector, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Deisgn and the University of the Arts will be panelists.

Mari Shaw’s books Painter and Pataphysician Thomas Chimes and The Noble Art of Collecting can be purchased on our web shop.

Studio Sunday: Brandi Hofer
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This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of Canadian artist, Brandi Hofer. With three pieces from her GUS series currently on view with PxP Contemporary, we wanted to learn more about her creative practice, how she tackles creative blocks, and what inspires her work. Behind the bright colors and gestural marks lies a wealth of emotion tied to love, loss, new life, and most importantly, the joys and challenges of motherhood. Learn more about the artist and her work in the interview below!

Bio

Brandi Hofer was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in 1986. She studied in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College from 2004 - 2006 before transferring to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.

Hofer has worked in several art media including: drawing, printmaking, and painting, with oils, acrylics encaustic, mixed media, and watercolors.

Hofer has long focused on female portraits and has explored themes of feminism, empowerment, the emotional self, and the female psyche. Hofer's work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in France, London, New York, and all across Canada. In 2011, she attended residencies at Red Deer College, Toronto Island, the Marnay Art Centre outside of Paris France, and was part of artist Robin Lambert's project in Montreal, Quebec. She was listed as the online Saatchi Gallery’s “Artist to Watch” feature on their website. Most recently her work appeared on HGTV’s House of Bryan, Bryan Inc, and has been published in The World of Interiors Magazine and a General Motors commercial.

Her show "Gus", based on parenthood, for 2018 traveled to Red Deer at the Harris-Warke Gallery, Lloydminster with through The Collective Art Market, and the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon.

Brandi Hofer's studio where she works and creates is located in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

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When did you first become interested in art?

Art or being an artist and creative has always been a part of me. From a very young age, I was interested in all forms of art, particularly painting and drawing. Every book in our home had an original drawing on its pages. My parents were always very encouraging and open to my interests, they never pushed or questioned, they were just supportive of whatever interest my siblings and I had. If I received a gift from someone, it was always related to the arts. I remember breaking a wishbone on Thanksgiving when I was about 4, and I wished aloud for a pack of markers, that week in the mailbox the “wishbone” delivered. I was very fortunate, in the regard that I had a support system, encouragement, love, and the space to experiment, explore and create.

Around my second year in the visual arts program, something began to shift, and I made a conscious decision to actively pursue the avenue of becoming a professional visual artist. I had no idea what being an artist and running an art studio or what it meant to run a self-employed business actually entailed. I just knew that I was passionate about creating, it made me happy, it was fulfilling, and I would do anything to be able to do it every day.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging endeavors in one's life, however, I have no doubt it is the most meaningful. As an artist, I am influenced and inspired by my everyday environment. In this new series of artworks, I aim to highlight and capture the beauty of being a parent, (from what I've experienced) as the richest time in my life. This series aims to speak about my triumphs and struggles as a mother. It deals with the ideals of motherhood, its morals, and its priorities. It is an exciting series that revels in a mother’s time with her child.

I would like to begin by establishing that I rarely like to bring up or to discuss the subject matter of losing my mother in 2014, being that it is emotionally painful. I lost my mother, my beacon of wisdom and love, my sense of home. After a brief fight with lung cancer, my mom passed, I was six months pregnant at the time with my first child. I found her death to be beyond life-shattering. Devastatingly I lost my “home”, the constant in my life. Though her values and way of life are entrenched in my every day, I still long for the sound of her voice and cling to the dream of her meeting her grandchildren. Her meeting them for even a minute, to see how amazing, beautiful, and smart they are, those thoughts are the most heart wrenching for me. There is no doubt in my mind that my son Gus and my husband Carly saved my sanity in those trying months following her death. Gus was my focus, and Carly was my strength. I learned in that trying time that a mother’s love for a child is an insurmountable love, and I now know how much my mother loved me. 

That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother. You will not get the things you want in this life by not taking a chance in the first place.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

-Steve Jobs

Since the passing of my mother, my life has kicked into high gear. Time is our most precious commodity and should be spent on the things that matter most: family, love, and one’s passions. Moments are fickle and fleeting; I have endeavored to make the most of mine. I refuse to lock myself away in my studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark-making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brushstroke or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands, and no Finn, you can’t eat it”!  My 2-year-old son Gus and I had the most amazing time together painting this series; I hope the unique artwork can even scratch the surface of the significance of our time together.

The paintings consist of a series of portraits. The intention of the work is to project strength, integrity, love and the struggle of what it takes to be a parent. This series is a celebration of motherhood, parenthood and the sheer innocence of being playful. The mindset and mood of the artwork is to project the incorruptible freedom of a child’s open cognizance, and zest for living life in the moment. 

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art?

My aim and hope are that the viewer can connect in some way, get a feel for the artwork, and grasp not necessarily the exact meaning that I have intended while creating, but to have their own associations and perceptions.  Moreover, the viewer can feel the passion and emotion behind the imagery, figure, portrait, and forms in the artwork. 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I do think about this from time to time. I have a few “wishes”, like utilizing social media a few years ahead, in a more effective manner for business purposes, I could have built a wider audience had I been more focused or aware of its effectiveness earlier on. I also wish I had applied myself as hard as I do today, and made a point of being in the studio, including it as a part of my daily routine, like I do presently. I have always been very prolific, but I think could have had more of a vision and focus for my practice. I still would not change a thing about how my life or my creative process, or the way my art business has evolved into what it is today. There are important lessons to be learned in the way that life falls into place. I feel like changing anything would possibly affect the outcome of where I am now, I am happy and grateful for the life that I have presently, and in the end, I guess I wouldn’t take my future self’s advice. 

How do you overcome creative blocks? 

I believe in working through creative blocks. As long as you are in your studio creating, there is a lesson to be learned or ideas to explore. You are never going to get ahead if you can’t take the first step of being present in your practice. I also believe in rest. You cannot master your active life if you cannot master your resting life. Living a balanced life helps my practice immensely: getting a proper night’s sleep, taking naps, reading, eating well, spending time with loved ones, meditating, and exercising. Because when I finally get that time in the studio it feels like an honor and a special treat. How many people can say they do what we do as artists? I am always grateful for the ability of simply being an artist, creating something out of nothing, and creative blocks are just an organic part of the process. 

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

The most recent show that I am involved in is with PXP Contemporary for their “Faces & Figures” show. My work from the “MINE” series is soon to be available in an upcoming publication titled, “FEMME Issue II”. My “MINE” series (from 2018/19) has found homes in several galleries. I just had my third child recently, and I am taking a month or two to rest. I will continue working on my ongoing commissioned work, as well as my personal in-progress series. The focus of my new series is based on heritage, lineage, and imagery from found photos from the past, this series will be opening at the Assiniboia Gallery in 2021. I also was recently featured in an episode for a documentary series “Making it in Saskatchewan” which aired in June. The “GUS – artwork created by Mother & Son” series just finished its tour. The series was a 44-piece show and interactive installation, travelled to 3 Galleries across Canada, in 2017/18. 

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By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Natalie Bradford

This Studio Sunday we meet Natalie Bradford, a multimedia artist based in Michigan. Inspired by the connection between humans and nature, her work also depicts themes of absence and decay. Two of her surrealistic ink drawings are currently on view with PxP Contemporary. Learn more about the artist in her interview below!

Bio
Natalie Bradford is a young, emerging artist en route to earn her BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking from Western Michigan University. She splits her time between Kalamazoo and Detroit, where she is from, and creates prints, paintings, drawings, and collages. She has exhibited locally and previously been featured in Average Art Magazine, Wotisart Magazine, A5 Magazine and Juste Milieu Lit + Art Zine.

Statement
My artwork is mostly surreal and imaginative and oftentimes deals with themes of absence, decay, humans, and nature. It explores my concerns, anxieties, and curiosity about the future and what happens to our bodies and souls when we die. I create images and narratives of what I perceive to be life after death depicted by the human figure, nature, and animal/hybrid creatures.

When and how did you first become interested in art?

I was always interested in art, ever since I could (kind of) hold a pencil. I started to get serious about it during my senior year of high school when I had to decide on what college to go to and which ones had the best art program. I ended up choosing the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and love it!

Tell us about what inspires you creatively. Can you share a bit about the meaning behind your drawings that we're exhibiting in Faces & Figures?

I’m inspired a lot by nature. My drawings depict birds and human body parts and speak to the circle of life and the temporality of life. Basically, how humans, being organic beings, eventually die and their body goes back into nature to nourish new life.

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What is your process like?

My process starts with a very rough, vague pencil sketch to establish important lines and curves and then I move into using a pen. I know using a pen this early on in a drawing is risky since it can’t be erased, but as I work through a drawing, I’ll sometimes instinctively make marks or add pieces that weren’t originally sketched out and it adds another element to my drawings

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is kind of split in half at the moment; I have my own studio space through the Printmedia department at WMU where I work on my prints and other class projects, and then I have a little makeshift studio space in my sunroom at my house. That space is where I do most of my drawings. I always keep a stack of sketchbooks and an empty coffee canister of pens and pencils in both studios.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

One thing my now-retired high school art teacher said to me my senior year was that making art isn’t just dependent on talent; he said: “Art making is about 1% actual talent and 99% dedication and time spent on your craft.” I oftentimes put this pressure on myself to make masterpieces every time I sketch, paint, draw, or print. That quote has stuck with me for a long time because it acts as a reminder to myself not to rush the process and really take my time with planning and sketching out my pieces, and working through the actual piece.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have three prints that are going to be in a holiday exhibition at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center this November to December! This will be my second time exhibiting work at this gallery and I’m really excited about the prints that will be on display because they are three of my favorite ones and it’s nice to have work in a gallery that’s close to home for me.

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Studio Sunday: Andrew Indelicato

Andrew Indelicato, an artist, designer, and teacher, is this week’s Studio Sunday feature. In his interview, he discusses the crucial moment last year when he reevaluated the work he was making in order to develop a style that was more true to himself in addition to what he believes is the most rewarding aspect of being an artist! He also has two works currently available with PxP Contemporary in their show ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Andrew Indelicato holds a Master's in Fine Arts and a Master's in Product Innovation. He is passionate about color, design, and Japanese culture. Indelicato has recently been featured in multiple publications and group exhibitions and he currently teaches Art, Creativity, and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Statement

This body of my work revolves around the beauty of alternate futures that lay within the aesthetics of niche Anime subcultures. In today’s age, we are always looking for something to escape into. Remembrance and the retro always come forth. We want to relive ourselves within the nature of what we watched and saw when we were younger. It’s all about connecting to something that never was but perhaps might come forth in the future. The work draws upon the cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetics with subtle hints of neon vaporwave culture. It's big, bold, and a tad kitsch. The work can become somewhat awkward, but we as viewers crave this and then always want to take a peek.

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Tell us about your background in art. Where and what did you study?

I grew up in a creative household and was always pushed to pursue what I wanted. I got my BFA in Painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Georgia, and just recently I completed a Master’s in Product Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

How did you develop your style?

I’ve always had a hard-edged geometric aesthetic as well as an intuitive way with color. In 2018 around May, I had a gut-check moment about my work and why I was actually making the work that I was. I didn’t enjoy what I was making so I started to do some self-reflection and remembered the things I was passionate about and the things that I grew up with. These things really never left me and I wanted to bring these topics and images into the contemporary world. It’s an ongoing process and I’m enjoying the ride.

What is your process like? Do you work on pieces simultaneously?

I do a lot of research and planning for the imagery I want to use as well as the aesthetic I want to go for. Some of it is mapped out, some of it is just by chance - one of my goals is to find the play between both. I like to work on multiple works at the same time, especially within different media. Drawings, paintings, and digital work all go on at once.

Name a few artists who inspire you or where you look for inspiration.

I’d say KAWS, John Felix Arnold, and Felipepantone, just to name a few. For inspiration, I also look to anime, manga, and pop culture or tech websites as well as YouTube and Instagram.

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is all over the place right now. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dedicated space, but I have a screened-in porch that I use and a spare bedroom I use part of. I must always have my computer and my projector.

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What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist? The most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is time, finding time to make for yourself and not for a client or anyone else. The most rewarding is that gut feeling when you know you hit that sweet spot in the piece you are working on. It’s like putting two puzzle pieces together, it just feels right.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Right now I’m working on a couple of paintings for a group show for early next year as well as getting some things together for new opportunities.

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Sergio Garcia
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We were so excited to learn more about Sergio Garcia, a highlight artist for the upcoming Moniker Art Fair in London! Sergio is a Cuban-American artist, a sculptor and a painter who uses art as a means for exploring his personal identity, both past and present, within the context of the ever-present human condition and the socio-political environment. Read his interview below to know how he got started in art, what he will be presenting at the fair, and the other big projects he has coming up this year!

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Tell us about your background and how you became interested in art?

My father’s side of the family is from Mexico and my mother’s side is from Texas. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Growing up I read a lot of Bloom County comic strips and listened to a lot of Iron Maiden and ZZ Top. I started drawing a lot of album covers on book covers at school. Eventually, I slowly started getting into graffiti and skateboarding. The skateboarding culture really influenced me and my work today. As I got older I learned to airbrush and started airbrushing cars and motorcycles. Then that slowly led me into doing contemporary art. I still paint motorcycles every now and then.

You use words like unconventional and unorthodox when discussing your work. Can you describe in what ways your work can be seen as pushing past traditional boundaries and what effect you hope to achieve by doing this?

I guess the main reason would be the types of materials I use. Most of my work is done in automotive paint. I also use a wide range of material like; blown glass, plastic, resin, fiberglass. All with automotive clear float finishes. I guess another thing would be that I don’t have one set way of making my sculptures. I experiment with all types of products to achieve the best look possible.

Tell us about your most interesting project or favorite piece that you've made?

Believe it or not it’s the ones for the moniker art fair. Probably the OJ II WHEEL. Seeing that one come to life brings back a lot of memories and excitement. I think a lot of my work ties to youthfulness and this one hits home the hardest.

How does your process work? Do you do a lot of research and sketching or create art more intuitively? How long does one piece take and do you work on series separately or simultaneously?

I do a lot of research beforehand. I think about every option and I even try samples of materials that I think would work best. I try to have everything thought out before I attempt it. Some series I think about for years before attempting. Sometimes I’ll make a piece and then assembly line the rest. Other times I go all in and change things as I go.

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What can we look forward to from you at Moniker Art Fair?

I’m doing a new series that I’ve kept under wraps of oversized hyper-realistic skateboard wheels. I’m really excited about this series. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while. Moniker offered me a spotlight series which gave me the freedom to pull it off. The group of work is called “It’s the little things”. Skateboarding culture is kind of what got me into doing art in the first place. A lot of the styles, graphics, colors, and thing from the 80s and 90s struck a chord with me. It still does to this day. So it’s nice to pay homage to that. I hope the viewers are just as excited as I am.

Are there any other exciting projects, collaborations or exhibitions for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

We have Miami in December, which is Art Basel. I’ll be showing with Thinkspace. That’s always my favorite time of the year. Other than that, I have a few mural projects in the works.

By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Ladislas Chachignot
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Meet Ladislas Chachignot, a French artist working in Barcelona, who we’ve profiled for our Studio Sunday feature! His traditional and digital paintings integrating the figure and nature are characterized by beautiful and complex compositions that draw the viewer in. Learn more about his studio practice in his interview below and make sure to check out his two available works in PxP Contemporary’s current exhibition ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Ladislas Chachignot is a French digital and traditional artist based in Barcelona. Specializing in colorful and detailed art, Ladislas is a kind of graphic chameleon that is working both digitally and traditionally, mixing various techniques to experiment and create vivid and bold artworks, full of details that are reflecting his vision of the world.

Ladislas is inspired by several themes like pop culture, urban art, graphic design and illustration, ecology and arts or crafts from ancient civilizations. The painting technique via a digital medium is almost the same as the traditional one: everything is hand-drawn and painted using a graphic tablet. No photographs or photographic textures are included in his images.

In parallel to his digital work, Ladislas began to paint on canvas and transfer his knowledge learned in digital art into traditional. He uses various mediums such as watercolor, acrylics, water-based markers, and spray-paint to create his images and paintings. No matter the medium, digital or traditional, Ladislas is willing to transfer his vision of the society and world and share his love for living as well as raising awareness toward the preservation on planet Earth by showing its richness and diversity.

Statement

I'm confronting the human body and its place alongside the richness and diversity of nature. See how we interact and are part of it and at the same time how we transform our world to fit to us.

I'm showing the ambivalence / ambiguity that lies in each human being, the two sides that are clashing and go in opposite directions within us:

- The constant need to control, adapt our environment to our own needs without thinking of the consequences of these modifications.

- In opposition to the need of peace and balance that we can find when connected with the natural environment. A kind of roots that we've rediscovered.

Through these images, I am questioning our place as humans in the world. We do concentrate more and more in the cities and are progressively losing the connection between nature and our initial primitive wildness and freedom as we fall more and more into a digital and 24/7 connected way of living.

How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

Images were always something very attractive for me since I was a child. I could spend hours in the toy shop watching colorful packagings and dream about stories I could create with all those toys. I was watching a lot of cartoons and always loved to play. I started to discover the art world bit by bit with school trips and with my parents. We visited French museums and I remember that I was amazed by all the paintings I was seeing on the walls.

I was attracted by ancient art and crafts from old civilizations (like Pre-columbian art) , so much details and stories, "bestiary" of gods, monsters and heroes. 

Everything I needed to imagine stories while watching the images.  I started to absorb images everywhere and tried to draw characters I saw in magazines, on the TV... With the growth of internet and its unlimited access to images I discovered various new visual trends and Artists I loved. 

It helped me a lot to develop my skills and also to get inspired to create new paintings.

We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you?

Colors are really important for me yes. I guess it's my way to express emotions through the image. It's really interesting because when you experiment with it you learn how to create contrast, and highlight some elements in your image only with the use of colors.

You can change the mood of a painting just by picking some specific colors and the way you create lighting in your scene.

I think that my main inspiration is definitely "nature". It's a source of unlimited inspiration, so much species, and diversity. Patterns, colors, shapes, there's everything you need to create images. You can find species and then discover sub-species that has different colors and shapes, sometimes quite different from the one you knew. To me, Nature is a the biggest source of creation, and we all inspire ourselves with it.

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What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I don't think I sketch too much when I'm starting a new piece. I've got an idea of how it should look in the end and then I start putting lines on the paper. But the great point of doing this is that as it's not planned totally, there's room for improvisation, it makes the process more fun and enjoyable. I follow my instinct on this, and look for the moment when I tell myself " yes, there's something interesting here". I look for excitement and fun when creating.

I usually sketch the character first and then I start to fill the canvas bit by bit all around the character.

I do everything with pencil, lines are quite sloppy in the beginning, but I focus of the composition and how shapes are interacting between each other. To create movement and so the viewer can dive into the image and look for details. Then I erase slowly and leave the first layer of lines a bit visible so I can re-create a refined and clean version of the lines. Then start the "color phase" where I'm putting colors and change them progressively as I experiment and build the image. In this step also, I don't plan too much, I often have a "mood board" but I leave room to make "tests". It's quite easy to do with the digital medium so I do it until I feel I found the right combination in the image.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

I work in a co-working space which is a big open space in an ancient factory in Barcelona.

I've got a desk in it so I can leave my things inside and don't need to remove them every evening.

My workstation is made of my computer that I leave closed, an additional screen bigger than the computer screen which I use as my main screen + my Cintiq pro 16 graphic tablet. When I work I leave my images and references open on the other screen and paint on the Cintiq .

I also have an additional Hard drive to save projects and don't leave them only in one place , would be a shame to loose all my images so I often do backups and copy my things on various places.

I surround myself with plants on my desk. Small green plants that I let grow and invade the desk if I could I would create a jungle surrounding my screen and myself but Im a bit afraid of the humidity problems I would have with this solution haha). I also have a collection of pine cones that I collect everywhere I go. I've got some from various countries all around the world and display them in a jar on my desk. I like to collect things so I display a few of them, images, a few toys or motivating quotes to help me get some good and relaxing vibes when I work.

When I paint of canvas I prefer to do it at home as the activity is more messy and dirty, I don't disturb anyone like that.

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What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being an artist is that I mix work with passion. I'm lucky to be my own boss and propose my vision to my clients. 

I feel I express myself through my images and have a purpose with this. The best thing is that I can give people emotions when they look at my images. When I see that I give them a small piece of "dream", a moment of "pause" and spark there curiosity, I'm really happy of it. It's a reward to remind me that art has a great power to deliver strong message and emotions and I'm grateful I can create connections with people by doing this.

When I look back 10 years ago and think about what I wanted to be, I feel that I'm on my way on the right track. I don't have all the solutions yet but I trust that if I do my best and do it with pleasure, people will see it through images.

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I'm currently traveling for a a month in Los Angeles. As I live in Europe, the culture scene is a bit different from the USA. 

I'm gonna get inspired and stop by various galleries to present my art and meet gallery owners. The city is really excellent for art. Many artists I follow are living or exhibiting there.

I also want to see if there would be opportunities to work there. I combine my activity of illustrating with painting. The entertainment scene is so developed in LA, I feel it would be a great place for me to live and work. 

I'm also in the process of a collaboration with an organization for the protection of the oceans. These type of projects are something I'm really interested in and I'd like to do more of these in the future. Using art to deliver important messages and raise awareness toward environmental preservation is one of my goal for the next few years.

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By Alicia Puig

Women Working in the Arts: Liza from @curatoronthego

For the next installment of our Women Working in the Arts series we are excited to share the story of Liza, founder of @curatoronthego. She is a Toronto based independent art curator and fine art agent who we recently connected with via PxP Contemporary. After reading about her business, her background in curating, and the exciting projects she has been working on, make sure to check out her top picks from our gallery on Instagram or Facebook!

Tell us a bit about your background as a curator. What kind of work interests you?

Art has always been my passion; as a young girl, I attended art classes, and any time my family travelled, I was excited to visit local museums and art galleries. When I moved to Canada in 2010, I chose Art History as one of my majors and decided that I wanted to work professionally in the art world.

After working in a few local art institutions, I completed my MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. The program gave me the opportunity to work on larger curatorial projects and meet many amazing local artists, which was perfect for me. My thesis exhibition focused on themes of storytelling and community engagement. When there is a story behind the artwork, it brings value to the piece, and creates a conversation between the artist, collector, and their respective friends and family. I believe that people love art that challenges them and makes them think.

Now, I work directly with artists and help them thrive as art entrepreneurs. This year I helped ten artists who were stuck in their careers and were seeking artistic direction. I mentor artists on how to build a prosperous and thriving art business, and educate them on how to work with art dealers, pricing and market their works, organize exhibition, conduct sales, and more.

Name one woman artist - either contemporary or from history - who has had an impact on you.

I try not to have role models. People tend to copy those who are more successful, and I believe having my own unique story and voice is what is important to me and what I value most in other people. However, I’ve been working with one local artist for the last five years, and she has inspired me to believe in myself, dream big and work smart. Her name is Jessica Gorlicky; she is a Toronto-based fine art and performance artist and has toured around the world speed painting, and making outstanding emotional art, including an international street art movement. Not only is she a talented artist, but also a skilled businesswoman, entertainer, and inspiration for many emerging artists.

What is one piece of advice you would give to emerging artists?

Invest in yourself.

Artists need to invest in their careers. That includes supplies, studio space, and if they work from home, they should make sure to eliminate any distractions. Artists should invest in their career development, like traveling to other countries, exhibiting at international art fairs and shows, and using helpful technology, such as mailing lists, to grow their network. As well, do not be afraid to rely on professionals like accountants, lawyers, and mentors to help you with behind-the-scenes tasks; it will help you to dedicate as much time as possible on art production. Lastly, it’s important to have a clear mindset, and a set of goals for a successful career. If you are not willing to invest in your career, who will?

Do you have any exciting projects, collaborations or exhibitions coming up that you’d like to share? 

In August, I hosted my first Career Recharge Seminar Event for local artists as a platform to get advice and learn from art and non-art professionals, and also as a place to network and share their stories. The event has inspired me to host more art seminars in the future, and to build new platforms for artists, such as online courses to share tips and tools, and guide artists to create profitable art businesses when they are unable to hire an agent or curator, and do what they love. 

In October, I am curating a solo show of one of the artists I currently represent Matt Pine (www.mattpineart.com) in Toronto.

You can find me at www.curatoronthego.com or on Instagram @curatoronthego.

By Alicia Puig

Interview: Susan Lerner
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After a career as a Flavor Chemist, and as a mother of two, I was longing for an outlet to express myself and relieve the anxiety of caring for an aging parent with dementia.  On a whim, I took a collage class at the 92 Street Y in NYC and the minute I picked up a straight edge, I fell in love with the medium.  In a short four years, I have had the opportunity to exhibit my work in over 20 group shows, including Brooklyn, NY; Chelsea, NY; Edinburgh, Scotland and Rennebu, Norway and have had solo exhibits in New York City and Northwestern Connecticut. My work has been published in numerous art magazines and in the newly released book “Collage By Women:  50 Essential Contemporary Artists”. In 2018, I organized and curated, @the_collage_garden NYC, an installation in the 6BC Botanical Garden in the East Village, that showcased collages submitted by artists from over 25 countries.  I am currently a member of the instagram group, @thecollageclub, an exclusive group of collage artists who collage the same page of the same book each week. My most notable sale is to restauranteur David Bouley.

You can find me on Instagram @mixdmediamashup

Select pieces of work available on www.saatchiart.com/susanlerner

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You discovered your love for collage at a time when you were in search for a creative outlet. How has your relationship with the medium progressed since then?

 I discovered collage as a creative outlet from everyday stressors, including taking care of a parent with dementia.  Since that time, it has turned into an absolute passion. I work on some aspect of collage almost daily.  Technically, I began with photomontage, using my own photographs, but gradually developed into a style using vintage imagery and maps. I have recently experimented with 3-D collage and continue to explore new ways to learn about the medium and myself. 

Can you expand on your process for us? How do you curate the images you collage?

My artistic journey is the process.  I source vintage material by scouring flea markets and garage sales.  I hunt for imagery in the viewfinder of my camera. I usually have an idea that I want to work on based off of one or two pieces of found imagery and go from there.  Everything is hand-cut, layered and glued. It can get pretty messy but I try to sort out cuttings into categories and file them into envelopes. However, the chaos makes it interesting. I never know what I will find or create.

 

How long do you typically spend on a collage? Is there a preliminary stage?

I like to work on numerous collages at the same time so I can't quantify how long it takes. I usually have an idea in my head based on one or two images and then use material I’ve already cut out to free-play and create.  If I get stuck, I move onto the next collage and go back to it later. This keeps it fresh and exciting. After everything is laid out for a collage, I take a photo. The trickiest part is to recreate the collage during the gluing process.  If I make a mistake, it’s over because I only use original papers, no photocopies. I like that the material is precious and one of a kind. Once it’s used, it’s gone.

Your most recent series “All Over the Map” utilizes vintage maps. Can you share more with us about your choice to use maps?

The series “All Over the Map” developed from a love of cartography and travel.  I had been wanting to incorporate maps within my collages since I started collaging.  The maps are all about the connection to my past both literally and metaphorically. Maps were used before GPS was invented so they bring me back to my childhood of planning and taking trips with my family and hand cutting the images takes me back in time before computers and photoshop were a fact of life.    I try to juxtapose images so the impossible seems possible. The process is both mediative and stimulating at the same time.

 

Do you have a piece of advice you have received that you would like to pass along to our readers?

My advice is to just go for it.  Put yourself out there and take a chance.  There is really no downside to exploring your creativity and sharing it with the world.  You may even surprise yourself.

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Studio Sunday: Karen Navarro
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Our Studio Sunday interview this week highlights the work of photographer Karen Navarro. Learn more about what inspires her colorful, figurative images, her creative process, and the motto that keeps her going in tough times! You can also view two of Karen’s works in ‘Faces & Figures’, a group exhibition presented by PxP Contemporary.

Bio

With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic in a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work femininity as a cultural construct.

Navarro has lived in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at the Houston Center for Photography. In 2018, Navarro was awarded a scholarship at the Glassell School of Art | The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently, she received the Artadia fellowship in 2019.

Navarro's work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include ones at the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista in Tigre, Argentina (2018), The Union in Houston, TX (2018), and Houston Center for Photography in Houston, TX (2018).

Statement

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about understanding the self and the resulting human behaviors shaped by social norms. Furthermore, understanding the role of social norms in the construction of personal and social identity, my work seeks answers and proposes questions that may not yet have a predetermined answer.


Through the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details, the constructed portraits, as I like to call them, recreate a character that usually doesn’t have an identity. My photo process blurs those lines of identity by disguising, hiding and covering the faces. In the performative photographs, often times, the characters are isolated in a serene environment. I believe photography allows me the expression of self-referential questions. By expressing personal worries, my work appeals to connect these ideas to a much larger scale of ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading.

When did you first become interested in art? 

I first became interested in art while doing a photography assignment for an art class in high school. But I would say that I grew up surrounded by an artistic environment, my grandmother was a dressmaker and my grandfather, who I didn't get the chance to meet, liked to draw. I remember spending my childhood days with my grandmother in her atelier. And, I think that was what led me to study fashion design and then photography. My fashion design training had a strong art program. I gained a general overview of art and history but it wasn't until I came to Houston that I started to get more interested in the contemporary art world and the art scene.


Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

My inspiration comes from different sources. Color, lighting and shadow from the everyday can inspire a mood. I usually use these moods to approach new artwork and link it to philosophical ideas, self-referential questions, or something else in what I believe in and I want to share. Looking at artwork and specially from the Surrealist, Renaissance and Cubist periods brings a lot of inspiration. I'm interested in the concept of identity so I explore it in many different ways. Photography for me is about creating conversations, making relevant a topic that may be only relevant for me. It's about inviting people to question along with me. My work doesn't offer answers because I don't believe in absolute truths. And, in the in-between of this dichotomy of not believing in absolute truths and having an opinion at the same time is where I position myself every time I approach a new body of work. Inviting you, seducing you through a highly stylized image to reflect on topics that may challenge our social notions.

What is your process like?  

Usually, everything starts on the sketchbook, then I pay a visit to the warehouse to buy some painting to paint the backdrop wall. After that I go to the thrift store to get some clothing and some props to prepare for the photo shoot. In my performative photographs I create characters, for this reason I meticulously arrange the elements in the scene. Although, while in the photo shoots I allow myself to get creative and try new things, I don't stick entirely to the sketchbook. 

Since my work is evolving and I am working on new mediums, like collages and soon sculpture, my process changes according to the work I am doing. For example in my last series of collages "El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos"  I added laser-cutting, 3-D printing, and embossing.


Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I like to call my studio ‘big white box’. I love the high ceilings and how airy it is. Natural lighting is something I can't live without. My studio has small window that faces the top of a tree. I enjoy looking at the the wind blowing the tree with the sky on the background. During the mornings the sunlight is very beautiful. For me, my studio is my sacred temple, everything has to be in order and be very minimal for me to be able to concentrate.

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What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

My motto is from a Spanish saying, Persevera y triufarás, which translated literally into the English language means Persevere and you will Triumph. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Yes! There are two things I‘m very excited to share. I'm currently working on some sculptures that explore the notion of body and beauty. It’s an extension of my body of work “Soft Objects”. I’m currently at the first stage, but am very excited about it!

I’m also organizing and co-curating a show called “Alternate Pathways”. The show celebrates Houston’s cultural diversity and has received a grant from the city. The show opens on October 19th 6-8 PM at 2315 Union St, Houston, TX 77007⁣⁣. 

Drawing Characters from Everyday Life | Interview with Johana Kroft

Interview by Sarah Mills

Johana Kroft is an illustrator and designer coming from the Czech Republic. After living in London and establishing a studio Idea & Maker with her husband she is now working worldwide. Together they collaborate at a broad spectrum of fields varying from experience, entertainment, advertisement and technology. They bring unique visuals in the form of thoughtful craft and storytelling.

Interpreting her minimalistic style in both 2D and 3D worlds in various styles and techniques. Creating illustrations and motion design videos. Her personal work is elegant and poetic. Inspired by travelling, dogs and emotions.

www.johanakroft.com

On your website, you talk about your love of creating characters and the inspiration you take from your dog Panda. Can you tell us more about your characters and what goes into creating them?

I usually imagine an everyday situation that people know and can relate to. It could be sad, funny, melancholic, or romantic. And most of the time it's more than just one feeling.

I had always drawn characters as dogs or cats, even when I was a kid. My dog is a huge drama queen, and a lot is happening in her life. I'm trying to catch her feelings and situations and share them with people. She makes us happy every day, and I want to keep her character alive forever with my work. A mix breed of Parson Russell, sausage dog and maybe Whippet. That is unstoppable, smart, and scared of everything, a combination of feelings. She is very special.

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You have a very specific color, palette. Is there a reason behind your color choices?

I don't. I always start from scratch with every project, because different colors have a different feeling. I see what works and I build on that, keeping it minimalistic. I think a lot of color combinations come from traveling to a foreign country, but you can go to another city, neighboorhood or a street.

Of course, there is a lot of practice to it. Back in the days when I started with design, I didn't have an idea of how to combine the colors. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration. I use it for creating mood-boards. I look at old paintings from masters like Mattise, Paul Klee, Kandinsky or Picasso. One of the exhibitions I saw recently was by Lee Krasner, and I was incredible as I'm in love with abstract paintings. She is definitely a huge inspiration for me.

Another inspiration is Japanese culture – a minimalistic and very clean style with beautiful shapes. One book that I would recommend is A Dictionary of Color Combinations and one more that I like because of colors is Made in North Korea by Nick Bonner. You can explore many beautiful color palettes in books. I'm always looking for palettes that are unfamiliar to me and that I've never seen before. That's what inspires me.

Along with your personal work, you co-founded a studio. What inspired you to begin Idea & Maker?

Ever since my husband and I met, we'd had this idea to start a studio. We have always felt that our skills matched. He is more technical and likes precision, symmetry, and his decisions are based on reason. My decisions are based on feelings, and my work is emotional, colorful, and asymmetrical. But at the same time, we like the same stuff, such as nature, art, design, architecture, traveling, technology, animals, books, movies, etc. We are like 2 hemispheres of one brain haha!

Both of us worked together now and then on a few projects as freelancers, and it worked, so it just made sense to start a studio together, which was possible in London. We decided to make a website and take it very seriously.

Our first project was a 1-second long product video for Coco&Eve, which is a fantastic hair mask. And it was beautiful to work on a product that we also believe in. On top of that, the people were very cool, and we were given a lot of freedom. The project was very successful. We were featured on Behance and got more opportunities because of it. Watch the video here: https://ideaandmaker.com/cocoandeve

What we like to do is practice our craft on personal projects. We are playing with a combination of 2d and 3d animation. That's something we love. We also collaborate with other productions and agencies. We have an amazing relationship with Unit9. We helped them with a very cool project for Google. And we are very proud of it! We are a small studio, but because of our diversity of skills, we can execute more complicated briefs.

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On Idea & Maker's home page it says, "we craft stories," can you tell us more about your role as a storyteller and creator?

I am not the biggest fan of making roles in the studio. I have a feeling that anyone can be anything if he/she wants. Especially in the creative industry. I started as a designer - after a few years, I wondered if I could be an illustrator, art director, or maybe storyteller. My husband started as a designer, he was doing a little bit of illustration, UX/UI, he switched to motion design, then freelancing as a 3D generalist and now he's building his setups in Houdini. As a studio, we are always switching roles. I can be a producer, art director, designer, motion designer, illustrator, modeler, and storyboard artist in one day. I do everything from an idea to making it. It is all about learning something new every day, and I like that a lot!

We are always excited to approach a brief in a way we feel is right, and because we know how things are made, we can see where difficulties may occur. With that in mind, our building blocks are more stable, and we don't have any issues when it comes to production. 'We craft stories' means that we do everything from beginning to end, and the message or story is not lost somewhere in the middle.

What is currently a source of inspiration for you?

We go to galleries a lot! London's got the best exhibitions in Tate Modern and Saatchi Gallery. There is always something that pushes you or inspires you on the next level when you are open to new experiences. I'm reading Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawkings at the moment, and it's definitely something that inspires me a lot. I'm also motivated by talks. Seeing people's hard work is very important to me.

We have decided to move out of London for a little while and explore the world, so I am totally excited about what the future brings. We want to meet people from different countries and cultures. I love new stories and new beginnings. I have never been scared to start something new when I feel uninspired. The last few years I have only lived in cities, and while there are many new impulses, it can sometimes feel like too many. Now I have a feeling that we need to absorb that, explore a bit of nature, and find a new beautiful.

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Andrew Hem
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In advance of Moniker Art Fair coming up on October 2 - 6, Create! Magazine caught up with painter Andrew Hem, who will be exhibiting at the show. Read his interview below!

Raised as the child of Cambodian immigrants in Los Angeles, Andrew Hem’s illustrative paintings bridge disparate aesthetic influences as well as cultural touchstones and sensibilities. Hem’s paintings typically highlight an individual within a group of figures, homing in on the one person who is often somberly staring out from the canvas. Using a cool palette in which the colors do not quite match up with the real world, the artist creates somber moods in illusionistic spaces set at a remove from reality. Although his color scheme—with its supernatural rendering of the natural world—elicits comparisons to impressionism, Hem also echoes graffiti art based on his straightforward and illustrative rendering of figures and space, as well as allusions to street culture, art, and fashion.

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How and when did you first become interested in art?

I became interested in art around 12 years old through graffiti. I feel like most kids who grew up in the 80s in my neighborhood had a similar start.

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

Great designs inspire me so much - whether it be architecture, fashion, or interior design. I love color combinations. I get inspired by all the different color combos I could achieve if I had more time in the day.

What is your process like?

I start with an idea in my head. I would then do some rough sketches to plan out the composition. From there, I would shoot some references. I like to add a 50/50 blend of reference and Imagination. Before, I would do all imagination and found that I tended to repeat myself. And when I used all references it would tend to be too stiff for my liking. The 50/50 was the perfect look I was aiming for.

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can't live without in your work area?

My studio is my garage and I love it. I use to have a separate studio but spending the money to transform my garage was the nest decision I could’ve made. I have a tv in that I probably couldn’t work without. I work while listening to movies so Netflix is playing all the time in my studio.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you find meaningful?

You are going to need a Coretta Scott to be king.

Can you share a bit about what you will be exhibiting at Moniker and what viewers can look forward to?

Most people think that an artist is born with talent. They don’t really know the hard work and time spent perfecting the craft. I wanted to showcase the moment rarely seen. We see the end result and assume how talented that artist is. With this new body of work you will get a glimpse of the backdoor.

Studio Sunday: Ekaterina Vanovskaya

This Studio Sunday meet Ekaterina Vanovskaya, a Russian born and Philadelphia based painter. She is one of the 14 international artists participating in PxP Contemporary’s exhibition ‘Faces & Figures’ and we’re pleased to be presenting two of her stunning figurative works in the show!


Bio

Ekaterina Vanovskaya was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009 and an MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2015. Ekaterina has exhibited nationally, which includes shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, among others. She completed the Artist in the Marketplace Program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and recently participated in the Governors Island Art Fair in New York and the AIM Biennial at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Ekaterina received the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant in 2017 and 2018.

Statement

Pale, distressed figures inhabit my large-scale oil paintings. There are several repeating themes in the paintings: loneliness, nostalgia, longing, melancholia, and a search for a sense of place. There are often figures depicted doing mundane tasks, or caught in a state of hesitation or fear, in forlorn atmospheres. A specific emotional longing translates into a painting.

I was born and spent my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia and memorable childhood experiences frame the core of my work. These memories symbolize isolated experiences and therefore have a strong emotional impact. The physical places I no longer occupy and they do not exist in the same state, as when I knew them, all is imagined.

How does our past impact our emotions, responses, and ways of being? These perceptions of our childhood inevitably define the way we live our lives today. Painting starts to serve as a reconciliation with the self. It is as if I am painting about a secret that nobody else knows.

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When did you first become interested in art?

I started painting when I was fifteen years old, by accident really. Then during my senior year of high school I saw a poster on the wall for Portfolio Day in New York. (An event where you can show up with art work and get accepted into art school.) Completely on a whim, I gathered all my paintings into black garbage bags and made my mother take me to Portfolio Day. That’s how I ended up at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I did all sorts of things there, including painting, and generally had an amazing time. My last year there I already knew I wanted to go to graduate school for painting and I went to grad school a few years later. I think the School of The Art Institute of Chicago really opened my eyes to the world of art making and that’s where I realized that I can and want to pursue art seriously.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

All my paintings start with a feeling. I was born and spent my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia and a lot of my paintings are about memories of my childhood, my family and friends. I can think about a painting for months and years before actually painting it. There is usually a faint picture or idea in my head and the more I think about it the clearer it gets. I used to make a lot of drawings for my paintings - of each person, object, tree, room and so on. Now I don’t have to do that as much - and I try not to draw anything besides my composition sketches. I am afraid that making too many drawings will take away from the impulse of making the painting. I always have a sketchbook and I write down ideas for future work and notes about each painting as I am making it. Sometimes when I am trying to figure things out, I will write in my sketchbook something like, “Is the window in the painting blue?” And then the answer, “No.” It’s really funny. I usually have four or five paintings in my head and four or five different paintings that I am physically working on in the studio.

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What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your paintings?

I hope they take away an experience of looking that is memorable. I want to share something about my life and say, “This is how I am in this world, come with me”.


What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I would say, don’t worry so much and do more stuff. Enjoy college even more, for example. But maybe it was good to be so stuck on one thing - painting, who knows. I was always too worried about how things are. Someone said to me once, in painting class, “Whatever gets you through the day is fine.” I still think about that phrase, especially in terms of painting, and I think it's good advice.


How do you overcome creative blocks?

I don’t. I have creative blocks all the time actually and until fairly recently I would think, “Oh no, I have a creative block again, but I must paint!” But I hate doing something just to do it and I think it’s a waste of paint, energy and time to work on a painting “just to keep going”. I only paint in service to the idea I have and if I don’t want to paint, I don’t paint. I used to be really regimented in the way I work and now I am trying to be more loose and instinctive because I am always trying to make my paintings more personal, more diaristic, different from the previous work. So that’s a strange demand to make while at the same time saying, “but you must paint continuously for this many hours just like you did in grad school" and so on. I want to be free to follow my pattern of thoughts in painting form. In my experience a creative block comes before there is a change of direction or approach in the paintings. I would say trust that change and go on in whatever way possible for the time being.

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Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on the rest of this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I was just invited to participate in a group exhibition at Mercer County Community College, October 28th - December 19th, 2019. There is also POST - Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in October, where artists open their studios to the public. I enjoy it every year and I am really looking forward to it.

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Ken Nwadiogbu

Founded in 2010 in London, Moniker Art Fair is a hyper-curated five day contemporary art fair, exhibiting an international roster of the finest artists and galleries at the cutting edge of urban art and culture. This October, Moniker brings its acclaimed event format to Chelsea, which has for 9 years attracted contemporary art collectors in their thousands to East London. Moving from Shoreditch to Chelsea marks a year of radical change, as Moniker continues to push the narrative of urban art, and its role on the London art scene, Moniker’s reinvention in Chelsea will pioneer its future-forward outlook.

Over the past decade, the fair has embraced risks and it seeks to prove how powerfully the immersive and experiential fair format can stimulate audiences and win over the next generation of contemporary collectors. As much a festival as an art fair, Moniker has evolved since its East London foundation and the scene’s inevitable global transience means it can embrace its transient roots as it relocates.

The five day arts festival will include a daily talks and film program hosted by The Art Conference, Live Dj’s, art workshops, immersive experiences and a selection of food and beverages.


OPENING TIMES

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VIP + COLLECTORS OPENING: Wednesday 2 October | 3pm - 10pm

PUBLIC PREVIEW: Thursday 3 October | 3pm - 10pm

Hosted by Creative Debuts

PUBLIC FAIR DAYS

Friday 4 October | 1pm - 9pm

Saturday 5 October | 11am - 8pm

Sunday 6 October | 11am - 6pm

Create! Magazine was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview one of the highlight artists who will be exhibiting at the fair, Ken Nwadiogbu. Ken is a Nigerian visual artist whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and is inspired by gender equality, African cultures, and black power.

You actually studied civil and environmental engineering in school so how did you pivot to focusing on art?

Interesting question. If you’re from Africa, you’ll understand that nothing says “value” more than a university degree. Not just any degree, but either from Engineering, Law, Accounting or Medicine. So from a young age, the society starts, subconsciously, breeding this hunger; regardless of it being your passion or not. This was my case. Everyone wanted me to be an Engineer, and it became a subconscious part of me, even tho I loved drawing.

I entered into Civil and Environmental Engineering in the University of Lagos. Was doing pretty well till I stumbled on someone drawing the Dean of the University at that time. Everything changed from there. The feeling of Art started coming back, the hunger begun to grow, I begun researching and asking questions- “how did he draw that?” Study brought hunger.. hunger brought addiction... addiction brought love. And that’s how I feel deep in love with art in the first year of my university.

Was it something that you were always interested in or pursuing on the side?

I never thought I’d be a visual artist 7 years ago. All I thought was, I was gonna be an Engineer. The moment I started art, my mindset changed and this slowly drifted my attention from my studies into my art. Couldn’t quit Engineering, cause to everyone, the excuse was “a taboo”, so I had to get that certificate, prove I had that value, then pursue art exactly how I wanted to pursue it. “Art is not lucrative”, they’d say. “Art is for the poor”, “Art is for the dumb”... so many wrong perception... but I’d not blame them, I’ll blame the society for the lack of knowledge and exposure, and the government for the lack of support to the Nigerian art scene.

Your work is described as being part of the Contemporealism movement. What do you see as the core principles of this style of art?

I started off doing Hyperrealism as my mentors range from the likes of Carole Feuerman to Chuck Klose. But you see, one would describe hyperrealism as a genre of painting and sculpture, resembling a high resolution photograph... Just that.

For me, I’ve always wanted more, so what I try to do with my work is not just creating high resolution photographs but incorporating with it- the 3-Dimensional illusion and figurative elements born from conceptual ideas and contextual narratives. In some sense all I’m trying to do is deploy elements of contemporary art or illusions of form and space, usually, to create emphasis in the narrative I portray. With this style, I get to display Hyperrealism in a ‘unique Contemporary way’.

Tell us about where you find inspiration for your art and how you use art to express ideas on social and political issues.

It started with me being extremely disappointed with a lot going on in my country. Then I figured, every country has same issues, just with different names and profiles. This pushed me to create art to attack this abnormality- To listen, To speak, and To change a wrong socio-political ideology. I believe that with my visuals, the narratives I portray, and my actions, I can, in some way, change the world to see value as I see it- a conscious act to build worth from within.

What is the art scene in Nigeria like and what did you do to push beyond it at a young age to begin showing internationally?

The art scene in Nigeria is a growing one. The likes of ArtX, Omenka, Artyrama, Rele, and Retro Gallery are changing the narrative by showing upcoming amazing visual artists. But that’s just few out of the numerous galleries around the country. The scene is changing, and I believe it’s only a matter of time. For me, I’ve always seen myself exhibiting internationally... I’ve always seen myself in the likes of Christie’s and Sotheby’s, making global moves like Kehinde Wiley and Kerry James Marshall, birthing strong narratives like Ai Wei Wei, and still being as contemporary as Damien Hirst. I’ve always seen myself as more, so I went for it and it has taken me thus far.

Can you share a bit of what you will be exhibiting at Moniker art fair coming up in October?

A plethora of works that show black presence and value. Works made as of January to August, 2019 in Nigeria- a time when the country went down in value- both politically, financially, and economically... and holds the record of housing one of the highest cases of fraud in the world. A very strong time for me, as a Nigerian and as a Visual Artist.

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Women Working in the Arts: Alexis Yuen
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Create! Magazine is pleased to introduce you to Alexis Yuen of The Art Diplomat for the next installment of our ‘Women Working in the Arts’ series! Our Director, Alicia, was excited to connect with Alexis to learn more about her newly launched art advisory as well as which woman artist has had a major impact on her career.

She describes her business, The Art Diplomat, as follows:

“I connect brands and individuals with artists who do socially-engaged artworks. Because of my previous work at Christie's and Art Basel, I often get approached by corporations, hotels, properties, and individuals to buy or commission artists. However, instead of looking for big artists represented by galleries, I would direct them to emerging artists who are doing socially-engaged works. I speak with my clients about what values matter to them (e.g. climate change, migrant crisis, gender inequality) and I look for artists and walk them through the buying and commissioning process, sort of like a curator or project manager depending on the client. On the artist side, I travel extensively to meet with women artists and often coach them through their careers. So far, all the artists I've worked with are women of color like myself. Having worked in the commercial art world and been an activist artist, I see there's a huge gap between the two worlds. I hope to empower activist artists by bringing more capital, organization, and attention to the art x activism field.”

Alexis has been previously featured by Marie Claire Hong Kong and was recently profiled by Kno. For more information on The Art Diplomat, please visit her website or follow along on Instagram here.

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Choose one woman artist from history or who is working today and tell us about why she inspires you.

This is easy. Dorathea Lange’s Migrant Mother changed my career as an artist and now an art advisor working with socially-engaged artists. When I first started in art school, my focus was initially in fashion photography but I ended up switching to documentary photography. One of the reasons for my decision was seeing Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (1936), which humanized the cost of the Great Depression and gave a face to a suffering nation, in my photography history class in freshman year. I remember thinking how the photo was so beautiful, yet so incredibly sad. The photographed 32-year-old mother, Frances Owens Thompson, had wrinkles beyond her age, most probably from the sun she endured in the pea-pickers camp; her worried look and crouching body make the viewers feel the kind of stress and burden she must be experiencing raising three hungry children. And despite the sad subject, Lange managed to capture Thompson in a strikingly beautiful and respectful composition that draws you in and begs you to find out the story behind this woman. When I discovered how Lange’s report and photos from the encampment incentivized authorities to send 20,000 pounds of food, I was overwhelmed by the power of art in calling for actions in social change. I followed Lange’s footsteps and used my photography to capture migrants’ stories in Boston Chinatown and facilitated community conversations on the topic of belonging and identity in a gentrifying part of the city. Granted, with the proliferation of photography, the effects images have on us may not be as significant as in 1936, but I will always be inspired by how one powerful image got people to notice, talk about suffering, and take action.

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