I am a Russian-born and U.K.-based artist and womenswear designer. I started drawing a year ago when I moved to London to do the fashion course. Ever since, drawing has been a kind of a meditation to me. When I started, I would take a fine liner and draw numerous lines, just following my feelings and a current state of mind and body. Then, it naturally turned into my signature style, along with random watercolor blurs on photographs. I am inspired by vibes and energy exchanges I get throughout a day. If I like it, I translate it through doodling or acrylic ink, which I put on top of a picture that better resonates with a moment. What I really like about my work is tiny details, a contrast of colors, textures, shapes, and the somewhat tribal feeling that it gives. My works tell different stories and leave room for a viewer's interpretation. It's indirect, not obvious. I like it.
I'm 34 and living in Dawesville, Mandurah Western Australia. I'm a self-taught artist and failed art in high school. Actually, I think I relieved an "E" on the report card. Is that worst than an F? Who knows. Could have had something to do with me painting/drawing what I wanted, not what I was told. Not much has changed. For the first 10 years After leaving high school, I hardly painted or drew a thing. My confidence was low and I never finished anything I started. At around 27 I picked up my pencils and committed to finishing anything I started. I promised myself to finish anything I started even if I hated it. I'm so glad I did that because it taught me about " the ugly stage". I feel like everyone has that ugly stage in their work where it's not quite looking it's best and all the fear and doubt creeps in over if it will even work. Then you push through and of course it does. I never knew that. I gave up before even trying. Now things are different and I've over come that hurdle.
Then there was the next challenge. Style. It's taken me about 6 or 7 years to find "my style". I was always looking for a short cut and hoping I'd find it over night. But all the advice I received was, unfortunately, correct it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. I also get bored easily so I'm not sure if that helped or hindered.
My most recent work feels like the closest to "my style" I've ever got. I love patterns on patterns, muted, dirty colors and fabric. So they feature heavily in each work. The women in the painting represent myself I guess. I've always been content in my own space with my thoughts, I can go weeks pottering around the house without seeing another human. A lot of people have questioned if this is healthy for my mental health and shone a negative light on having so much alone time. So I wanted to celebrate it. It doesn't have to be a bad thing to want to spend long periods with just yourself. I find that I grow as a person in the stillness.
Dive into the quirky fantasy worlds of artist Andrea Wan, where two headed women read books to sloths and heads can explode, revealing little zebras inside. Wan usually uses ink on paper to build her imaginative scenes with strange characters. Even if you are not quite sure what is going on in her eerie, dreamlike works, you will find yourself staring and searching, examining each little detail the artist has put into the work. It is as if there is an unspoken narrative present in Wan’s illustrations that links them all together, leaving you wanting to see another character, another scene—more of Wan’s work in order to see what she will come up with next. She finds inspiration for her inventive characters in her own personal experiences as well as the deep depths of her subconscious.
On top of illustrating, Andrea Wan also creates her work in a much larger scale in murals. Her colourful, memorable characters can be found in murals on walls in cities like Vancouver, Rome, and Berlin. Originally from Hong Kong, Wan was raised in Vancouver and now lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Her work has been featured in a number of publications, and has also been commissioned by clients such as The New York Times and Nylon Magazine. Wan’s work as been shown in exhibitions all over the world, the most recent being at Kallenbach Gallery in Amsterdam.
Born and raised in Columbus, GA, I developed a love for art as far back as I can remember. I attended Auburn University and earned a Bachelor's degree in Art, and now live and work as a full-time painter in Charleston, SC. I am a follower of Jesus, and am so thankful to Him for providing a job that I love.
My paintings consist of mostly figurative and non-objective work. I am forever learning and trying new techniques, mediums and subjects. Inspired by light, movement, surprising color combinations, social interaction, and patterns, I try to collaborate these elements and form abstracted, pixilated compositions.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? Tell us a little bit about your background.
I knew I wanted to be an artist as soon as I reached the ninth grade, however, I did not ever consider that it was an actual possibility. I assumed I would have to get another art related job, like an art teacher, art therapist, or something of the sort.
I was always involved in classes outside of school because my mom observed my affinity for markers, paint, pencils, and paper. It wasn't until high school that my art teacher expressed immense confidence in my ability as an artist that it pushed me to hone in the skill as much as I could during my teen years. When it was time to choose a major in college, I chose studio art without hesitation at Auburn University.
What inspires your color palette? We love the soft tones you use and are curious about your process.
In college, I had no problem rendering whatever my subject was through light and shadow, but I noticed that I had zero concept of what it meant to have a harmonious color palette. After that realization, I started to mix colors together with the question in mind "would I wear these colors?" "Would I put these colors together in a room?" It helped me in my efforts to explore color by minimizing my palate altogether to two colors + black and white. From there, I slowly introduced one more color at a time. My figure studies are the best example of that color mixing approach.
Are you a full-time artist? What are some challenges as well as highlights of doing creative work full time?
I have been a full-time artist since 2011. At first, it was a challenge to force myself to get to work at a decent hour and avoid procrastination. Also, It has been an ever-present challenge to know when to "turn it off". While working underneath someone, most people can leave work at the office, but I think it's safe to say with any self-employed person that there's always more to be done, therefore it's harder to relax. Even the day after I release a new series, it's only a matter of minutes before my mind starts racing about what to create next. Some highlights: One of my top five feelings on this earth is being able to step back and be proud of something I have created. If that feeling is mutual with my audience, it is sublime! It is also such an exciting job to be able to sit down with my sister/studio manager and talk about the endless plans and collaborations for the future. Being apart creative growth is such a gift!
What would you say your artwork is about?
Visually speaking, my artwork is about combining abstraction, Impressionism, and realism all in one. It's about light and shadow, movement, surprising color combinations, patterns, and layers. Conceptually, I am simply trying to create beauty. I want a viewer from any walk of life to see my work and be uplifted by a simple image portrayed with a little bit of magic.
What is the best advice you received in terms of pursuing your passion, even though it's risky?
While pursuing this career, my Spiritual life played a large role. I believed that if God would lead me down this path, the doors would be open. If not, I could take the hint and change directions- and I was fine with that option. I also looked to artists that I respected for their feedback. It was important to me to be encouraged by people who thrived in the same field. If I didn't ever receive that affirmation from my artistic peers, I would have pursued something else. I had to be practical about it and consider alternatives because nothing about the "starving artist" concept was appealing to me.
What do you love to do when you are not painting?
I love to spend time with my husband, read, play tennis, and enjoy the endless delicious food in Charleston!
Erin McGean graduated with a BFA in painting and drawing. She has been teaching and practicing Fine Art for over 20 years. Although trained in painting Erin has been exploring the medium of digital and analog collage for the last several years. She currently resides in Ontario Canada, raising her family, teaching high school Visual Arts and practicing her craft.
In Elizabeth’s found image and gouache works she explores relationships, between people, between colors, and the play between both. She searches vintage magazines to find figures that can express the colorful world she imagines. They are transformed to exude energy and strength through the movement and compositions of her painted, layered, colorful shapes. Each piece encapsulates her emotions like a diary of her anxieties, desires, and pleasures and she exposes them to the viewer.
Elizabeth Amento was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She returned to the East Coast to attend Boston College for Studio Art and Psychology, Brandeis University for a Post-Baccalaureate in Studio Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University for her Masters in Fine Arts. Elizabeth’s work has been exhibited in Mighty Tieton Gallery, Washington, Baton Rouge Gallery, Louisiana, Arena 1 Gallery, California, Modified Arts, Arizona, Melvin Gallery, Florida, Boston Young Contemporaries, Massachusetts, among others. Her work is featured in Index Book’s Cut out for Collage.
Berlin based artist Annique Delphine uses her artwork as a tool to challenge the way society thinks about female identity and sexuality. Working in sculpture, photography, and installations, she creates confrontational and thought-provoking work that is powerfully feminine while embodying the strength in women. The breast can be found in much of her work, reclaiming the woman’s body, reversing its current role as commodity. We spoke to Delphine about her inspiration as an artist, her compelling body of work, and the important message behind each piece.
What is your artistic background? Tell me about your creative process.
I studied photography at Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin and my initial goal was to be a fashion photographer and photojournalist. I worked as a music photographer for many years before realizing that all I really wanted to do was make my own art. For the past 6 years I have been exclusively creating fine art photography, experimental short films, installations, performances, and whatever other medium I can use to express myself. I work intuitively, often trying out new things and new practices without much of a plan. It’s usually try and fail and try and fail until I get it right. I have pictures in my head that I try to visualize. They are always somehow channeling what I’m currently feeling or struggling with.
What inspired you to create a body of work focusing on female body politics and sexuality? What is your own experience in dealing with this?
Since everything I create reflects my own experiences and my point of view as a woman, my art has naturally taken on women’s issues.
My art is therapeutic to me. I’m trying to push back on the boundaries I still feel as a female artist. It’s a way to point a mirror to society so we can have a look at our status quo and imagine what the future might look like if we don’t intervene. I try to explore feminist issues in a playful way, but behind the cute little boobs in pastel colors drenched in ice cream, there is the thought of how disgusted I am with the ways in which women’s bodies are regarded as sexual play things/properties, commodities, and I am sometimes disgusted with how I objectify myself even. Internalized misogyny is also a big driving force of my work.
How did you begin using the breast in your sculptural work?
I started with self-portraits, which were usually nude. The reactions were often polarizing. Some people (including one of my teachers in photography school) said the pictures were vulgar. They were never sexual though. They were just pictures of a woman (myself) without any or very few clothes on. That got me thinking: why is it so accepted for male artists to display the naked female body through painting, sculpture, photography, etc. but when a woman displays herself that way it’s vain, vulgar and unacceptable?
Men can marvel at a woman’s beauty but women shall never do it themselves. We are held somewhere between “make yourself as attractive as possible” and “don’t ever believe in your own attractiveness.” It’s maddening. That conflict is what got me started as a feminist artists and then a few years ago I came across these breast-shaped stress balls in a novelty store. I bought a couple of boxes and started photographing them, making sculptures out of them, putting them in odd contexts. Then I thought, well what if I take them outside and confront people with them? So I started my project Girl Disruptive where I do guerrilla installations of breasts and flowers in public places.
Tell me about your installation work. What do you hope will be gained through confronting viewers with an isolated part of the female body, one that is often both censored and exploited through the media?
I like to poke people, make them a bit uncomfortable by warping their reality so they might question some of the norms society has established for us. For instance, it’s completely normal to view breasts as an object. When we see advertising for fashion, beauty products, for beer, cars… whatever, we see a pair of breasts and, of course we know that they are a part of a woman’s body, but we have gotten so used to viewing them as ‘things.’ They are like a stand in symbol for sex. Female sexuality is used to drive capitalism, but it’s a very limited sexuality; one that caters to the straight male gaze. It has become ingrained in us that breasts and therefore female nipples are linked to sex. So a naked woman’s body is always associated with that even when it’s not displayed in a sexual context.
I try to drive that point further by adding breasts into everyday pictures and expressing the way I experience objectification in a literal sense; breasts as deserts, breasts as alien spaceships, breasts as heads to replace a human mind, a woman’s personality and her agenda.
A chair made out of breasts (referring to one of my sculptures) is funny and cute, but it also makes viewers uneasy because it questions it’s own purpose. May you sit on a chair made out of female body parts? How does that reflect the way women are treated? What are the different reasons someone might feel uncomfortable siting on a chair like that? What are the different reasons someone might have no hesitation sitting on this chair?
Your series Objecitfy Me sheds light on important issues regarding women’s body as a commodity. Women are constantly reminded through everyday images that their body is an object; we as women are made to feel that our body doesn’t belong to us. How does this series work to reclaim the female body for women?
My work attempts to explain to people how we constantly feel like our bodies don’t belong to us. That we don’t understand how on one hand our bodies are a commodity and on the other hand it’s forbidden or harshly judged when women take charge of that commodity. Women are always judged for their bodies, for they sexuality and for any attempt at autonomy. By bringing these issues to light and starting dialogue with people—people who are unaware—I hope I can help us reclaim power. I am hoping to heal some of the wounds misogyny has inflicted upon us.
In your work titled “Alien Nature,” the subject sports a large, single breast in place of her head. Do you feel that women’s bodies are seen as ‘the other’ and are often treated as such through regulation and control?
Yes that is exactly how I feel. It is as if everything to do with womanhood or femininity is alien to people and they feel threatened by it. My works Flying Object (Beverly Hills, CA) and Flying Object (Mohave Desert, CA) reflect this as well. I find it so absurd how a female nipple alone can be such a threatening thing. It goes back to female sexuality being viewed as something shameful, something that should be controlled.
Earlier you mentioned your series Girl Disruptive. Can you tell me more about this series and the real life stories behind it?
Girl Disruptive is a photography and installation project where I seek out public places which are either frequented by a lot of people on a daily basis, or they are somehow connected to women’s struggles or a specific woman. I make these impromptu arrangements of flower petals and breasts. I photograph them and then I leave the scene and let people do with it whatever they want. I will post a picture of it to my social media account and then talk about how the installation is connected to gender-based violence or rape culture or misogyny in general.
For instance, last year in LA I did one at the exact location where Elizabeth Short’s body was found. Elizabeth Short is better know as the “Black Dahlia” and was most likely raped and tortured before she was murdered. Her body was found mutilated and discarded on a road. In the aftermath, many untrue stories about her were spread by the media including accounts on how she used to work as a prostitute. Regardless of if it was true or not, this was linked to her murder as if prostitution somehow justified the attack on her.
I did one recently in 3 different spots in Berlin that were all historically linked to one woman: Hedwig Porschütz. This was a woman who during World War II risked her own life many times over to save others from deportation by the Nazis. She hid people in her apartment for years, she helped smuggle food into concentration camps and was sent to prison for black market purchases of food. In her later life, she was very poor and applied for government assistance through a silent hero fund. This fund was started specifically for people like her; people who were prosecuted by fascist Germany for helping Jews. She was denied any financial assistance on the grounds of being a former prostitute. Her courage and selflessness were negated by what the 1960s government viewed as a “life of low morality.” You would think things have changed by now, but it’s 2017 and slut-shaming is still a tool used to dehumanize women and justify violence and hate towards them. I use my installations to raise awareness of these injustices.
Having such an unapologetically strong female voice as an artist, what female artist inspires you the most?
I am hugely inspired by Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin. They made me want to become an artist because they were the first women artists I was exposed to who were questioning gender roles and the way women artists are expected to express themselves.
Mark Liam Smith (b. 1973, Middlesbrough, England) developed an interest in art at an early age and spent much of his childhood drawing obsessively. After completing three bachelor degrees—Fine Arts (Painting), Science (Physiology), and Arts (Linguistics)—at the University of Saskatchewan, he moved to Paris to continue studying art in some of the world’s greatest museums. After some time, he returned to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistics at McGill University.
Since moving to Toronto in early 2015, Mark has had several exhibitions, notably in Toronto, London, New York, and at the SCOPE Basel art fair in Switzerland. He has been granted the Emerging Artist Award by the Federation of Canadian Artists and featured by Hi-Fructose, Booooooom, and Bizarre Beyond Belief Magazine, among others.
Mark is represented by Galerie Youn (Montreal), Rouge Gallery (Saskatoon), and 19 Karen Contemporary (Gold Coast, Australia).
Mark currently lives and works in Toronto.
This series of paintings, A Day at the Met, examines the subjectivity of perception in art. When we view art, we filter it through our education, experiences, and emotions to derive meaning. An artist's intended meaning will thus have as many nuanced interpretations as there are viewers. This body of work is a meta-statement on the relationship between the artist, the art, and the viewer.
This series was inspired by my observations of people at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I wondered what these people brought to the art they were observing; specifically, how each interpretation was as unique as the viewer. In my paintings, I show what I imagine to be each viewer’s interpretation of the art they are observing by incorporating surreal elements and highly saturated color.
Because I am color-blind, I long had to rely on my knowledge of color-mixing formulas to recreate skin tones and other local colors. Later in my practice, I realized that local colors served only to restrict my expression. By viewing my color-blindness as a strength rather than as a weakness, I began embracing the use of non-local colors to develop my work. I use non-local colors to exaggerate the idea of subjectivity.
A graduate of the Art Center College of Design, Natalia Fabia began showing her art in group exhibitions around Los Angeles in the early 2000’s, establishing herself as a contender in the figurative painting arena. Using her surroundings and life as a rich garden of inspirations, Fabia began making colorful, sultry scenes filled with people, lush environments, ornate fashion, light, interiors, glamour, graffiti, landscapes, punk rock music and an unapologetic sexiness entirely her own.
Fabia finds a genuine comfort and truth in the realness and imperfections within her subjects. She glorifies the individuality and unique aspects of her human figures. Hers is a colorful world celebrating the vibrant diversity and beauty of the life she lives and that exists around her. Painting, she feels, exists to allow artists to create any world they want – make it, and make it yours. Infused with Fabia’s signature style, vividly saturated candy color palettes and a dazzling spectrum of light, her work is a combination of fantasy narratives and actual moments captured from the artist’s life.
Influenced by artists the likes of Henri Toulouse Lautrec, John William Waterhouse, John Singer Sargent, Rebecca Campbell, Lisa Yuskavage etc., plus fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Fabia’s painterly studies in oil are marked by bold, determined strokes that offer depth and clarity. Having studied with many contemporary masters, her knowledge and understanding of the color palette underscore her ability to bring life and light to canvas.
Fabia's work has been featured in numerous galleries including Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York, The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco, Q Art Salon in Santa Ana, and M Modern in Palm Springs. Museum exhibits include Bristol Museum of Art, MXW Masterworks group exhibition at Long Beach Museum of Art and Lancaster Museum of Art.
She has been featured in Juxtapoz, New York Arts magazine, Hi Fructose, Art Ltd., and Angeleno Magazine. Fabia was featured in LA Weekly’s 2010 People Issue as one of “LA’s 100” most fascinating people. Born in 1983, Natalia Fabia is of Polish descent and was raised in Southern California, where she graduated class of 2006 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Fabia has had multiple solo shows and is represented by Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. Fabia currently works from her studio in Costa Mesa, CA.
When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
Gosh. I think since I was very young.
Well, I honestly cannot remember a day that art was not in my life. I was always around it because my parents were both artists. But I do remember one day when I was about three. I went to my dad and asked him to draw me a girl and I watched his every move. I was always drawing and attempting to paint, always creating. I remember laying out all of my drawings on our living room floor when I was a kid when my parents’ friends would come over. I would try to sell them my drawings. They were nice and came over to look at my drawings, but never bought any! Thanks a lot!
After high school I attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I knew that was all I wanted to do. For me there was no other option. That may sound naive, but it felt right not to overthink it, and it launched me into my work.
What do you love most about painting?
The entire process. Watching something appear from pushing paint globs around and slowly a whole world emerges. I love converting a developing idea to a form.
I also love painting from life and the entire experience of working with the model and having their personality come through in the piece.
Tell us about the figures in your work. What would you say your paintings are about?
Most of the figures in my world are my close friends or people I know. They are all strong women, composed of mothers, other artists or yogis.
The rewards of painting my friends and the female form is that we have so much fun! We talk, listen to music, have wine, and have great conversation. I really get to know someone very intimately when I paint them.
In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than the female form. I love skin, curves, and the soft and diverse anatomy. Women are very powerful.
My paintings have different meanings, depending on the theme of the show and the individual piece. In my last solo exhibition, I explored what’s known as the seven year life cycles, and the emotions experienced in those time frames. I explore our shared connection to ourselves and the universe through cosmic stardust. This concept is incorporated into my work with rainbow sparkles, splatters, and expressive marks. My previous work focused on strong women and that was still a big part of my last show, but I went deeper than I have before, addressing meditation, spirituality, oneness, and the cosmos.
What are your hobbies when you are not in the studio?
Yoga! I am a crazy yogi.
It is a big part of my life and if I even miss a day or two of it, I start to freak out. I have been practicing for about 12 years now, and it has helped my painting and every single aspect of my life. It is very grounding and meditative. It gives me energy and helps me stay balanced and manage stress.
What is something you are very proud of in your career so far?
All of my solo shows and the feeling of creating complete bodies of work. Looking back at them , sometimes I can’t believe how they evolved from start to finish. I never know what the final paintings will look like. My original idea gets formed through research, photo shoots for reference, and getting into the zone of painting for hours on end. It is fun and exciting and a ton of work, but well worth it.
I also enjoy teaching and showing my daughter the value of a strong work ethic, and allowing her to play and create freely in my studio.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice to my younger self would be to plan, value, and prioritize studio time. Time is precious and painting requires consecutive hours to really escape, and get into that magic mode where time does not exist. I would tell my younger self to always experiment and push boundaries. I did that a bit but I don't feel like I did it enough. I'd definitely say paint for yourself not for others, and know yourself. Paint and draw from life each week—as much as possible!
I would say to always keep learning, take criticism, take praise, learn a little about your own work and business, and remember why you love creating art!