Posts tagged interview
Women Working in the Arts: Alana Voldman
Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

For our first-ever women’s issue (available for purchase here) I profiled four young and entrepreneurial women working in the arts to highlight those not only creating work, but also those who are supporting artists as curators, gallerists, educators, writers, and more! I’m keeping this series going on our blog with this mini-interview with art consultant Alana Voldman.

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London

Alana Voldman is an independent art consultant currently based in Antwerp, Belgium. Originally from southern California, she first relocated to Chicago to study art history at DePaul University, after which she began working with several Asian art galleries in the city. She eventually relocated to London to pursue a Master's Degree in Art Business at Sotheby's Institute of Art, with an emphasis on 20th-century art and modern design. In 2017, she relocated to Antwerp, first working as a curatorial assistant at the MoMu Fashion Museum, and now as a freelance advisory consultant and art writer for several companies and institutions. 

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

I have always been drawn to German-born artist Anni Albers, both for her amazing textile works and her personal story. Forced into weaving, the only workshop available to women during the early years of her art education at the Bauhaus school, she was able to transcend the medium from craft to a recognized and functional art form. In line with the Bauhaus approach to form meeting function, Albers at first explored the limitations of her materials, making objects that not only looked nice but also served a purpose.  Eventually, she became known for her distinct use of color, and 'pictorial weavings', which were essentially modernist artworks made through the process of weaving. What I really admire is her sense of persistence - she mastered something despite it not being her first choice - during a war and in a male-dominated industry no less. It is very easy to be discouraged in the art industry, especially because it can feel quite oversaturated and as if (money-making) opportunities are rare. I often remind myself of people like Albers who had to persevere under even harsher limitations.

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London . Photo is by Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

Image courtesy of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London . Photo is by Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art

Interview: Jen Mann

Jen Mann b. 1987

Toronto, ON Canada

Lives and works in Toronto.

Graduated OCAD -  BFA (2009)

"In the society of ‘me’, where we document ourselves like celebrities and share our lives online for everyone, the self is a prevalent, and important topic to our generation. Our identities are curated like our online profiles to reflect only the parts of ourselves we choose to keep alive. Who am I? Who are you? What does my life mean? Why am I alive? Mann's work aims to address these very illusive questions, and explore, but not necessarily answer all of them.”

www.jenmann.com

Tell us a little bit about your story. When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

I've always had an interest in people and relationships. That interest found its way into my work in the form of portraiture on many occasions, though people are not in all of my work. I think it's somewhere a lot of artists start, with figurative works, and over time institutions try to squash that out of us, and so we move away from it... I wasn't going to move away from something until I had exhausted it, and until I decided I was ready, not because someone else told me to. 

Why do you feel that painting is still so relevant in today's fast-evolving art world?

Relevance is funny. I'm not sure what is relevant really. I just make what I make and hope that it connects somewhere, with someone. If paintings have maintained their relevance, it is probably because paintings are very easily turned into commodities, and people can easily envision them within their own spaces and collections. Paintings are durable, iconic, and have a long history and authority to them. 

What are some of your favorite ways to unwind and recharge outside of the studio?

My studio is a part of my living space, so I never truly leave. Taking my dog to the park, watching movies, reading, writing, cooking... those are the main ones, other than obvious other carnal pleasures. 

What is your new work about? What was on your mind when creating it?

My new work is a look at self, identity, and how we create it and maintain it in today's society. 

How do you approach marketing your art? Do you enjoy social media and if so, how has it influenced your career up to this point?

Social media hugely impacts my art. Half of my work is about the effects of social media on the way we understand ourselves and the people in our lives.

What would you say are some challenges that you overcame in your journey as a painter? 

I'm not sure we are ever done overcoming hurdles. Even the ones we think we have jumped in the past will come back into view on our next lap around the hamster wheel of life. 

Interview: Danielle Krysa
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Danielle Krysa has a BFA in Visual Arts, and a post-grad in graphic design. She began her fine art career as a painter, but has found a home for herself in mixed media collage. Danielle is drawn to strong, simple compositions – add to that her love of hunting for vintage images in every thrift shop she wanders into, and voila, the painter becomes a collage artist. (Danielle is the writer behind the contemporary art site, The Jealous Curator. She is also the author of Creative Block, Collage, and Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk – all of which are published by Chronicle Books.) www.thejealouscurator.com

How has your experience running The Jealous Curator impacted your personal art practice?

Running The Jealous Curator exposes me to a lot of art. A LOT. Probably the two most important things that have made a difference to my own work would be the following:

1. I’ve learned that there’s a gigantic range of art in the world, and there is a place for everyone. Your work won’t be a fit for every gallery or every buyer, but there is a place for what you create – you just have to find it.

2. Before TJC I felt quite lost when it came to my own work. I was all over the place. Probably within in the first year of writing daily posts I started seeing a pattern in the work I was really attracted to – negative space, vibrant colors, a touch of humor – I realized that this is where I wanted my own work to go, and I haven’t looked back!

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We love the community you created through your blog. How do you balance your time between family life and your creative career?

I love the combination actually – to be organizing art shows or interviewing artists for the podcast one minute, and baking cookies with my son the next. However, I did really struggle with this a few years back – trying to do everything perfectly, all the time. Not very realistic! About 3 years ago, I made a conscious choice to start breaking my days into very clear chunks. If I had scheduled a time to work on my book from 9am - 1pm then that’s the only thing I was doing during that time. I wouldn’t feel guilty about all of the other things I could be doing because this was “book time.” When I’m in the studio making art, I don’t worry about the blog or podcast, etc. because these few hours are “studio time.” The same goes for “family time” – and I have the most amazing men in my life (my husband Greg and son Charlie), so it’s very easy to set chunks of time aside to hang out with them!

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What advice would you give artists and creatives looking to leave their day jobs?

Have a clear plan. That’s not very romantic, but you’ll sleep better at night! I have just made the jump from full-time graphic designer to full-time Jealous Curator. It’s scary, but I also made sure to pad my bank account so that I have a little cushion for the first six months. It’s really nice not to have a ton of financial pressure on your creative career the second you make the jump. Have projects, relationships, your online shop, etc. set up before you make the leap. That might mean lots of late nights when you get home from your day job, but again it will allow you to hit the ground running. Ok, enough practical talk, let’s get to the romantic stuff! A lot of people are terrified to make their dreams a reality for all sorts of reasons (money, self-doubt, both) but life is short, and if this is the life you want then you have to go get it.

PS. Deciding to make this change now doesn’t mean it has to be FOREVER. Personally, I’m going to give this whole “Jealous Curator” thing my very best shot, but if for whatever reason it doesn’t work, I can always get another design job… or become a barista.

We are inspired by your background and know that lot of artists struggle with similar obstacles when it comes to their “inner critic”. What advice would you give those looking to get back into the studio and overcome the fear?

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I know this fear well, and it can be absolutely crippling. The way I got back into the studio, and managed to nudge by my annoying “inner critic”, was with small baby steps. I did quick projects on scrap paper, because I have a tendency to get a little too “precious” about whatever I’m making. Inner critics LOVE it when you get too precious about things. A perfect white canvas, a fresh sketchbook – terrifying. You have to allow yourself to play, experiment, make messes, throw things away, start again, make more messes and repeat. It’s the only way to sneak past that jerk. The first book I wrote is called Creative Block. I interviewed 50 working artists about how they deal with blocks, doubts, and inner critics. I also asked each of them to give a quick “unblocking project”, and boy do they work! I would highly recommend trying a few of them. They’ll get you past blocks, and as a lovely side benefit, they’ll get your inner critic to shut up for awhile.

What has been your biggest breakthrough in terms of making art?

Oh, there’s been quite a few. The first one being ACTUALLY making art! I used to keep ideas in my head forever. They had to be perfect before I put them to paper or canvas – and therefore those poor little trapped ideas never made it to paper or canvas. The other big breakthrough for me was embracing humor. When I did my BFA I was criticized for using humor – it wouldn’t be taken seriously if it wasn’t serious – so I squashed that part of my work. In December 2015, I interviewed LA based artist Wayne White, and that changed everything. His work is really blunt and hilarious, and he just puts it out there whether it gets criticized or not. A few days after that interview, I just said “screw it,” and finally allowed myself just to be me. What a giant relief – and I’ve never had more fun in the studio. Ever.

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What inspires you? How do you come up with your collages?

I love narratives and tend to make stories out of just about anything. I never cut images out with an intended purpose, I just cut. I have a giant bowl of people on my studio table just waiting to be thrown into one of my weird little stories. I spread out several pieces of paper (and now panels occasionally) and start making thick, colorful brushstrokes. Once I have those, I dig through the bowl looking for just the right person to pair with each paint stroke. The moment there’s a match, the title pops into my head – I know I’ve got something if I actually laugh out loud in my studio. (Crazy art lady, alone, laughing hysterically in her studio. Yeah.)

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

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Being part of the coolest club in the world! Artists just understand other artists, and I could spend all day every day talking to creative people – sharing war stories, working out challenges, celebrating victories. Oh, and the other thing I love about being an artist – the high you get when everything is flowing. Ah, it’s like magic. What are you currently working on in your studio?

I’m still continuing with my paint/found image collages. At the moment I don’t see an end in sight! Lately, I’ve been experimenting with using more paint and working on wood panels instead of paper. I used to be terrified to experiment (I have no idea why), but now I actually find myself looking forward to it. I guess miracles do happen!

Interview: Ashley Longshore
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Ashley Longshore is a Louisiana-based painter, gallery owner and entrepreneur. She is the owner of the Longshore Studio Gallery, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Longshore's art focuses on pop culture, Hollywood glamour, and American consumerism and has been compared to the artwork of Andy Warhol. She has been recognized as a "modern Andrea Warhol" by the New York Post, and was on Brit + Co’s list of "16 Female Artists You Should Know."www.ashleylongshore.com

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Briefly describe your artistic background. When did you know you wanted to become a painter?

Honestly, I was such a wild, dramatic, hyper-energetic child. My mother had me in every extracurricular activity you can imagine, except for painting because I don't think she thought I could be still enough to do it. So, funny enough, when I was 18 years old I went and got a paint set and a drum kit. I sat down and immersed myself in painting and drumming. I have to tell you, seven hours went by before I even knew it. It was very meditative.

I guess the answer is that I was born an artist and it just took me two decades of my life to realize that this was the craft I wanted to pursue. And now I love it, and it is my most favorite thing I do. My time on my easel is sacred.

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What was your early work like? How is it similar and/or different than what you are doing now?

Right out of the gate, my work was very colorful, figurative. Of course, you are talking about a difference between an 18-year-old girl and a 40-year-old woman. Now I have a much better definition of who I am, of where I stand in society, the country that I live in. I am much better traveled. I have a much better hold on what I am saying with my artwork than I did in the beginning.

But if you go back to the start, my work was still very colorful and bold. My art is not what you get to match the throw pillows on your sofa. I have collectors who buy my art, and then they build a whole damn house around it!

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When would you say you experienced a breakthrough in your art career? What was that like?

I knew from a very young age that I did not want to work with galleries and did not want to go the traditional route with my career. I had so many galleries tell me I was not marketable. At this time the internet was coming about, and all the sudden we had social media.

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Very early in my career, I was using Mailchimp and Constant Contact. I would have art shows in people's houses, people who were friends of my family. I would start to build up my email list. I knew if I began to build my foundation this way that I could make a lot more noise. I think it's been the same amount of hard work and not giving up as it has been opportunities coming in my direction because I wanted them. I've gone out seeking them. I've been this hunter out in the art world trying to find my way in an industry that is quite fickle.

When I first got the opportunity for Anthropologie to use my artwork as a collaboration, that was very exciting for me, and I knew these opportunities would only validate the current clients I had. Meaning that if somebody had bought a painting from me that cost $150, how excited would they be to know I was chosen by the brand for this collaboration? I've worked every day in my career making sure that these people who are spending their hard-earned money feel really good about the investment they made and about living in their homes with my thoughts painted on their walls. It's a very intimate thing.

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We are inspired by your positivity and incredible sense of humor. How do you handle bad days and motivate yourself?

We all have bad days. I have been moving very quickly lately and had a lot of opportunities, and an artist gets tired! When you have all of this inertia built up, you just have to find a way to motivate yourself. I find now, in this world of social media, that sometimes I post things and am talking to myself. I'm giving myself a fire-up. To see people's reaction, it gets me even more motivated to get my ass out there and make something happen!

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The other thing is, I travel all over the world. There isn't another country in the world where a female artist has as much opportunity as I do in the United States of America. It would be very much of injustice to sit around crying, scratching a broke ass, being upset when there is so much to do and so little time to do it in. It ain't hard for me to get motivated. There is too much for me to be positive about, so I have to pick my ass up and work! Work changes everything. Action solves a lot of issues. You were featured in prominent publications such as Forbes, Elle Decor, and InStyle. In your opinion what initially got you noticed by these brands? How has this experience changed your perspective or approach?

I think that being true to myself and unique, using every opportunity I had and not going the traditional route got me noticed by these brands. Also, what you have to know is that I live in New Orleans, which is a great city where I feel very comfortable being creative. The past fifteen years, I have been marketing myself throughout the entire world. I knew I didn't want to live in New York City, but I knew I could get there, get noticed, hustle my way around and get people talking. I could do it by doing things my way.

Now I have a book coming out in February with Judith Regan, who is such a powerhouse, a New York staple. This woman made Howard Stern, and she sued Rupert Murdock and won.

This is a time when women in business are helping each other out, and it's not just the good old boys club anymore. All this stems from having an opportunity and being an entrepreneur. Knowing that if I can create a brand and make a name for myself, there is no reason why I should ever be the starving artist. I should be able to make enough money to create any idea I ever think of. Along with that, I am very gracious and very joyous and maybe being Southern makes me stand out when I get into bigger cities. I am not the jaded, bitchy American girl. I used to price shop for tortilla chips and now I am buying Chanel. It's an exciting time to be in business.

If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

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People ask me this a lot. When I look back on my career, there is no way I could work harder than I have worked. There is no way I could have gone after more opportunities that I have gone after. Ever. Maybe, I would tell myself to be less worried. But I also feel that the fear of missing out on opportunities is very motivating and propelling. My best advice to myself would be to listen to my gut. The same way I look at a painting and know that it is finished because I know that gut feeling is the same way I know if a business deal is going to be ok. It's the same way I know if a client is a buyer or not. It's the same way I know between right and wrong, and it's this little voice inside of me, and you have to make sure you keep your ears open to that intuition. That feeling you have will make sure to lead you the right way not only in your art but also in your business. Do you believe our current world is a better place for artists than it once was? If so, explain.

Huh! Abso-fucking-lutely and I'll tell you why. This is going to be my greatest legacy, to hopefully encourage artists to self-represent and to use all of this amazing technology to keep 100% of their profit margin, to know who their clients are, to understand the intimate relationship between the buyer and artist. When someone pays money to live with your thoughts, that's a very intoxicating, exciting, intimate relationship.

I don't believe in having a gallerist that is going to rob me not only 50% of my money but also in most situations I would never know who my collector was. I want artists to use this incredible technology in this age of images. It is the best, most powerful time to be an artist. Also, social media makes the world a tiny place. Someone in Australia could be loving my work the same as someone who lives two blocks from my studio. It is remarkable. There is no other time in history when artists had these opportunities to get their images out there the way we do now. What are you most proud of in your art career so far?

That would have to be the countless e-mails and messages I'm getting from other artists who are inspired to put themselves out there and be brave enough to go for it, put their images on social media, and try to make it full time as an artist. It's a scary thing to be brave enough to do that. For anyone to tell me that I inspired them to do that, is such an honor. For all the artists that I mentor, the artists that I collect, for all the energy that's coming and going in the universe, I am most grateful for that more than anything in the world.

All images courtesy of Ashley Longshore

Interview: Hannah Stouffer
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Hannah Stouffer (b 1981) is an American art director and visual artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA. Born and raised in Aspen, CO, Stouffer relocated to CA in 1999. With over 15 years experience in fine art and commercial illustration, design, writing, publishing, and curatorial production, Stouffer has proven to be a powerhouse in creative visual media. She is identified as both an art director and visual artist, having maintained a strong presence in both fields, commercially and with her own fine art. Having produced and published 3 contemporary art books, Stouffer is a true tastemaker of visual aesthetics. She is currently a contributing writer for VICE's Creators Project, while also maintaining her own inspiration source, Lust-After.

In 2015, Stouffer brought her creative vision and expertise to H+ Creative, as the founder of the experiential services agency filling the role of the company's art director. With H+, Stouffer aimed to create experiences centered on client connectivity through visual production, art direction, consultation, and curation. With abilities are as diverse as the clients she serves, H+ thrives on projects that expand her own conceptual process.

From 2011-2014 Stouffer contributed as the editor for leading art publication Juxtapoz Magazine. As a content creator for nearly four years, Stouffer diligently informed the public through print and media platforms, generating eight online posts per day, and one print feature per month. During this time she produced and curated book titles Juxtapoz Psychedelic and Juxtapoz New Contemporary, in addition to producing the monumental Psychedelic Book Release Exhibition at The Well in Los Angeles, CA.

Before 2011, Stouffer's career as a commercial and fine art illustrator allowed her work to be commissioned by many high profile clients. Under Jen Vaughn Artist Agency, projects include work for AMEX, Dell, Microsoft, Nike, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal China allowing her creative hand to lead massive campaigns, both nationwide and abroad. Stouffer has been commissioned by Christian Dior, at Art Basel Miami, POW! WOW! Hawaii, KINFOLK in Brooklyn and Pangea Seed in Isla Mujeres, Mexico for large scale site-specific work as well.

With her initial exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, Stouffer has been showing her work in galleries and museums worldwide since her introduction to visual media. Exhibitions include work at the Japanese American National Museum and The Dallas Museum of Art with solo shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Denver and New York. Stouffer has been present as a juror for the Art Directors Club of Houston and an ambassador of the arts in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel with social startup, Kinetis (to name a few).

Tell us briefly about your journey as an artist.

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To be honest, it's all I've ever known and was encouraged to do from a very young age. I've drifted and evolved from a variety of mediums, outputs, and projects and worked as a fine and commercial artist, illustrator, art director, curator and art writer. I spent four years as the illustration and erotica editor at Juxtapoz Magazine and am currently a contributing writer for Vice's Creators Projects. I recently produced my third visual art book (The New Age of Ceramics) and launched a visual agency this year, H+ Creative, representing a roster of top-tier international talents. That's about it. I maintain my own art practice and am infinitely curious. It's been a good ride thus far. What inspired you to start H+ Creative?

After a good long run as a commercial illustrator, the next viable step seemed to be to extend my experience in the industry to assist other artists in a similar field. While the landscape of agency and industry work has shifted to more of a digital platform, I'm currently working with and representing artists that have a basis in both their own fine artwork and also a drive for doing projects commercially. I've always had an infatuation for both the visual arts and the entrepreneurial side of the business, and this allows for both.

How does being an art director and consultant inspire your studio practice?

It's really just a further extension of my aesthetic vision and ways in which I can carry my knowledge on. It's all wrapped up into one nice big, illuminated, holographic, paint covered package. It's all so intertwined at this point.

Name few artists or creatives that have influenced your work.

I wouldn't even know where to begin, but the start of my career was really fueled by Deanne Cheuk, Si Scott, Andy Warhol and my father, Marty Stouffer.

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What's a typical day like for you?

Well, I'm currently drinking tea and typing away on the computer... I'll probably do this for a little while then take my dog for a run in the park. I'll make it to the studio and try to wrap my head around a zillion things that all seem to be floating in my mental peripheral. I'll make a mess, get distracted, make some progress and get outside again for the sunset. I gave up on stress a long time ago, and now I just do what I want.

www.hpluscreative.comwww.hannahstouffer.com