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Studio Sunday: Molly Mansfield

This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of artist Molly Mansfield. We’re so excited to be bringing you a closer look at her paintings and best tips for maintaining a creative practice. Read her interview below and then check out her two beautiful and affordable pieces that are currently available online with PxP Contemporary!

Bio

I live in small town Texas with my husband and two little boys. Working with watercolor, gouache, and oil paints, I use handmade pigments that are mined from the earth's minerals.

My childhood days were spent playing amongst the leaves in the nursery owned by my parents and running barefooted and wild on my grandfather's property. Nature and particularly plants have played an important role in helping me to cope with anxiety. Now as a mother, thinking about my children, I value its role even more. When encountering nature, so many feelings are elicited. There is the excitement of spotting a rare bird, the wonder of a spiders web, an overwhelming sense of peace when standing at the water's edge, and even fear when met face to face with a coyote. Nowhere than in nature are the senses so stimulated.

The fury of our fast-paced, productivity driven, consumer culture is often overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. I regularly feel the struggle to counter these pressures in my life and work.

Statement

My paintings are impressions of experiences. Abstractions of a memory seeking to speak to the benefits of interacting with the natural world. Nature beckons us to take time out of our busy schedules to pause and take in the beauty. I want my paintings to reflect that sentiment. My process is measured and intentional. There is a lot of looking and soaking in the experience. Each brush stroke is carefully placed to describe the feeling that I am trying to create. My hope is that when you look at my artwork you are compelled to slow down, maybe take a deep breath, enjoy something beautiful, and engage with the present moment.

When did you first become interested in art and what drew you to painting?

Like most young children I was always making and inventing things. My mom was always coming up with some new creative project for me to work on from bead making to sewing and knitting to designing container gardens. I loved the opportunity to explore and certainly benefitted from being able to look at art making through different viewpoints via playing with different mediums. Painting has always been there though, and it has always had my heart. It was elevated in my mind as a child by a few images I had seen of Van Gogh’s work, a thin paperback portfolio of Cezanne that we owned, and receiving postcards in the mail from my aunt, Jennifer Young who is a painter. This modest collection of paintings I had access to, was devoured by me. Every color and brushstroke becoming ingrained in my mind. But every time I came back to the paintings an overwhelming feeling came over me, the energy moved me, I was taken far far away from my present situation to something magical that I had never experienced before. The paintings couldn’t be memorized. The process of making a painting is very feeling oriented as well. I love the experience of guiding, sliding the creamy buttery paint across the canvas. I turn music on, my whole body is moving, I’m not thinking about what I’m doing I just know I can’t stop. I keep laying down brushstrokes boldly side by side, alone they are blocks of color but together they become something recognizable. Something that has meant so much to me and I hope becomes meaningful for the viewer.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your work and the series (or multiple bodies of work) that you are focusing on at the moment?

Imagine driving down a well trodden road, but you still can’t keep your eyes off the landscape. A line of cars builds up behind you , but you are struck with overwhelming beauty of whats in front. The grey stormy skies, the saturation of the well watered layers of fields. There is something new and exciting about the view and yet something familiar.

We moved out of Austin last summer to a small town near my hometown. It was an unusually rainy and cloudy fall for Texas. I was struck driving the road, FM 973, that connects my small town to Austin by the rolling green hills and grey skies. The landscape that you can see from this road is so striking because it is slightly higher elevation and open farmland with layers and layers of fields and crops leading up to the horizon line. I knew that I had to paint these views and I wanted to, focus on movement, shapes, and feeling, over details.

The collection, “Views From 973” is inspired by memories. Abstract & Fluid. Moments running into each other. Not about the fine details but about the feeling and emotion of the experience. Though these landscapes are inspired by a particular place, it makes sense that one might remind you of your own adventures. That’s when it becomes about human connection. Something that started as part of my own story, but then becomes yours.

This body of work has been the most intuitive work I have ever done. I look at so many of the pieces in this collection and think, “how did I even do that?!” The Brushstrokes, compositions, colors, none of it was planned really. I went into it with a feeling that I wanted to express and then let the process take over. This is work that I felt Inside of me and I knew I had to create.

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Describe your current studio space. What is most important for keeping a consistent creative practice?

My studio sometimes is the kitchen table, sometimes my bedroom dresser, and always most of the closets in our house (for storage, not for painting in, LOL). I am beginning to long for a more permanent space to create in, but honestly working out of my home has served me well. I’ve been painting (almost) every day for the past five years. Most of that happens in the evenings after my kids are in bed and I clean up my mess, packing everything back into closets when I’m done. I am very energized to work in the evenings, however homebody that I am, it is the last time of day that I want to leave my house. I have loved creating in the center of my home near the energy of my family and the comfort of my tea kettle.

Here are a few things that have really helped me in having a consistent creative practice.

1) Just start making. Its that simple. If you can, organize your day so that you are creating at the same time. Pay attention to what times of day you have the most creative energy, are you a morning person or a night owl? There may be times in the beginning when you don’t feel like making anything but just keep showing up, eventually the muse will show up too. After a couple of months of coming to the studio consistently you will have a habit, and after that I think it is pretty easy. I did a 100 day project 5 years ago and I’ve been painting nearly every day since, it’s just what I do and I love it.

2) Remove distractions. A few years back we got rid of our TV. Relaxation and enjoyment are good things, but for me Netflix was taking over my life, I felt like I wasn’t in control of how I spent my time. This was the best decision ever because while vegging can feel nourishing in the moment because it is passive, painting is what FEEDS MY SOUL.

3) Make your workspace comfortable. Do what you can to make your space not only where you want to be, but a place where you feel relaxed and able to let the creativity flow out of you. I once had a studio with no air conditioning in the summer in Texas. I did make work there but there was no lingering with delight over the process. You know I got out of there as soon as I could call the piece done! Recently I have been making work out of my home. It’s not glamorous. I could’ve rented a studio but home is just the only place I want to be at the end of the day (when I paint).

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

Freedom! I get to be with my kids, make art and have a business. I get to make my own schedule. I don’t like people telling me what to do, LOL. I am allowed to follow my interest, passion, and muse. Making art isn’t all lollipops and fluffy clouds, sometimes there’s a wrestling that has to happen. Communicating what’s in my head, a thought or a concept into something visual on the canvas is hard work. There are so many ideas and in a way each one is a problem to be solved. Thinking, trying, thinking again. Once something clicks the work just starts coming out and I just have to keep up. The best word I can think of to describe this feeling when the idea is out and on canvas, is freedom. Sigh. Now I am ready to start on the next idea. ;)


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Name a few artists whose work has had an impact on you.

Pastmasters: Cezanne, Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent. Contemporaries: Jennifer Young and Richard Claremont.

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

Oh yes! I have just barely started making work for my first solo show here in Austin at Revelry in September! I am soooo excited about this body of work exploring a slightly different landscape than my last collection, of plants and our relationships with them. It is work that I have been thinking about for a long time and I feel like I’m finally ready to get it out and put it on the canvas. Of course I’m very excited about the show too!

Giveaway Announcement with Upcrate, a New Art Supply Subscription Box!

Create! Magazine is excited to announce a giveaway contest with Upcrate, a new Hamburg-based monthly subscription crate with amazing art supplies. They have generously offered to send one free box to a member of our online community. In order to win, simply make sure to be following @createmagazine and @upcrate, then tag a friend in the comments section of our Instagram post announcing the contest. One grand prize winner will be selected on Monday, July 15th!

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Kickstarter supporters will be the first to receive Upcrate! Your crate contains multiple art supplies together with materials of a featured artist that will inspire you to create. For more information on what is included in a typical crate, you can check out their Kickstarter link below. Upcrate ships worldwide and fees are included in the prices.

They are offering special early bird deals so check them out sooner rather than later! Upcrate has no contracts or hidden fees. Try a crate and if you like what you receive you can subscribe on their website for a plan that best suits you. There are four different subscription options for your mystery art supplies, but if it’s not a fit you can cancel at any time without penalty.

Learn more about Upcrate:

Website: www.upcrate.art

IG: @upcrate

Support them on Kickstarter:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/upcrate/upcrate-mystery-art-supplies-in-a-subscription-crate

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Studio Sunday: Lizz Berry
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Create! Magazine is pleased to present a new Studio Sunday feature with Portland-based artist Lizz Berry. Learn more about what inspired her interest in fiber and textile art, the multiple reasons that she keeps a small forest of plants in her home studio, and what will be keeping her busy for the rest of the summer!

Bio

Lizz Berry is the founder, maker, and innovator behind The Wild Textile. All of the products she creates are hand crafted in her home studio in Portland, Maine.  She is a hand-weaver, natural dyer, quilter, and all around fiber enthusiast. 

Her love for cloth began at an early age, when she was exposed to family heirlooms from India - some over a century old. Colorful antique silk saris and other complex weavings were a part of her childhood - whether it be forts, canopies, or costumes. These fueled her love not only for textiles, but also for the color and textures that enliven them. Today you can still find her home adorned with some of the very same pieces that inspired her as a child. 

Lizz received her B.F.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where she concentrated in Textiles. She spent her undergraduate years studying hand weaving, color application, and surface design via dyeing techniques.

More recently, she has integrated her fibers studio with her other life-long passion, the outdoors. She loves the simplicity of color in nature, and it never ceases to inspire her. Environmental conservation is also important to her, and she represents this value in her practices as often as possible. Color, the natural world, and fibers are the core elements of her creativity, and the unified embodiment of The Wild Textile.

When did you first become interested in art?

My interest in textile design has evolved from a variety of influences with one commonality: three dimensional, visual design. In grade school I wanted to be an architect, which later shifted to interior design and decorating. I experimented with every artistic medium that was available, both inside and outside the classroom. Throughout high school I took every single art class that was offered, except for Weaving. Ironically, I thought it sounded boring!  However, as a crafts major in college, my attitude quickly changed. I developed a passion for textiles after taking my first class. My focus began to gravitate towards functional pieces - scarves, blankets, linens, tableware and various items of home decor.  Throughout and following my college years, I worked in a sewing studio and fabrics store. This experience supplemented my passion for textiles with exciting new disciplines - sewing and quilting! On weekends and after work I also taught myself to forage for natural dyes and use my kitchen scraps for free sustainable colors that told a story. All of these practices have become key elements of The Wild Textile, and I suspect that my artistic interests will only grow more diverse in the years to come.  

Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

Plant life, abundant light, and nature in every form. Whether it’s the ever-expanding urban jungle in my home studio,  the rocky coasts and sandy beaches of Maine, or the alpine zones of my favorite mountains - I constantly integrate the textures and colors of my natural surroundings with my work. Exploring the outdoors inspires me to build lively color palettes that facilitate unique combinations of surface designs. It is always an extra special day when I come across natural dyes to be foraged in my travels! Another key source of my textiles inspiration emanates from my family heirlooms. My grandmother was a missionary surgeon in Assam, India, and she bestowed to my family a variety of handwoven Indian saris, tapestries and fabrics. The standards of craftsmanship upheld by prior generations never ceases to astound me. I find myself connecting with these textiles more than ever, as I approach reading the end of her diary entries on life in India during the 1950’s. 

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What is your process like? 

I often find my process fluctuates between meticulously planning and complete improvisation. In some instances, I plan each weaving in precise detail to make sure they will work logistically. In these cases, I create multiple scales of drawings with different colorways, pattern options, and sizes. On other projects, I allow my process to depend solely on my instincts. This approach involves designing my pieces while simultaneously crafting them, and has created some of my most interesting weavings to date. I love making up patterns on the loom that have never existed, and perhaps never will again. I often find myself in a meditative state where my feet move across the foot pedals while barely looking down at what I am creating. Some weavers may find this odd, but I think this technique can create truly authentic combinations of texture and color. I am always anticipating the next weave structure to be accidentally discovered!

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 work out of my home studio in Portland, Maine. I have A LOT of house plants (over 70) scattered throughout my small apartment, which has abundant natural light. The plants are therapeutic to me, and also very functional in the photography process. I use them as backdrops in an effort to help the viewer visualize my products in a livable space. As an added bonus, it allows me to hide the nicks and bumps in my not-so-perfect wall from the early 1900’s.

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

If you want to keep it, so will someone else! That’s how the majority of my products have developed. Create something for yourself - something that embodies the colors, textures, and emotions that inspire you - and before long you will have orders for more. 

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

I have recently signed on as Show Coordinator for the Maine Crafts Guild, which puts me in charge of organizing four large fine craft shows throughout the summer. This will keep me pretty busy over the next few months, but in my spare time I have been experimenting with a slew of great new materials for product prototypes. I am currently working on a brand new Fall line for the The Wild Textile, including more home decor items than ever, zipper pouches, sling bags, backpacks and more. Keep an eye out for this exciting release!

Check out The Wild Textile online or follow along on Instagram!

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Create! Magazine x Art Girl Rising Collaboration

THEY ARE FINALLY HERE! We’re so excited to bring you a side project that we’ve been working on for a few months with Liezel Strauss, founder of Art Girl Rising. You’ve likely seen us sharing our obsession with her now Insta-famous t-shirts that each list a set of five iconic women artists. We couldn’t resist being a part of her incredible project to support the National Museum of Women in the Arts as well as their #5womenartists campaign so we created a special edition t-shirt (in gray & pink) with five women artists who we love. A portion of the proceeds from each shirt sold will be donated to the museum. As an all female team, we here at Create! Magazine want to do the most that we can to both provide more opportunities for contemporary women artists and also to be educators and champions for all of the women in the art world today!

You can purchase these special edition shirts directly from our webshop! *We only made a limited amount of them so make sure to get yours before they sell out.

Learn more about Art Girl Rising in an interview with Liezel from our 2018 Miami Edition.

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Who are Hilma, Mickalene, Marina, Shirin, and Judy?

Hilma

When Swedish artist Hilma af Klint began creating radically abstract paintings in 1906, they were like little that had been seen before: bold, colorful, and untethered from any recognizable references to the physical world. It was years before Kandinsky, Malevich, Mondrian, and others would take similar strides to rid their own artwork of representational content. Yet while many of her contemporaries published manifestos and exhibited widely, af Klint kept her paintings largely private. She rarely exhibited them and, convinced the world was not yet ready to understand her work, stipulated that it not be shown for twenty years following her death. Ultimately, her work was all but unseen until 1986, and only over the subsequent three decades has it begun to receive serious attention.

Read more: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint

Mickalene

Mickalene Thomas, who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, is best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel. She draws on art history and popular culture to create a contemporary vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary, Thomas constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity, gender, and sense-of-self are informed by the ways women (and “feminine” spaces) are represented in art and popular culture.

Read more: https://www.mickalenethomas.com/about

Marina

Marina Abramović, born November 30, 1946, is a Serbian performance artist, writer, and art filmmaker. Her work explores body art, endurance art and feminist art, the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Being active for over four decades, Abramović refers to herself as the "grandmother of performance art". She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on "confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body".

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87

Shirin

Shirin Neshat is a contemporary Iranian artist best known for films such as Rapture (1999), which explore the relationship between women and the religious and cultural value systems of Islam. Born on March 26, 1957 in Qazin, Iran, she left to study in the United States at the University of California at Berkeley before her the Iranian Revolution in 1979. While her early photographs were overtly political, her film narratives tend to be more abstract, focusing around themes of gender, identity, and society. The split-screened video Turbulent (1998) won Neshat the First International Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1999.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirin_Neshat

Judy

Born July 20, 1939 in Chicago, IL, Judy Chicago is an artist, author, feminist, educator, and intellectual whose career now spans five decades. In 1974, Chicago turned her attention to the subject of women’s history to create her most well-known work, The Dinner Party, which was executed between 1974 and 1979 with the participation of hundreds of volunteers. This monumental multimedia project, a symbolic history of women in Western Civilization, has been seen by more than one million viewers during its sixteen exhibitions held at venues spanning six countries.

Read more: http://www.judychicago.com/about/biography/

Studio Sunday: Jennifer Small
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This week’s Studio Sunday allowed us to catch up with Philadelphia based abstract artist, Jennifer Small. We love the bold colors and geometric forms in her work so it was nice to hear a bit about what goes on behind the scenes! Read on to hear about her process and some advice she would have given to her younger self that is relatable to many emerging creatives.

Bio

By day, Jennifer Small makes visual designs on screen and by night she makes abstract paintings on canvas. She received her BFA in Painting and BS in Art Education in 2005 from Millersville University and MFA in Painting in 2012 from Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2016, while living in Chicago, she made the transition from teaching to graphic design. Her work has been exhibited in Washington, DC, New York, Richmond, Savannah, and Chicago as well as in New American Paintings and Studio Visit magazines. In 2019, she relocated to the Philadelphia area to continue her career as a painter and designer.

Statement

My art, initially abstract in appearance, records a journey of a day in the life—a practice that starts with documentation through the lens of a camera. My eyes act as a viewfinder narrowing down the panoramic into single frames. Compiled snapshots represent blocks of time during my process of seeing and recording aesthetic significance in ordinary routine. I see curious formal elements in common things waiting to be manipulated and transformed into abstract compositions. I collage together the single framed images, simplify and render them in paint to create the lines, shapes, and hues that fill the canvas. Abstracted layers build shallow spaces that depict my translation of the everyday. My work shows my analysis of time and space interpreted by looking through a lens at my immediate environment.

When did you first become interested in art?

I've been interested in art as long as I can remember. I grew up in a creative family where we were always drawing or making something. I knew from a very early age that I would have a career in the arts and be a lifelong creative.

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

My work is inspired by observing my everyday life. I see daily routine as an opportunity to record aesthetic curiosities that can be used as building blocks for my paintings. My abstractions are collections of these curiosities which represent my personal experience with time and place. I begin my creative process by taking photos of interesting visual sightings observed while moving through my normal routine. Next, I make sketches collaging parts of the photos together to create compositions that work well as formal abstractions. Sometimes the original source material in one painting relates, sometimes it doesn't. Color is a consideration before I begin. I usually start with 2 warm colors and 2 cool colors and during the painting process expand upon or reign it in from there. I work from painterly to more precise (with the help of a lot of painter's tape) combining acrylic and spray paint to build my surfaces into abstract structures that tell my story.

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

I hope viewers of my paintings see energy, movement, and variety from a formalist abstraction point of view but also their approachability after learning what inspired them. And as a result, they might consider slowing down enough to appreciate their own daily environment.

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

I would advise my younger self to be more proactive earlier with sharing work, applying for opportunities, and connecting with other artists in order to build a community and also see personal growth.

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being an artist is its unpredictability. I can't predict what I will make, who I will meet, or where it will take me next but I'm very much looking forward to the ride.

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

My work will be published in Vol. 45/46 of Studio Visit Magazine coming out this summer. Additionally, I am continuing to make work and get reacquainted with the east coast after moving from Chicago to the Philadelphia area in April.

Find a selection of her work available online with our new gallery PxP Contemporary!

Studio Sunday: Veneta Karamfilova
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In this week’s Studio Sunday feature, learn more about Veneta Karamfilova, an artist and photographer from Bulgaria! Veneta creates beautiful images, largely focused on women and flowers, that have a flair for drama and immediately catch a viewer’s attention with isolated figures against a stark background. She has received awards from PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, the Tokyo International Foto Awards, and Fine Art Photography Awards and is currently exhibiting two works in PxP Contemporary’s inaugural show ‘Pilot.’

Statement

To me, photography is an exploration of the mind. A kind of fiction, offering a glimpse of a coexisting reality. A way of seeing a world floating between unspoken dreams yet-to-be and the endless nostalgia for the time that has never been, with a surreal motif. 

Since photography is born in a split-second, I find it being the perfect medium to show a fraction of a supposed reality. A fraction that does not describe, but merely suggests. A fraction that has no beginning or an end, but is bound to have an afterlife, long and rich as the viewer’s memory. 

The two main subjects I explore are women and flowers, as flowers are often associated with women and femininity. 

My woman is a silent inhabitant of an alternative place that provides an escape from the passage of time. She is both strong and fragile. The center and only a fragment of something greater; a suggestion for something more.

Flowers are usually associated with women because of the idea of new life; a rebirth after the winter. Yet since they fade quickly, flowers are also linked with death. In my photographs, a slice of this birth-to-death shift is suspended in time. 

Tell us how you first became interested in art and why it led you to the work you create today.

I guess I've always had the urge to create. I wanted to paint, but wasn't very good at it, so photography was a great substitute. Being able to seize the passage of time is an amazing ability. It's like magic, defying all physical laws of nature and at the same time being possible thanks to these same physical laws. I still sometimes paint. Just for my own pleasure of watching how the colors mix, the texture of the paint and how it all comes together in this perfect memory of how I felt. Painting is my other kind of magic. One that can capture a moment that has already passed.

Can you explain a bit about the inspiration behind your work?

The fragile beauty of flowers has always fascinated me for being so apt a metaphor of how ephemeral life is. It's a poetic tragedy. I'm here, I'm beautiful and I'm going to die.

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What is your process like?

Some of the flowers I photograph are bought from the market, some are found on the street, and others come from my own garden. I might plant a bulb in the autumn and wait for the spring, to photograph it. Or I might find something on my way to the market, pick it and photograph it half an hour later. So I guess my process is a kind of flexible.

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

I hope my viewers realize that real beauty is in diversity and imperfection. Тhese stereotypes of what is beautiful that we get bombarded every day are just an illusion. My flowers are all different. Just like us they come in all shapes and sizes; blooming or decaying; being whole or missing a petal or two. It's all of these little differences and "imperfections" that make each and everyone unique and thus interesting. For me beauty has always been associated with making an impression and being remembered. And you only get to be remembered if you are different from everyone else.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

I lost a lot of time thinking that I don’t have what it takes; that I didn’t have the skills, the equipment, etc. It took me quite a while to deal with that and make a move. I still don't have a fancy camera, nor do I have a studio. Most of my flowers (including the two, part of PxP Contemporary exhibition "Pilot") are shot at a corner of my kitchen, beautifully lit by two windows. But I learned that having an idea is the most important thing. The rest is just figuring out a way to make it happen. And you do by making small steps. So I’d tell myself: “Don’t think too much! Just go for it! Make that first step and then make the next one!”

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

I'm currently working on a new series, inspired by opera and ballet. I am a huge fan of both, so I suppose marrying them and photography is only natural. Opera and ballet stories are timeless. Love, hate, murder, heartbreak, betrayal, greed, power, conspiracy, women's abuse are still current issues in our days, centuries after their performances. This project is a personal interpretation of pieces of some of the world's most famous operas and ballets. The images are created by infusing my vision with parts of the libretto and the emotions felt, while listening to a particular piece. They are a kind of fiction, offering a selective personal view of the story. The fragile beauty of music born in a split second and trapped in it for eternity.

Studio Sunday: Samantha Morris

It’s Sunday and you know what that means - another behind-the-scenes look at one of the artists from our community! This week we’re so excited to be sharing a brief interview with Samantha Morris, who we’ve had the pleasure of working with on our very first exhibition with PxP Contemporary.

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Bio

Samantha Morris was born in 1995 and grew up in Madison, Connecticut; she now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Morris graduated from The University of the Arts in 2017 with a BFA in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing. In addition, she will begin her graduate studies in the MFA Fine Arts program at Pratt Institute in September 2019. Recent solo exhibitions include:  Kanna Rými, Listhús Gallery in Ólafsfjörður, Iceland; and BFA Thesis Exhibition, The Space Between, The University of the ArtsSelected group exhibitions include Black and White, Site:Brooklyn, Practice: In Progress, NARS Foundation, and Space Invaders, Fountain Street Gallery among others. Morris’ work has been published in FreshPaint Magazine, Opción Magazine, ArtMaze Magazine, and Underground Pool.

Statement

In my artwork, I focus on the idea of an individual traveling through a space; exploring place through architecture and landscape, abstracted through line, shadow pattern, contrast, and negative space. I am interested in dynamics, what can and can’t be seen. The seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life, one light shining through the square of a window frame, or the corner of a plant casting shadow on glass. Influenced by photography and film, my work investigates the stillness of night; the frozen moments before something happens. It exists in the “in between”, the time when your eyes adjust to the contrast of natural illuminated light and the depth of darkness. I feel immersed, traveling through such spaces. Each piece has reference to an environment, while existing in its own space.

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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?I have been passionate about art for as long as I can remember. I knew that it was what I wanted to pursue, which led me to earn my BFA from University of the Arts. There, I was able to develop my artistic practice that now informs the work I create today.

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

Right now I have a studio at NARS (New York Artist Residencies and Studios) in Brooklyn, NY. The most important aspect of my studio is having expansive wall space. I’m currently working on large wooden panels directly on the wall, which gives me the ability to step back and view my paintings from a distance. It’s also very important for me to have reference material surrounding me in the studio. This can range from drawings, collages, photos, and film stills, all of which inform my work.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your paintings.

In my artwork, I focus on the idea of an individual traveling through a space; exploring place through architecture and landscape, abstracted through line, shadow pattern, contrast, and negative space. I am interested in dynamics, what can and can’t be seen. Influenced by photography and film, my work investigates the stillness of night; the frozen moments before something happens. It exists in the “in between”, the time when your eyes adjust to the contrast of natural illuminated light and the depth of darkness. The work is influenced by Scandinavian architecture, from experiences in Iceland and Norway. Each piece has reference to an environment, while existing in its own space.

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

All of the work I create comes from places I have experienced first-hand. I start by using photography as documentation and reference, then drawing and collage to explore composition and space, which then translates into paintings on panel. I pay attention to the differences between being in an actual physical space, experiencing a photograph of that place, and then finally creating, and experiencing that space through a form of rendered imagery such as painting or drawing.

Do your works often undergo a lot of changes before you consider them complete? How long does a piece take?

I have found that painting with oil on panel most successfully captures the concept of the work. It allows me to build passages of color through the use of mediums and thin transparent layering. Through this process, a sense of internal light emerges from the work. Changes occur throughout the act of making, and painting in this way can take weeks, working in layers and accounting for drying times. I consider a painting complete when the space is compelling, and asks the viewer to enter into it through the depths of light and dark within the subtle differences in tone and value.

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

I am showing work in the exhibition Collage, at Site:Brooklyn from June 14th - July 13th in Brooklyn, NY, as well as Paperworks, at b.j spoke gallery in Huntington, NY from August 1st - 28th in Huntington, NY. I will also be exhibiting work in the MFA Welcome Back Show at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY from September 16th - October 10th.

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It's Not Luck (& Other Reasons Why Creatives Need to be More Vocal About Their Accomplishments)
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You’ve been accepted to a juried show, received a prestigious award, had an incredible review written about your work, or made a major sale. Congrats! It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know that others are supporting what you do. So why are we often hesitant to share the joy that we’re experiencing? Perhaps you’re shy and don’t want a lot of extra attention or think that going on about your accomplishments is boastful. While there is certainly a line between updating your community with exciting things that are happening and oversharing, there are a few key reasons why creatives, and especially women artists, need to be more vocal about their achievements.

I’m sure many of us have fallen into the trap of brushing away compliments. Rather than thanking someone for congratulating us on selling a painting or landing a gallery to represent our work, we’ll come up with an excuse to make the accomplishment sound like less than it is. “Oh, I got lucky” or “It’s not really a big deal” you might say, but that’s not true! Too many of us operate under the strange, outdated notion that it is more polite to negate a compliment than accept it. Even if the circumstances surrounding a particular moment of success seem serendipitous, you likely played an active role in making it happen for yourself. You made great work that was recognized by the juror (or curator, gallery, collector, etc) and you put yourself out there by applying to the opportunity or perhaps through networking and being active online. So stop giving anyone or anything else the credit. It’s not luck, it’s you.

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Always remember that it is important for your peers to know about your achievements. Why? Because you never know who can introduce you to your next, big opportunity and it may only take one new connection to catapult your career to the next level. Success in the arts often occurs like a domino effect, where one person will find your work and from that perhaps another will share it, and then another, and it keeps going from there. It’s almost as if the tastemakers in the industry have ‘FOMO’ and if one magazine or curator is featuring a certain artist, then others feel they should be too. Yes, they want to try and find the ‘next big name’ first, but once one influencer has identified a great new talent, others often follow soon after. You can help this process along for yourself by making sure that your community knows when you’ve been featured in a magazine or exhibition so that they can help share it too and potentially build buzz and momentum.

Making others aware of recent accomplishments also helps with name recognition. I’ll share a story here to help illustrate about a friend who recently went to an awards ceremony in the advertising industry. When his team was honored with their first trophy of the evening, he opted not to join the group onstage and when his colleagues asked why, he cited the same feelings of not needing the attention or wanting to look too proud. But then he realized, it’s not just an opportunity to celebrate with his team, it’s a chance for everyone else in the room to see that they produce high quality work for their clients. If you see the same person going up to accept multiple awards, then you’ll start to remember them and likely associate that person with being great at what they do (and maybe want to work with them in the future!). Therefore, try not to be shy about sharing that you’ve won awards or been given other important recognition. You should want your personal and especially your professional contacts to remember you for all of the great things you’ve done!

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Most importantly, however, you need to be vocalizing your successes because if you don’t then nobody will know about them. It sounds obvious that you need to be your biggest cheerleader, but we often don’t fully realize the consequences of not sharing good news. I once had a boss who started giving me fewer shifts than my two other peers. Confused, I confronted her about what I might be doing wrong or what I could be doing better. She didn’t have anything negative to say. Instead, she simply told me that the other two girls spoke up more often about the projects they were completing on a daily basis or the sales they had made and I didn’t. I was so surprised to hear that I wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Even though I was selling just as much (or more!), keeping up with all of my work, and often staying late to do a little extra cleaning or to take on additional tasks, this one thing was holding me back.

I also read an article around that time which stated that believing you’ll get recognized just from keeping your head down and working hard unfortunately isn’t true and it’s women who tend to suffer the most from this misconception. With that in mind, it made more sense. As my employer usually worked from home rather than in the office, how was she supposed to differentiate my sales and projects from what the other girls were doing if I didn’t tell her specifically? So now, even if I still sometimes feel a bit reserved about ‘tooting my own horn’, I try to think of it as an integral part of promoting myself and push myself to do it in order to keep my career moving forward instead of stuck in the same place.

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Finally, even though it might feel a bit awkward at first, it’s very likely that your artist community really wants to celebrate your successes with you. There will always be negative people and those who struggle with jealousy, but your core support group will stand by your side. Just like they will be there for you when you’ve been rejected or are having a slow period, they also want to be a part of your high moments, especially if you’re going to pop that champagne ;) Cheers!

Of course, none of this is to say that there aren’t instances where a bit of good fortune plays a part in our lives. Some people have parents or other role models who supported their careers while some don’t and certain cities or countries provide more opportunities for working artists than others. Instead of focusing on things that can’t be changed, however, remember that there are so many examples of people who have overcome difficult circumstances and achieved success anyway, despite their obstacles or limited resources. This is about cherishing exactly those people and those moments. I’ll bet you can think of several examples of when you had to ‘make it work’ too. Be proud of those efforts, show how grateful you are for what you have, and perhaps even try to pay it forward to other artists you know who may need help or guidance.

We all go through highs and lows and it’s a powerful thing that more artists and people in general are being authentic about when they’re not having their best day. We don’t always need to see perfect lattes and curated travel photos. But part of being real is sharing when good things happen too, even when they are little victories. If you’re starting out, having a small show at a local cafe or selling your first work are totally worthy and incredible accomplishments. Share them! Not because it’s bragging or trying to make others think that you’re this great, successful artist (you already are one and don’t need anyone else’s opinion to prove it). Rather, it’s the chance for you to share something that you’re genuinely proud of and that excites you, which your followers and those who support your work will truly appreciate and celebrate too!

-Alicia
alicia@createmagazine.com
@puigypics

Studio Sunday: Huy Lam
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We hope that you’re enjoying your weekend! Here’s a new Studio Sunday feature with Huy Lam, who was selected for issue 15 and is also one of the invited artists for PxP Contemporary’s first exhibition! Read on to learn more about his work and process, then don’t forget to check out his available sculptures in “Pilot”.

Huy Lam is a multi-disciplinary artist. He was an aspiring painter when he was young but fell in love with photography when he was introduced to the darkroom in high school. After graduating from the Humber College Photography Program, he spent several years working as an assistant and traveled around the world honing his skills while shooting personal projects. Huy then worked as a professional photographer for over a decade in commercial advertising and has recently started to explore other creative outlets along with his photography work. Some of this includes his original love for painting and drawing, but his new passion is working with wood, for its natural, diverse, and malleable qualities. With the focus on employing reclaimed or recycled materials, his work includes custom furniture, lighting, and sculptures.

Statement

Touching the Void

The unexpected intersections of our lives have always fascinated me, how our disparate trajectories collide and create causal shockwaves across time and space. Although linearity exists neither in life nor in nature, the human mind nonetheless attempts to impose perfection upon an imperfect world. This series of wood sculptures with metal inlays explores that paradoxical impulse, as stark lines penetrate the natural flow of wood grain in an attempt to bring order to a random milieu. Just as I have carved out these paths in wood, collectively we strive to make our mark by blazing bright trails in a dark, dynamic universe. 

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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?

I've been told by grade school friends that I use to draw pictures and give it to them as gifts. We immigrated to Canada when I was 9 years old and because I didn't know any english, I think I did this as a way to communicate and make friends. I've always wanted to be a painter and even took private oil painting classes with a tutor in my early teens but got into photography when my brother bought a camera. My passion for photography eventually led me to a career as a professional photographer, something I still do a little bit of today. But drawing and painting was always close and I've always had an interest in making things with my hands, whether that was diorama models or woodworking. The work I am doing today is a result of wanting to explore other ways to express ideas and using different materials like wood which is such a malleable and fun material to work with.

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

Like most major cities in NA where real estate and studio spaces are very expensive, my current studio is in my parents garage about an hours drive outside Toronto. It's working out really nicely because my parents are aging and this allows me to visit them more but most importantly, the act of preparing to go to the studio puts my mind and intentions into a creative space. That intention to create and enjoy the process is so fulfilling and that physical separation from city life means I have very little distractions. The result is usually very productive and when I am back in the city, I get inspired and work on ideas through drawing and doodling.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

Besides what I mentioned before, I would also add, in terms of living everyday life, the process of having an idea or goal and going through the process of turning that idea into reality is pretty interesting. It seems like a linear line, a step by step process and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but most of the time, it's rarely straight forward. It's a weird paradox because we do need some sort of direction but when does the planning become over thinking or procrastination? I think this back and forth is a moving target and we have to adjust our planning for each situation and so my work, the shiny lines are a metaphor of us trying to carve our way into a dynamic shifting world.

What is your process like?

My process is really about trying to bring my inspiration into practice. I do a lot of drawings and doodling and when I have a composition or idea I really like, I want to try and bring it into reality. By the time I get into the studio, I have a general direction as to what I want to create but I leave plenty of room for the process and I really try to enjoy the experience.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

This may sound funny because it doesn't really answer the question directly but my advice to my younger self is, when your dentist calls you for a check-up, call them back right away and make an appointment! It's really about dealing with things that needs attending to because avoiding the dentist does not make the situation better over time, ever! In fact it gets exponentially worse in the time spent, money wasted, the pain that could've been avoided and stress. And so I truly believe that by reducing and minimizing these "distractions" our creative juices will inevitably bubble up.

Kle Mens at REJEKT Gallery
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REJEKT Gallery presents Hybrid Prophecy, a solo show of one of Poland's exceptional young artists, Kle Mens. Her work will be exhibited at 82a Commercial Street, a former public toilet in London’s East End and is curated by Elaine Tam. The show runs 14-23 June 2019, with an opening reception on Thursday 13th June 2019, at 6pm.

Kle Mens is a Warsaw-based visual artist working across painting, sculpture, performance and film. Following the death of her father, Kle Mens grew up in an extreme Catholic sect in Poland, under the care of her mother, a schizophrenic, devotee nun. As such, a major tenet of her work is the exploration and exploitation of religious iconography, which calls forth a brave new world of the feminine in post-secular art practice.

The paintings at the heart of her practice involve a traditional technique, one which requires the painstaking application of a hundred translucent layers. Through this steady dedication we witness the transfiguration of Kle Mens as a Saint, martyr and hybrid creature, which emphasizes the transmutable nature of timeless mythical bodies.

Having exhibited in her native country multiple times, the controversial nature of Kle Men’s work means that the artist has received notable backlash from a more conservative Polish audience, including the staging of protests outside her exhibitions.

In her first UK solo show, Kle Mens makes a brave incantation, summoning both religious martyrs and mythological hybrids to evoke the formidable force of female transformation, which underlies all her work. This exhibition sees Kle Mens revisiting the idolatry of female purity of her youth through the martyr’s series, with focus on those whose punishment was sex-related or sexuality-specific.

In a relational gesture of self-sacrifice, paint becomes embodied flesh in St. Agata, the venerated saint a prime example of the extraordinary sufferance endured by female devotees. A tense and disarming dedication, Kle Mens’ severing of her own breast is a profound moment of ekstasis propelling her into the temporality of long-standing religious order, a remark upon the continued urgency of feminist concerns. With similar spirit, she investigates the unusual, always-timeliness of the apocalypse — the recurring crisis of individual, collective and planetary future that haunts existence.

In Hybrid Prophecy, Kle Mens presents us with this provocation: a stunningly detailed film work, which animates and subverts Hans Memling's The Last Judgement. The centerpiece around which the themes of the exhibition revolve, The Last Judgement sees her assuming new bodies and fictions, while persisting with the religious iconography that she is passionately indebted to. As such, two mythological hybrids that feature in the Apocalypse of St. John become proto-Renaissance self-portraits.

Kle Mens adopts the mystical poise of the famously ambiguous, riddling Sphinx. Her traditional painting technique begets a certain magic — one of majestic strength, and silent yet photorealistic liveness — which also courses through Harpy. While the eagle is emblematic of the Polish state, in the Apocalypse it behaves as a premonition, heralding a collapse between sky and earth. With this, Kle Mens continues her elegant foray into mythic territories, their power and their promise.

Kle Mens (Klementyna Stepniewska, b. 1985) graduated from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in 2014 under the direction of Jarosław Modzelewski and Igor Przybylski. In 2016, she was winner of the The Geppert Competition XII, the most prestigious prize for young painters in Poland. To date, she has had three solo exhibitions, the most recent of which is Hail Mary (2019). Her works St. Rita and Kummernis are held by a key public collection, National Museum of Gdansk.

REJEKT Gallery are representatives of future pioneers of contemporary art from Eastern Europe. They curate unprecedented, unconventional events for new East artists in London. REJEKT seeks to represent and garner respect of Eastern European artists. Founder and Director, Sarah Sosnierz started promoting electronic music through hosting parties, aiming to collaborate various artists between London and Warsaw in the hope that this exchange would open new channels of cultural communication between East and Western Europe.

REJEKT do not conform to a traditional gallery setup. Their selection of unadulterated art is exhibited in unusual spaces, from industrial units to disused public toilets. Based in London, REJEKT has transitioned from illustrious clubs in Praga, flirting with underground dance club culture, to an arts platform occupying unique Heterotopian spaces; providing unconventional conduits; simultaneously mental and physical, geographical and digital representation.

For more information please contact: Anna Beketov, Damson Communications at anna.beketov@damsonpr.com or +44 (0)20 7812 0645.

Studio Sunday: Seth Remsnyder

We’re so excited to be bringing you a Studio Sunday feature with Seth Remsnyder!

My current body of work is titled: “Signage”. These are paintings on metal pieces like signs. The paintings are non-representational works focused on color, arrangement and movement. Some are placed on sign posts and installed in the public to play off of the signage that covers our communities. The intent of this body of work is to place serious works of visual art in a public context that deals with the concept of taking notice of the world around us. Signage is intended to grab the attention. So is visual art. The difference is often the context. Why do we so often miss what we are supposed to see when we are out in the world? Is the benefit of visual art in the public space the benefit of helping us remember how to see? I propose that it is. My current work aims to play off of the concept of signage to confront the public with visual art work in the public spaces that we traverse and all too often ignore. Perhaps most important is the basic idea that works such as these hold the possibility of brightening the days of the residents of our communities.

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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?

I became interested in art when I was about 9 or so? I liked to draw well before that but my Mom stashed a little post Impressionism/Impressionism catalogue in her magazine rack and I saw a painting by Vincent van Gogh called “Stairway at Auvers” and I was blown away. I tried to paint a lot after seeing that. I think I know how to say it better now than I could have when I was younger but I looked at “Stairway at Auvers”, it was unreal, almost cartoonish in a very good way, but also, so real, so tangible, and dense that I felt like I was there with him. I never thought a picture could make me feel as strongly as that one did. I still get chills when I look at it. If you’re reading this, look it up.

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We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you and what inspired your series of metal painted signs specifically?

Well, van Gogh absolutely drove me to just go after color and to not be afraid of it so I think that was very formative for my approach to a palette... Perception is such an important part of life... attentiveness to what is going on around us or passing us by, and with my current body of work I am really getting a lot of imagination material from horizons that I see. Sunsets and sunrises and the stuff of life that’s kind of all crammed underneath the skyline is what I imagine most when I’m painting the lines in my work. So, if I see a certain gradient in the sky I try to amplify it a little as a backdrop for the lines I’m painting. I also just tend to think in masses of color so sometimes I just spray down a color and stare at it for a while and see what it reminds me of or what other colors it calls to mind. It never ceases to amaze me the way our minds make connections to certain colors. Another inspiration for the motifs, the lines and the compositions I’m making with them, is a sort of visualization of relationships. We travel along through life with other people, cross paths etc. and so I’m often painting two lines at a time together and then basing the rest of a piece off of those interactions. I think that we think of life in a very linear way... I don’t means straightforward, but rather, the concept in general. I think we all tend to see ourselves going through life in a kind of GPS kind of way. We imagine ourselves going places and we think of life as a path and that concept really interests me. I think lines are really an endlessly interesting motif.

What is your process like?

My process has changed a lot with the current work I’m doing. Spray paint and air brush removes a certain kind of control that I had spent a lot of time developing with a brush and I am really enjoying that. It has helped me forget myself in an important way. I was always very emotionally connected to the brush, the romance of an expressionist stroke runs deep with me so detaching myself from the work with spray has helped me think more clearly about my paintings. I’m more in tune with the formal elements now I think. Process is a strange thing... it always has to start with something metaphysical, as in, what got me working on a given day... and then its a matter of either improvising or trying to fulfill a plan. With my public work I’m really focusing on a certain kind of place to put my work. I want them to be in spaces that are easily visible but neglected. We don’t always see what we’re supposed to see when we’re out and about and we could probably go on all day about why that is but this work is meant to just go straight at a solution to that... namely, putting serious paintings in a signage form and trying to snag the eyes of passers by. I pay more attention to my world when I think I might be missing art along the way.

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

My current studio is on the first floor of my house. I love it. It’s fairly well lit and my family is around. I don’t need much space right now but I am really grateful for what I have... right now at least it’s more than enough.  Music is important to me, I kind of like everything. I do sometimes like to paint without it because the background noise of my kids watching Scooby Doo Where Are You or the old Batman TV show is such a happy kind prof background noise to me. Or, they’ll get caught up in such a good little kid jam session just playing some imaginary game together, my seven year old daughter playing with my three year old is the sweetest noise I can think of. They’re pretty hilarious too so I just listen to them and laugh while I work. One thing I definitely need is a pot of coffee. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for too many years now and that’s my need I guess.

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being as artist is the way that it has helped me learn to use my eyes. I’ve been really fortunate to pursue my Masters Degree in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design over the past few years and I think the most important skill I’m leaving there with is a vastly improved ability to take notice of my world, the ability to really use my eyes and take things in. I’m so glad for that. I think it’s also helped me sharpen my memories too. I can remember colors from my childhood better now. I know that sounds strange but I think it’s true.

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

The big things going on for me right now: I graduate on Friday, May 31st!! I’ll be in Savannah to walk and get my degree! Who knows, maybe I’ll leave some signage behind too... My thesis exhibition is in Richmond, Virginia on Friday, June 7 at Gallery Edit on Broad Street and I’m excited to install this show. Last but not least, my wife and I added our fourth child to our family at the end of April!  His name is Hank and he’s the sweetest little guy. Mom and baby are both doing well. Oh yeah, getting picked up by PxP of course. Grateful.

Browse Seth’s available works with PxP Contemporary.

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How I Got Over My Imposter Syndrome
Photo by Emily Grace Photography

Photo by Emily Grace Photography

By Ekaterina Popova

When I first started putting myself out there with both my own artwork and in the early stages of Create! Magazine, I had to overcome a ton of fears and limiting beliefs about my place in the art world. Eventually, I realized that it simply takes time to get used to selling my paintings and launching a creative business. It’s uncomfortable at first, often feels unnatural, and you may even feel like a fraud in the process. But after your first few sales or other successes, you will start getting into the swing of things.

Though imposter syndrome may never entirely go away, we learn to build confidence by doing our work and sharing it with the world. The truth is, if you live with the mentality that humans are created as equals, then you will believe that we each have the absolute right to pursue our passion, put ourselves out there, and make a life and career we love. A lot of what holds us back is not a lack of time, money, or materials, but our feelings of unworthiness. Some of my biggest obstacles in the early stages of my career were being scared of silly, made-up problems, such as “what if this is the last good painting I make or sell?”, “what if all this money goes away?” (spoiler alert: with that mentality, it definitely will) and “what if something bad happens as a result of my success?” I even worried about not ‘looking like’ an artist (what does that even mean?).

Of course, I still have my share of anxieties and insecurities when taking risks and putting myself out there, but by continuing to pursue my dreams despite my fears, I’m learning that it’s usually much less scary than I initially imagine. There is more than enough room for all of us creatives to find success and our place in this industry. The only way to fight fear of doubt or disapproval is by staring it straight in the eye and doing it anyway. Share your artwork, submit that application, or write a grant proposal that terrifies you (or at least makes you a little uncomfortable). In so many instances, we’re the only ones who think that an opportunity, show, job, or gallery is ‘out of our league’ when it’s actually not. Show up exactly as you are right now, not when a fancy critic approves of you, when you get signed by a gallery, or when someone buys your work. Show up exactly as you are at this moment in time and be proud of what you do and who you are.

When I first started selling my art, it was priced ridiculously low. It was almost embarrassing how cheap I made my paintings, but I kept going and pushing myself. After each sale, I would slowly increase my prices, feel more like a professional, and upgrade my artist profile. Nobody can do this for you. Take your time and grow at a pace that feels natural, but I urge you to never wait for anyone’s permission or approval. You are the only person responsible for elevating yourself and lifting yourself higher in your life and career. I had to learn this the hard way.

Several years ago on a trip to Miami during Art Basel Week, I had one of my favorite experiences that illustrates the lies of imposter syndrome. I was completely broke. At this point in time, I had already left my day job but was in the process of rebranding the magazine after a business partnership breakup. With about $80 to my name, and a hefty credit card bill to top things off, I packed my bags and headed to the airport.

I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my mentor Bridgette Mayer for an exhibition at Art Miami Fairs. I was honored to be included, but literally had to scrape together every last penny I had in order to travel. The exhibition was sponsored by Diamonds Unleashed and I was invited to come to their cocktail party before the fair. Insecurities about my outfit, a few extra pounds induced by stress, and my lack of money, felt like rocks in the pit of my stomach. But I mustered up the courage to go and used my last few dollars to Uber to the event. Even though I did not feel ready or good enough, I knew that for me to climb out of the current pit that I was in, I had to start showing up for myself and become the person that I wanted to be.

When I arrived at the party, it was even more extravagant than I imagined. I surveyed the scene of this large, oceanview apartment complete with white leather couches, an impressive collection of contemporary art, and trays of champagne floating around the room. I was sure I didn’t belong. Much to my relief, however, the attendees were some of the friendliest people I had ever met. I began chatting with designers, art dealers, artists, and art collectors who were all brought together through this organization for their love of art. Nobody cared that I didn’t wear a designer dress or that I was an emerging artist trying to make things work. They just wanted to see my paintings and hear my story. I will never regret stepping out of my comfort zone to attend this event.

Of course, not every situation in life will go this smoothly, but it’s important to remember that even intimidating individuals, who appear to have everything you don’t, had to start somewhere too and would never have arrived at where they are now if they didn’t face their demons head-on. It’s often our own insecurities that prevent us from putting ourselves into situations that can help us the most. I got so much confidence from the simple fact that I could have a conversation with a famous art dealer that evening.

If you are worried about all the things you are not, or all the skills you don’t yet have, I urge you to take a moment and see yourself for everything you are. Ask yourself, what have you accomplished so far? What are you most proud of? Where do you want to go next? Don’t leave any room for doubts and negativity, especially when it comes to your art. Imagine the person who needs to experience what you create in yourself and don’t deprive them of that joy. Say yes to showing up and sharing your gift and watch the magic unfold in your life.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you may like our podcast, Art & Cocktails. You can listen to it for free on iTunes, Spotify and more.

Studio Sunday: María Guzmán of Austère & Crudo Atelier
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I recently had the chance to speak with Costa Rican fashion & textile designer María Guzmán in her studio, which is housed in a beautifully quaint Victorian-style residence in San Jose that she inherited from her grandmother. She is the brains behind Austère, a women-run and eco-conscious brand of swimwear and elevated basics. Built from her background working in the fashion industry in both Argentina and Europe, María’s company will be celebrating its fifth year in business come October. Having lived abroad for a number of years, she returned to Costa Rica around nine years ago. Not exactly sure of what she would do next, but certain that she was tired of working for companies that didn’t meet her standards for sustainability, she first lived at the beach and dove into painting. María’s creativity eventually led her to design dresses. Then, after a friend helped her connect the idea of incorporating her paintings into her work, she started making colorfully printed swimsuits as well.

It is clear early on in our conversation that art is an integral part of her business. The prints used in María’s bikinis and one-piece bathing suits come from her own sketches and gouache paintings that she then finalizes on the computer. Looking closely at the fabrics, you notice the deliberate choices of her various color palettes. Bright and fun without being too flashy, she explains the inspiration behind each pattern, calling one ‘feminist camouflage’ and saying that others were inspired by contemporary art or the environment. Like mini abstract paintings, each piece that María makes is unique as much as it is comfortable, functional, and sustainable.


Apart from her fashion design work, however, María also runs a second business called Crudo Atelier. From her same spacious studio, she holds weekend workshops in Costa Rica where small groups take classes such as hand lettering, embroidery, or how to make natural dyes. Now three years old, Crudo Atelier was initially a way for María to share her creative skills with others. It has grown since then, with her moving away from teaching and instead inviting new specialists to diversify the offering of classes. One of the aspects of these workshops that she loves most is the idea of creating community. Like-minded creatives meet each other through her platform and have gone on to continue working together afterwards. She also mentions that students have started projects based on the work they first produced at Crudo Atelier.

As focused as she is on her own businesses, she has an equal interest in paving the way for the next generation. Besides Crudo Atelier, María also serves on a council with the local chamber of commerce and the contemporary art and design museum along with ten other representatives. With this group, she seeks to build out more resources for designers of all types in Costa Rica and additional opportunities to show and sell their work. With stores in the area taking high commissions on locally produced items, especially those created by women, she hopes that this task force can put together more fairs or similar events and spaces that allow makers to have direct access to new customers.

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With so many things going on already, it’s hard to imagine María having time to do much else! However, she’s also currently working on an an ecommerce website to make her collections available beyond the few local and international stores where her items are currently sold. In addition, she’s begun the process of designing low-impact handbags made from wood and wool fibers alongside her other pieces. If all goes well, her portfolios will be shown at Satisfactory, a local design popup in San Jose. While she loves her studio space, she’s also in the middle of renovating it to make it more practical for her businesses. Once that is complete, one of her other goals is to eventually utilize it as a gallery for women artists. The space will then be even more of a hub for all of the things that she believes in: building community, creating quality and sustainable designs, and empowering other female artists.

Learn more about Austère by following the brand on Instagram at @austere_atelier or check out Crudo Atelier’s profile at @crudoatelier!

Studio Sunday: Kristen Elizabeth
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We’re bringing back Studio Sundays and this weekend we’re so excited to be introducing you to one of our PxP Contemporary artists, Kristen Elizabeth! Learn more in our interview below and then don’t forget to check our her available works in our premiere exhibition ‘Pilot’, which is currently on view online!

Artist Biography:

Connecticut based artist, Kristen Elizabeth (b.1986) formally educated in Industrial Design, has been developing her unique artistic voice over the past several years. Having grown up on the coast, she is heavily influenced by the sea and the dynamic tension between power and balance that can be observed around us. Her work seeks to draw viewers in through bold movement and a counterbalance of intricate mark making. Her use of a wide variety of materials such as acrylic, graphite, pastel, and more creates a visual statement that can be experienced on multiple levels. In addition to her art, she has been involved in many creative projects including painting a 50ft tall likeness of Lebron James in Harlem's famed Rucker Park, as well as - developed a new logo and fashion illustrations for New York's influential FABB charity event.  Her work has been featured in multiple publications including Create! Magazine, Art Reveal Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.  

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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?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for art. I grew up in a creative family and had practicing artists on both my mother & father’s side. I’ve always had a desire to be creative, but felt I had to be practical. Because of this, I majored in product design and was approaching graduation right at the beginning of the recession in 2008. The career and life I had been envisioning for the past four years all but evaporated, but this allowed me freedom from a traditional path and ultimately set me on the course to where I am today. It’s been quite a ride - with both highs and lows. I hope to express this dynamism that is life through my current and future works.

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

I currently divide my time between my small home studio and a larger studio space where I run my business, a children's art studio called SplatterBox. My space at home is peaceful, harmonious and filled with the books, art, and music I love. That space allows me to focus on smaller more contained works using mostly watercolors and inks. SplatterBox allows me the room to stretch out and work on larger pieces without worrying about making a mess - hence the name SplatterBox. That said, it can be a challenge! It can often be hectic & stressful but it is also highly rewarding. I was able to not only lead a fulfilling path teaching kids but also re-discover my passion for art amongst all the glitter, unicorns, & beautiful mess.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

I really try to absorb my environment. I find the people and places around me to be incredible resources. I’ve found that some series tend to draw from specific experiences, while other inspiration could be found in more ethereal experiences. My ‘Mineral Girl’ series was completely inspired by a trip to the amazing mineral room at the Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. To contrast that, my ‘Geo Swoosh’ & ‘'The Change’ series took from something much more intuitive and deep within myself. I spent much of my childhood by the sea and observed everything from grey misty mornings to deep dark raging storms. Drawing from these visual memories as well as exploring life experiences I had, helped guide my hand.  You can see this in everything from the large sweeping motions to the tapestry of delicate details and patterns.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

The one piece of advice I would give my younger self is DON’T WAIT. On pessimistic days I might see it as time wasted, but I have had a range of other experiences and challenges that inform my art today. That said, I held back from truly jumping into my art career for many years and wish I had started that path sooner. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you keep delaying and putting it off - you’ll never know what opportunities might come your way.

What are you working on now and for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m coming off of an exciting job working for FABB (The Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball) & can’t seem to stray from creating high contrast fashion illustrations. I’ve found these very cathartic and they allow me to create without the pressure of a series or having any constraints imposed (self or otherwise). I’m happy to say they have enabled me to gain a clear headspace and I now have two new series I’m in the process of designing. Both will be an expansion & evolution of my previous work. As a side note, I have to give a nod to the Podcast - Art & Cocktails - for the invaluable information learned while listening to the episode ‘How To Design A New Series’.

View her collection of available works with PxP Contemporary here!

Good Vibes Only: Negativity in the Art World and How to Fight it
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The more we put ourselves out there, the more people will share their opinions of us and our work - both good and bad. It’s amazing to have people express interest in your art on social media and especially in person. We hope that you appreciate the encouragement, internalize that you are deserving of the positive support, and enjoy returning the compliments as much as Kat and I do! But as they say, it’s not always sunshine and roses. It’s likely that you’ve encountered negativity in the art world and it can be difficult to be at your best when the attitude of others doesn’t match your own. I’ve broken down a few common situations below to identify and overcome these unnecessary sources of drama!

Ignoring the ‘Starving Artist’ stereotype

“So what are you going to do with that?” was a question that I would often get from people when I told them that I was studying towards a BFA (and when I was in grad school for my MA in Art History too!). My response was almost always met with a look best described as halfway between puzzled and concerned. After working in the arts for the past ten years, however, I feel more empowered in this field now more than ever. For example, while there is still tons of progress to be made, we are seeing more women and people of color taking charge and making their way into the roles and institutions that had previously been out of reach. Choosing to pursue a creative career shouldn’t feel like it limits your options. From exhibiting nationally and abroad, working for galleries and art fairs to museums and non-profits, starting a business, writing a book, and more, it isn’t what can an artist do...it’s what can’t we do?

It took me quite some time to arrive at the realization that my possibilities were not limited by what others think artists are capable of. While it can be disheartening that not everyone will be 100% supportive of your goals, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to follow your passion. When you put yourself in the mindset that anything can happen, things can surprise you in the best way!

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Minding your Ps and Qs

When Kat and I went to Miami in December 2018, what really stood out to us was the incredible variety of art that we saw (at over ten fairs!). This is one of the things that we appreciate most about this industry: the art world IS big enough that everyone can find their place in it. Not everyone will be represented by blue chip galleries or exhibit in museums, but you do not need to do either of those things to find supportive collectors and share your work with people from around the world. With this in mind, push yourself to be a savvy networker: keep business cards with you, have a memorable elevator pitch ready to go, and don’t be afraid to speak up about your accomplishments.

Here’s an example:

Kat and I stopped at a booth to admire a piece we liked. A man walking by paused next to us to introduce himself as the creator of the work, explain a bit about it, and as he was on his way to do something else just quickly ended the conversation by saying: “Thanks so much for looking at my work. Here’s my card. Please keep in touch!” Keep your business interactions professional and polite, which will ensure that you leave a great impression.

The art world is great for making new connections and finding your niche, but be very careful about burning bridges. It is so unfortunate that for as much good as social media has done for artists, it has also given some people the false notion that they should use it to criticize others. Whether it’s posting disrespectful comments or even trying to preface a remark with “I don’t mean to be negative but…”, engaging in that kind of behavior online will guarantee that the other person will not want to work with you. What if down the road they are the link to a big opportunity that you would have loved to be a part of?

I’m sure you’ve also seen the comments that start off with “sorry to be the one to say this but…”, as if this excuses poor behavior. They’re never from someone who writes criticism as their profession. Rather, it is a cheap way of putting aside guilt when they know that the second half of what they’re going to say is unnecessary and negative. It is highly unlikely that any person with a valid reason for being critical of something would apologize for it.

The same holds true with overreacting to not being selected for a gallery or exhibition. We know that it is disappointing and frustrating, especially if you’ve applied more than once. We’ve been there! You send your best work and hope that it will be picked, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I actually discuss rejection in much more depth both in our first book ‘The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists’ as well as on the Art & Cocktails podcast, but my best advice is to stay positive, try to be gracious, and move on. Something better is coming!

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Developing a thick skin

I strongly believe that artists should support artists rather than get sucked into competing with or comparing yourself to others and it is especially disappointing that even today, you still see women who think it’s okay to put down other women (why?!). Remember that everyone is on their own path and even if another artist is finding success that doesn’t mean that you never will. Jealousy will only distract you so keep working hard and be patient that your time will come when it’s meant to. It’s also important to bear in mind that people rarely post about the hard times and struggles that they go through. If all you see are sales and exhibitions, it may seem like an artist achieved ‘overnight success’ when in reality they had to put in blood, sweat, tears and years of effort!

Negative feedback or unsolicited advice (not actual constructive criticism) can feel annoying at best and devastating at worst. As your initial reaction might be defensive, first ask yourself if it is even worth it to continue a discussion with this person. If you still feel the need to respond do so concisely and politely, but don’t expect anything in return. It will be up to you to tune them out, delete their comments or even block them. Kat shared a quote with me a while back that really resonated with me that was something along the lines of “nobody doing more than you will criticize you, only someone doing less.” The people who go out of their way to bring you down are simply dealing with their own feelings of insecurity. While it’s unfortunate that they have to take it out on you, focus instead on the awesome people who are genuinely there to encourage you and what you do!

Kat and I are so happy that the community of readers of both Create! Magazine and The Smartist Guide is a positive place for artists to share, connect, grow, learn, support, and inspire or be inspired by one another. We know this isn’t always how it is and that it can be difficult not to let the fear of facing negativity interfere with or stop you from putting yourself out there. But if it is your dream to be an artist, we encourage you to do it anyway!


Cheers!
Alicia

alicia@createmagazine.com
@puigypics