Posts in Interview
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!

Start Late, Live Your Dreams | Podcast Episode with Lisa Congdon
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Join us for a super inspiring episode featuring one of our favorite artists and role models, Lisa Congdon.

If you are worried about whether it's too late for you to be an artist and pursue your dream, listen to this interview immediately!

This episode covers:

  • Lisa's journey and breakthroughs

  • Starting later in life

  • Overcoming imposter syndrome and fear

  • Finding your artistic voice

  • Managing your time and increasing productivity while making time for fun + more

Fine artist, illustrator and author Lisa Congdon is best known for her colorful paintings and hand lettering. She works for clients around the world including MoMA, REI, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and Random House Publishing, among many others. She is the author of seven books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist, and illustrated books The Joy of Swimming, Fortune Favors the Brave, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, Twenty Ways to Draw a Tulip and A Collection a Day. Her latest book, A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, was released by Chronicle Books in October 2017. She was named one of 40 Women Over 40 to Watch in 2015 and she is featured in the 2017 book, 200 Women Who Will Change the Way you See the World. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.

Learn more at www.lisacongdon.com

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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Kat & Alicia Interviewed for the THRIVE Talks Podcast!
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We were so honored to be invited to be guests on the THRIVE Talks Podcast hosted by Jamie and Tara of Thrive Art Studio! Here’s a description and link to the episode:

Starting where you are with Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig from Create! Magazine

Do you read Create! Magazine? Today we talk with Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig about the ups and downs of running an independent contemporary art magazine and working in the arts! We loved talking to another creative duo about starting where you are, failure and they offer awesome tips on getting your work featured!

Listen here.

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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!

Tattooing in "Somewhere NYC": Interview with Astrid and Mars
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Interview by The TAX Collection

https://www.instagram.com/somewhere.nyc/

What led to the inception of 'Somewhere NYC?' - Is this something that you had been planning on doing for a while, or did something specific spur its creation? 

Mars: Opening "Somewhere" was definitely a crime of opportunity (or maybe fate?). I had spent the last two years working in a tiny, one-station studio in the back of an art gallery in Bushwick, and although I loved it, it was starting to feel a little cramped. I traveled a lot during that time and kept getting progressively more inspired by all the amazing queer studios that were opening in other cities. I met so many wonderful people who were so deeply committed to offering a safer space to get tattooed in. I wanted to create an equally open space to be able to invite them back to! 

Right after finishing a stint at Minuit Dix in Montreal and Outcast Club in Toronto, I found out that my previous studio mate was leaving New York. Astrid was coming back to New York at exactly the same time and needed a place to work. It felt like a sign!

Astrid: I returned home to California for ten months in 2017 to work in my first shop. As a former home tattooer, I felt obligated to put in the time at a street shop to feel less alienated from the community. Despite my profoundly positive experience (for which I'm forever grateful), I still left feeling discontent with the old school dynamic of a shop owner "running" space — a space consisting of artists who essentially managed their operations independently. I knew I would have to be my own boss. When I moved back, Mars contacted me, and here we are. 

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I know you have certain feelings towards traditional tattoo shops, what is something different you feel your shop provides? 

Astrid: I'm very collective minded when it comes to workspaces. We wanted a transparent, cooperative partnership where we share primary responsibilities but are more or less autonomous. Our primary mission is to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. So many young clients of mine have recounted experiences where they felt scared, pressured, and intimidated in a tattoo shop. Artists bullied them into designs they didn't want or belittled their ideas. It's wild to me that any artist would think that's appropriate and I'm glad to see the machismo aspect of the industry drying up. 

Mars: I generally have a strong preference towards private studios (as opposed to more traditional walk-in shops) both for working and being tattooed. I started my career tattooing friends in my bedroom, most of whom were queer and didn't feel comfortable being tattooed in traditional shop environments, which was a feeling I shared. At the time, I think it was much harder to find private spaces or be able to get a sense of which shops would be welcoming. I've heard so many horror stories from friends and clients about being harassed, assaulted, or just not respected by tattooers (all behaviors that have been a big part of mainstream tattoo culture for a long time). That was not an environment I had any interest in replicating. 

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Has social media (Instagram specifically) helped shape your business? 

Astrid: Social media IS my business. Artists used to be entirely dependent on shops to bring in clientele, and that's where the gatekeeping began. The internet turned the tables completely. People seek out individuals now, not shops. The shops depend on artists. It's been beautiful to see people who were, or would have been turned away from traditional spaces become successful in their own right, in their own style. That's why the changes in social media, mainly punitive algorithms, and shadowbanning, are more than frustrating - they're dangerous. People choose the content they want to see, and trying to restructure those choices makes no sense. 

Mars: I wouldn't have a business at all if it weren't for social media. I wasn't trying to be a tattoo artist or do this professionally at all when I started; I was just tattooing some friends and posting the results on Instagram. If it weren't for people finding and responding positively to my work there, I have no idea what I would be doing with my life right now. 

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Any upcoming guests we should be checking out? 

Astrid: All of them! It's been so amazing to work with friends and with talented strangers who become friends. We are still very new and like to ask our guests what we can improve on. It's essential to get feedback and keep growing.

Mars: Oh my god yeah, everyone! The main motivation for me leaving my previous studio was to finally have space to share with other artists; it's been such a pleasure so far, and I can't wait to continue expanding our little tattoo family. 

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If someone reading this wants to book a tattoo appointment, what's the best way for them to go about this? 

Astrid: Email us! We are not a walk-in shop, which is important because it both allows us to be selective and keeps random strangers from walking in and potentially souring the vibe. My books are almost always open. Just remember that answering emails takes time, so please be patient. 

Mars: Everyone working at Somewhere manages their own schedule and has slightly different ways of doing things. If you're interested in making an appointment with any of our guest artists, I'd recommend just checking out their Instagram to see how they prefer to take appointments. I open my books on the 1st of every month and receive all inquiries through a booking form, which will always be posted in my bio during that time, cause trying to figure out how to schedule my life more than a month out is way too much for me to handle!

How many tattoos do you each have? Do you ever tattoo yourselves? 

Astrid: Many of my friends sacrificed their bodies so I could learn, so of course I tattooed myself as well. It would have been unfair to not practice on my own skin first. There are tattoos I did on myself, for better or for worse (mostly for worse), and I have tattoos from fellow artist friends. I decided recently that I only want friends to put art on my body. I always thought the design itself would be most important, but it turns out that the person who did the art is more important to me now. I get to carry them around with me forever. People are surprised that I don't have that many. My grandma doesn't want me to get any more, even though she likes the ones I put on other people. 

Mars: I've definitely tattooed myself because it is a really important step in the learning process when you're still figuring things out, but I absolutely hate it! There are so many amazing artists out there. I'd much rather dedicate the body space to work I really respect than cover myself in my own doodles. I get so tired of seeing my work all the time, and there's so much to learn from trading and connecting with other tattooers.

I'm honestly not sure exactly how many I have at this point; I sometimes try to count them like sheep when I'm going to sleep, but usually, I fall asleep somewhere around 50.

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Starting a business in NYC is not for the faint of heart - have there been any challenges along the way? 

Astrid: We found out that our windows did not keep the rain on the outside and that our heater is selective about when it is or isn't going to turn on. Ridiculous building issues are a classic Brooklyn thing. However, I've had much more trouble dealing with apartments than when I opened our business. To be fair, Mars did most of the work. I recommend a Capricorn + Taurus business partnership whenever possible, whether you believe in the zodiac or not. 

Mars: I can't even count the amount of meltdowns I had in the first couple of months, but I can't imagine going into this project with anyone better suited than Astrid. We've known each other for 6-7 years (where and when we actually met is one of the only things we disagree on), well before either of us were tattooing, and I think we do well balancing each other out and keeping each other sane. It's honestly an earth sign dream team. 

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What was your worst client/tattoo experience? 

Astrid: Almost everyone I've ever worked with has been wonderful. I think I only experience difficulty with clients who are particularly controlling or demanding, usually people who don't understand the limitations of tattooing. This behavior usually comes from a place of anxiety, and I can empathize with that. The only way to combat these situations is to trust your artist. They are making decisions based beyond aesthetics. They have to think about how the design will work on your actual body and if it will age well. It's not just about how it looks on paper. 

Mars: I think I've been really lucky with all of my clients! Since for the most part everyone finds me through Instagram, I think generally my clients are pretty self-selective; I don't really have anyone come in that I don't really vibe with. 

Unfortunately that doesn't always extend to their friends/boyfriends (usually boyfriends). I think probably the worst thing you can bring to a tattoo appointment is another person who's going to be questioning your decisions the whole time. I'll always give my professional opinion based on how I think the piece will age, fit with other pieces you have, etc, but ultimately the only opinion that really matters is your own. I hear a lot of, "That spot is gonna hurt too much, get it lower/higher/smaller/less visible," from people not getting the tattoo, and it really bums me out because it's not their body. Don't let anyone else make you doubt yourself or get in the way of you getting the piece you're really excited about!

Astrid: Yes, please leave the boyfriend at home. And leave behind the friend that doesn't want to be there or the friend that wants to talk to you like your artist isn't there. I don't only have an investment in the tattoo, but an investment in getting to know you. It's still a privilege to put art on someone’s body and I appreciate having the opportunity to bond with clients.  

If someone wants a tattoo and is not in NYC, will either of you be traveling and doing guest residencies? If so, where? 

Astrid: Definitely! I made a permanent travel "highlight" so people can check in on it as I add destinations. My biggest issue is that I am terrified of flying, so I haven't been traveling as much as I could. And I'm sorry about that. I wish strangers were more down to hold my hand during taking off. 

Mars: I travel pretty frequently, but also unfortunately not as often as I'd like. I have a lot of guilt around the frequency I'm able to get to other cities, but the truth is I have a family, including two dogs here, that I hate to leave. It's really hard to balance time at home, time working, and the time actually spent on vacation. Realistically, when I'm on tour somewhere, my only days off are travel days. That being said, I always post about cities I'm going to as soon as I know I'm going, and there will definitely be many more in the future!

What advice would you give someone getting their first tattoo?  

Astrid: These days, my advice would be to get a little tattoo first. Something simple and small, just so you can understand how the process works and what it feels like. Fear is challenging. Fear will hold you hostage and force you to get an awesome tattoo that is too small in a place where you didn't want it. Choose an artist whose work you love and make sure you see the kind of work you want reflected in their portfolio. The number one rule is that if you don't like the design, or you feel uncomfortable with the artist, don't get the tattoo. Yes, you will lose your deposit, but you don't owe it to anyone to go through with a situation where you don't feel seen, respected, or safe.  

Mars: I think the most important thing is to trust your artist, and a big first step towards that is doing your research in finding someone whose work you value. I'm honestly so jealous of anyone getting their first tattoo now, in a post-Instagram world. When I got my first tattoo, I had no understanding that artists could have different styles or specialties, or that you could even be specific about the type of person or space you wanted to work with. Now it's so easy to find someone who does exactly what you're looking for, and at the same time get a little bit of an idea of who they are as a person before going in. 

I think if you go into it trusting your artist, and being open to their interpretation, you'll end up with a really rad tattoo that you're both super stoked on! But that trust also extends to knowing you can assert your needs at any time. They know what's going to be best in terms of what's realistically possible, what's going to heal well, etc., but you know your body. Like any other situation, make sure whomever you are with can respect your boundaries. If you need a break, you can take a break! If you need to adjust how you're sitting for comfort, talk to your artist, and figure out how to do that. Don't be embarrassed to ask questions at any point in the process, because you're both relying on each other to communicate and make something awesome.

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.

Unconventional Forms: Interview with Deane McGahan
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Interview by Alicia Puig

Deane McGahan is contemporary sculptor currently residing in the Seattle metropolitan area. As having grown up in the Northwest, her aesthetic sensibilities are deeply rooted in the region. Not only as an appeal to the natural beauty at her doorstep but the lived-in experience of people, the effectual charge of living, which Seattle and its many haunts have afforded her.

"This new body of work is inspired by the desire to create unconventional forms. Shapes that push the boundaries of the material employed. Altering what ordinarily is the solid uniformity of concrete into casts that seem pulled, stretched, in transit. To take the stone and make it rip, blend, emote. To revise what is normally the process of casting the wet matrix of concrete into a solid block. To discover instead a form that looks like a sound wave instead of a static obelisk. A reverberation rather than an inert constant.  

My aim is to create work that inspires, connects and contributes. Work that bridges the abstraction of human emotion and solid objects. If there is a message in my work, it is the suggestion that untamed feeling might be captured for a moment in the immutable. A snapshot, as it were, of flow caught in an object and held in stasis."

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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 always knew from a young age that I wanted to fully pursue art. I studied commercial art in college where I sort of fell into making video games before gaming jobs were a thing. Over the course of 25 years, I primarily worked as a 3D environment artist on AAA titles. It was a great way to make a living, but over time I felt the need to build more tangible things, made real, be effectually experienced. Shifting from 3D modeling to sculpting felt like a natural shift, as I found that the spatial awareness I developed in the digital world was applicable to the real world.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

On a high level, my inspiration fuels from how we evolve through creativity. I'm obsessed with connecting the dots of human growth and art. I have to sculpt every day or something feels wrong. It's like a raw encoded emotion in me to create or die. Capturing these feelings through new shapes and space helps me navigate life. That, and it feels damn good.

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What mediums do you use and how do they add to the effect of your work?

I primarily sculpt with concrete because the medium itself connects back to my inspiration for evolving. Normally it's cast into solid blocks for function but to revise the process, experiment, and present new shapes highly influences my work. It's also not a very forgiving medium, which forces me to make lots of decisions in the moment while it's still in a workable state. Ultimately the process itself defines and continues to evolve my style.

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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 space is quite small for sculpting. I'm constantly rearranging to make room for projects. Right now I'm fine with that, as I've learned that the most important thing about a creative space is to not let it dictate your ability to move forward. I figure it out as I go.

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Can you tell us about how where you reside and grew up has influenced your art?

Currently, I live in Seattle but I grew up in Portland and have been in the Pacific Northwest most of my life. The beauty of our region is a given as an influence in my work but the lived-in experiences of the people and the city really drive me.

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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?

I'm excited to share that I'm going to be part of the Relish group art show opening on June 7th. It's at the new 9th and Thomas building in South Lake Union. It's great to see non-traditional curated shows starting to pop up around town.

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The Future of Our Planet: Interview with Nick Pedersen
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Interview by Alicia Puig

Nick Pedersen is a photo-based digital artist and illustrator whose work focuses on environmental issues and political activism. He holds a BFA degree in Photography, as well as an MFA degree in Digital Imaging from Pratt Institute in New York. He has shown artwork in galleries across the country and internationally, recently including the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Fleisher Art Memorial, and the NYC Affordable Art Fair. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as Vogue, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and on the covers of Photoshop User and After Capture. In the past few years, he has also completed Artist Residencies at the Banff Center in Canada, the Gullkistan Residency in Iceland, and the Starry Night Retreat in New Mexico. 

Statement 

My artwork is primarily inspired by my experience with nature and environmentalism. It is specifically motivated by my concern for the future due to the effects of climate change, sea level rise, deforestation, and many other environmental impacts humans have had on the planet. My goal with these projects is to visually depict this modern conflict between the natural world and the manmade world in interesting and provocative ways, to create elaborate, photorealistic images that carry a message of conservation and sustainability. Through my work, I want to show a glimpse into these hypothetical worlds and provide viewers a space in which to contemplate the future of our planet.

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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?

Growing up, I was always interested in photography, documenting my adventures in the outdoors and all the places I travelled. I got my degree in photography and started learning how to use digital tools for photo editing, which was a revelation. I realized that instead of using photography just for documentation, I could also create whatever I could imagine. I did a lot of experimentation with digital photomontage and came up with my own style and conceptual motivations. A few years later I decided to pursue an MFA degree in Digital Arts at Pratt Institute in New York to really focus on these techniques and concepts. After taking everything that I’ve learned, now I’m working on various personal projects and commissions, showing my work in a few galleries, publishing my artist books, and teaching workshops on photography and digital imaging.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

The main inspiration for much of my artwork has been my experience with nature and environmentalism. I’m motivated by my concern for the future, due to the effects of things like climate change, sea level rise, deforestation and many other environmental impacts humans have had on the planet. My goal with these projects is to visually depict this modern conflict between the natural world and the manmade world in interesting and provocative ways, and create elaborate, photorealistic images that carry a message of conservation and sustainability. I portray this as an epic struggle and in my work these forces clash in “theatrical, post-apocalyptic battlegrounds”.

My newest series, "Floating World" is an ongoing project exploring the impending issues sea of level rise in coastal cities around the world, and depicting those most threatened by flooding in the future. With carbon emissions reaching levels not seen in 15 million years, the atmosphere is currently on course towards a ‘climate crisis’ where modern civilization could become unsustainable. From melting polar ice caps, ocean acidification, and sea level rise to historic droughts, stronger wildfires, and more extreme weather events, we are quickly approaching a strange and unpredictable future. This work explores the idea that the world as we know it might not be around forever, and questions the legacy that modern humanity will be handing down to the next generations.  

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What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art and how do you think working in photography and digital art specifically adds to the effect of your work?

All of my artwork is created using my own photography, so after researching and sketching out ideas to work with, the next step is to photograph everything I need for the project. For much of my past work I started with images from cities on the east coast like New York, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia which was perfect to collect photos of urban decay like buildings overgrown with vines and industrial ruins. The images of animals came from the wild, zoos, aquariums, taxidermy shops, and museums of natural history. Finally, many of the landscape images came from traveling around the US and to a few different countries over the past few years to capture the best source material. Then to create my images, I use a complex process of digital imaging and each image is actually made up of about 50 or more photographs meticulously pieced together. So I spend a lot of effort building up an image, figuring out the lighting, shadows, color, and other effects to make it look realistic and seamless. Each piece is carefully planned out and created as an intricately layered construction, which gives it such a hyper-real, illustrative quality. Through this work, my main goal is to show viewers a glimpse into these hypothetical worlds that I’ve created, and provide a space to contemplate the future of our planet.

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

Last year we bought a house, so I’ve actually been working to set up a new home/studio. So far, I have a desk station for my computer equipment, a photo space with backdrops and studio lights, and a large-format printer, along with a drafting table and flat-file cabinet. The studio space is set up really well for me to create my digital photomontage pieces and then print my own limited editions of the work. A large part of my creative time is also spent taking photos out in the wilderness, at parks, museums, or travelling to get all the source material I use in my artwork. So I would say the single most important thing for my work would be my camera, because I take it with me everywhere. 

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

In terms of business, it is really important to realize early on that you will be running a small business as a visual artist. I resisted that for a long time because I just wanted to create artwork, but I’ve learned a lot since then and I think I’m now at a place where I’m confident about what I’m doing with my career. Creatively, I think it is important to continuously learn new things and expose yourself to new situations so you have something relevant to respond to. I would say that the most important thing is to follow your own path, and create the artwork that you are actually interested in and care about. For me, it has been important to create artwork that is about the time I live in, that has personal meaning and raises significant questions.  

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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?

A few weeks ago I completed a great artist residency in southern New Mexico called the Starry Night Retreat. It was a really interesting place to work, and I gathered a huge amount of new source material taken from many strange and beautiful parts of the Southwest. With this work I’m thinking about creating a new series using the expansive landscapes I photographed at the White Sand Dunes, and combining it with my other imagery from the region showing astronomical research, space exploration, and weapons testing that has been a big part of New Mexico’s history. So this year I’m taking some time away from exhibitions to focus more on researching, experimenting, and coming up with new ideas for environmental series and other projects. One big thing I’m looking forward to is that I will be a Visiting Artist at Pratt Institute coming up this fall, where I will be doing guest lectures and critiques for the Digital Arts Department. 

Stay tuned for new work, and feel free to follow me at: 

https://nick-pedersen.com

https://www.instagram.com/nick_pedersen

https://www.behance.net/nickpedersen

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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Mother and Daughter, Lot Brandt and Sophie Holt, Ceramic Artists
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Interview with Sophie Holt by Alicia Puig

Mother and daughter, second and third generation ceramic artists, are collaborating for the first time.

Our genes, our treasure, our commitment results in a sculptural collection called ‘SoLo’ Lot, who lives in The Netherlands, came to visit her daughter in Motueka, New Zealand for nine months. And those nine months they have been working together, almost every day, on a collection of sculptures.

I love clay. It is a pure and honest material. People used it centuries before me. When I see work created by long lost civilizations, sometimes thousands of years old, I feel connected, and amazed…the tendency to tell your story through a hunk of clay is so ancient.

Egbert Brandt taught me to be a ceramist. From 1981 to 1985 I attended the evening academy in Utrecht; modern oil painting techniques, anatomy, and portrait drawing. The urge to transform experiences into ceramic forms, my creative energy, for me, it is innate. To listen to my passion and act upon it, to continuously evolve, are my rewards.

It is beautiful and intense that my hands make that what I take in from the world around me and in me. Because I work from a space where words do not exist, it is difficult to find the right ones to accompany my work. 

It is wonderful when someone comes by and identifies. While you do not know one another, it suddenly creates an intimate connection. I once read; you are the connections that you make. This always remained with me. And in those moments, I feel it is true. 

Sophie has watched me work on the kitchen table from the age of 2, and it is very special to have been working together as mother and daughter each our person but together one, SoLo.

www.instagram.com/studiosoph

www.lotbrandt.nl

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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?

S: I come from an artistic family. I have always been surrounded by art. My mother often took me to galleries and lucky for me, there are a lot of them in The Netherlands, where I grew up. What I love about art is that you can be free of what it means to you; the emotions you feel might not be the same as what someone else gets from the same piece.

I now live in New Zealand, the country where I was born, but I grew up in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Last year my mum came over for nine months so we could work together for the very first time. She taught me new techniques, and together we created 17 sculptures.

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We love that your illustrations and ceramics are so colorful and fun. Can you tell us about what inspires you?

S: I always find that a difficult question to answer. I think because I’m not very good with words and expressing myself verbally I like to do this visually. So everything that happens around/inside me, the good and the bad, I use as inspiration.

Can you talk about some of your favorite works, and what makes them special to you?

S: What I loved about making these big sculptures is that they take a very long time to make. That feeling when you open your kiln and everything is still in one piece- is one of the best feelings you can get. It was a new experience for me.

And what makes the sculptures even more special is that it was a collaboration with my mother, creating together in one room for those months was very special. I hope there will be a lot more of that in the future.

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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?

S: At the moment I am working in the extra bedroom of my house.

What I need is good light, a good seat, and a table. And I work best listening to podcasts or have a documentary going in the background. I’ve always been like that, even in high school, I was always drawing while the teachers were talking to the class.

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

Don’t undersell yourself. And to my creative younger self- don’t freak out if you have a creative block. It will come back eventually.

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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?

We will exhibit all the sculptures we made at the Quiet Dog Gallery in Nelson, New Zealand. This will happen very soon- this coming July!

Complexity Through Minimal Expression: Interview with Yihong Hsu
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Yihong Hsu has an interesting multi-cultural background. She was born in Seoul, Korea as 3rd generation Chinese immigrants. She received American education since elementary school to college. She now lives permanently in Hong Kong.

 Yihong Hsu received her Bachelor of Art in Graphic Design at  Maryland Institute, College of Art, USA and later received her Master in Arts, Design Management, at International Design Advanced Studies Hongik University in Seoul, Korea.  

Her multi-national and cultural background lead her to have a successful career in design and branding industry for 18 years.

In 2018, she had a first break through as an artist, by being commissioned to do an art installation of 10 meter wide giant Panda and 7 meters tall Camellia tree - LOVE.FOUND. in Chongqing IFS mall (with co-artist Simone Carena of Italy). Ever since, she has found a new passion in contemporary art and have been painting for the past year. 

Artist Statement

Seed Series

The “Seed Series” was developed as a personal interpretation of nature and carries a deeper meaning of how that relates to us - humans. Flowers are portrayed as carriers of the seeds. All flowers carry female and male parts and thus self-reproductive. It is in all nature of things, a desire to reproduce and seeds are the beginning of that. My paintings are the exploration of seeds, seeds journey. Every seed will carry its own path, it may fall out sometime, it will one day be received, and it will grow.

Ball Series

Circles (balls) are very intriguing. They create movement and tension in the space and create odd spaces around them. They are so simple yet so powerful and I find myself using circles (balls) to interpret life, my own encounters, experiences, and emotion. Using the most minimal expression to interpret some complicated thoughts.

Interview by Alicia Puig

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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 was a graphic designer for 18 years working in branding and advertising agencies. During those years, I always felt like there was an artist in every designer.

However, designers are very restricted, as they also have to be sensitive to the project's objectives, client's needs, market trends, etc. I was longing for freedom to express myself the way I wanted to and about things I was interested in. In 2018, I was lucky to be commissioned to do an art installation piece in Chongqing, China. A 10-meter long chrome finishing panda lying on top of Chongqing IFS shopping mall complex - named LOVE.FOUND. (co-artist Simone Carena) and a 7-meter tall metal-chrome camellia tree. During the project, which lasted one year, I did a lot of research on flowers and how to express them. I sketched a lot of camellias and ways to make it more interesting. It is during this time that I fell in love with flowers and nature and decided to quit my 18 years of career in advertising and start the journey of depicting flowers and nature. I have been painting ever since and find it very therapeutic and self-satisfying. 

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We love that some of your work is minimalist while other pieces have more complex layering and patterns. Can you tell us about what inspires you? 

It was a long train of thought and curiosity that led to these two very different types of paintings. I personally called them the "seed series" and "ball series." As I started to dig into and experimenting with different ways of expressing flowers, I became more curious about the anatomy of the flower. Something not everyone draws about when they draw beautiful outskirt of flowers. What I learned from the biological anatomy diagrams of flowers was that all flowers carry female and male parts and what I thought were the seeds of flowers were only pollens and that the seeds are carried deep inside the ovary and ovule. This was very intriguingand interesting to me, and it inspired me to start painting flowers always emphasizing on the seeds that they carry. I also started to imagine them all around us in nature, how they strive to survive and get transferred to other flowers, and so on. To me, it somehow reflects human life and what we go through in life. For the "ball series," it began when I started to draw a lot of circles for the "seed series." It was very fun and interesting to me how circles affect the space around it. It gives a sense of motion even in a still 2-dimensional space. It is a perfect round-edge shape but provides oddness. I was inspired to just use circles (balls) and the most minimal expression to depict this tension. When I want to tell a very complicated story and put a title to the "ball series" pieces, it makes perfect sense!

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

I do a few sketches before just to make sure what is already in my head looks okay on flat surface. 

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 creative space is an extra room at my place that I transformed into my workspace. There is no most important "thing" for me. I just need absolute silence and natural sunlight. I love my big window. 

What is your favorite thing about being an artist? That I can transform my thoughts and feelings into art. I don't need to organize my thoughts into PowerPoint slides and excel sheets and use fancy words to write about it. I just draw them. I feel free!

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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Dolls Exploring the Experience of Motherhood: Interview with Nicole Havekost
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By Alicia Puig

Nicole Havekost is an artist living in Rochester, Minnesota. Her own work is varied in media and technique but linked by her interest in material and process. Recently, Nicole was both a 2018 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant recipient and Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council Advancing Artist Grant recipient. She has recently exhibited work in New Orleans, Dallas, and Tasmania, Australia. Nicole earned her BFA in Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in Printmaking from the University of New Mexico. 

I make figures that are doll-like in form. I began making these figures when my son was small. I expected these figures would teach my son about my world, but instead, this work has been a way to teach me about his. These figures are observers, thoughtful participants in the process of discovery. They nurture and protect, yet they are neither beast nor human. These animals are my evolving experience of motherhood; the profound change of body, heart, and desire I never expected and couldn’t control in a new world rich with possibility.

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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 always loved to draw. I didn't know a person could be an artist, and the only art form I was familiar with was the newspaper comics. So I wanted to be a cartoonist. That interest later turned to fashion design, but after my foundation year at RISD, I realized there were so many other possibilities. I graduated as a printmaker but began making sculptural objects during my senior year. I haven't stopped since.

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Tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork or a specific series that you're currently working on.

I currently have two different bodies of work in progress, but they both come from the same place. I am deeply interested in exploring what it feels like to be in a body. The animal dolls that are published in Create! Magazine reference my transition to motherhood and how it felt to nurture another soul in this world. The other work includes mixed media sculpture exploring my bodily experience of sickness, pregnancy, aging, and recently, perimenopause.

Can you talk about some of your favorite works, and what makes them special to you?

My favorite works are often the ones I make at the beginning of a series. I don't yet know what the work will look like, but I can tell we will be the best of friends once it is complete. Often as the work progresses, there are stronger pieces, but that first one always holds a special place. It was there before I saw it, and then I made it. I love creating doll-like forms; my "Candy Lady" series of figures with candy innards are some of my favorites.

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

I work intuitively. Mostly I keep a list of descriptors related to the series I am working on. I am terrible at planning at planning my work; I get too tight. I like to have to problem solve my way through the process. Natural consequences make the work pretty interesting.

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

My work does change as I make it, but that's because I am responding to the process as I work instead of altering original plans. Because I do so much hand stitching in my work, progress is slower than I would like. But the process is deeply meditative and brings me much joy while I am doing it. I haven't paid attention to actual hours, but I can account for the time in episodic television. Some works take the length of several seasons of a Netflix binge, while other processes are a couple of stand up specials. I can't watch anything I really have to pay attention to when I am stitching, but I can keep track of large narratives. It is the best way to work.

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

I am excited to be shipping work to the Southbend Museum of Art Biennial 30 next month as well as the exhibition "Modern Archetypes" at Higher Art Gallery in Traverse City, Michigan. I will be participating in RISDCraft 2019 in Providence, Rhode Island in October and teaching the workshop "The Doll as Storyteller" at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in November.

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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!