Posts in Issue V
Interview: Dean Reynolds

Dean Reynolds is an american artist who's work can be described as Psychadelic Surrealism. His work explores ideas of mythology, religion, psychology and surrealist ideas. His work is a mixture of humor, Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, and the complex ideas of Carl Jung.  His work combines seriousness with the silly.  Images that are accessible and yet still a mystery.

www.deanreynoldsart.com

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Your artwork exhibits incredible technical skill in both drawing and painting. Can you tell us a little about your artistic journey? When did these skills develop?

I have always found the approach to making work with great technical means both challenging and intriguing. Challenging, because it’s a skill, or a set of skills, that needs practice, honing, experience, and diligence. Intriguing, because you always come across limitations, things that you don’t have any previous knowledge of.

While in undergrad, I wanted to develop those skills of rendering form, space, and light via painting and drawing.I spent a great deal of time sketching and doodling in sketchbooks that I always carried with me. Outside of class, I went to open studio figure drawing sessions and open figure painting sessions as much as possible. My education was in service to a very traditional way of painting, which allowed me to create a window to a world by understanding perspective, anatomy, light, space. 

It was in graduate school that the pursuit of technical skill became a way to create a world on a two-dimensional surface that was not about being realistic.

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Tell us about your artistic process. Your paintings are incredibly complex. What goes into developing and planning each piece?

It begins with an idea, from reading something or an image that comes to me. It generally arrives from doing thumbnail sketches or quick sketches. From there, I prepare a canvas and make a small, quick oil sketch of the image. I tone the canvas a dark brown and from there I draw out the basic forms with a white charcoal pencil. I lay down the basic forms. The drawing is just a guide, not something that I will follow exactly as blueprint. 

I guess I should be specific and use the painting Pychopomp Manabohzo as an example. It coincided with reading a great deal of Native American mythologies and sacred narratives. This image started out as a basic little thumbnail sketch in graphite pencil. It is a small drawing of a rabbit-like creature on a path. Tentacles emanate from the creature’s head, which also has a human face. In the distance, circular clouds form in the background horizon.

I built a somewhat square canvas, toned it, and began to draw out the basic design. From there, I began with the sky. I worked on the clouds, building up form by direct painting, scumbling and glazing. When I got to the forms on the horizon, I wanted to do something different from the small sketch. I then worked on some more small sketches of what might be there instead. I made some sketches of flower figures that were not flowers. I then made refined pencil sketches of these flower-figures and then made a small oil sketch of these forms. I went back to work and worked those out on the canvas. Since the color of the work was dominated by cool blues and violets, I made the choice that some warmer colors needed to be introduced. I made the path a reddish hue to pull the viewer through the painting. The path has a strange texture of either broken plates, or some might say raw meat, but it offers a visceral texture for the eye. With the rabbit figure, I knew that I had to paint every hair, every hair had to be visually felt. What also was informing the work was the images, symbols and figures of Native American mythos. The rabbit, or the Manabohzo, is a trickster figure. The rabbit is a creator figure that brought forth the Elk and was the guide to the spirits of the dead. The rabbit never runs straight, but in a zig-zag pattern as is the path in the painting. Since it is the master of knowledge and giving life, the two tentacles balance two symbols, the acorn and a key. The acorn is the symbol of life, potential, and birth, and the key unlocks doors, doors to knowledge and wisdom. The reason it has antlers is reference to its creation of the elk. The image is one of turning and of cyclical progress. The clouds and landscape contrast each other; the clouds turn upward and the land downward. The word Psychopomp is an obscure word. It means a spirit guide. The spirit guide is not just the guide of the spirits of the dead but a guide to transformation, to transition, to wisdom. 

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You have described your work as being influenced by the ideas of Carl Jung, psychological and surrealist ideas. When did your fascination with psychology begin? What aspects of these theories have inspired your work the most?

My interest in Jung has been with me for several years. It began with great vigor when I attended grad school. He is not the easiest to read and that is why I find his work intriguing. There are Jungians like James Hillman and Marie-Louis von Franz who are more approachable in their explanation of Jungian ideas. Unlike Freud, Jung saw the mind or the human situation as not just mechanically fixed but as organic, transformative. His ideas about the collective archetypes, the idea that we all share common themes, expressions, and symbols through our mythologies, religions, even rituals have always captured my interests. Jung was interested in many areas that would be considered irrelevant or not worth investigation, such as Alchemy, the Occult, and the I Ching; the ideas of the Anima/Animus (the masculine/feminine), the shadow aspect of the psyche (that which is hidden or suppressed) and the complex subtly of the approach to the individual; and then lastly his active imagination as a method of understanding.

My work is very inspired by those ideas, and the things that Jung and other Jungians delved into. Mythologies, The Occult, numerology, other religious, and the symbolism with all of those areas. The complexity of Jung is something that is happening in my work. The work I do is invested with those interests, the masculine and the feminine, the symbolism and narratives of mythos, and the use of imagination for understanding. Jung was working through language, and I am working primarily through the visual. I always find new things in Jung’s work that surprise me and add to my visual vocabulary. The work becomes otherworldly and it is worth several viewings to plumb some deeper discoveries. My work is about making those discoveries for myself, and I hope the viewer also gains something. 

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In 2015, you received the Griffin Art Prize, which included a four-week residency in London. Tell me about your experience with the London art scene. What impact did this experience have on you an artist, as well as your artwork as a whole?

The London art scene was much like the city: big, cosmopolitan, and surprising. I had the opportunity to attend the London Frieze Art Fair, the Tate Modern, the Gagosian and White Cube Galleries, as well as small out of the way galleries. Like the city, there was always something around the corner. It was a constant surge of people, visitors, you name it. 

I feel that when I left London for home I had a better understanding of my work and myself. I do not think that I could live and make work in that environment. The work I do is done in a form of isolation, away from the hustle and bustle of a loud city. If I were twenty, I could see myself in that kind of environment, but now I need to be away from the distractions. To be clear, my work is not about being on the cutting edge, but on something altogether different, the edge of the conscious mind. 

Your paintings, like The Cosmic Dharma of Bears, have such bizarre imagery that do not appear from this world, as if from a dream. Do you discover the imagery from your paintings in your own dreams or psyche, or are they influenced by outside sources?

It very much depends on circumstances. The Cosmic Dharma of Bears came out of my interests in Buddhism. This is not to say that the painting is a direct translation. Rather it was from allowing my mind, imagination, subconscious to explore the ideas. It’s starting in one place and then ending up in another location. I am taking a journey across country at night with only the head lights of the car to guide me. The work is from the psyche and outside sources. Each work has connections to other sources, ideas, and influences. 

In what aspect of your daily life do you find the most inspiration and motivation for your artwork?

I am basically a homebody. I read books and listen to music. The time most valuable and meaningful is in the evening. When all is quiet, the sun is down, and I am sitting in my apartment/studio around my work, studies or drawings, listening to ambient music or something that has an evening vibe.

What surrealist artist do you relate to the most and why?

here are so many to mention. It would be hard to say specifically. I will say that there was a time Dali was interesting, but I have moved on to others of the classic period of surrealism. I have become very interested in the work of Max Ernst. At first, I was not really attracted to his work, but I have grown to really like the striking images he has created. I have come to really delve into his book of surreal collages, Une Semaine de Bonte.The work of Remedios Varos provides more great images for me to ponder. These two artists have done things that I find surprising, original, and difficult. The work intrigues me. I want to see if I can manifest such work from myself as they. 

There is a contemporary surrealist artist, if we can use that term, for an artist from Thailand. Prateep Kochabua, an astoundingly skilled painter with stunning imagery that mixes surreal with the mythological and cultural of the southeast Asia. His craftsmanship is superb, and the images are so well handled and composed. I see him as someone whom I can learn from. He is doing things I wish I had thought of. His images contain depths of cultural symbols of his background in a way that is otherworldly. I could sit in front of his work for hours. He makes me want to be a better painter and believe there are still many possibilities to the visual that can be communicated. 

Interview: Allison Bamcat

Allison Bamcat is a contemporary illustrator from Los Angeles, CA. After completing a seven-year run as a product designer for a major brand, she works full-time as an artist in her new home of Santa Monica. Her candy-coated paintings celebrate the juicy colors found in nature through her surreal landscapes, featuring fruit, botanicals, exotic birds, and melting rock formations. Her background in product design collides with her paintings, resulting in a bouncing array of repeat prints and patterns for apparel and accessories.

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What aspects of your own life inspire your art? 

My art is very closely tied to my emotional state. I notice that in times I've been overwhelmed or depressed, I use darker colors in my paintings, where lately I've been using warmer, happier tones like oranges and coral pinks. I gravitate toward the colors in flowers and plants, as well as the symbolism they carry, like how friendly big, rubbery banana leaves appear versus the sharp eyelash-spikes of a venus flytrap. I use different types of plants and animals in my work as supporting characters to build a collection of feelings this way. 

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When did you decide that you wanted to stop working for a major company and start creating art for yourself?

Honestly, it took my husband changing direction in his career for me to get on board with changing mine. Working in corporate culture for so long, I became really stubborn and stayed at my job probably longer than I should have. I spent so much time putting out fires and making revisions that my art suffered. So the offer of a different career opportunity where I could focus solely on my art and design work was a welcome change. It's amazing how many of the walls I built up working in corporate have just crumbled, and I'm finding it's much easier to get started when I don't carry so much baggage.

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When did your interest in patterns and textiles start? Has the idea of putting your imagery on textiles driven your work in any particular way? 

I was mentored early in my career in the footwear industry to create legible print and pattern files for factory use. I'll admit it was a learning curve that was difficult for me to grip on to, and it took several years to become proficient at getting projects to come back as I imagined them in my head. One day, design leadership created a new team specifically for creating illustrations and graphics for product, and I was placed on it. It was a boat load of illustration work that hit me suddenly, and I learned a lot about streamlining my processes. Learning to maintain the integrity of my artwork with limitations around detail, color, and the small surface area of a sneaker made me a more considerate designer. 

Through trend research I began looking up to the detail work of major design houses including Gucci and smaller, more eclectic brands like Gorman and Mara Hoffman, determined to create design work at the same caliber of sophistication but for mass-market. Some days I was only given the opportunity to create a polka dot print, so I aspired to make a new, fresh polka dot that didn't exist in the market yet. Looking at every brief as a challenge to create art fueled me to continue on tough days when my designs were dropped repeatedly from collections. Knowing that I produced and presented real art at every chance made creating prints for myself a natural evolution of what I was already doing. So I began painting silly things like vegetables and french fries, turning them into prints that I'd sew into my own little bags and pouches. The idea of using prints and patterns to help people express their tastes in a functional way throughout their day always drove me to want to make new, fun prints and patterns. 

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What draws you to the vibrant color palette you use? 

Color has always been a form of expression for me, through my paintings, my wardrobe, and even my hair color over the years. It's no surprise to anyone that as a kid, I was obsessed with the candy-colored designs from Lisa Frank, as well as Barbie and Rainbow Brite. Why only use half of the crayons in the box when you can use them all? These days, I strive to create a mood through the use of color, especially through the clash of heavily-rendered objects on top of flat planes of white or solid colors. While I've learned some restraint in which colors I use, it's only because I've done a better job of creating color studies before I create my larger works. Without some kind of pre-determined guide, I'd probably use every color I own at once! 

The limited, contemporary color palettes we used in footwear design have continued to influence me as well. Learning color heirarchy in product design definitely inspired me into using odd or sometimes "ugly" colors in my works to draw the eye toward the more vibrant colors I tend to choose. I'm still learning a balance, but looking at runway fashion still inspires me to try new color combinations in my work. 

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What does your creative process look like? 

My current creative process is a bit broken. Creating art in such a fast-paced industry for so long, I got into a bad habit of creating only one sketch toward one concept and using that to create finished artwork. Now that I work for myself, I've been more lenient about how many times I can sketch out a certain idea before I take it anywhere else. Sometimes, I even sketch for fun! 

But, generally, I'll dream up an idea and toss it around in my head for days or weeks before I feel ready to put pencil to paper. I resolve a lot of the general vibe in my head, and then I resolve the composition on paper using eraseable colored pencils on heavyweight sketch paper. I'll tighten this sketch up three or four times by blowing it up, printing it out, and sketching on top of the printout, using lots and lots of reference photos. From the sketch, I create a digital color mockup and fool around with color only just enough to get a point across. After blowing up the sketch to size and transferring it to wood or paper, I pull out only the tubes of paint I think I'll need and stick strictly with the specific spectrum of color I chose in my mockup. From there, I build up darker to lighter layers using dry-brushed acryla gouache, a super-matte, polymer-based, vibrant paint made by Holbein. I typically leave my pieces unvarnished to preserve the velvety paint finish. Luckily, the polymer content of the paint helps to protect the piece without varnish.

Interview with Anne ten Donkelaar

Statement

A damaged butterfly, a broken twig, a bumblebee, some strangely grown weeds: I find all of these unique discoveries in my path and then take them home to my studio. Here, I take my time to explore the objects and try to work out how I can show each one to its best advantage. My finds inspire me. While looking at them I can invent my own stories about their existence and their lives. By protecting these precious pieces under glass, I give the objects a second life and hope to inspire people to make up their own stories about them.

http://anneten.nl/

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Can you tell me a little bit about your background in art? How long have you been an artist? 

I studied 3D product design at art school in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I graduated in 2007 with a collection of jewelry and curtains. After this, I started working on a collection of pillows with embroideries. To start this I created a mood board, but my mood board became more interesting than the pillow designs. It was the beginning of the “Flower constructions.” 

Where do you gather the materials for your pieces?

I have a little garden were I grow my flowers. The pictures are from second hand books. And butterflies I get them from the botanical garden in Utrecht.

You work in various forms of art-making, from printmaking and collage to wearable items. What entices you to use multiple mediums? Do you identify more with any one medium?

I think is because of my background of product design that I like to research and work with different mediums. I love working with collage for the composition and color research the best.

Can you tell me about 1-2 of your favorite pieces? Is there a story behind them? What do you think makes them successful?

I really like Flower construction 82 because of the color and size of the work. The work is 130 cm by 170 cm by 6.5 cm so you can almost get in to the work. And I like the Rainbow warrior, for me it really gives me the feeling of childhood memories. And I like to fantasize that this butterfly has special powers that leaves a trail of happiness, softness and joy - something the world needs.

How do you know when a work is complete?

It is a feeling, I just know when it's good.

What do you hope your audience takes away from your work?

I hope it gives joy and that it inspires.

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Are there any exciting exhibitions or projects you are working on this year that you would like to share?  

I have been working for a while on a photo project with water and flowers. And I hope to present this next month. It will be shown at the London Design Week in September 2107 with the Cold Press Gallery. 

 

 

Interview: Pele Prints and Xochi Solis

Xochi Solis  (b. 1981) is an Austin, TX based artist sharing her studio time between Texas and Mexico. Her works include multilayered, collaged paintings constructed of paint, hand-dyed paper, vinyl, plastics, and images from found books and magazines. Solis considers the repeated act of layering in her work a meditation on color, texture, and shape, all leading to a greater awareness of the visual intricacies found in her immediate environment. She received her B.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Texas in 2005. Recent exhibitions include: We must build as if the sand were stone, South Texas College Library Gallery, McAllen, TX (2016); Rivers of our Vision, Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX (2013); Summer Invitational, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York City, NY; Flatlander, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO (2015); New Art in Austin: 20 to Watch, Austin Museum of Art, Austin, TX (2008); and currently Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO (2017). In 2016, Solis held a residency at Pele Prints in St. Louis, MO and in 2013 was a resident artist at Arquetopia in Oaxaca, MX learning to work with natural pigments. Solis is one of 30 artists featured in the book Collage: Contemporary Artists Hunt and Gather, Cut and Paste, Mash Up and Transform (Chronicle Books, 2014). In addition to her studio practice, she is an active member of the collectively run project space MASS Gallery and spins records with the Chulita Vinyl Club.

Pele Prints is a collaborative fine art printmaking studio dedicated to creating limited edition prints and original works of art. At Pele Prints, we take a non-traditional approach to each project and encourage experimentation. Here artists are free to explore their ideas in the studio, using multiple print processes as a jumping-off point. While the print medium is the primary focus, finished pieces may also include three-dimensional components, collage, handwork, and/or various other elements. The goal is to create a unique body of work that displays the curiosity, learning, and constant discovery exemplified in the collaborative process at its best.

How did you get involved with Pele Prints? 

Amanda: As the master printer at Pele Prints, part of my job is to find new artists to collaborate with in the studio. I always have my eyes peeled for new and interesting work. I first saw Xochi's pieces a couple of years ago on The Jealous Curator site, and I was an instant fan. With Xochi's background as a collage artist, she was clearly already thinking in a very printerly way in terms of layering, mark making, and color. So I knew the work would be a good fit for the process. I contacted Xochi directly to see if she would be interested in working together on a project, and we hit it off. After several conversations we had the beginnings of our collaboration underway.

What inspires you in your daily life? 

Xochi: Above any other activity travel has the greatest effect on my practice. It is my greatest source of inspiration. Being set on edge of a new place and environment makes my surroundings that much more vivid. Currently, I am NYC doing an informal artist residency and I working very hard on a project for a big fall project back in Austin, TX. I believe travel leaves an indelible mark on my way of thinking that finds a way of returning once I am in my studio to channel it. I make a point of traveling to other places several times a year to research ideas or to set up a studio space for a few weeks. The real undertaking is to push beyond my training to be open to chance occurrences and experimentation that take the inspiration many steps further.

In the beginning, like many young artists, I was very concerned with making work that was in the vein of what was being taught to me. These examples presented to you by instructors as being examples of work that is “quality” or just “good work.” A cultural voice is always present in these exemplary works, but for the most part art instructors tend to only talk of “good work” eschewing any political or social implications. It is a constant journey to find and keep your own authentic voice and even more as an artist of color. As the Cuban American performance artist Ana Mendieta said, “It is always about a search for origins.” And that is very true in my practice. Instead of imitating work that I have no connection to, I am continually researching and making work to find the voice that was never taught to me. I believe there is an authentic message that lies deep within my DNA that I hope to infuse my work with.

Looking at other artist’s work is also informative, especially those that focus primarily on color and shape. Longtime loves have been: Hans Arp and his wife Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Cy Twombly, Henri Matisse, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Joan Jonas, Yvonne Rainer, Bas Jan Ader, Imi Knoebel, Eva Hesse, Robert Motherwell, Lynda Benglis, Helen Frankenthaler. New and recent loves: Jaime Carrejo, Elena Damiani, Rachel Levit Ruiz, Christine Sun Kim, Rafa Esparza, Daphane Park, Malin Gabriella Nordin, the list goes on!

Tell us about your palette. Is there a significant meaning behind the colors you use?

Xochi: Color wise, my first loves are found among natural objects like granite, fresh mangos, cacti, gemstones, algae on the surfaces of pools, etc. I also get excited about shapes and colors found within the pages of books and magazines, but also the internet and social media feeds full of images of sequins and leather and high fashion costuming. I am continuously thinking of color, both in my work, my home, and as ornament. It is such a constant that I have developed a real intuitive sense of what sort of combinations will work. I do feel that color evokes an emotional space, and I work towards describing mood with the color combinations that I ultimately select.

Have you always been a printmaker? 

Amanda: While Xochi considers herself primarily a painter and collage artist, I definitely have my roots in printmaking. I was hooked from the first day I wandered into the contract print shop at my alma mater over 18 years ago. As I continued to study printmaking more in-depth in making my own art, I had the opportunity to work with several visiting artists on collaborative print projects. There's nothing quiet like the dance of collaboration...bringing together creative voices, sharing technical expertise, all moving towards the shared goal of creating a body work that stands as something beautiful and unique. Today at Pele Prints, this is one of my primary goals as a collaborative printer.

What steps are involved in coming up for concepts for your prints? 

Xochi: The work that I did in 2016 with Pele Prints in St. Louis, MO was my first endeavor in working in printmaking outside of academia, and my curiosity for the medium has continued today. As we speak, I am working with a master printer at Shoestring Press in Brooklyn to complete a special edition that I will debut this winter. Whether working small on illustration board or large scale with site specific installations or now occasionally in printmaking, each work begins with recalling my observations made of organic forms found in the everyday. In reference to these observations, I begin pulling materials together that fit that shape or forms a mood and vibration. In my collage work, once a healthy stack of paper, found images, and painted plastic swatches are gathered, I establish a stacking order with each layer contingent on theprevious layer increasing the complexity of information. I think it is because of this way of working that printmaking has been a medium I am so curious about lately and why, I hope, my prints are successful.

Issue VCreate! Magazine
Interview: Teresa Lim

Teresa graduated from Lasalle College of the Arts with a First Class Ba Honours in Fashion Design and Textiles. Her personal design philosophy is to fuse three of her interests together: Illustrations, Embroidery and Surface pattern design. Her designs seek to blur the lines and boundaries between being an illustrator and a textile designer. She gets inspired by themes revolving around gender and womanhood.

She has showcased her works in exhibitions in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Japan.To date she has also worked with international clients such as H&M, Swarovski, Gucci, Coach and Olympus to name a few. She absolutely loves reading and catching up on tv shows on netflix. 

www.teeteeheehee.com

You have such a distinctive style working with embroidery. What inspired you to begin using embroidery in your artistic practice?

I majored in textile design when I was in university. We had to go through a short course in basic embroidery, and that was the start of my embroidery journey. I started by working on samplers that were part of the course work, but I got so addicted to the process that I found myself hoping the course would never end!

How does your background in textile and fashion design influence your current creative process?

Because of my background and training in textile and fashion design, I am always thinking of application onto women’s (I majored in womenswear) bodies. Being exposed to this made me think more frequently about the female body and how we view it in society. This, in turn, also led me to ponder a lot more on gender issues, body issues, stereotypes and archetypes of women. At the end of my degree, I found myself being not so interested in the superficiality of design but in using it as a medium to highlight issues and tell stories.

In your series The Twelve Rooms, young girls appear unsure as they go through the pains of growing up. What struggles are these subjects, along with the girls in Sad Girls Club, going through?

I started The Twelve Rooms series after listening to a conversation amongst some young girls (about 10-14 years old). They were battering themselves for being too fat, when they were far from it. I wondered where they were getting their ideas for the perfect body image… and the ideas mostly came from social media and magazines. 

I remember from my own experience growing up, I accepted whatever society and the media threw at me, and I was mostly unhappy. I grew up thinking that I was the only one with these feelings, and I wished for someone real to tell me that I wasn't alone. The Twelve Rooms is my response to that. It is grown-up me telling the young me in the past that I'm not alone. It is the me now, using illustration and art as a form to tell any young person who might be feeling the same way, that they're not alone. Some struggles these subjects depict are bullying, problems with body image, feeling like they don't fit in, and conforming to gender expectations and stereotypes.

Can you talk a little about your choice on using such a traditional and historically feminine medium to create works that defy the rules of femininity?

I honestly feel that things shouldn't have gender. In fact, all of these "gender tags" we give to activities, colors and things, are all imagined and shaped by years and years of history and people in the past. So, imagine my curiosity when one of the most common comments people gave when I started embroidering was "Oh, you'd make a good housewife!" My choice of this medium is mainly a tool of rebellion against the common view of what femininity is or what it shouldn't be.

Your series Pistil Thoughts exudes an honest sense of vulnerability, as each embroidery piece is accompanied by a thought that challenges feminine ideals and expectations. Do these thoughts come from your own personal experience?

Yes. A lot of my work comes from personal experiences, also sometimes from people I personally know who are going through certain challenges and phases in life.

When did your series Sew Wanderlust begin? How many different places in the world have you created through embroidery in this series?

Sew Wanderlust began because I was unhappy with the way I was traveling. I noticed that my travel experiences mostly consisted of taking lots of photos, eating lots of food and then moving on to the next place, repeatedly. At the end of the day, there wasn’t much element of traveling there to me. It felt very superficial and meaningless. I started Sew Wanderlust as a different way to experience my travels. When I sit at a place and stitch it, embroidery is my form of photograph. My eyes pick up so much more detail. My ears listen to people talking in their languages... it’s so much more meaningful to me than just a photograph that people snap and walk away. I think at this point I have more than 30 different places. :D

Mashell Marye

www.hollandloop.com

Mashell is a visual artist living and working in Berkeley, California. She also does editorial illustration work, textiles, and ceramic sculpture.

Statement

My current work is centered around the unexpected and playful process of art and illustration. I often paint intuitively, allowing new forms and color palettes to take shape. Much of my work is inspired by California style and landscapes. As a third generation Californian, it’s played a huge part in my abstract storytelling and at the core of my artwork.

Interview: Winston Chmielinski

www.wi-ch.com

Tell us about your painting process. When creating your larger pieces, is there much planning involved compositionally or is your process more intuitive, responding to what you see on the canvas?

It’s as much about what I see, as it is an exploration of what seeing feels like. Large canvases leave room for mark-making, so brushstrokes play upon each other, and compositions grow out of that.

When was the point in your life where you truly felt like you found your artistic voice?

The deeper I go, the closer I feel to something essential. Luckily for me, it happens to come through with painting. In that sense, every painting has shown me a map of my blockages and my potentialities. And it’s been like this from the beginning. Refining that language, however, is a life-long process.

Your solo exhibition How to Let Go incorporated non-representational paintings along with real-life objects. When did you begin using physical objects in your paintings, moving your work into the realm of installation?

So much production goes into art-making today, and most of it is new material. I don’t want to burn through more. This solo show was an opportunity to revitalize my own discards—objects and unfinished paintings—but without that being the catch-line. Emotional resonance must come before conceptual response, and beauty is when both follow through. How to Let Go was literally my coming clean.

In your project Openings, you constructed a painting that was displayed with its canvas loosely suspended, stretching down across the floor. Can you tell us a bit about this project and the audio that accompanied the installation?

That canvas was actually stripped off of a much larger work that I painted, and then cut up, specifically for the show. David Mallon and Filip Samuel Berg of SOUVENIR approached me to push the possibility of a painting exhibition, and the intimate dimensions of their project space was perfect for playing with scale. By hanging and draping fragments throughout the venue, I hoped to mutually engage the viewer in creating, and seeing, composition. Depending on the vantage point, different pieces aligned and interrupted each other, charging something traditionally static and "complete" with new possibilities.

The audio was in three parts, concealed around the perimeter, which basically helped get people moving through and around the installation.

Many of your paintings explore the space outside the constructs of the frame, confronting the viewer with visual elements such as stretcher bars that are often hidden behind the canvas. What made you decide to experiment with this other side of your paintings?

More openings for conversations!

What is the number one thing you want your viewers to take away from your work?

Timeless urgency outside of oneself, and a halting sense of déjà vu.

What painter from the past do you feel the most affinity with?

 Caspar David Friedrich

Wendy Liu

Wendy Liu is a visual artist/designer based in Texas.

I play with lines, patterns, colors, textures, and shapes to create my work. I am interested in the contrast and balance of elements harmoniously working together to communicate a sort of visual language or feeling to a viewer. I am interested in the sometimes fine line of dictation between art and design. I travel using cultural surroundings integrating native color and design elements into the artwork.

Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter’s paintings are rooted in tradition and constructed with imagination. They are about the arrangement of textures, colors, shapes and figures. Thriving on the anxiety of persistence in solving problems he has created for himself, Scott trusts that the language of the brushstroke, the scratches, drips and arrangement of often disparate images can be coaxed in a certain direction. The destination is an end that speaks to something greater than a deft hand or a beautiful mark – an end that provides a meaningful connection to the mind and spirit. 

Working in both a representational and non-representational manner he produces two distinct bodies of work. Both tend to evoke a specific place or memory. The construction of each resonates with emotional presence and rewards repeated and sustained viewing. 

Scott Hunter studied painting and art history at Boston University. He graduated in 1993 after a classically structured education based on intensive studio training and drawing from life. His related experience includes theatrical set design, illustration, commissioned portraits and wall murals. Scott lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is represented in many private and public collections.

Kate Banazi

Kate Banazi was born in London and studied at Central St Martins. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia.

Concentrating on the art of silk screen printing, she has worked from art based practice through to fashion, music, illustration and advertising. Her work is experimental, intuitive and often playful, with bold colour and graphic elements a key reference. Science, space travel and colour theory hold great interest and are often referenced in her work.

She celebrates the subtle variations of serigraph printing, exploring the layering of colour and graphic elements alongside linear grid structures and hand drawn forms.

Her current work celebrates relationships, identity, movement, shadows and colour, interlocking shapes held together lightly but ready to fall apart. Negative space and line work map chaos, voids and then beauty - a reflection of every day life in all its unpredictable glory.  By exploring the ideas of embracing the flaws in the screen - the silkscreens are un-retouched, pinholes and marks which normally would be repaired, are accepted and celebrated, contrary to the idea of silkscreen printing as a facsimile process.

Kates' work is hand printed by her, in Sydney.

She has exhibited in group and solo shows Internationally and her work is collected and commissioned by private, public and corporate clients.

Interview: Travis Rice

www.travisriceartist.com

Tell us a bit about your background as an artist. Your paintings feature highly architectural forms. Do you have any formal training in this area? Tell us a bit about your journey finding your voice as an artist. 

My undergrad degree is in Landscape Architecture from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. So, yes, the experience of studying design has had a definitive impact on my approach as an artist. I have worked as a designer in various architectural offices over the years and have even taught design at Iowa State University in their landscape architecture department. As a designer, I have always interwoven my interest in art into my work, and thus it would only make sense that my experience in the world of architecture would influence what I do as an artist.

Your paintings have such a refined aesthetic, with structures that have incredible crisp, flawless lines that almost appear digitally formed. Do you ever use digital tools when creating your work?

Yes. Most of my work is initially digitally conceived. This process has been adopted from my experience in design, as we often incorporate digital tools to study space. They allow me the flexibility to study many different forms and lighting before committing to canvas or paper. I feel their use, as well as the impact they have on the aesthetic of the work, speaks to our current tech obsessed culture.

Working in drawing, painting, and installation, you use an eclectic range of materials including resin, spray paint, and glitter, along with more traditional mediums like charcoal and oils. How did you come to use such a wide range of materials? Has experimenting with a new material ever led to a breakthrough moment or ended in disastrous results?

I have always been interested in finding ways to create the illusion of space in my work and that has led to an exploration of materials that would help create polar effects or what ab/ex painter Hans Hoffman called push and pull. He discovered that layering opaque paint over a transparent wash, or a matte surface against a glossy one, causes forms to begin to float and suspend within the composition. I am always experimenting with materials and occasionally get some unwanted results, but generally I have a pretty distinct plan for each piece I create. Working in traditional media, like charcoal on paper, is a nice contrast to the more decadent mixed media pieces, and it is that contrast that makes them important to me.

You currently live in Phoenix, Arizona. What is it about the Southwest landscape that connects with you as an artist and influences your work?

Having grown up in the Midwest, I am used to seeing miles of uninterrupted agriculture that feels like woven tapestry, as one plant monoculture marries itself up against another, but in the Southwest the broad washes of brown desert are often interrupted by these incredible rock forms that seem to defy gravity and logic. They are anomalies that contrast the flow of topography in the same way a piece of architecture imposed on the landscape does. Their size and the varied aggregates that wedge together to create their textured surfaces simply cannot be ignored and, in my case, eventually have become inspiration for some of the forms I have conceived. Plus, the overwhelming amount of brown that defines the desert makes the vivid colours of desert plants absolutely glow in contrast, thus affecting and inspiring some of my colour choices. 

The structures in your work often appear to deteriorate, breaking down the geometric motifs into smaller pixel-like particles. Does this reflect your viewpoint on digital culture? How does today’s world of infinitely growing technology affect your artwork?

Having the work break down into pixel-like particles speaks to my process of using digital means and reveals my interest in frozen phenomena or suspended movement. I just find things that are in a frozen state of flux to be interesting and less predictable, and the computer allows me to simulate this. I have struggled with how to talk specifically about the use of the computer in my work, as it serves the purpose of purely being just another tool, and I am not sure what it is actually saying about the work. I think, because of my background in design, I am just more open to finding tools that aid me in creating my work, as the mentality in design is to always be searching for ways to do things more efficiently and in a more cost-effective way. The computer also provides the ability to create forms that could never have been conceived through purely analogue means. It is also important to me that anything I create digitally be translated through analogue means in order to visually witness the human hand. I suppose the work connects to our current culture through the use of digital tools, but my use of these tools does not have any of the social relevance that is so often associated with the tech devices most often used in society today.  

You have recently been creating cardboard sculptures that mirror the structures in your paintings. What inspired you to bring these polygonal forms into a three-dimensional space?

I actually kind of fought the idea of building three dimensional forms, as I feel the 2D work is substantial enough to stand on its own, but my background in design probably sparked my curiosity to explore the third dimension. The first one I built was essentially a product of playing with material, but I liked what I was coming up with and kept exploring. The simple materials are important to me, as I like the idea of elevating basic utilitarian materials to the status of art object. I’m not sure where these pieces will eventually go but am anxious to see them evolve.

If you could ask any painter from history one question, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?

Jeff Koons… Can I borrow some money?

Interview: Julia Ibbini

Julia Ibbini is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. She is of dual-nationality (Jordanian-British) and has spent most of her life in the Middle East. 

Julia studied at Leeds College of Art and Design, United Kingdom graduating in 2002 . Her work has been featured at The Mojo Gallery in Dubai, Art Dubai, as well as in a number of venues in Abu Dhabi including The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Emirates Palace and Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage. 

Julia has been organizing pop-up shows with fellow artists for many years and in 2013 founded ‘No White Walls,’ an artist-led initiative that develops exhibitions and arts projects around the UAE. 

www.ibbini.com

What is your earliest memory of being drawn to pattern and symmetry? 

I recall running my hands across patterned surfaces as a very small child and poring over books about anything from design, typography to architecture as I got older. Despite my fascination with pattern, symmetry, and numbers, I was the kid at the very back of maths class (my teachers eventually decided I was a lost cause) - now almost everything I do is connected to algorithms and geometry which is interesting.

When did you start creating work with computer aided design and why? 

I taught myself Illustrator and Photoshop about 15 years ago, initially because it was needed in my day job. One day it clicked that I could use those as tools in my art practice to create depth of colour and detail that weren’t possible by hand (I had used a mix of more traditional painting and collage up until that point and was becoming frustrated with the limitations I felt I was facing). Over time and as I developed my skills, the work has become more line centric and far more complex in terms of the patterns I’m exploring. In the past year I’ve been using a combination of small custom-developed applications that create specific elements of each piece and allow me to work far faster - which is needed when the level of detail and the time it takes to laser cut a piece is factored in.

Is there a certain place that inspires you as far as patterns and symmetry go? 

I live in the United Arab Emirates; even just walking up the street, I am surrounded by patterns everywhere that are symbolic of the mix of cultures that make up the cities here. I find I am most inspired by pattern across the Arab world, and Turkey and Iran. Whenever I’m in London, my favourite place is the Victoria and Albert Museum, I can spend hours wandering around The Middle East and Asia exhibits.

On your website you say that you like to “I like to physically investigate things, walking streets, taking photographs, making notes.” When you investigate looking for inspiration do you go out looking for inspiration for a specific piece or do you let inspiration come as you go? 

It’s important to just get outside the studio, I’ll go for a run, walk the streets, head to the mountains for a hike, and then go back into the studio with a fresh perspective. I tend to be able to turn ideas around in my head more when I’m outside, ask questions like ‘what if I approached it that way’ or 'what about that material’ etc. There’s a lot of photo and note taking although they are not usually directly connected to a piece I’m working on.

What is your favorite part of the creative process? 

The creative process is an endless cycle of striving to be better, trying to learn, to become more skilled, failing (quite often spectacularly), succeeding (on occasion) - I love it all. My favorite part is when I’ve finished a piece and it’s all framed; I do a little dance in the studio (because making art is a privilege, and because sometimes the work looks really cool) before getting back to work.  

Sheldon Draper

My work puts an emphasis on the mundane, the idea of temporariness (permanence is an illusion), as well as the familiar. 

 

My subject choice is influenced by personal experiences, and events that happen outside of art. By choosing subjects solely based on my experiences I am able to find deeper meaning within everyday life. 

Sheldon Valdean Draper is a self taught artist out of Wichita, KS.

www.shellyshelart.weebly.com

Interview: Mira Sestan

Mira Sestan is a New York based paper artist. Her meticulous paper compositions resemble nature’s beautiful patterns. She only uses two colors, black and white, as that’s often how she sees the world. Each of her pieces is cut and assembled by hand and layered on top of one another. Due to its detailed nature, her work takes months to produce and creating it becomes a meditative process.

What draws you to a black and white color palette?

Black is my favorite color. I like the limitation that working with two colors imposes. It forces me to consider other methods to add depth - whether that’s through texture, the size of elements or thinking about the way light hits them - in a way to make things more interesting. If I had an entire color wheel to work with, I would never be able to narrow things down. I also like the contrast that you get from having only two colors to work with. Not to say that I won’t explore more colors in the future, but at the moment I’m into a minimalist palette. Less is more.


Where did you initially get inspiration for your current series?

I had originally started with a piece that was a field of white flowers (white wedding). There’s something beautiful in the creation of a flower, every petal is unique and organic - and was pleased how it turned out. So I started wondering what could complement it. Before that piece, my work was primarily 2D collage (with a lot of colors!). It was largely dependent on how photography was used. I found that to be very limiting - and from that - I realized that the next step was the creation of something from nothing. Pieces that were a pure expression of my own ideas, rather than a re-framing of someone else’s. 

With each piece, the outcome started to feel more unique and gave me the confidence to continue. There was no one moment or point of reference that inspired me. Rather, a series of small steps - one after the other - which led me to explore further. I truly believe in the importance of developing faith in your artistic intuition and following it wherever it may lead you. It’s something I’m trying to get better at every day. 

What does your creative process look like? 

It first starts with an image. Perhaps it’s a texture I saw at a store, or when I’m out in nature. It could be a sci-fi film or an image on Instagram. I ruminate on it for weeks. Usually, during that time I’ll see two or three concepts that are in some way connected to it, and from there I development a better sense of how to approach the piece. I use Pinterest to then organize similar elements into boards. This I find to be the most fun part of the process, where I let my imagination run wild and think of all the possibilities. 

From there, I summon the courage to test out some of the ideas. Some of them work, and I continue, but most often than not, that idea I have in mind does not unfold as expected, and ultimately it is put to one side. During that process, I’ll often end up with a concept quite different than the original idea, and I then have to trust the pursuit of that idea. Even the ideas that don’t make it serve as great material for future endeavors. Never consider an abandoned idea to be a waste of time.

Why did you start working with cut paper?

I took a collage class several years ago, to satisfy my creativity outside of work as Graphic Designer. I really loved how easy it was working with paper. Looking back, I realize the biggest influence on me getting into this medium was a show at the Museum of Design called “Slash: Paper Under the Knife”. Until that point, I was playing with collage and 2D, but after seeing so many incredible pieces of work there, as well as the truly innovative ways they used paper - methods I didn’t know were possible up until that point - I knew I wanted to push things further. Since then, I’ve slowly been developing my skills and honing new techniques. The up-side to working with paper? It's cheap and lightweight. You don’t need a pricey studio space, and it’s not overly messy as a material. The worst thing than can happen while working with it - a paper cut.

You say on your website that your work takes months to create, do you typically work on more than one piece at a time? 

More often than not, I work on one or two things at the same time. At some point in the creative process, things get repetitive, and I need something on the side to turn my attention to when my focus starts to wane. As detailed as the work is, it can also be quite meditative when you’re focused on small, simple details. It is many of those small details that result in the bigger piece.

What is your favorite part of the process you use to create your work? 

I love starting on new ideas, gathering inspiration, sketching, and dreaming of all the possibilities. I also love working on the details once the idea is nailed down. Each piece is time-consuming since it is the detail and complexity that shapes the outcome, but I get a lot of pleasure of seeing the work come to life slowly. It is fulfilling to dedicate time - not minutes, hours, or days, but weeks or months - to develop that initial seed of an idea, to the end result. In some ways, much like watching a flower bloom.