Congratulations to the artists who have been selected for the publication in FreshPaintMagazine International Issue 13, June 2016! … Keep Reading
“My tendency has always been to want to dismantle things in order to make sense of the world around me, and I think that is essentially what art is: dismantling and rearranging with the hopes of gaining insight into the raw materials you began with. I love realist art that manages to please the senses, capture the tangible world and illuminate all it’s wonderful subtleties. I also appreciate art that forgoes direct representation and instead uses abstract shape and color to communicate a strong concept.
This being said, my paintings try to synthesize all of these elements and ideally speak to both my love of beauty and intelligence. My work oftentimes does not include the human figure, but it is usually an attempt to deconstruct the human condition through the use of imagery I find interesting and contradictory. Although I enjoy writing about my work, I also want it to be open to interpretation and to promote discussion as I find my explanations to be no more or less valid than those of the viewer.
Art for me serves two main purposes: as a mode of cathartic release and fulfillment for the artist, and as a projector screen onto which the viewer can see his or her own most inexplicable, intimate thoughts and feelings expressed for them in a way they might not be able to express themselves.”
Mike was born in New Haven, CT and graduated from Montserrat College of Art in 2006 with a BFA in Illustration. He currently lives and works as a painter and designer in Boston MetroWest with his girlfriend Liz and their rotund but lovable cat Izzy.
After an art degree from California State Long Beach, and a successful 13 year career as commissioned based pet portrait artist, Aimée switched gears in 2012 to create her first large scale series of domesticated farm animals. Her subject matter has since expanded to include each and every animal she finds herself inspired by, from buffalos to flamingos.
Aimée’s animal portraiture has been described as highly emotive and iconic. Her ability to capture the inner quality of animals on canvas makes the viewer feel as if he or she knows the subject personally—be it a Hereford cow, an otter, or a snow leopard.
The majority of Aimée’s paintings features a singular animal with a restrained background, in order to encourage the viewer to focus on the animal itself. Having always felt more at peace and grounded with animals around her, she strives to create work that elicits the same sense of wonder and solace that animals can have in person.
Like her early animal scribbles, her current work is a clear and powerful reflection of both her own love for the animal kingdom and its endless diversity, as well as the animals that we consider to be a part of our own families.
Originally from Philadelphia, PA, she currently lives with her husband and their maine coon cat, Sesame, in Redondo Beach, CA. Her paintings hang in private collections all over the world, from the U.S. and Canada, to Europe and South America.
FP: What inspired you to become an artist? What is your background and education?
HF: I began training as an architect but painting soon took over. I grew up crawling around on the floor of my parents’ textile design studio where there were always designers and artists and jobs I could help with – drawing, tracing, cutting, sticking, arranging… I would pore over design manuals and art books and remember feeling strangely smug that I knew how to change a nozzle on a can of spray mount or a scalpel knife blade before any of my friends knew what one was.
FP: We loved your multi-image work style with the playful and humorous hints of narratives. Tell us a little bit more about your approach of story telling through the series of these paintings.
HF: It is pure conjecture! Everything is loosely based on what I’ve read in books or seen on the walls of galleries. It’s not historical facts and narratives I’m interested in repeating in my own work; I am visualising how an artist’s day is spent or how a sculpture was made or what a studio crit might be like with them. Painting it out makes it real and concrete. The paintings are a sequence of glimpses into the daily life of these people, mundane moments and momentous ones alike. I’m also looking at process and decision-making and I confront Matisse about this very thing in Conversations with Matisse, but that’s another story.
FP: You show a lot of famous artists’ lives through your work. Who are your biggest influences? Explain how they affected your work.
HF: I’ve got stacks on the drawings and paintings of Picasso, Velasquez, Warhol, Rembrandt, Balthus, Freud… I look at Matisse, Vuillard and Dufy for color and pattern. Chantal Joffe and Alex Katz are current favourites with their distinct wet-on-wet techniques. I love Sean Scully and Baselitz for their beefy machismo. Gary Hume never fails to seduce. George Condo, David Shrigley, Grayson Perry and John Currin all win joint first prize for their dark sense of humour.
FP: Tell us a little about your creative process. How do you begin a new piece — with an image in mind or a particular idea? When do you know a painting is finished?
HF: I divide the support into a grid and work from top left to bottom right. I used to use individual miniature canvases, then invested a lot of time grouping them together and now I paint on a single big canvas. This is a better discipline as it forces me to think about the overall impact of a piece of work from the start. I celebrate a new body of work by starting a new palette. In the past I had a largish hand held palette and religiously cleaned it every night but now I always have a giant piece of hard board on the go, knobbly with paint skins and rags. It’s a good feeling squeezing out a generous rainbow of paint blobs. It’s important to be generous.
FP: The compositions of your paintings are truly simple, yet they hold a lot of meaning. What is the most important thing the viewers should take away from your work?
HF: On the face of it, being an artist is an insanely indulgent way to spend your time. However, it is the best (and only) way for me to work through my internal wonderings effectively and satisfy a mental itch. I am also addicted to the smell of turps. When a painting turns out right, it’s the best feeling in the world. If I can make people smile, great. If I can make them think, even better. I want them to access their humanity. You can’t ask for more than that.
FP: How would you describe your original style in only three words?
HF: It smells good.
FP: Do you have a motto, inspirational phrase?
HF: Philip Guston painted a phrase out of Dickens and had it pinned to his studio wall: “I hold my inventive capacity on the stern condition that it must master my whole life, often have complete possession of me, make its own demands on me, and sometimes for months together put everything else away from me… Whoever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it and to find his recompense in it”. It basically boils down to ‘work hard’ which is good advice for any artist.
Where did you receive your training?
I’ve studied art at the ArtEZ Academy in Arnhem, Holland, however, that study was more fashion oriented. I just started out a couple of years back, so my techniques are self taught, which is both a strength and a struggle.
Who are the figures in your work? Are they people you know or fictional characters?
My models are friends and people I know and admire or find interesting, sometimes though I mess up the faces and mix up features that then start to resemble imaginary people or real ones. I do that sometimes when I have dreamt something strange like film stills of a mix of images I’ve seen that I try to catch on canvas. I guess that familiarity is what people sometimes look for, something they recognize themselves, friends or famous people, it’s an interesting side effect.
The figures are often depicted in a pensive, dream-like state. What emotions or moods do you strive to communicate through your work?
There is so much more behind a person’s facade, there is a history of experiences, thoughts, trauma maybe, hurt, love and imagination. I have my personal struggles and ideals to draw from as well as humanity in general. People are so interesting, their social structures, relationships and behavior especially in the early years and young adulthood. Mankind makes up rules to have ourselves measured by in certain times, but that’s all they are, made up, made up by morals, politics, angst, ideals, time, it’s a wondrous well of inspiration. Also to me it’s a process of personal reflection, unraveling and honoring those complex social and mental structures, making me both observer and participant.
The color in your recent work is stunning. Where do you get inspiration for your palette?
I am drawn by colors like a kid who sees their own first rainbow, flower or physical toy. Besides that, color also is a manifestation of the above, a trigger or expression of mental states. In that sense it helps me convey the complexity of my subject matter, there are no greys or blacks in my work.
Who are your favorite living artists?
Ouf..many, what mostly triggers me is people doing their own thing, not the copycats. Also it’s not a direct influence on what I make, but more an influence of spirit so to say. People that have a loving obsession for their work and a drive to put something genuine out there and have something strongly connected to this day and age. I can’t name them all, but if I can name a few that stood out lately it’s people like painter Janine van Oene, Justin Mortimer, Emilio Villalba, Ulf Puder, Alex the Beck, Brent Wadden and more recently I have to say Jean Paul Mallozzi, his work is so radiant and sensitive. I could write out a whole list though and just mentioning names doesn’t quite do them justice either.
How would you say your early work was different from your current pieces?
I used to draw a lot and paint rarely, so that’s a major difference, also my earlier paintings were very quick and raw and I was not yet fully aware of how to express myself like I did in my drawing. In 2014 though, I realized you need to spend time and prolonged energy on several works at once or in a series to really get a feel for the material and what you want to express and how to express it. Still though, I’m always grasping for what is out of reach, technically and mentally always obsessively attracted to the unobtainable images in my head. That thing that people sometimes say, “you’re very talented” can get on my nerves; I might have been born with something that helps me steer my hand and make a translation from what’s in my head. But without the hard work and tireless effort, none of the good artists I know would be where they are today. It’s work, and time spent.
What was an essential moment for progressing your career and beginning to exhibit your work internationally?
I can’t really say which exact moment, it all goes very organically, but the internet is a big helper in getting exposure and being seen. I was lucky ‘til now to have very wonderful and professional people contact me through that exposure that fell for what I have to say because they feel it has presence and urgency. What more can I ask for?
FP: Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you decide to dedicate your life to painting?
DM: I grew up in a suburban bit of the Black Country, an area in the Midlands that is historically famed for being the engine room of the Industrial Revolution. I was an only child and followed most of the clichés of being good in my own company and a bit of a dreamer.
At Art College my tutor took me to a little private view of his work. I had never seen a room devoted to one person’s vision in that way before. They were beautiful expressive gardens with Greek sculpture and full of symbolism. The atmosphere of that evening gave me a vision of how artists could create a world of their own and take the viewer along with them.
FP: What was your first work like, and how did you find your artistic voice?
DM: Michael Wolff the designer talks about the three ‘rooms’ of a creative career. The first is the ‘room of imitation’ where we copy, respond to and are shaped by the masters we are drawn to. For me in those very early days there were a few really important artists. All figurative painters and although I think about them less now they can be seen in what I do. Edvard Munch with his intense emotional drama and curved world, Gustav Klimt with his sinuous and delicate erotic drawings and Edward Hopper with his ambiguous atmosphere and the questions he posed for the viewer.
My early work was about my relationship to femininity and was gloss work in the style of Gary Hume.
FP: We are mesmerised by the theme of myths in your paintings. How do you create a scene for each work? Do you do a lot of historical research or is each painting based on your own mythological philosophy?
DM: My research isn’t particularly scholarly,
I read, a lot, and I read widely. I read classic works like Beowulf, Dante’s Inferno as well as more contemporary things that reference or riff off these classic themes. I also read nature writing and this informs the way I think about place and setting.
I think about settings.
Ideas for scenes come at different stages of the process, sometimes I have a vision of what I want very early on, other times it is only working with the model and props that something comes. In some cases looking back at images a long time after creating them I start to see potential for them.
FP: Who are the figures in your paintings? How do you find your models?
DM: Working with models as opposed to found images is a new process for me and I am still figuring out ways of finding people to work with. I worked with two models for ‘This Myth’. One I met in a local café. I could instantly see how her presence would work. The other was a fantastic life model, she was so patient with me. She even modelled outside at night in February as the ground froze beneath her feet for a short film that was made about my process.
FP: Do you reveal the character of each of your subjects? How does your interaction with the model evolve from the initial encounter to the realisation of a painting?
DM: As I said, this is new for me however I can already see that there is a trust that develops. The shoot is pretty intense and quite intimate. I want the models to feel very safe to allow an element of their selves out that they might not usually.
I’m keen to develop this further but yes, the intention is to allow the models to express something of their inner selves that perhaps they don’t in any other circumstance. It’s a chance to find an inner ‘animal’. The model never really poses for shots but takes on a character and acts a scenario. Hopefully this means they become less conscious of the camera and the character becomes real for them.
FP: The inky background, blackness and playful brushstrokes bring something truly mysterious and theatrical to each of your works. Tell us a little bit more about your painting style. Explain the technical process of your work.
DM: I suppose there are stylistic things that have developed in different ways and come together in a schizophrenic way. The layering of black oil, gloss and ink comes from experiments with gloss when I was working in a Gary Hume style. I love the liquid and the opacity. It is uncontrollable and does what it wants to at times. The fast rhythmic brushwork I think comes from a love of Matisse and that early modernism. I tend to paint at speed and when things slow down it can all get a bit heavy for me.
FP: How do you hope the viewers respond to your work and what is the most important thing they should take away?
DM: I suppose I want them to feel that the work is a permission for them to remember their darker selves and remember there is magic and joy in accessing our more animal selves.
I’m not demanding anything particularly, I would like it if they went home remembering that the world can be romantic, gothic and magical if you remember to look at it in that way.
FP: Do you feel your work is evolving in any way, if so how?
DM: The process of working with collaborators, models, performance artists is something that I am very keen to see evolve more. The resulting paintings will reflect that I hope. There are still some fundamental questions about picture making that I am arguing with myself about in the work and resolving those questions is part of my journey.
FP: Do you have any suggestions for how an artist can go about discovering what he/she really wants to say through art?
DM: I think this is different for all of us. Some people naturally find this happens early on but for me it’s taken 20 years to start to come together.
I once heard that a mentor had told a fellow artist about an idea that there is a certain amount of work or ideas that just have to be worked through that are inward looking. When you get through them, the artists then start to turn outwards to talk to the world.
I think there is some truth in that. You just have to get that stuff out. Make bad work, get lost down dead ends of thought, make derivative work, copy, steal etc. While you are doing this keep demanding a little bit more of yourself. Push hard. Improve critically, practically, and materially.
This is a life long journey of striving to be half decent before time is up. I would ask artists what the 10 year old version of them would have been excited about making and tell them to start there as it’s probably not too far from the mark.
Lastly I would say to get a mentor. My mentors have had massive impacts on my progress.
We first saw your work at DeBuck Gallery in New York and fell in love. Tell us a little bit about your background.
I studied fashion design but I found I was much more interested in making objects and painting. By the time I was out of University I knew I wanted to pursue something in the arts. Being in a big city like Los Angeles made it easy for me to find like minded people. I started working in an art gallery and taking classes with a painter that I admired. I slowly developed my own style.
When did you first get the idea to create the juxtaposition of glamorous women holding power tools?
I saw a survey from a 1950s Better Homes & Gardens with a beautifully dressed woman holding a gardening hose that asked “Should women be able to water the lawn?” I thought it was so funny and absurd especially the way the word “should” was used. The more I thought about it …it was a great theme to build upon. Should a woman be able to cut down a tree or be the boss or run a country? I think you get it.
We love both the technical, painterly elements of your work as well as its rich content. How has your work evolved over the years?
It’s evolved both in terms of style and in subject matter. I’ve developed a heavier handling of paint over time. I feel the more paint I use the more aggressive the message. Many of my earlier paintings are still life – furniture, pills etc., and even within womanhood, the themes have changed. For instance, my most recent works deal with the idea of breaking through the metaphorical glass ceiling and often include a figure literally climbing on a ladder or chair and holding sledge hammers (and other things that break glass). I am also always integrating new dresses and accessories into the paintings.
What story do you hope to convey to the viewer through your paintings?
My paintings explore women’s empowerment and the fact that women can do anything today. I like the term “use every tool” …to get the job done. It is a broad interpretation but I feel the tools really send a message of hard work.
How are your sculptures different from your paintings?
They are a very different medium, size, and execution. But they relate to the paintings in that they are accessories (lipstick/pills etc.) in the same way that the figure’s tools and jewelry are accessories. I see them as an extension of the tool. A pill can be just a tool to get you through your day, just like an axe or a computer. It is really the same thought process.
What is a typical day in your studio like? Explain your creative process.
I tend to work later in the day, so I will often begin painting towards mid-afternoon and work until 2am or so. I also really like the technical nature of printmaking. I am always working on a print project. Right now it is two, a woodcut project out of my studio (I have a great press) and a silkscreen project to be printed at Serio Press in Los Angeles
Process in short: First I find dresses and tools that I like. I have friends model for me for a few hours. I will take hundreds of photos from the shoot from which a couple of paintings will emerge. I have to use photographs because it would be very hard for the model / friend to hold a 10 pound chainsaw for an entire day. I do a very detailed drawing that can take several days . In the end, I paint in a very spontaneous heavy handed ‘almost ignoring the drawing’ way.
What upcoming projects or exhibitions should we be aware of?
I have an exhibition opening at David Klein Gallery in Detroit in September. http://dkgallery.com/
I will also be a visiting artist at Flying Horse Editions in September. http://flyinghorse.cah.ucf.edu/
By Bridgette Mayer, Bridgette Mayer Art Advisors, Bridgette Mayer Gallery
Bridgette Mayer is the owner of an art gallery in Philadelphia and an art consulting firm based in Los Angeles, CA. Her gallery business has been featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 as a small business “On the Rise” and was recognized as a recommended Philadelphia arts destination in The New York Times Magazine. Recently, Mayer was named one of the top 500 Galleries in the world by Boulin ArtInfo, and was also featured online in the Tory Burch Foundation’s “Women To Watch” series. Mayer was a recent award winner of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Award. Mayer has a memoir coming out this June with Lioncrest Publishing titled, “The Art Cure – A Memoir of Abuse & Fortune” highlighting her story from foster care and abuse to thriving and succeeding in the art world.
My life changed dramatically in 2003. At the time I was a struggling art gallery owner who had gotten through a recession with a new business that had just opened in 2001. People were not buying a lot of art, let alone from a twenty eight year old who looked just shy of twenty.
I was getting frustrated and wanted to keep my passion for being in the arts a reality and also prove to my parents that I would make a living in the art world.
Things were not happening for me and one day I decided that I needed to take control of my destiny. I picked up a copy of Tony Robbins, “Awaken the Giant Within” and read it cover to cover. I decided since Tony seemed so confident in how things could happen should I (or anyone else for that matter) follow his advice in the book, I had nothing to lose and would go for it. I had never thought about my goals until reading that book and it started so much for me.
I set several scary and audacious goals for myself with a six and twelve month deadline, wrote everything down on paper and got to work. Within a six month period, I eliminated and paid off 30K in student loan and credit card debt, was featured on Anderson Cooper as a “Business Owner on the Rise” and was invited to NYC to be a part of a panel for CNN on businesses doing unique things. In addition I was profiled in two other magazines about my story and was invited by my college to give several public lectures on campus. Within a year I had tripled my income, had two dozen new clients that were spending money on art and I was poised to purchase the building that I was operating in on a beautiful historical park in Philadelphia.
Flash forward to the present, sixteen years after opening my gallery and I have built up some incredible wins and successes. I have talents and skills that I have utilized to help me in building my creativity and success. Now I want to share these skills to help other creative types, especially the artists who may have bought into the “starving artist” syndrome as I know that does not have to be the story and my career is proof of that.
Here are the top ten things I have learned and done in my career to build a business from zero clients and money to a multi-million dollar business that keeps growing for me each year:
Without dreams life is not worth living! Ask yourself in your wildest dreams what you would love to see happen in your art career this year. Do you want to meet Oprah? Make enough money to only make your creativity your full-time work? Travel the world on a fully paid residency? Don’t hold back and listen to anything that pops into your head. I set some wild dreams my first year and most of them came true.
HAVE A PLAN OR PUT A PLAN INTO PLACE
Once you identify your big dreams and your other goals in between, put them down on paper and read them at least once a day. The repetition of reading them will cement them into your subconscious mind (which is like a sponge). Ever hear of “fake it ‘til you make it”? The mind does not know what is true or false and will line up your energy to have all your plans come to fruition. When I got the call from CNN asking if they could come film and shadow me for the day I almost hung up the phone thinking it was a prank call.
I had put down on paper that I wanted to be featured in the media in a large way and that was the first thing that showed up for me! Be prepared to be amazed.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
I realized through setting new goals and focusing on them that I had been focusing on the wrong things for several years. I was in a constant state of fear around paying my rent and bills and my thoughts were on what was not happening. With focusing on what I wanted to happen vs. what was not happening things shifted immediately. I started waking up with an excitement for what the day would bring and what I could create. I started to feel grateful for the positive things that were happening and to say thank you numerous times a day. That energy brought more positivity and more things that I wanted!
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE AND MEET PEOPLE, ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE
Keep an open mind about who you might be attracting into your life or bumping into that could lead you to more success. I have a love of people and knowing who they are and what their personal story is. One of my big clients told me he had gone into several galleries and walked right out the door as no one spoke to him. He came into mine prepared for a similar experience and was floored when I spent an hour talking to him about his life and interest in art. He became one of my most loyal clients and still is to this day. He loved the experience! You never know who you are meeting and that is why I try not to judge anyone by their outward appearance. I made a commitment to going to various events and things happening in the city I was operating in and met some incredible people just by being vulnerable and curious.
SELL YOURSELF FIRST AND THEN WHAT YOU ARE DOING
In a creative business it can feel awkward to ‘sell yourself’ however most people do want to know what makes you unique. Everyone has a special story to tell about their life. I was really shy starting out and it took me years to start sharing who I was. When I did it opened up all kinds of opportunities and relationships.
IF YOU ARE REJECTED OR FAIL, GET UP AND THEN GET UP AGAIN
A big part of many people’s stories to success are the failures along the way. I got rejected a lot in my first few years of business in selling art and I still get rejected. I have gotten comfortable with rejection as I know the ‘No’ I am receiving today could be the ‘Yes’ at the end of the day tomorrow or even in my next conversation. I took the rejection in my industry and even within the community I was operating in and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.
BE ENVIOUS OF OTHER ARTISTS OR CREATIVE PEOPLE YOU ADMIRE
Oftentimes when we are envious or jealous we turn away from what we envy. We don’t want to confront it or it makes us angry. I have learned that the people I feel that way about can often be my greatest teachers. Questioning what I was envious about would lead me to realize it was because I wanted to do something similar or felt I could do it better and someone had beat me to it. This helped light a fire for me and I was open to learning what made other people successful. I took inspired actions in these areas that led me to more results. It is wonderful to be inspired by those around us!
DON’T LIVE AN ‘ALMOST’ LIFE OR CAREER
There were things I wanted to do in my business like bring new artists from overseas into the United States and to set up residencies for them. I kept putting this and other things off and I realized one day that was holding me back energetically and I was not operating in full integrity with myself. I am not someone to give a half attempt or to not follow through. When I started taking actions and keeping commitments to myself, my career really took off. I was making my dreams a reality and people were noticing which led to more success.
HAVE FUN AND GET HAPPY WITH YOURSELF NOW AND DON’T WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE IN YOUR 70S OR LATER IN LIFE
Most creative types can be really hard on themselves and have a lot to prove. I had a year where it was always about, “When this happens I will be happy.” It was often tied into finances as I was afraid of failing. It has taken me a lot of time along my journey to realize that loving myself and the things I have accomplished today are great for my confidence. Sometimes I just need to be my own coach and tell myself what a great person I am or what a great job I have done or that I am proud of myself. Don’t wait for validation from others – you can love, accept and validate yourself today. Having fun along the way opens your energy up to more opportunity as you will be in receptive mode.
BE PATIENT, AN ART CAREER IS A MARATHON AND NOT A SPRINT
I was in it for the long haul with my business as I was committed to my vision. I had been a long distance runner in college and had also done several marathons and used the experience of that as my metaphor in life and work. A business can take time to build and evolve. I was not making any large sums of money for three years and things took time to build. I had a vision, a plan and I was going to work hard and see it through. I had faith that it would build at the right time. My patience over the years and my optimism have been rewarded time and time again!
For any artists interested in learning more about taking their career to the next level, Bridgette will be offering private coaching and group coaching and will have an upcoming course out online this July created specifically for artists. Please visit her websites or email her for more information:
www.bridgettemayerartadvisors.com as well as a book being published this June 2016.
Please email her direct at: email@example.com for more information.
My work is about social issues that deal with double standards, ownership inequalities and injustices. I mostly focus on my experience as a female. I’m interested in treating these important matters with the respect they deserve while at the same time giving them comical undertones that range from literal to conceptual. I also believe messages are best delivered when in sets which is why my self-portrait series is composed by 13 images, a number that carries enough strength on its own.
I work with my own image because it is what I know best, I believe the personal is the political hoping that my experiences might resonate with others. These self-portraits deal with obsession and the pressure felt to behave a certain way. The aim of the work is to shine a light on how ridiculous some standards are for women. By painting self-portraits I’m confronting the image I have of my self with what I’m expected to be. I chose painting for this project instead of other mediums because want to reinforce the idea of obsession making the brushstrokes visible allowing the viewer to picture how much time was spent on each piece.
My color palate consists mostly of pastels colors because even though the subject matters I’m working with is gloomy I want the final pieces to be able to attract people like candy would; only realizing its dark undertones after a closer look.
Born 1991, Reading, UK
BA Fine Art, Kingston University, 2013
Currently lives and works in London
Represented by Rebecca Hossack Gallery
My paintings incorporate elements of both fiction and reality, and are brought to fruition through a varied means of production. I draw from collected images that are then digitally edited, and serve as a starting point for my large scale-work.
The paintings lend themselves to a simulation of reality, presenting a hyperreal aesthetic that is heightened by the screen-like finish of the work. Perspectival planes are shifted, which presents a simultaneous distancing and magnification. Although the aesthetic of the work suggests a digitally mediated experience, broken and dripped paint, gradients and a varied means of application engage the work in a dialogue with material and surface.
“French artist, Magdalena Lamri received her Diplôme Des Métiers d’Art from the National School of Applied Arts Olivier de Serres in Paris. Her figurative paintings and drawings juxtapose her realist technique with darker subject matter, often exploring the human body. She describes herself as an artist motivated by sensations rather than ideas, and her aim is to make manifest those feelings in her works. She has exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions, and is the winner of several awards in France for her paintings.”
I am a visual artist from Bogotá, Colombia based in Brooklyn, NY. A graphic designer by training, I work in disciplines including illustration, motion graphics, live action production, curating, education design, site-specific art, product design, and publishing. My work combines passion for storytelling with attention to detail, a fearless work ethic, and a refined style developed over years working in design.
Today my focus is Sanctuaries, a series of rainforest landscapes constructed from hundreds of layered images, textures, and distortions. My latest iteration is for the Sinfonía Trópico biodiversity initiative, and consists of an outdoor rainforest mural at the Goethe-Institut Kolumbien in Bogotá, Colombia. I am also developing Spanish-language early childhood educational materials, most recently “Kuli Kuli,” a line of educational art prints, posters, textiles, cards, and decorations for young children.
As a freelance designer and creative director, my client list ranges from advertising agencies such as Wieden+Kennedy and JWT, to networks such as MTV and VH1, to brands including Mitsubishi and Anthropologie. In addition to illustrations published in over a dozen books internationally, my photography has been published in magazines such as Fader, XXL, and The Village Voice. I have directed music videos for Funkstörung, Tosca, and Mocean Worker, among others, and collaborated on fashion designs and a complete line of home, kitchen, and office products. I also founded Servicio Ejecutivo, an online gallery for emerging artists from all over the world, beginning a curatorial career spanning over 80 exhibitions.
FP: What inspired you to become an artist? Tell us about your background.
TA: I always dreamed about being an artist. I remember hanging out with my parents’ friends who where artists and thinking, “when I grew up I want to have that life.” It was fun to visit their studios, see their process and just see how they where telling a story through their work. This dream became more apparent when I was running my gallery Servico Ejecutivo and I had the opportunity to meet and support so many amazing artists. During that time I felt it was important to start establishing my own voice that would go beyond my job as a graphic designer and illustrator, which was my background.
FP: Your work is heavily influenced by your Colombian background. What are a few of the most important things you hope the viewer takes away from your art?
TA: Over the years I’ve witnessed how the perspective about Colombia has slowly changed, but I still hear from time to time comments like “all I know about Colombia is that the drugs are really good” or “Pablo Escobar” or “Is it still dangerous? would I get kidnaped if I go?” What a lot of people don’t know is that (I’m going to sound like a dictionary) Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country on Earth and its landscapes are increasingly threatened.
What I attempt to do with my work is to create a conversation that starts from Colombia but can widen to encompass the environmental crisis across the globe. My hope is to get people thinking differently about these countries that we know so little about and are extremely important for the balance of the climate in the world.
FP: How do you prepare for each project? What is the process like for creating your large scale works?
TA: I start by creating a wall of inspiration that I will draw from to create a collage. Collage is really my form of sketching. This collage is created at half the resolution of the final piece, allowing me to play more easily with many photographs and old engravings. I can move them around quickly and explore different compositions. Once I’ve consolidated the idea and I have a solid composition, I print and tile it on a wall. I continue by creating textures out of ink, watercolor, wood-cut prints and other mediums. This part is very experimental and free. If I’m creating a 12 foot by 24 foot mural, my digital file is built at the actual size. For me, this is the equivalent of painting on a wall. Each of the elements in the composition has it own individual file, and once I’ve completed the piece it gets flattened and brought into the master composition. The last step is to print, then paint and airbrush gold details into the pieces. My process is slow, the files are big and I need to be very patient while they save, as I use literally thousands of layers on each of the compositions. Waiting for the files to save isn’t so bad, as it gives me time to think and revise the compositions.
FP: What artists or creatives are you most influenced by?
TA: Henry Rousseau, James Audubon, Walton Ford and lately I’m very inspired by the life of Alexander Von Humboldt, a German explorer and naturalist from the 1800’s.
FP: What are you currently excited about in the New York art scene?
TA: I recently did an artist residency at The Wassaic Project in upstate New York, and I absolutely love them! The project was started by artists Bowie Zunino, Eve Biddle, and Elan Bogarin. They offer different programs, including an artist residency, a summer festival that includes art, film and music, and many other community outreach programs where they work with locals to bring art into everyday life. It’s very inspiring.
FP: Explain some of the resources and experiences that helped shape your work.
TA: When I was about 10 years old my family and I used to do these really long trips in the Summer to different areas of Colombia. The places where chosen by my dad’s friend, who would close his eyes and drop his finger on the map. Wherever it landed was where we would all travel to. One of the most frequent areas we used to visit had a experimental investigation center called Las Gaviotas. I remember this center very clearly. It had hydroponic plantations, renewable energy, and solar panel systems. We used to do plant pressings and what I remember being super fun was to find out was that you could transfer cow’s poop into gas. It was a magical place.
Many years later before I moved to New York, I visited a place called La Ensenada de Utria in the pacific coast of Colombia, and while being in the airplane I saw the patches in the rainforest canopy from gold mining – huge pieces of land just taken out. Once I landed, the landscape was so beautiful and rich that it was hard to see how easily it could be destroyed, and you couldn’t see the destruction at all except from the air. This was a very formative experience that has consistently driven my work since then.
FP: What are your favorite ways to refuel your creativity?
TA: I love taking nature walks, collecting branches, leaves and mosses, visiting the botanical gardens and looking at old botanical plates.
FP: What was the most significant achievement in your career so far?
TA: Last year I was invited to create a mural at the Goethe Institute in Bogota, Colombia as part of a culmination event for Sinfonia Tropico’s environmental initiative. It was really important to me to create an art piece speaking about bio-diversity and the environment in Colombia. Now that it covers a wall on prominent street, it’s also incredible to know that all of my friends and family get to see a part of me in the streets of Bogota whenever they pass by.
FP: What piece of advice would you give an emerging artist looking to advance their art career?
TA: Don’t stop, take every opportunity that comes your way and turn it into something. Always keep in touch with the contacts you make. Look out for their feedback and ask for their critiques. Listen really well, even if you feel uncomfortable with what you are hearing and use it to further your work.
FP: What future projects should we be aware of?
TA: I’m currently working on a very exciting public art project, it consists on migration of birds into the trees of New York City neighborhoods to initiate a conversation around climate change.
The first migration is based on five different species of tropical birds from Colombia and a total of 300 birds. Each is constructed from laser cut MDF and wheat pasted original illustrations with gold paint details. The handmade silhouettes include tucans, parrots, and hummingbirds with intricately-layered textures. Birds are installed at specific sites and arranged in proportion to the size and scale of the trees they inhabit.
Photography courtesy of the artist, Colin Miller www.colinmillerphoto.com, and Peter Ross www.heypeterross.com
Edward Holland was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1980. He received a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University and a MA in Studio Art from New York University. His paintings and works on paper are conceptually grounded in literary and art historical sources, while emphasizing the formal qualities of atmosphere, collage and slight geometries. His work has been shown at Causey Contemporary, New York, NY; Long-Sharp Gallery, Indianapolis, IN; Peter Marcelle Gallery, Southampton, NY; Gerald Peters Gallery in New York and Santa Fe, NM; and Phyllis Weston Gallery in Cincinnati. Holland’s work has been written about in the Huffington Post and Eyes Towards the Dove. He lives and works in New York City.
My paintings explore our relationship with agrarian landscapes and livestock. Focusing on the Blue Ridge Mountain area of central Virginia, I use loose and suggestive strokes that imply an immediacy of experience within which I want the viewer to linger. Our landscapes are alive and we are daily offered ways to relate to them. The late Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue reverences the landscape in a way I hope my paintings make possible. He explains,
“I think it makes a huge difference when you wake in the morning and come out of your house whether you believe you are walking into dead geographical location, which is used to get to a destination, or whether you are emerging out into a landscape that is just as much, if not more, alive as you but in a totally different form. And if you go towards it with an open heart and a real watchful reverence, then you will be absolutely amazed at what it will reveal to you…What amazes me about landscape, [is that it] recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time.” (Onbeing.org interview with Krista Tippett.)
Painting for me is a process of paying attention, of looking at the layers of meaning we ascribe to our placed-ness in contemporary agrarian contexts and hopefully offering moments of re-humanizing connections.
Christy lives and works in Charlottesville, VA with her husband and four children. She studied art, theology and sustainable community development in graduate school in Vancouver, BC where she studied with artist Chris Anderson.
I am fascinated by the beauty and tension caught between damage and repair. I am interested in the behavior of utilitarian construction materials and artist’s media as they are forced into communication. In my current work, I engage the element of fire. In composition, I seek to define patterns that intimate a sense of balance within a process that appears haphazard, experimental and reckless in nature. Stripped of unnecessary information, my intention is to make works that are aesthetically pleasing, yet exhibit disquieting factors that engage the viewer at a primal level.
The Doppelganger collection is inspired by the short story “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges. In these works, I use fire to scorch identical impressions as a way to visualize the dichotomy of self and the artistic “other.”
American born, 1964, self-taught, the artist lives and paints in Rochester, Minnesota.
Hodara is a Graphic Design professor at Emmanuel College and the Museum School, both in Boston, MA. She is a member of the Bromfield Gallery and co-founder of the International Institute of Contemporary Art and Theory, an artist residency in Mangalia, Romania.
FP: When did you begin to develop an interest in technology?
SH: Up until my early twenties, I was solely interested in painting from life. I loved looking, re-seeing, and translating the world into shape and color. Then, in 2010, I started working for artist Wendy Richmond on her show Overheard, at CALIT2, USCD, and my outlook began to shift. First, the show opened my eyes to what working in other media could offer. The installation used halves of cell phone conversations, overheard by Richmond at various Starbucks around Manhattan. The conversations, which ranged from suspenseful (“Lisa called me. She was all in a panic.”) to funny (“I had salsa, which has no calories whatsoever…”), demonstrated the carelessness with which people reveal intimate aspects of their lives in urban public spaces. The exhibition included a floor-to-ceiling system of pulleys that, when manipulated, changed the kerning and location of large projected type. I remember being surprised by the force required to pull one of the pulleys. The letterforms seemed to take on an unfamiliar fleshy existence – one that brought to mind the entirety of their pre-Gutenberg history. As an artist, this experience was pivotal. My focus started moving from form to concept, and I began to see the potential in entirely new tools and vocabularies.
FP: How did you initially introduce this subject to your art?
SH: I committed my time at graduate school, at the Dynamic Media Institute of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, to a new body of work which would incorporate my interest in technology. In general, and, like so many throughout time, I was interested in how new technologies would change the making of art, the way art was commercialized, and the way art would be seen. These themes ended up becoming the focus of my work. So in many ways, it was a very concerted effort to incorporate technology.
FP: When did you know you wanted to become an artist and where did you receive your training?
SH: Barry Nemett, a professor I had while studying in Italy, said, “You don’t choose art. It chooses you.” I agree: I didn’t have a choice.
I was raised by creative types: artists, writers, and scientists on both sides of the family. So in many ways my interest in the arts was a natural by-product of my upbringing.
In college at the University of Pennsylvania, I wanted to study philosophy. I was interested in history, logic, and the classic existential themes that plague all youth. But once I took a painting course, I never made it to the philosophy classes. My studio practice was all-consuming and there weren’t enough hours in the day to feed it. My most trusted companions were the Matisse, Diebenkorn, and Guston books in the Fine Arts library on campus. I spent my weekends wandering through the Philadelphia Museum of Art, sitting for hours in the Cy Twombly room and staring deep into Barnett Newman’s stripe paintings on view. There wasn’t time for anything else.
FP: With regards to your works on paper, how does each piece come to life? Give us a glimpse into your process.
SH: I have a prescribed process, but I treat it like I would treat a recipe or scaffolding: it’s only there if I get lost, and for the most part I diverge.
This process begins with reading; good writing is the ultimate in efficient communication and in general, so I find reading akin to stretching. With these works, I begin by reading the patents themselves. I can’t understand the specifics so I try my best. Basically, I just need to make sure I have a surface understanding of what the patent is for.
From there, I’ll bring the images from the patent onto the computer, into Illustrator. I usually break the images apart into various shapes and textures. I try to find, in these broken images, the important forms or symbols that I, as a layperson, may be able to connect to the patent itself. For example, the use of arrows in these patents are widespread. They move us through the different directions and processes. When I first started reading, I got angry because I couldn’t understand what these diagrams were about. So I took the arrows and tried to subvert them. Instead of taking us from A to B to C, I turned them into organic tangles. In my iteration of the arrows, they would fail the patent, but satiate me – the arrows becomes of symbols of intimate roles algorithmic processes play in shaping our lives, as well as culture in general.
Finally, I work on gessoed paper. I love it because I can white out by adding new layers or erase by sanding away. As a result, each piece usually has many layers of compositions. Recently I’ve started to work with black and thats been very promising.
FP: What do you hope the viewer takes away from your work? What ideas or questions do you hope to provoke?
SH: This may sound corny, but I hope this body of work brings beauty into the lives’ of my viewers. I want the final works to contrast the ugliness and lack of design in these patents, and to act as beautiful objects that possess the capacity to enrich people’s lives as well as spaces.
FP: Explain the relationship between your art and design work. How are they similar/different?
Because art and design are often both exercises in visual communication and expression, they often have similar output. Therefore they share the same fundamental language of form. But design always “serves” (usually a client, always a message) while art transcends both its author and its form. This changes the way we access the success of a piece of design work versus a piece of artwork. It’s pretty interesting stuff.