High Art Billboard Project

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I was recently selected by the Indy Arts Council, in partnership with Fairway Outdoor Advertising, to have my artwork printed on a 14’x48’ vinyl and displayed on billboards throughout Indianapolis until August of 2019. (You can keep tabs on its location here.)

This is just one of the many awesome ways in which the Arts Council of Indianapolis is fostering meaningful public engagement with art while also supporting local artists. And it’s by far the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of.

Planner Stickers

 
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Most recently I entered a long-term partnership as the lead illustrator with a Southern California start-up that is creating weekly planners and journals. The first project involved creating a set of stickers to mark various appointments (e.g., hair, dentist, doctor, chiropractor), which I initially sketched out by hand and then vectorized and colored in Illustrator. Physical planners are near and dear to my heart (i.e., my life would crumble to pieces without them), so I’m crazy excited for this new partnership and the opportunity to do some more fun and cutesy digital illustration for print products.

Young Collectors Show II

 
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My work was recently featured in what turned out to be my absolute favorite exhibition thus far. For the Young Collectors Show II at Gallery 924, not only was the artwork hung at child’s eye level, but some of the works were made into an official coloring book as a way to encourage little ones to really engage with the art.

The coloring book also included a guide for kids on how to look at art, a glossary of art terms to help children and their families talk about the art, and brief descriptions of each piece.

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My coloring book page included a description of my processes and ideas behind the piece, written in a way that children could more readily comprehend. (Artist statements are hard enough as it is, so this was no small feat! Looking back on it now though, I’m realizing I may have ended on too dark of a note..? Meep.)

"Three separate techniques of drawing, painting, and illustration were combined in the making of this piece. I chose to contrast the realistic drawing style of the female subject with a more illustrative, minimal line drawing for her surroundings, including the swans in her arms. This contrast serves to explore the degree of separation between humans and their natural environment. The color-blocking of pastels and pleasant colors in combination with the gold leaf creates a whimsical, storybook-like quality to the piece that recalls a more wholesome, idealized time, before the exploitation of nature became front and center of human activity."

Sugar Space Post-It Show

 
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I recently had the pleasure of participating in a fundraiser/inaugural event for Sugar Space Gallery, where artists from across the state created unique works on post-it notes priced at $10 each. It was a nice opportunity to take a break from my more time-consuming work and have fun with simple black ink sketches of some of my favorite things.

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Interview

 

I did a short interview as part of a featured artist profile for The Indianapolis Review a few months ago, and I figured I'd share it here verbatim since it's such a rarity for me to speak (coherently) at such great length about myself and art in general. You can find the whole profile here.

 

1. When did you know you were an artist? What made you decide to pursue your art seriously?

The core of my identity has always been tangled up in art for as long as I can remember, but my mom got me a miniature play easel when I was four, and she says she watched me contemplatively stand back to observe the first painting I was “working on” before making my next brushstrokes—according to her, that’s when she knew I was an artist.

It feels like I’ve spent the majority of my life convincing myself that the world wouldn’t come to a crashing halt if I didn’t pursue art.  I was raised by a banker father and a brother that was reading the Wall Street Journal for leisure at age nine, so I always felt this self-inflicted pressure to pursue something more “practical” while keeping art on the back-burner.  I studied business at Notre Dame for three years before realizing that, if the classes felt like nothing short of capital punishment, I probably wasn’t cut out for that career path, so I decided to focus solely on art and design at that point instead.  It took a couple more years of me trying to (unsuccessfully) squeeze myself into the traditional American mold of 9-5 non-creative office jobs until I finally got out of my own way and decided I needed to live a more purposeful life—and by that I mean, feeling as if what I’m doing is coming from my heart as opposed to my (very neurotic) head.  It’s funny how it took me two decades to finally just give in to the thing that I’ve wanted to do since age four.  

2. What artists influence and inspire you?

I am endlessly enchanted by the photographs of Sally Mann and how she makes capturing someone’s raw humanity look so effortless.  I’m probably most visibly inspired by Lee Jin Ju, a contemporary Korean watercolorist who creates these dreamy psychological landscapes that often feature the female form.  I would cover my walls with her work if I could!  I also have some fashion design in my background, so I am very much inspired by artists of that medium as well.  The late Alexander McQueen and his retrospective exhibition at the Met, Savage Beauty, will forever remain an unparalleled artistic masterpiece in its own right. I also have a huge crush on Alessandro Michele of Gucci, who draws on sources of all artistic mediums to create this eclectic aesthetic that inspires me to no end.  Both designers are great examples of the type of artists I most admire; not only do they see life cinematically and reflect that in their work, but they simultaneously break all the rules while still acknowledging tradition.

3. What do you feel the role of art is in people’s lives? Why is it important?

The role of art and its importance is evident in more ways than one, from the proven benefits of creative education in the classroom, to the fact that artists are put here to question the status quo and push culture forward.  However, when the topic of art is brought up in daily discourse, often times I’m met with the classic initial response that a person “just doesn’t ‘get’ art” (usually it’s modern visual art that’s brought to their minds)—many perceive the concept of art as some sort of highbrow academic discipline that is totally disconnected from their own lives.  In reality, the true essence of art is often subtle, unseen, and infiltrates our daily lives in huge ways for which it often goes uncredited.  Think of the collective architecture that forms the framework of your own city and public parks. Or imagine the feeling of listening to a song as you drive with the windows down on a summer night, or reading a line from a book that perfectly encapsulates a thought you’ve always had but never thought to articulate.  This sort of life-affirming artistic energy is almost spiritual in the way in which it connects us all—it exists everywhere in the world at all times, and our only responsibility is just to stop and look.  For me, this is the importance of art in the truest sense of the word.

4. What do you love about Indianapolis? What are your favorite places or things to do here?

I love the feeling of community in Indianapolis as our cultural climate expands.  Whether its food, art, breweries, or any number of local businesses and creative workspaces, people support and encourage creators willing to take risks here.  I especially love the growth of women-owned businesses in Indy (special shout outs to Bluebeard and the Ball & Biscuit).  In the past couple of years I’ve also taken notice of the flourishing music scene here, to the point where I practically live at the Hi-Fi, Vogue, and Murat.  And lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the wonderfully bizarre and outrageously underrated Indiana Medical History Museum.  Seriously, go there; you’ll thank me!

Mixed Media Process

Somewhere along the way I stumbled into this very specific and time-consuming process that eventually results in my mixed media pieces combining textiles with traditional drawing/painting techniques on paper. Unfortunately it's so labor-intensive that it takes far longer for me to complete pieces (compared to my old mediums of watercolor and graphite or oil), so while I have a million ideas a minute for new work, I have to train myself to slow down and enjoy the process of the current piece while I'm still in it. In an attempt of doing just that, I decided to start documenting my process a bit along the way.

First I come up with a composition. I'm very figure-focused so I typically decide on what type of figure/pose I'd like to feature, and then from there, I form the background landscape to fit her.  (Note: I almost always use myself or nude figure drawing models—combined with bits and pieces from fashion magazines—as the basis for my figures, but this model in particular was photographed by the talented Ekaterina Ignatova.) I then finish drawing my figure almost to completion before even touching the textiles, as it's pretty difficult to switch from one medium to the other just like that. My method of drawing and painting requires great focus and therefore ends up being almost an act of meditation. The cutting and sewing of textiles to form abstract landscapes, on the other hand, is more physically laborious than it is mental, and it's steeped in a general mood of playful experimentation.

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Once the textiles are finished being stitched together (first by hand and then gone over a second time with my sewing machine), I rough up the fabric a bit using various (careless) techniques with an x-acto knife, which inevitably results in some accidental bloodshed. After stretching the final piece around archival foam core, I cut another piece in the shape of the figure and adhere it to the board using a gigantic needle and thread. Not only is this the only way I've found to adhere paper to fabric, but it also creates added dimension by lifting the drawing up off of the background by a quarter inch. 

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Below is the final piece prior to getting it framed. The frame itself always ends up adding a sense of plenitude by hiding the edges and enclosing the two different mediums together neatly. 

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I titled this piece Millimeters (experiencing tiny things), after a section in The Book of Disquiet, one of my favorite books ever written. This "factless autobiography" was Fernando Pessoa's lifetime project that was left entirely unedited and published posthumously. A bit of irony from this section:

"I’m convinced that in a perfect, civilized world there would be no other art but prose. We would let sunsets be sunsets, using art merely to understand them verbally, by conveying them in an intelligible music of colour. We wouldn’t sculpt bodies but let them keep for themselves their supple contours and soft warmth that we see and touch."

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Sketchbook circa 2010.

"I fell in love with the idea that the mysterious thing you look for your whole life will eventually eat you alive." — Artist Laurie Anderson explaining her attraction to Moby-Dick.

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In celebration of my first full year of gainful full-time employment, I thought I'd look back at the bright shooting star that was my period of post-grad unemployment. Only true unemployment can afford you the time it takes to turn pictures of your family and friends' cats into chaotic yet meticulous drawings using only your pointer finger and 2014-2015's prehistoric versions of Snapchat. 

Coincidentally, just four days ago I adopted a cat of my own (shout out to Margot!). Can you even imagine the possibilities given the advances of Snapchat in the past 3 years?! 

In short, if you've ever wondered what an art degree from Notre Dame can afford you immediately after graduation, here it is:

Slaughterhouse Five

I created two textile-only pieces for the first time as a part of the TINY VI: Celebrating the Year of Vonnegut exhibit at Gallery 924. All artwork had to be under 6"x6" in size, and had to somehow fall under the umbrella of Vonnegut. I took this as a chance to experiment with my textile process, and while I incorporated my usual landscape background, I decided to play with words this time as opposed to drawn figures. Coincidentally, not even a month had passed since re-reading Slaughterhouse Five when I received this exhibition call-for-entry, so I decided to reference this book in particular. (You can check them out in person through January at Gallery 924 in Indy.)

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“So it goes” follows every mention of death in the novel. “When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes.’”

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“Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?" "Yes." Billy, in fact, had a paperweight in his office which was a blob of polished amber with three lady-bugs embedded in it. "Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

The Omnipresent Whimsy of Wes Anderson

The second it dips below a balmy 72° my mind starts drifting further and further away from the Siberian-esque morass known as winter for the Midwest. The most recent bout of daydreaming resulted in me digitally illustrating an array of luggage designs from Hermès to Gucci, when I remembered the best bags of all were those featured by Wes Anderson in The Darjeeling Limited: bespoke safari-print suitcases monogrammed and marked 1 through 11.

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While these were made specifically for the film by Marc Jacobs during his reign as creative director for Louis Vuitton, you can find reincarnated (and affordably priced!) replicas by Very Troubled Child.

You're the Bomb

I've gotten so used to (happily) slaving away at handmade cards for all of my family & friends' birthdays and holidays that it never dawned on me to save time and energy by illustrating them digitally instead. So, for my mom's birthday I designed a simple illustration as a clear and concise way to convey how cool I think she is. It may not be pen on paper, but at least I incorporated a grunge pattern texture to give it a bit more of that handmade vibe.

Adobe Illustrator + Photoshop CS6

Found Perspectives

The other day I received two mysterious 30 pound boxes in the mail, only to discover a quasi-time-capsule of my adolescence inside. Turns out my dad was cleaning house (or rather, storage units) right before moving to Micronesia (yes, Micronesia).

Along with old cards, notes, two dead tomagotchis, and photographic evidence of my pre-orthodontics smile, were sketchbooks from almost exactly a decade ago that chronicle my first interactions with the formal elements and principles of design. But there is always something so ...agreeable about basic perspective drawing in particular:

 

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Note: I've decided to keep all of the other contents of these sketchbooks where they belong - firmly in the past. But, I'm confident you can use your imagination to illustrate the inner workings of a 15-year old girl who was in the throes of teenage angst and completely enraptured by the very high culture that defined the early 2000's.

Red Poppy

Trying out watercolor pencils with a quick poppy study.

I can't mention my favorite flower without also noting one of my favorite installations, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the 2014 brainchild of ceramic artist Paul Cummins. With the help of stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic red poppies were planted in the Tower of London's dry moat in commemoration of the allied fallen in WWI. I kid you not, 30 seconds after reading the original post on Colossal, I was prepared to drop everything as I looked up plane tickets to London - only to realize the installation had already been dismantled by that time. I'll just have to keep my sights on the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve (or the Eastern Mediterranean?).
 

Hey, Brother

For the brother who has consistently managed to squeeze an Arrested Development quote into e.v.e.r.y. s.i.n.g.l.e. conversation we've ever had. Happy Birthday, ya rube. Steve Holt!

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Side note: For the most part I've always relied upon the safety of traditional realism (via dimension/detail/color) when it comes to rendering figures and portraits, which can get to be pretty stifling and unimaginative. So I've actively been sketching people (particularly males, since my entire portfolio is deluged with females) with more fluidity and without dimension, because capturing the likeness of someone/something is a far more challenging endeavor without any shading to shape the features. Buster Bluth, with his uniquely doughy features and pseudo-double chin, was an exemplary case study in this regard.

I'm feelin rough I'm feelin raw

Can you tell I have a thing for nostalgia? 

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While Time to Pretend, MGMT's synth-soaked 2007 hit from the formidable Oracular Spectacular, is nothing more than a satirical cliché of rock star dreams and the lives of those in the spotlight, the weight of this middle verse has been tuggin' at my heart strings since the early days of high school.

 (I based the landscape in the background of this sketch on my favorite Gustave Baumman print, Palo Verde and Ocotea, 1928. I fell in love the moment I laid eyes on it at the IMA's Baumann exhibit earlier this year.)

Bowie Tribute

Obviously I felt compelled to combine my favorite photo of Bowie (by Terry O'Neill) and a portion of my favorite Bowie lyrics (Memory of a Free Festival) into an illustration with some necessary gold leaf thrown in for added measure.

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 "I received an email from him seven days ago. It was funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. they will never rot.’

I realise now he was saying goodbye."

-Brian Eno on David Bowie 1/11/16

 

Animals x Bukowski (Explicit)

I've been wanting to practice creating animals in simple black line for a more illustrative effect than I'm used to.  So, understandably I thought to myself, "what better way to do it than to combine my favorite unsullied creatures with the sometimes depressing, sometimes crude, and most always offensive musings of Charles Bukowski?"

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Side note: While Bukowski may have been the world's most lugubrious misogynist, his novels Factotum, Ham on Rye, and Post Office remain three of my favorites. And his poetry far outweighs his prose -  if you haven't, I highly recommend checking some of it out, like this one, this one, and this one.