Saturday 19 July 2008

Liz Adams interview

Liz Adams

* Location: Los Angeles

* How would you describe your art? A little place to escape to.

* Currently working on: A painting of a girl playing a flying keyboard and a dog singing

* 3 Likes: Playing with dogs, eating berries, soft pillows

* 3 Dislikes: Traffic, cream cheese, criminals

* Daily Inspirations: I like reading blogs and comics

* People & artists you admire: It always changes but I would say John Waters, Maila Nurmi, Gary Panter, The Royal Art Lodge, Daniel Johnston, Paul Reubens, Sarah Silverman, Howard Stern...

* Favourite album(s) to listen to when working: Internet radio

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This interview took place in March 2007.
All images are reproduced with thanks to Liz Adams © who gave me such a wide selection of images for this zine that I was spoiled for choice!

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Hi Liz, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?
I'm doing fine. Right now I'm pondering answers to these questions. Other than that I have been trying to get some paintings done and I am in the middle of illustrating an article for Teen Magazine.

When did you first get into art, and move to becoming an illustrator?
Ever since I was a little kid I was always drawing and making stuff up. In middle school I started making comics and in high school I was drawing things for little zines. I really liked taking art classes and decided to make that my major in college. There I kind of shifted my focus to making sculptural work. After graduating and moving to Los Angeles I started drawing and painting a lot again because my apartment was small and I didn't have room to do the 3D work. Around the same time I was working as a graphic designer and whenever we needed illustrations I would do them and it made me feel awesome. I then put together a portfolio and just started promoting.

How did you personally learn to access your creative and artistic talents, and gain the confidence to make art and creative expression your career?
Having confidence is something I have always really struggled with. I knew though that in order to accomplish my goals I would have to suck up any negative thoughts and put my work out there or else nothing would happen at all. I guess it is better to take a few risks than look back and wonder what things could of been like. Very cliché but true.

I read that at high school you played in bands, and from there formed your own all-girl band that you were in for quite a while.
What prompted your move from making and working predominantly within music, to your current focus on your visual art work?

Drumming for the Peeps was really rewarding and a major growing experience. I always knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually just be doing art though. After playing with them for about five years I wasn't feeling the same drive to do music that I always had. I was 21 and when we started playing I was sixteen. I just wanted to explore something different so I quit and moved from Phoenix to L.A.. I thought I would maybe join another band but I lost interest and just wanted to do art. Now my artwork takes up all of my time. I haven't written off playing music completely though. Maybe I will do a solo album when I'm 80.

Does this history relate to the description that your artwork now often gains, of being a ‘rock ‘n’ roll fantasy land’? Has your past involvement with music influenced your current creative production?
Very much so. But even before my involvement with the Peeps I was interested in music. As a child growing up in the '80s I was obsessed with the cartoon "Jem and the Holograms" and female bands/musicians like the Bangles and Joan Jett. I think these things kind of come through in my drawings and paintings. There is always a musical element.

Your work very often depicts cute, whimsical and offbeat depictions of female subjects (alongside animals and creatures too).
What fascinates you with women and girls?
Which aspects of femaleness, (or femininity?), and types of female characters are the most compelling and interesting for you to paint and draw?

Many of my images are loosely based on my own experiences so naturally I would depict a female subject. But honestly I love drawing/painting wild makeup, outfits, and big hair on women. It is corny but true! I like painting male subjects but I will admit I don't have as much fun unless they are aliens, have robot bodies or have huge muscles.

You work most often as a mixed media illustrator.
Which mediums do you frequently work in, and enjoy working in?

For my fine artwork it is kind of a mixed bag. I mainly use acrylics, watercolor, ink, and collage. I like to experiment a lot and plan on making some three dimensional pieces soon. In my commercial work I usually draw things out with ink, scan them, and color them on the computer. I sometimes will scan in other elements like a painted background to create texture.

How do you choose which pieces of work to exhibit in which spaces, and to which audiences?
Its really just depends on the show and the gallery. Some galleries like to choose pieces and sometimes it is all up to me. When I get to choose it all depends on what pieces I have on hand or if there is a particular requirements for the show.

Do you enjoy exhibiting at group shows, in comparison to solo shows? Does exhibiting in an environment alongside your peers provide any benefits to you as an artist?
I enjoy both. For the past few years I have really focused on being in group shows because it is a good way for an emerging artist to receive exposure and experience showing in different galleries. It's nice meeting new people and exhibiting in a group setting sometimes draws in a crowd who would not otherwise see my work. I am now really looking forward to having a solo show at Gallery Revisited in Los Angeles in 2008 as well as being in more group shows.

I’m aware that you’re very exhibiting work at the moment in the "Everything But the Kitschen Sync" exhibition at the La Luz De Jesus Gallery in California.
I am aware that this exhibition was a juried group exhibition. Is it daunting having your work, your personal creations, your ‘babies’(!) exposed to scrutiny, critique and jury decisions? Or for you is submitting pieces for consideration all part-and-parcel of being an artist?

Well, I try not to get too wound up about people scrutinizing my work. I have done it in the past and it is pretty pointless. I think submitting work gets easier with practice and is quite necessary if you want to show in galleries.

I think the first time I ever saw your illustrations, and where I still regularly see them, was amongst the pages of US zines and publications such as ‘Venus’.
What is your history with Venus zine?

I illustrated two different articles with Venus zine. One this year and one about a year ago. They have been a pleasure to work with.

Publications such as Venus cater to an audience of (predominantly) women, and are interested in promoting, supporting and encouraging alternative/indie cultures, music, craft, and art.
Are you particularly comfortable illustrating for publications with such an ethos? Is it something that you can identify with in terms of your own production?

I am very comfortable with it and it is something I identify with as well.

I think one of the first things that jumps at me when viewing your work (and the thing that jumps out at me from the page of a publication alerting me to the fact that ‘‘that’s a Liz Adams illustration!”) is the strong use of colour within your work; bright, visually astounding colour, bringing your beautiful girls and creatures to life on the page.
What has your relationship and experimentation with colour been over the years, and what draws you to the colour palate that you usually work with?
I love bright colors. A lot of it stems from reading comics, watching cartoons, and eating a lot of candy and cupcakes. There are positive, musical, and magical themes in my work and the bright colors lend to that quite nicely.

Do you get much feedback about your work from people viewing your work? Are you aware if other women have been encouraged and inspired, directly or indirectly, to embrace their creativity and artistry as a response to viewing your illustrations?
I get very nice emails and messages on myspace from time to time. It makes me really happy and it would be cool if someone was inspired by it.

What for you are the most enjoyable or rewarding aspects of working as an artist?

Getting ideas off of my chest and feeling productive. Setting goals and reaching them. Being in my own little world. Yep...

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