Monday, May 31, 2010

A Weird Craving: Lisa Romero

I've mentioned often here that I am interested in not just the finished product, but the process. I love seeing the middle and the why's and hows of why people create. I love the messy details and being challenged and inspired by learning about what drives people in doing what they do. So I'm really excited to be starting a series of interviews with artists and other creative types to get a bit of insight into why, how and what it is they do and what motivates them. First up, one of my favourite Twitter pals, fantastic artist Lisa Romero of Paperbullet. I love Lisa's use of colour, her commitment to using all found and reused materials and bright vibrant style. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? The journey you took to be where you are and what you're doing at the moment?
I’ve always loved to draw, and when I was in high school I really wanted to be a fashion illustrator. I went to art school, but I can’t sew and I’m not a very good student (I’m really more comfortable teaching myself things) so I dropped out and kind of forgot about art for a while. About six years ago I needed a hobby and sort of fell back into painting. I picked up clients here and there and after I had my kid two years ago decided not to go back to the nine to five. Now I don’t think I could go back if I tried.

At the moment I am doing things for private clients on the web, blog graphics, print work for an online scrapbooking company and printer, and collaborations with other artists. I’ve done a tee shirt collaboration with Locomotive, that should be out soon, and the new Artful Agendas were just released with one of my cover images.

That and spending time with my lovely crazy two year old and my wonderful husband Isaac.

Why do you create? What is it about being creative (in whatever sense) that makes it something important for you to do?

It’s a weird craving. Almost like something I have to do instead of want to. Something in my head is always thinking of how to make something out of something else. Even when I mess something up I see something else that can be done with it. So I start painting over it and going in a new direction. If I don’t paint or draw for a few days I get really cranky. I’m super lucky I live with someone who understands that. What my daughter is going to think of it when she gets older I don’t know.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Thrift stores! I love finding things that give me ideas that I can pick up for a dollar or two and put in my studio to inspire me. Old things, cracked and peeling. Wood. Glass. Very elemental and primitive things. Happy things, kiddie things, primary colored things. Bright, smiling, friendly faces. People who go to thrift stores are usually there because they have the same mentality- why buy new when there’s so much out there that can be had for half the stash? And it already has that lived-in cushiony feel.

Following you on Twitter I've been lucky to see many of your works in progress and I'm sure to most of us it seems like it always flows easily but I imagine this isn't always the case! Are there ever times when being expected to be creative for work feels overwhelming? How do you work through those feelings?

Yes. I think everyone who has a creative job feels that way at some point. Here, monkey, dance. Dance, I said! But I like to dance, so I dance. Sometimes I try to remind myself not to think so much. Pushing hard is the best way to stop up my creative process. I pause, pour a cup of coffee, out on a good movie and pull out a magazine. I try to let things I enjoy saturate my sponge and then start to let things flow. The more I do something, like working under pressure, the more my brain is able to repeat the process. I try to remember that even though I may not feel I can do it, I CAN. I just have to believe in myself.

What are the most rewarding and most difficult parts of your job and your creative life in general?

Totally easy question. Working from home after so many years of working a 9-5 I see how easy it is to forget about having a life outside of work. Those worlds are so intertwined for me I know that I’ll never be able to pry them apart- what I do is who I am. It is the reason I could never go back to the “straight job” world. It is hard to have time for yourself when you work this way but I’ve realized I’d be doing this regardless. I do feel that being immersed in it has made me grow more as an artist- that really looking at it from this perspective has made me realize what is really important to me and what is totally superfluous.

If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you like to be doing?

I’m really interested in set and production design. Because I’ve been thrifting so avidly for so many years I’ve accumulated a nice conglomeration of things and a real feel for staging. I wish I had a bigger house, I’d play dress up with it all day.

To see more, check out the studio visit and inspiration post with Lisa over at ML4U.
Thanks so much Lisa!
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