Sunday, November 15, 2015

You've Been Schooled

every so often, i am contacted by students looking to interview me for some project or other they have to do, but they can't find the info they're looking for. probably because they should be looking for an accomplished artist. 

however, because i feel it's our human duty to give a leg up to each other, i've decided to put all the answers to the most common questions here. as a reference. at least until i get my own Wikipedia page...HAHAHAHAHA!

before i get started, i would like to clarify that i am female. i see a lot of references to my work and people are always stating 'he' when talking about me. do i really have a man's name? well, if so, that's my parents' fault. i know for a fact that i definitely was not born with or have ever had a penis or testicles. 

i was born in and forever have resided in Milwaukee, WI, US. that started in 1966. always loved drawing. won a few piddly art contests as a kid. at 18, when it was time to decide a career path, my parents poo-pooed art school: "You can't make a living from art."

unfortunately, this was the first of three times i took their never ending advice and pursued something less fulfilling. 

after a few years of that, my mother told me i should become a nurse. this was the second time i caved in and did what my parents told me to do. i had asked my mother, who was also a nurse, why she would advise me to so such a thing when, while growing up, all i ever heard her say was "Don't ever be a nurse."? she screwed up her face and told me i'd make good money. 

so i went to nursing school. the whole time there, the voice in my heart kept saying 'this sucks, don't like it, not for me'. but, not being a quitter, i saw it through and upon graduation [which my mother did not attend] i got a job in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 

i started drawing again. experimenting with materials and mediums. it was my escape from a highly structured and false environment. 

then the third of my parents bad decisions for me happened. they told me i should get married to the guy i was seeing. i don't believe in 'legal' marriage. what's the point? being of an open mind, i thought maybe they see something i don't, and i did what they told me. 

this turned out to be a massive, horrific and traumatizing waste of time. but, i'm not a quitter, remember? so i stuck it out, trying different things to fix the problems. sometimes though, you can't fix something that's missing important parts and you have to put it down and walk away. 

i had stopped creating art during that time because that person told me it wasn't 'productive'. some people just don't get it. 

once that leech wasn't around anymore, i started drawing again. i started painting too. it was glorious! i set up a studio and really went at it. 

as people do, when they're proud of something they've done, i started showing my work to others. a couple people kept pushing me to go to art school. i had met someone i actually was in love with and he was [and still has been] my greatest support. 

i found a call for art for a show in Detroit and my work was accepted. this opened a new door for me. so about a year later i thought, what the heck, and applied to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. 

my father thought this was a dumb idea. again telling me that artist don't make money. being 40 years old vs the naive 18 year old, i stood up to him...i was going to do it anyway, so i thought maybe daddy needed some enlightenment. i asked him who he thought designed all the ads he sees, all the cartoons and videos out there, all the creative design on everything from consumer goods to cars to magazines, etc.? duh...artists, dad! he looked quite surprised. really? you never thought about it before? 


art school is super expensive. you may have some experience with that. if not, imagine making a certain amount of money and trying to feed three people [i have two kids], make house payments, pay bills, maintain a car, etc. and on top of it, give half of what you make to someone else [school]. 

i was fortunate to have gotten a scholarship from the school, but it only covered 75%. i know, that's a lot actually. but then my wonderful nursing job was killing me. they were taking work hours away from me and it resulted in my making half of what i used to. 

after a few months of that, i had to leave school. i dropped out two weeks into the second semester. tearfully. 

art school was amazing. everyone there was like me. i had no idea that such an environment existed and i had thrived in it [i was even on the Dean's List...that NEVER happened before]. you know the story of the ugly duckling? that's what my life had been like. 

so, even though i had to leave utopia, i still had the key to the art world. probably that's what has kept me alive these last ten years. [no, i've never been suicidal... it was a metaphor]

i learned so much in those few months at MIAD, it was hard to leave. BUT, i was doing shows more often and my work was prolific. that one semester was like throwing fertilizer on a spindly plant. 

i'll be 50 years old [fuck!] in a couple months and i could be bitter about not doing what I wanted my whole life. but that's how it goes. been making up for it ever since. 

i don't work in the NICU anymore...don't agree with what's going on there. switched over to pediatric psych. much more entertaining!

ok, life story time is over. go to the bathroom, get a drink of water or grab a beer. 

some of the other questions i've been asked are about influences. who and what. well, everything really. but i'll break it down a little. 

my favorite artists are all contemporary. i'm not necessarily in love with the old masters, although you can learn a lot from their work. maybe i don't like them as much because i can't really relate to their subject matter. the world has changed and i'm a product of the past 50 [fuck again] years, so that's what i know about. 

here's who's work i happen to adore:
Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Brandi Milne, Ryan Heshka, Glenn Barr, Martha Rich, Joao Ruas, Jessica Brilli, Mab Graves, Michael Hussar...i could go on and on. 

i don't ever try to emulate the artists i like. it would be frustrating. my work isn't great, but it serves my purpose, for me. if other people like it, then that's a bonus. if they love it enough to pay for it...holy shit. [ps: don't steal people's work you see on the internet. it's rude and makes you a suck-y human being.]

then there's the digital collage work. my son introduced me to Photoshop and it's my favorite toy. i mostly use it to put together an image i want to paint but can't be found anywhere. i have to look at a reference, can't just pull it out of my ass. 

while i was at art school, one of my instructors was in awe of the Photoshop work i was doing. he's the one that told me "These are works on their own. They'd make great prints." so there's that. 

sometimes when i get pissed at the world, i mess around with Photoshop to cut/splice/layer the chaos into something that makes sense to me. 

hopefully that sheds some light on things and gives you little guys something to work with. 

and, no, i won't design a tattoo for you.