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BSDA Artist Interview: Lydia Hardwick

June 3rd, 2014 · 1 Comment

Lydia Hardwick, a ceramics artist and recently Royal College of London grad has put together a very special show over on Buy Some Damn Art that I am very pleased to share with you. Hardwick works with porcelain and her abstract objects gave way for a fun conversation about “art objects”.

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Kate: What is your typical process creating these objects in porcelain?

Lydia: I use porcelain because it is very white. This means that when I mix colouring oxides and stains into it, the colours show up well. I tend to work quickly, making a lot of pieces in one go. Sometimes I squash the clay into big flat sheets, and cut out shapes to create a sort of collage. I also use porcelain a lot in its liquid form. This is called ‘slip’. I mix newspaper pulp into it, which makes it look a bit like porridge. I then pour the substance onto a surface and drop other small fragments of porcelain into it. When this dries, I might paint stained porcelain slip onto the surface. The true colours don’t emerge until the work has been fired in the kiln, so there is a lot of guesswork involved.


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Kate: These objects are a bit foreign even though they are flat and decorated on the surface like paintings. How do people interact/ respond with them?

Lydia: My brother once told me a piece of mine looked like either pizza or sick. And you know what? He was spot on! Also, I enjoyed the fact that he read the work as being many things at once. I like pieces to occupy a space of inbetweeness. I like your idea that the work seems foreign, as I suppose I try to make things that cannot quite be recognised, placed or pinned to a particular definition.




Kate: What is an “art object” in your opinion?

Lydia: Generally, I don’t have criteria when it comes to valuing an object or surface, so this is a difficult question for me to answer. I am drawn to some things, and others I disregard, whether it is in a gallery or someone’s kitchen. Something I do value is a person’s ability to select and arrange: how they balance colour, surfaces and objects. It happens that a lot of people with this skill are involved in the creative industries. But then, I also think that the greengrocer over the road does a great job of arranging the fruit and veg.


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Kate: Have you ever considered making functional objects?

Lydia: Yes! I love things that you can do things with.


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Kate: You recently came back from two artist residencies in Scotland and Germany. What was the purpose of those stays and what did you take from them?

Lydia: Later this year I will be exhibiting at An TobarGallery on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. I was invited to take a research trip to the island in February, just to sniff the place out. My eyes were on stalks the whole trip: the place is gorgeous. Sion, the curator, told me that the island manages four seasons in one day. He was right! Both hail and blistering sunshine in the space of ten minutes. Quite soon after this visit, I headed off to Neumünster, Germany for a month residency at the Künstlerhaus Stadttöpferei. I used this time to produce a lot of work in their beautiful studios. I could walk everywhere within 10 minutes, so I think I gained at least 2 hours each day just by not travelling like I do in London. The way that I think about time definitely shifted after this experience. I was blown away by the generosity of the people in this town.


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Kate: What excites you most about the future?

Lydia: I am always excited about the prospect of coffee, wine, eating and walking.

BSDA Artist Interview: Lindsay Stripling

May 20th, 2014 · 4 Comments

Lindsay Stripling is a San Francisco-based artist whose work in watercolor deals with memory, old photographs and family lore. She has six new paintings available today on Buy Some Damn Art.

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Internal Sunset  /  Into The Woods

Kate: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Lindsay: I am originally from the Bay Area, born in Berkeley, grew up in Rodeo, a small town near the Carquinez Bridge. I am currently living in San Francisco with my partner David and our three dogs in a tiny/wonderful one bedroom apartment. We live right next to Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, I don’t know if I could live in the city without such a beautiful place to call my backyard.



Building Fences

Kate: How did you get your start as an artist?

Lindsay: I have always been working on some creative project or another as long as I can remember, whether I was trying to copy my friends’ handwriting and coming up with typography dictionaries or drawing maps to go with stories that my classmates would write in grade school. I still have an old floral tin full of crayons that my Grandma Evelyn would give to my sister and I when we would stay with her for the weekend- that was a staple of our childhood. I think it wasn’t until about six years ago when I was bartending in Santa Cruz that I realized that I could actually be an artist, I know it sounds crazy but for some reason even though I painted and took tons of studio classes I just never really understood that studio artists do exist in the present moment, it just always seemed like something magical from the past.



April Showers

Kate: I’m fascinated by the different ways you layer figures and landscapes in your paintings. What is that about? Are there connections between figure and landscape?

Lindsay: Ah! That’s something I am still working out. I think initially I was trying to discuss time and space and the ambiguity of the two through an absence, or a lack of place. This last year I spent working on the Rememory series, I was leaving faces blank to speak to a lack of identity or loss of memory when I realized that the blank spaces can serve as an entry point into a new place. I am an avid camper and hiker and I love being outdoors and I think the landscapes speak less to my own familial memories and more to a larger societal or collective memory. Landscapes are permanent and changing all at once and public parks and spaces are something we hold close to our hearts. The landscapes used in this series are from old National Geographic photographs of National Parks.



Doldrums (in progress)

Kate: In your artist statement you site the “familial and societal importance of lore, myth and legend”. Are there any particular stories in your family that influenced this work?

Lindsay: There are so many, but it wasn’t the specificity that I was necessarily interested in. My dad’s family is from Florida and they moved all around the south while he was a kid, so there are tons of stories of snakes and him learning to swim in gator infested waters when he was little. My mom’s family is all from Oklahoma and moved to El Sobrante, California before she was born. There are all these photographs of old ranches and farms and stories of tornadoes and things I never experienced as a child. The part that interests me the most is that I never experienced these stories and when I was hearing them as a kid I had no context for gators or tornadoes or even ranches so I began to subconsciously insert my own definition of those things based on the things that I have experienced so those stories bear almost no resemblance to the stories I was told. It’s just one long game of telephone, and I think that act of repeated removal and reinterpretation is what I am striving for.




Kate: Your process involves reinterpreting old photographs. How do you think artists of the future will interpret the archives of our current photo taking?

Lindsay: I think about that a lot actually. It is interesting because we aren’t really creating physical photographs anymore and a major part of archiving photos up until the digital age was all about preservation and restoration and was really tactile. That amount physicality lends itself to a heightened sense of nostalgia, of something having happened but also of something being held and treasured and worn. So its interesting to me that we will be on the opposite end of the spectrum from that, I almost never look through my digital photographs, out of sight out of mind really, and I have a hard time imagining how those stories are going to perpetuate in a similar way when I have kids. I think a lot about what instagram is going to be to our kids, will it be like looking at our parents old Polaroids?? It is going to be interesting! I try really hard to continue to use film just because I miss the physicality and unexpected nature of the photograph but it’s hard, it’s so convenient to grab my iPhone and snap a photo!




Kate: Your work is, on some level, about created or at least reinterpreted histories. Have you ever dreamed of alternative histories of your own?

Lindsay: All the time! Now this is where I will start to sound totally nuts. I sometimes can’t tell if the things that I dreamed are really what I dreamed or if they actually happened. About five years ago I recounted a memory of mine to my mom from when I was six of falling down from the top the stairs where I was sneakily watching TV when I was supposed to be in bed, but after I was done telling the story my mom who was present in the memory told me that it never actually happened. I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out if the reality I am in is one that I have fabricated or one that has happened. It’s both. There’s something liberating in that.

BSDA Artist Interview: Jaclyn Conley

May 6th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Over on Buy Some Damn Art today we launched a series of beautiful, painterly portraits by New Haven, CT based artist Jaclyn Conley. Previously Jaclyn painted on a much larger scale whereas these guys are mostly around 8″ x 8″ and have a simple, singular focus. As Jaclyn says in our interview (below), “these paintings are the result of broad paring down in my studio and practice… As I’m painting I’m distilling an image down to a very small moment.” This is something Conley does very well.


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Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Jaclyn: I’m originally from Essex Ontario Canada. I’m now based in New Haven CT.

Your process begins with photographs. Where do they come from? How do you select them?

Jaclyn: I’m constantly collecting images. Initially these were photographs and now they are largely jpegs accessed from online collections and archives. As I’m collecting these within a subject group, I’m finding connections or associations between images. I’m responding to some question they present based on the implied context, the composition or other visual feature.

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Untitled 2

In context of your older work these paintings are small and quite simple – in terms of subject matter and composition. I think this makes them approachable and relatable. What do these paintings mean to you? Do they feel different to you as well?

Jaclyn: These paintings are the result of broad paring down in my studio and practice. I’ve challenged myself to present only what it essential in terms of material, image, rendering and scale. Paintings are worked and reworked with a great deal of erasure and reductive building. As I’m painting I’m distilling an image down to a very small moment. This way of working is in some ways more responsive, slow and less predetermined than I’ve done in the past.


Spotted From The Neck Down, 2011

In your interview on Two Coats of Paint you say that you “enjoy the freedom of working from images of ultimately anonymous animals.” What is it about anonymity that interests you as a painter?

Jaclyn: It allows us to fill in the blanks. It means that I’m not transcribing information but potentially expanding it into something else. It’s almost a collage in that I’m taking bits, leaving others out and mediating the image based on my own interpretation. The final paintings rarely resemble the initial source photograph. This interaction presents me with a number of questions and also gives me a lot of freedom.

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Untitled 5

Is the series ongoing?

Jaclyn: I generally work on a series for 3 to 4 years before a visible shift happens. However the content always circles back in parts.

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I find that artists are almost always forward-thinking, contemplating their next creative endeavor. Do you have other projects in the work? Are there any particular interests or questions you wish to explore in your work going forward?

Jaclyn: I’ve been working with images sourced from Presidential Library Archives. My focus has been the faces of children cropped from within larger crowds of politically motivated gatherings. As I expand my image collections I’m coming across new approaches to the subject. I have some irons in the fire but it’s difficult to know how these will materialize.

BSDA Artist: Interview Ryan McGennisken

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

New today on Buy Some Damn Art is Australian self-taught artist Ryan McGennisken. The artwork below is all from the show.

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How did you start making art?

Ryan: I actually started making art when I was a child. Probably those finger paintings and macaroni pieces glued on paper when you’re like 4 years old or even younger. I guess I just never stopped. I couldn’t put a time to when I actually started or how – I just never stopped. My mum was a painter when I was growing up and my dad was into creative things like building furniture – and they would always encourage me to do the same.
When I was growing up, my parents were avid travellers and we’d often spend weeks at a time in the dense Australian bush, or on the beach – and at the time, being a kid, I’d get bored pretty easily. My parents would sort of push me to draw or build huts to fill in the time. I think these moments of my childhood are the real basis of where my ‘art-making’ stems from, now that I think about it.

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How much time do you devote to your art? Do you have a set schedule?

Ryan: I don’t do much else to be honest. No set schedule but I’m full time in the studio and seem to find myself in there at least six days out of the week, sometimes everyday. I do a lot of painting and drawing, but also some sculptural work and play around with video and making music. I try not to limit myself in my practice. If making a painting isn’t happening, I’ll spend some time doing something else – anything else. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m doing something. It’s all in the process – it all helps to create the next work or exhibition.

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Your show with BSDA features works on paper. What other media do you work with?

Ryan: I mostly work with paper but I’ve recently been doing some works on canvas and board, but I have a real love for paper that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake.
With all the other stuff I do though, I do make small sculptures out of clay. Build installations out of wood I find around the city or drift wood on beaches or bones I’ve scavenged from abandoned farm houses. I really just try to do everything, whatever’s working at the time or whatever’s around. If I run out of paper, I’ll paint something on a canvas or on my desk or on the floor or some old cardboard out of the bin.


Your figures are veiled in a certain amount of anonymity, but there’s just enough detail to show each ones particular character. Are you figures real people?

Ryan: I actually build these people out of my head. I guess in some ways they are real people – When hanging with friends or even just hanging out at the coffee shop, I’m constantly watching peoples faces – taking notes of the way they’re put together or some weird expressions. But I guess I take that information and make up the face as I go. Sometimes they’ll be slightly based on someone I’ve seen that day. I don’t particularly want to know my subjects, I don’t think I’ll get to a point where I want a model to come to the studio and sit for me – My work’s more about the, like you said, anonymity. If I do paint a figure that is actually based on someone, I’ll never let anyone know whom that is.

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Your large-scale works like “Upside Down Elephant Hat, Worn by a Famous Musician” are fantastic and have so much going on in them. Can you explain what’s going on here?

Ryan: Thanks so much! These works really are done pretty randomly and done quite quickly, as fast as the idea comes I’ll just paint it in. With these works, I really do start off with a very vague idea or a single figure or I’ll paint in a face – but then I’ll just let whatever happens, happen – If I think about a goose wearing a hat, that’ll happen – or a snake, it’ll go in there as well without a second thought. Life isn’t controlled and the main subject is never the main subject – it’s just one thing happening in a storm of everything else. With that piece in particular, a ridiculous hat of an elephant worn by ‘a famous musician’ is lost in everything else. It’s almost not even there and certainly isn’t meant to be the main focus. It’s more of a thought or a demonstration of just how meaningless everything is when you think about all the elements in the greater picture and just how random life is. Sure, there’s a musician – you can identify with that, but when you take a step back – it’s just nothing amongst everything else.

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You state that your “new work is an ongoing investigation of what it means to be human.” Any thoughts so far?

Ryan: I’ve been working around the ideas of existence and the meaning of everything. The more work I do and the more I put myself into the work, the more I’m starting to find my place. In the grand scheme of things, I’m extremely lost at where I am physically and emotionally – I am not at all ‘together’. I spend a lot of time alone and like everyone else, I have skeletons – My work at the moment is focusing on these skeletons and the masks we choose to wear to hide them.
I feel a lot of portrait artists choose to paint the prettiness of humans and their modelesque physiques. I don’t see humans in that way, so I’m not going to paint them like that. I see them as skewed masks, trying to hide their inner demons and confusion of natural human emotions and uncertainties of the own existence.

BSDA Artist Interview: Alex Waggoner

April 8th, 2014 · 2 Comments

Alex Waggoner is the newest addition to Buy Some Damn Art. Read her interview below or check out her brand new show.

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How do you compose the scenes in your paintings?  Are they based on landscapes you come across in real life?

Alex: A lot of the imagery is based in real life, usually scenes I see daily.  Sometimes, when faced with the same surroundings day after day, certain things can become invisible.  I enjoy focusing on these forgotten spaces.

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Why chose fences as a theme, one that in many cases blocks a more interesting view?

Alex: When I was a little kid, I remember peering through the knotholes in the fence to see if my neighbor Andrew was home. I would shimmy through one of the broken slats to play.  To get to and from each others houses Andrew and I always cut through another neighbor’s yard. Eventually, that neighbor put up an impenetrable fence.  I think that was the first time I saw a fence as a clear symbol of “mine and yours”.  I usually find the concept of barriers just as interesting as what may be behind them.

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You studied printmaking as well as painting. Does one practice affect the other?

Alex: I love the tedious process of printmaking.  I think my love of layering in printmaking does cross over into the layering I use in my paintings.

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In earlier work you incorporated a lot of found materials – including a light switch and carpentry nails. Have you considering bringing found objects into your current painting practice?

Alex: In my “Relics” the found objects represent things once forgotten.  I wanted to try and give them the status of an ancient historical relic.  I have considered incorporating veneer into these paintings both as a symbol referencing the home and a medium.

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You’ve spent time in Charleston and Savannah. Do you have a favorite city, neighborhood or site for inspiration?

Alex: I have been lucky to live in cities with so much southern charm and curb appeal.  Different areas of these cities can feel like polar opposites.  There are two specific types of places where I find inspiration.  One being the pleasantville-like, planned communities where landscape architecture is a sort of art form between gigantic houses on tiny lots.  The other are turning neighborhoods where some houses have a hodgepodge of privacy barriers right next to new construction with immaculate eight foot fences on all sides.

BSDA Artist Interview: Masuko Jo

March 25th, 2014 · No Comments

Masuko Jo is a talented young illustrator based in NYC. She has a show of beautiful, delicate work on Art Hound’s sister site, Buy Some Damn Art. Here is my interview with Masuko and some of the exquisite work in her show!
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As an illustrator your work is very playful but distinctly your own. What are some of your favorite inspirations?
Masuko: Most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings; people I meet, animals I see, and plants that I want. Among those, my favorite is ALL OF THEM AT THE SAME TIME. It’s that moment I see between the people and their interactions with their pets or an animal, and all the plants that surrounds them creating this moment in time that seems so separated from the city.
You make adorable little GIFs. How do they fit in with the rest of your work?
Masuko: I always enjoyed illustrating strangely cute characters, but seeing them move is so much more fun. There’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment when you see a character you’ve been drawing so still actually take action. It’s a new form of my illustrations and the movement gives some of them more of a BAM!
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What’s a day in the life of Masuko Jo?
Masuko: Not much. I spend most of my day deciding what to eat, and rest of the day eating. I enjoy taking ceramics with my friends in Brooklyn, and painting at home with my crazy cat “parkour-ing” around the apartment.
What would you say is the undercurrent which runs through all your work?
Masuko: I just always want to have a good time and I’m always hoping that everyone around me is too. That’s what I try to showcase in my work. I enjoy illustrating pieces that create a fun or tender atmosphere; a place where you want to be.
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You sometimes collaborate with another BSDA artist, Rachel Levit. Do you guys have any new work coming out?
Masuko: Yes. We are always working on something. ALWAYS.
What are your goals or wishes for 2014?
Masuko: I usually just go with the flow of things, and I enjoy every moment of it, so I’ll wish for good things to come by way, and I’ve set goals to keep them coming. #realtalk