Monday, November 23, 2009

15 Questions about Art :: Sophia Allison

Sophia Allison works in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture and installation. Her work has been in multiple exhibitions within the U.S and abroad as well as in publications such as Make and the cover image for New American Paintings, Western Edition #42.

Currently, Sophia has a solo exhibition titled Home Home, Sweet Again at Underground Gallery through December 12. She lives and works in Los Angeles but still calls western North Carolina home.


What is your earliest art-related memory?

Around age 4, trying to sell my scribble drawings to retirees staying in summer cottages my family was renting. I think I made 15 cents!

Who has had the greatest influence on your work?

Too many folks to name but mostly my Dad when he told me to just do something I love.

What are the main tools of your craft?

My hands and brain; my sewing machine and scissors.

Is a formal education important?

Depends on what the person needs to grow as an artist. My grad school experience turned me inside out; I hated it and loved it, sometimes separately, sometimes simultaneously. Ultimately it was good for me, but a formal education is not for everyone.

What is the biggest misconception about art?

That in order to make art, a person has to have natural born talent; that artists don't have to work at it; that utilizing intelligence and constant decision-making don't factor into it.

That couldn't be further from the truth.

Which is more important in art - concept or execution?

There's always a bit of both that factor into art. One doesn't necessarily outweigh the other.

What theme or aesthetic are you most drawn too?

The handmade, the folky, the funky and the OCD-inspired with a twist of elegance.

What is your favorite piece of art in your home?

A Sarajo Frieden piece - it has great embroidery in it.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Tim Hawkinson, Andy Kaufman or Mick Foley

Which emerging artist do you think more people should know about?

Meeson Pae Yang. Her systems-inspired installations and sculptures are beautiful.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Finding a wonderful studio space in L.A.

What has been your biggest roadblock?

Psyching myself out of things I haven't even tried yet. Dealing with my fear of talking to people about my work.

How do you define success?

When I leave the studio feeling that something was actually accomplished after a long work session.

What will be the name of your autobiography?


What is the best piece of (art-related) advice you’ve ever been given?

A painting professor once told me to get to that particular place in the creation of a work where I could enjoy what I was making, while I was making it.

And "Keep working" is another good piece of advice I've received over the years.


15 Questions about Art is an ongoing series in which we ask our collective favorite artists, writers, musicians, sleepy dreamers and object makers from across the creative spectrum to give us a glimpse into how they perceive art through a standard set of questions.

Please check back next week for a fresh perspective.

(All images property of Sophia Allison)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saul Bass, May The Force Be With You

Maybe you've seen this one a million times, but (for me at least) it never gets old. Someone in our galaxy with excellent taste decided to reinterpret the opening title sequence from Star Wars in the style of the late, great Saul Bass (with a Buddy Rich soundrack as an added bonus).

Not familiar with Saul Bass? Check out a great round-up of some of his better known animations here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

what i am in love with right now

I just discovered these illustrations via my friend tracy's blog and have fallen in love

Stacey Rozich makes these wonderful illustrations that combine fantasy, figurative drawing, and fabulousness.


Monday, November 16, 2009

lost & found

One of my favorite children's books - Lost and Found - was made into a short film by StudioAKA.
It looks soo amazing. I love how they stayed true to the original illustrations by Oliver Jeffers. I wish I could make it to this screening tomorrow the 19th at the American Cinematheque.
I also wish I had a pal dvd player, so I could just buy it.

15 Questions about Art :: Sean U'Ren

Sean U'Ren grew up in the town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin and has been variously employed by Pizza Hut, Hardees, a few coffeeshops, a watch sales company, a telemarketing company, a Mexican restaurant, a slew of post production houses and a large agricultural company that sends kids out into the cornfields for hours of torturous labor.

He likes writing, reading, making and eating pizza, walking around on cold floors in bare feet, drinking coffee, traveling and all the usual crap. He has some survival skills but whomever heads toward him in a time of emergency expecting to buddy up should probably think twice. Don't try and stop him when he climbs trees, just let him go to it - he'll eventually fall and then that will be that.


What is your earliest art-related memory?

Listening to De Doo Da Da with a babysitter. I may have been about seven or eight but I really liked dancing around to the music.

Who has had the greatest influence on your work?

Whoever invented trees and sunlight.

What are the main tools of your craft?

The words I have collected right up til this point in my life. Pictures that inspire me. Music that inspires me.

Walking around is a very important tool – if I can’t pace, I can’t write.

Is a formal education important?

Yes, absolutely. Later, though, you'll probably set it all on fire, at least for a while. Better save some water.

What is the biggest misconception about art?

That anything less than something that grabs you by the throat and brings you in close is acceptable as ‘art’.

Which is more important in art - concept or execution?

All art is execution. But concept makes for more interesting dinner talk. Who wants to hear about the five hours I spent in my studio today? Crickets…

What is the overall theme or aesthetic are you most drawn too?

In writing: Curiosity. A hero's quest for their parent's origins. Investigation. Lost pets. Found radiators. Vicissitudes.

What is your favorite piece of art in your home?

A pen and ink drawing of Sam Winchester from Supernatural with a smiling otter perched on his arm by Aiyana Udesen, a Bay area illustrator.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Bruno Shulz or Arvo Part.

Which emerging artist do you think more people should know about?

Aiyana Udesen

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Making a short film my father and mother really enjoyed.

What has been your biggest roadblock?

A need for acceptance and validation.

How do you define success?

Feeling happy at the end of the working day and having an ice cold beer or two waiting in the fridge.

What will be the name of your autobiography?

So Good

What is the best piece of art advice you’ve ever been given?

It doesn't matter how many steps it takes to finish what you've started, so long as you get there.


15 Questions about Art is an ongoing series in which we ask our collective favorite artists, writers, musicians, sleepy dreamers and object makers from across the creative spectrum to give us a glimpse into how they perceive art through a standard set of questions.

Please check back next week for a fresh perspective.

(Image by Jennifer L. Porter)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Balcony Project

Yesterday’s post about DIY art book publishing reminded me of a project by artist and graphic designer Mari Sheibley.

In November of 2008, Sheibley self-published a series of portraits taken of the visitors who shared conversations on her New York balcony over a 5 month period.

See selected images from the series here.

Additional images and the option to buy it here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So you wanna make art books?

So I found this nice online publishing site that lets you be your own publishing mogul. You can download their software that lets you control the layout and then decide on a few variations of book types and styles. The nice part is that you can have 1 book or more depending on your budget and needs. I have always had a few book idea's running through my head but never had anyone bite for the publishing rights if you will, now I'm in control... and so can you!

Hope this gets your creative juices flowing and FYI, I wouldn't mind a copy of your new book if this post is the first steps to your publishing success. Good Luck!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Online Dives


I wanted to share with you all a few links I use for inspiration that may also help you.

Each one offers something uniques and interesting upon arrival. Have a look and let me know what you think.
Cheers, Antonio.

An Interview with Dan Monick

Dan Monick's capacity for love is immense.

He loves his relationships - the good times and the trying ones, too. He loves inspiration, be it accidental or accidentally on purpose.

He loves old signage, ominous skies and foreign advertisements stapled in a noisy jumble of symbol and language to telephone poles. He loves objects so far removed from context that the meaning becomes lost in translation and the viewer is left with more questions with answers. He loves spinning a good story and using a photograph to tell it even more.

But looking at his most recent collection of work, it seems as if Dan Monick loves the quiet moments most of all - the ones that when strung together create the entire landscape of a life, but by themselves are fragile and fleeting. And all too often overlooked by the rest of us.

Dan Monick sits down with LittleBird Gallery to talk about all these observations and how they came together to create the narrative for his upcoming show.


LittleBird Gallery: Can you tell us about how the title for the show came about?

Dan Monick: My girlfriend [Catlin] and I were driving along and this Rod Stewart song came on - and funny enough, that’s where the title came from. But it seemed to have to do with everything going on… and then later when we were putting the images into sort of individual “chapters”, the theme pretty much showed up.

The last show [with Little Bird Gallery] was called “You Know Only You Can Break Your Heart” and this was sort of the next logical step.

LittleBird Gallery: When you are talk about chapters, do you see the exhibit as a whole telling a specific story?

Dan Monick: There’s no question I’m trying to tell a story - both through this and “Only You Can Break Your Own Heart” and to tell you the honest truth, they’re both about my girlfriend and our relationship. The previous show was the narrative about this two year period where we had broken up and the journey I went through in the time.

LittleBird Gallery: So this show is a continuation of that narrative?

Dan Monick: Kind of. It’s about what came out of that period; what I’ve learned since. Most of the images were actually taken with her nearby so, yeah; our relationship is really present through out.

Another part is that it’s a heavy nod to all the people in my life I have been influenced by. While I think everything is still shot very unconsciously, the trails and tribulations of the past few years put my brain into a spot where for the first time I could sort of consciously edit as I was going along.

For instance, this piece [an image of a table top at the end of a meal] was inspired by Steven Shore. I’d didn’t set it up on purpose but we were sitting there and I looked down and I was reminded instantly of this image [from the cover of one of his books] and so this was my little nod to him.

LittleBird Gallery: Commercially, you are known for your portrait work and yet the subject matter in this exhibit focuses on images of everyday objects - often in a state of disorder or decay, and almost always out of context.

Dan Monick: The funny thing about portraits - because I have done portrait shows as well - is that people either identify with the images in a really hardcore way or not at all. So I very intentionally stayed away from portraits in this collection.

But I’ve always shot stuff like this - little narrative stories. When I’d started out I didn’t know much about Robert Frank who I later came to find out was known for this style that I’d [unknowingly] heavily borrowed from. And it was kind of weird that I’d always shot this way and really wild to find out that these guys were drawn to photographing the corer of the room too.

As I did learn about guys, like [William] Eggleston and Steven Shore, I didn’t want to shoot like them so much as I saw they had these amazing characters and I wanted to live in there lives. So it wasn’t so much about documenting my life as it was about creating a fantasy world that I wanted to live in.

LittleBird Gallery:
One of my favorite images of the show is the man in the ticket booth. It seems to comprise elements of all of the themes you have running through the exhibit.

Dan Monick: That was taken at the Minnesota State Fair… well, I wont ruin it by telling you the back-story, but there is this image that I love and when I saw this moment, I knew I could recreate it.

So, it’s kind of like doing a cover song, you know? I have thought about this image through out my life and when I looked through the viewfinder and snapped the shot… Well, it’s not a copy - it’s not perfect - but you still get that feeling. It works.

LittleBird Gallery: You leave a lot up to the viewer in your images - and I almost don’t want to hear the stories behind them in order to have my own experience.

Dan Monick: Good! Along time ago I remember people would tell me that as an artist you have to do this and this and this in your work for the viewer to get it and my response was “fuck that”. That makes no sense to me.

It’s funny because I’ve always got a camera in my hands and the idea with a camera is to capture the moment where something happens. But if it makes more sense to me to show the moments around the action because then your letting the viewer sort of fill in the blanks with their own story.

And I think that’s kind of nice.

“Dan Monick: My Love For You Is Immense” opens Saturday, November 7th from 7:00 to 10:00pm at Grain : 3135 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039 in back studio and continues until November 20 by appointment only.

Interview by Bri Ana Drennon

Photo credits: All images by Dan Monick.