Artist Interview: BRIAN SPARROW

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Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

Happy (yesterday) birthday to Artist Brian Sparrow! Brian has a traditional background in printmaking, but we’re really into his new black and gold symbolism series that has an Egyptian vibe. Ray & I met Brian at the Cotton Candy Machine’s Roebling Fair this summer, where we were all vendors. As soon as I saw his esoteric inspired art I wanted to know more. Keep reading to see his connection to black dogs and other symbols.

 

SHANON WELTMAN: It says on your website that you primarily do printmaking. Is that still accurate? What’s your favorite medium and why?

BRIAN SPARROW: Actually, I would still consider myself a printmaker but I really enjoy doing sculpture right now. I guess I’m sort of focusing on that. Just not worrying about what I’m making, what quadrant of art it’s in, and just sort of making it. Does that make sense?

SW: Mmhm. What led you to sculpture?

BS: I’ve always liked making little objects and things. I’m very into ritual objects, I’ve always wanted to make some of my own objects for my own work, in my own style. I like to think about sculpture in a sort of a very printmaker-ly way. So, with the coffins, where there’s a bunch of them, I like the repetition. They’re all sort of from the same matrix. Sort of like printmaking. There’s something interesting about one more, and then one more, and then one more.

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SW: When did you start this new series that you’re working on now?

BS: I’ve been working on the same sort of series or body of work since, probably my sophomore year of college. Dogs and cryptic symbols.

SW: When was that?

BS: 2011

SW: Can you explain the black dog symbolism and any other symbols that are personally important to you?

BS: Originally the black dog popped up in my work a lot. I just sort of liked dogs at the beginning, and a professor told me I should run with it. She kind of challenged me to put a black dog in every print I was making at the time. I was like, ‘okay yeah, sure I’ll do that.’ It sort of took a life of its own. And then everyone sort of assumed that this dog was a character for myself in my work, and so after a while that sort of became true. So now, it does usually stand for myself. Or like a personal icon. I think the other important ones, the archway, which is commonly with the dog, that has to do with belief structures or faith. The circular cross has to do with protection. I think those are my oldest and most used symbols..

SW: Are those symbols you feel you’ve made up or have you pulled those from other cultures?

BS: I think the circular cross has been used a lot and I use it in a similar way that most cultures use it, but the arch is definitely 100% my creation. I just started drawing this archway, way back in high school, I started drawing it. I didn’t really have any meaning attached to it when I started using it, it just grew with me.

SW: Okay. So you’re working on these sort of Egyptian inspired pieces right now, are there any other — I kind of just asked this question, but now a little bit broader. What cultures and other symbolism that are more universal and not personal are you inspired by?

BS: There aren’t very many universal symbols. I try and draw, make my own, they should be part of my own personal experience. They each have a meaning that I give them, but it doesn’t really derive from anywhere else. I think that’s more interesting. I think that’s more authentic of me, I’m not trying to stick someone else’s language into my own.

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SW: Okay, what are your favorite life and artistic inspirations? Besides symbolism.

BS: I draw a lot from architecture, a lot of African architecture. There’s a lot of interesting cross over between African and other religious structures that I’m interested in. There’s these churches in Ethiopia that are Orthodox Christian churches, carved completely out of a single stone. They just find a giant stone, and they carve a church out of it. These sort of monolithic structures are very interesting to me. Other then that, a lot of my early symbols are from my childhood, which is a lot of video games and anime, not as intellectual as where I’m drawing from now.

SW: Who are some of your favorite artists? People you like.

BS: I like a lot of the artists that are right around me at the time. I try not to focus on celebrity artists very much. I’m really into my friend Sakos work right now, his work is really interesting. It has this really weird… he’s from Bulgaria, he’s a very devout draftsman. His work is a lot of line work, and sort of cryptic like mine in a way. I like Grace’s work a lot, her approach is very similar to mine, it has a lot of mixed images and the thought process behind it.

SW: Who are some of the celebrities?

BS: Celebrity-wise, I love Kiki Smith’s work a lot. Valerie Hammond, which is Kiki Smith’s best friend, some of her stuff I really like a lot too. That kind of cult, witch aesthetic, I’m really into.

SW: Kiki Smith is pretty rad. Have you seen any of her work in person?

BS: Yeah, actually one of my most influential memories from when I was a kid, we went to the MoMA and she had this piece there. I didn’t know it was hers at the time, I was very little. But it was these mirrored jars that had, like, blood and bile and spit in each of the jars. The jars were raised just above eye level, so I remember, like, peaking up to really see if it was blood or bile. I remember my mom putting me on her shoulders so I could look in. There wasn’t anything in it, but I remember thinking how gross it was.

SW: [Laughs] That sounds pretty cool.

 

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SW: When you did printmaking what was your favorite kind of printmaking?

BS: To do, I really love litho, but I feel like my best work was done in woodcut, out of the way you can manipulate color and the subtractive process. It’s just like when you ink the block up so heavily to prepare the ink, the ink bleeds into the paper, instead of sitting on the paper. That’s really satisfying. Definitely though, to do, I really like litho. There’s a lot of process and it’s very physical, very demanding. You can’t just stop in the middle of what you’re doing to go get a drink of water, you have to print the whole time.

SW: Actually a few weeks ago we did an interview with an artist, Deb Chaney, she’s a Lithographer and was printing when I got there. She asked me if it was okay, it ended up being fine, but it was funny that like she literally couldn’t stop. She was like, ‘we either have to reschedule… or I just keep going.’ Alright!

BS: Was she printing a stone?

SW: Yeah, she was.

BS: Stones are the best, they’re these beautiful… I’m sure she talked a little bit about the history behind that right? I think that’s a really cool story still.

SW: What do you find cool about it?

BS: These stones that they dug up out of the Earth, all the ones that are in the world are already in the world. No more exist in the ground, once they’re gone, they’re gone. You draw with grease on them and when you’re done, you have a layer of the stone with the drawing and then keep reusing it. I also like the sort of ritualistic idea, that I like a lot in my work.

SW: Do you have any access to do any litho?

BS: I have some hours stored up at Robert Blackburn, but I never make it into the city.

SW: It’s such a small world. Ray used to work with them.

BS: Oh really? They’re pretty cool.

SW: You know the magazine Carrier Pigeon?

BS: Yeah I have a couple copies of them.

SW: Yeah, Ray co-founded it.

BS: Oh really? Wow, so he knows Justin and all them?

SW: Yeah, we’ve interviewed Justin. Take a look at our past interviews, you’ll be like ‘oh, I know all these people.’ [Laughs]

BS: Wow! That’s really cool. Yeah, Justin’s a pretty cool dude. I don’t know other than Justin who is in it, but yeah.

 

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SW: It’s so funny, and you were wearing the Tandem press t-shirt that one day at the Roebling Fair that Patrick Smyzchek, who we also interviewed, screen printed. I’m finding that the printmaking community is pretty close and pretty small…

BS: Yep!

SW: Very small.

BS: Very small. We have that conference, that annual conference and everyone knows everyone, it just turns into a wild fucking party, but that’s fun.

SW: That’s cool. I haven’t done woodcut. Right now I’m in a printmaking class and we’re working on either woodcut or linocut and I’ve been doing linocuts, just doing a series of those. Woodcut looks very appealing, very hard.

BS: It’s just a little harder to cut the line, but I don’t know what it is about the wood, it’s just like a satisfying crack when the wood pops up and it’s gone forever.

SW: I’ve been using Soft Kut, not really linoleum. So it’s really satisfying, it’s like cutting butter. I’m seeing everyone in my class cutting real lino and  just kind of scratching the surface. [I’m] scraping out these big pasta size pieces of rubber. It’s amazing.

So, you went to SCAD right?

BS: Yeah

SW: Do you have any advice for anyone post-school, in terms of keeping the momentum going as an artist.

BS: Just keep making, even if it’s not what you want to make. Just draw, you’ve got to keep making something. Try to find little ways to work it in, even if you’re really tired after work. You just got to keep making something, and show it to as many people as possible. You know, get the buzz around, share stuff online if you can. That’s how I’ve managed that, when people are stoked about it, you get more stoked about the next thing.

SW: Do you have an art making schedule, or do you just squeeze it in when you can?

BS: I try and draw every night and if I have something I’m specifically working on, I try to fit it in. Most of the time I cram everything into the weekends, my job is kind of an intense job.

SW: Unrelated to everything else we talked about, who is your favorite super villain?

BS: Oh, favorite super villain! It might be a little generic but I’m going to have to go with Lex Luthor, he’s sort of like the epitome of the ‘Evil Guy’. He goes up against Superman, the ultimate ‘Good Guy’. So he’s sort of the ultimate bad guy.

SW: Yeah, pretty stereotypical. [Laughs]

BS: Yeah, bald, evil. [Laughs]

Lex-Luthor

Artist Interview: SEAN MAHAN

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Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

Hailing from northern Florida, we bring you Painter Sean Mahan. His painting style is simultaneously very classical and contemporary. His paintings look as if the children from a Balthus painting took a trip to a record shop, or went to a skillshare sewing class. Along with gorgeously soft-focused rendering, his line quality is as delicate as the subjects he paints. Sean is yet another amazing artist we were introduced to through the Cotton Candy Machine, keep reading to see what he had to say about his art.

 

SHANON WELTMAN: Who are your favorite artists that influence your art?

SEAN MAHAN: There are so many artists that I love, like Joey Ka-Yin Leung, Kwon Kyung-Yup, Naoshi, Kim Hee Kyung, Hsiao-Ron Cheng, Jenny Yang, Eltono, Momo, and many others. My grandmother was really into Chinese art and antiques and I remember loving this painting she had of Chinese women playing ping pong in flip flops. I think she influenced me at a really young age along with my father who paints realist figurative oil paintings. The biggest influence on the way I approach art, probably though, was Kathë Kollwitz. I grew up loving her prints and drawings and her depiction of working class suffering. I think her art sparked a sense of wonder in me about human nature and how its reflected in facial expression.

 

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Girl and Bicycle

 

SW: Do you use model references for your paintings, or are the figures made up?

SM: I have a lot of references I use, but only for one aspect or another. Like one reference for hair, another for hands, etc. Some parts are imagined too. My parents have a collection of really old elementary science textbooks that have some great photographs of children that I have used a lot.

SW: Describe your process and how long it takes you to complete a piece from start to finish.

SM: I usually do a small sketch, then a full size drawing on newsprint to work out any problems. Then I transfer the drawing onto wood and do a graphite drawing to use as the underpainting. I paint watery acrylic over the drawing and then thicker acrylic in some places. It usually takes two weeks to make a medium sized painting.

 

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Art in Public Places

 

SW: How long did the “Art in Public Places” Mural in Jacksonville, FL take you to complete?

SM: It took about a month to paint. I worked on it mostly alone with a little help from friends here and there. That was a really fun project to work on because I love painting huge and using boom lifts. It’s a cool feeling to work on a section of a big mural without a sense of how the whole thing looks. Then you back up to see how what you just did affects the big picture, make decisions about what you’d like to change and then go back against the wall to paint what you remembered should be done. I think the scale amplifies how you focus in and draws your attention away from the finished product and absorbs you in the process. That’s when I think you can feel less overwhelmed and just enjoy painting.

 

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The Ghost in the Nest

 

SW: Can you please expand on your explanation of what the painting series on wood is about?

SM: I’m interested in making paintings that reveal a kind of sweetness that’s inherent in our natures despite our cultural environment of competition, hierarchy, patriarchy, etc. I think we are over-saturated with a loud, shallow, impulsive and commercial visual environment with an agenda to create uninformed, irrational consumers. I want to create something subtle, gentle, and beautiful in response.

 

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Invisibile Threads 1

 

SW: What is it about sewing machines that you find expresses your vision, as opposed to other appliances used in consumer culture?

SM: Sewing machines represent two opposing things. On one hand, they express the idea of a creative project, the fun of making something yourself, start to finish. On the other hand sewing machines bring to mind the extreme division of labor in a factory and how that feels dehumanizing. There’s a line in Marx’s Capital that’s something to the effect of “while the Roman slave is bound by chains, the wage slave is bound to his master by invisible threads”. That’s where the name of the sewing machine series comes from. Also, my mom sewed a lot of my clothes when I was young and I have fond memories of going to the fabric store to choose different fabrics and patterns. So there are those two sides to it.

 

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Between Two Waves: 2nd Wave

 

SW: How has living in Florida affected your art (imagery, process, speed, etc.)?

SM: I grew up swimming and surfing in the ocean, climbing trees to eat grapefruit and kumquats, and free diving in the spring caves.
The nature is really beautiful and inspiring here. There’s not much progressive art happening where I live at the beach, but nearby in Gainesville, FL is the home to No Idea Records, a punk label who I’ve done a lot of work with over the years doing record covers. These are some of my very favorite projects to work on because I love the combination of painting and music and it’s fun to have a soundtrack put to your art. The two inform each other and give depth to each other in a special way.

SW: Favorite Saturday morning cartoon from when you grew up?
SM: Rainbow Brite was the best. I still have the record.
 

Artist Interview: GRACE LANG

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Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

Highlighter enthusiast Grace Lang is an exciting new mixed media Illustrator making her mark in Brooklyn. With her foot in the door to the art world, Grace is an integral player at Tara McPherson’s Cotton Candy Machine, manning the gallery’s sales and social media. Her neon beasts and babes reflect her 1990s childhood and overcoming personal struggles. Check out what I had to talk about with this double-major, triple-threat new on the scene.

 

SHANON WELTMAN: Can you name some of your favorite materials, techniques and colors to work with?

GRACE LANG: In terms of color, I really like neon. I’ve been really attracted to that. I was doing a lot more drawing in college than I was painting. I’ve been painting a lot lately, but I didn’t paint at all in college really. I was looking at it academically and couldn’t really wrap my mind around it really. I can’t really paint from observation and I couldn’t allow myself to see my drawings becoming paintings. I got really stuck, and into using highlighters. The summer after I graduated, which is last summer, I went to the art supply store and bought a lot of UV dayglo acrylic paint and started painting with it. I was like, ‘oh, my drawings can become paintings, they’re not actually these totally separate mediums. They inform one another.’ At the end of college I did one big project which was sculpture based, which was a 3D moshpit on the back of a skate deck. When it came time for Tiny Trifecta this year I was like ‘I want to get back into sculpture.’ It was my first time being in a show ever, so I wanted to really wow everybody. I’d been drawing these girls with beasts for awhile, didn’t feel like doing paintings for whatever reason. I wanted to turn a drawing into a sculpture pretty much. I wouldn’t say I’d ever be an artist that works in one thing, but I really like pen. I love black lines and outlines, but I had so much fun doing clay that I think I’m going to really explore that more and explore bigger things.

 

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Tiny Trifecta 2014

 

SW: You mentioned to me the other day it was a special kind of clay, what is it?

GL: Yeah, I just found it at the art supply store, lightweight stone clay. Just the way it dries… Do you know Crayola Magic Mold? That stuff you used when you were a kid.

SW: Model Magic?

GL: Model Magic! That’s what it is.

SW: Yeah I use that with my students.

GL: I got into that because it was so cheap and fun to mess with, the only thing is it dries so light that it’s not really an art object, you know? I think, also, it doesn’t harden completely or something, so I wanted something like that. So I went to the store, looked at the clay and found something self-drying, but it was made of stone. When it dries it’s awesome, it’s like really unsmooth porcelain, but you can sand it, carve it, paint it and it adheres to itself. I did a face and then I did a bit of the beast and then I would paint that and add more clay, it’s really good stuff. Premier, I think it’s called, something kind of random.

 

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Work in progress, Tiny Trifecta series 2014

 

SW: How long did it take you to work on those? Specifically those sculptures.

GL: I started five just to make sure three were done really good. It took about a month and half I think. It was my first time doing anything like that and I did work very hard on them. It took a long time, I think I’m going to start doing it more and more. Like I have the other two that I started, I’m going to finish those and see if I can get into doing it really quickly. Then I can sell them all the time. Since I got such a good response from it, I would like to make a ton of them. Maybe cover a wall with them or something, have them be like spoils of war, I don’t know. Your trophy room of all these demon-like warrior women. [Laughs]

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Groosery

SW: What are your biggest inspirations? They don’t have to be related to art.

GL: I generally think that pretty much everything is inspiration. Everything informs how you look at things. I also studied literature in college, so like, books, narratives and stories influence me a lot. Music, I’m not a musician but I love music and a lot of the imagery associated with punk music or metal music really inspires me a lot. I like morbid imagery but I’m also really inspired by the cartoons I watched growing up. Like Ren & Stimpy, all that stuff with really gross aesthetics.

SW: Are you a 90’s baby or 80’s baby?

GL: 90’s, I was born in 1990. So yeah, cartoons, like Hey Arnold, and stuff, I think influenced me a lot. The fact that I like doing made up things, and things that don’t necessarily look like they’re copied from life. Like, I was never interested in drawing realistically. Another thing that probably plays a big role in my work in ways that I can see and can’t always see: I had a big spine surgery when I was 15, I had to have my spine fused. Which was really awesome and amazing, it fixed my crooked spine but also was a really specific age to go through a big traumatic bodily event. It kind of changed the way I looked at everything and the way I looked at myself. I think that’s when I started drawing cut up people and amputated people, goo spilling out of people. I just got very preoccupied with people’s relationships with their bodies and what that means. It slowly got funnier, I think. I eventually realized everyone has a lot of shit and has times when they hate themselves and hate certain things about themselves physically. The only way to deal with it is to be kind of funny about it. I wouldn’t say my work is funny, but it does, I think, have a light-hearted nature to it. Even though in a certain way in my head it’s coming from a serious place, it’s like ‘we’ve all been through this, look at how silly it is.’ If that makes sense.

SW: Yeah it does. How old did you say you were when that happened?

GL: 15. I had really bad scoliosis, my spine was the shape of an S. I wore a back brace for awhile and it didn’t correct the problem, so I had to have my spine fused with metal which was crazy awesome. In September it will be 9 years, and so it’s probably one of the most formative experiences of my life. It changed me from that point on. It was also this thing where I was being fixed, but healing from a big surgery, you feel broken. It was a weird place. Medicinally I was being fixed and they’ve solved this problem, but I felt so different and in pain. After healing things were different, but it definitely changed the way I look at everything, I think. I’m obviously thankful for it, it’s just very formative. A form of trauma, 15 for a girl is especially a really tender age. [Laughs] It’s something that’s really important to me even 9 years later. It’s always coming up in different ways in my work, in the way I relate to people all that kind of stuff.

SW: You kind of answered this next question. What are the main concepts and imagery you focus on? You mentioned influence from bands and then the experience you had. Say like in the scale you draw, there’s so many details. What really– not inspires– but…? Maybe you already answered that. [Laughs]

 

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Thelonius The Wretcheder

 

GL: Well when you told me you were going to interview me I was really trying to think, ‘How do I talk about my work?’ They make you do that in college, but I think my work has grown a lot since then, though it’s only been about a year. I think in terms of subject matter it’s a lot of demons, warriors. In the past couple months actually, since I started working at Cotton Candy Machine, being in front of Tara McPherson‘s work all the time, I was like ‘Oh! Girls. I want to paint girls and, like, badass girls doing badass things.’ That’s sort of where I started doing girls with headdresses, girls inside of beasts mouths. I realized about a year ago, I was doing pictures of mosh pits and people in the process of fighting. Lately I’ve been doing these people who have come out victorious, these post traumatic warriors who have gone through some shit and come through victorious, but not so much so to the point that they don’t have those scars. They have, like, the head of an animal or, like, I did paintings with these guys that have goo attached to their armor. The idea is all the things that you slay, even your demons that you have, you don’t get rid of them, they just become part of your armor. Or they happen to become part of, like, the opposite of armor, they don’t protect you, they destroy you. I like to think that all those things, people’s demons, can become part of their armor, making them more awesome. The best people in the world have demons, pretty much. I think that’s where that comes from. I’m still working it out, why I draw what I draw, but I think it has to do with that, wanting to feel triumphant over outside forces.

SW: Have you ever heard of the Native American medicine wheel?

GL: No, what is that?

SW: It’s like loosely what you’re talking about. Very loosely. It’s essentially like, different tribes would have these ceremonies around solstices and equinoxes and they would be on these plateaus and they’d form these rocks, basically forming the zodiac wheel. They had their own version of the zodiac, but instead of calling it that, they would call it this medicine wheel. So you do these small sacrifices, cutting yourself, etc that kind of stuff. The whole idea behind it was you were receiving the powers of all the other spirits in the medicine wheel, [for example] gaining the fastness of an Elk.

GL: I’ll totally Google that [Laughs], maybe go further and read a book about it. Google goes first.

SW: I’ve only found texts on it that are kind of new-agey, but I know it was happening back before the new age movement. So I guess, you know, Google it, look at your sources… [Laughs]

GL: [Laughs] Alright, cool. I love the idea of getting the attributes of animals. It was a really sad day when I was little and realized that I would never, no matter how hard I tried, have the abilities to talk to animals. That’s just never going to happen. It sucks. [Laughs] It’d be so perfect.

SW: You just need to hit your head, get a concussion… you know. [Laughs]

GL: I’ll work on it. [Laughs] Maybe animals are always saying really stupid shit all the time, I don’t know.

SW: My cat is, that’s for sure.

GL: I think my cat is too, she’s just walking around like ‘look at my butt’ to everyone. Little slut. [Laughs]

SW: [Laughs] So going back a second, away from our slutty cats… How did you get involved with the Cotton Candy Machine?

GL: Through Lyejm, who has worked there for a really long time. He worked there from the very beginning pretty much. I went to school with him, we’ve just always been friends. I’d hear him talk about it and it just seemed really interesting. Last summer I’d just graduated, I was just like ‘Do you guys need help?’ They were in a transition period where they were renovating the space, getting a lot bigger, expanding. I went and talked to Sean [Leonard] and I think that he could see that I was inexperienced in retail, fresh out of school. I think he just saw that I was super enthusiastic and excited about what the place stood for. So I started helping out as they renovated. I helped out by painting and preparing for the grand re-opening. Then I think when comic-con rolled around I worked really hard and tried to, like, prove my worth to them. At that point it kind of solidified me as a member of the team. Then I just started working there and it’s been the best ever. I can’t say enough nice things about it. It’s just done so much for my life.

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Entertain Us

SW: What do you do there? You do a lot of things.

GL: I guess I’m an assistant? Sort of like Lyejm is. Usually handling orders, we have a big web store. Preparing for shows, cataloging stuff that comes in, taking care of art, sending stuff out, receiving art. Also, just managing the shop from a retail point of view. Having people come in and being able to tell them about the different artists and all of that. Openings, you know, are a whole different thing. I just do everything that needs to be done pretty much, just to help Sean have the best business he could possibly have. Some of it is inventory and working the shop, other stuff is awesome and exciting like hanging the walls, curating which sculptures go where. All of that, it’s a really practical job and really inspiring job at the same time. I think that’s why I love it so much.

SW: What was it like the first time, holding an original of someone that you’ve heard of? What is that feeling like?

GL: It’s insane, and it still is. Especially with the Tiny Trifecta, I was sitting at the desk and the FedEx guy came in and handed me a little envelope, I look at the return address, it’s Mark Ryden. I’m just like, ‘What?? I’m not worthy of this.’ It’s really cool. It reminds you that these superstars are people. Tara too, even though I know her now, she’s still like this magical art being to me. Now I’m up close seeing the things she makes. Maybe you would think seeing things up close makes it so you can see the mistakes in something like that but that’s what art is. Seeing these beautiful art objects up close just makes them more impressive and makes you love the artists more. It’s also really cool to be trusted with something like that, especially when we have shows with some of my favorite artists. Like, David Cook I really love, having a show with Skinner who is probably my favorite right now and I can’t wait to just look at it. My Dad got me a piece from the David Cook show. I was looking at it for two weeks. I was just in the back, ‘You’re going to be mine. You’re going to be mine.’

SW: [Laughs]

GL: It’s a really cool thing to be able to do. So yeah, especially the Tiny Trifecta, because it’s art from some of the biggest names ever. It’s totally inspiring, confidence boosting. It’s cool to be trusted with people’s babies. You know, you make art, it’s like someone sending that to you is a big deal, it matters. You have to respect it. The fact that I’m an artist makes me try to respect it more because I know how I would feel if something of mine was mishandled.

 

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Cotton Candy Machine, Roebling Mural

 

SW: Do you think David Cook would be the artist you were most excited about? Is there anyone else since you’ve been working there?

GL: I’ve been really stoked about Dima since I’ve gotten to know him. He comes to so many of our events, Dima Drjuchin. He graduated from Parsons exactly 10 years before I did, so he’s sort of one of my markers for where I want to go and the type of artist I want to be. He’s a fantastic artist, he’s always pushing himself, but he treats young artists like me like a peer. Which is really cool! I was really worried when I came out of art school. I’ve prepared for artists to just be like, ‘No. You don’t know anything, you’re young blah blah blah’, but I’ve encountered the exact opposite. Every artist that we have worked with has been so kind and really treated me like another artist, even though I’m just a shop girl too. I think I have nice things to say about all of the artists we’ve worked with.

SW: This one you don’t have to really go in-depth, I’m just curious about your two bachelors degrees. Did you do one after the other?

GL: I did a unique program called BAFA at the New School where you apply for this program, you have to get into Parsons and Eugene Lang, which is a Liberal Art school at the New School. I got into that, it’s a five year program where the whole time you’re earning two degrees. So for five years you just take a couple more credits than everyone else and you end up getting a BFA and a BA. A lot of people drop out of it because they think it’s really difficult to train your brain in two different directions at once. The people who drop out, it maybe just wasn’t for them and wasn’t what they wanted. I totally feel that, but for me, I always really liked academics. So, that was important to me, to keep that. I think that really informed my work, made me better at articulating things about my work and articulating how I felt about other people’s work, it also just inspired me all the time. It’s a literature degree, so I was just reading a lot. Learning about innovations in language and shit like that, that totally just affected the way I looked at my work and everyone else’s work. Also, it gave me a release, making art is hard. It can be a weird, lonely, terrible place and overwhelming. Having an academic space in my life, it was crazy because it was difficult, but I think it in the end was really positive. It makes me feel really cool afterwards. [Laughs]

SW: It is, and what you said is really insightful about being able to talk about your own work and other people’s work. That’s a part about being an artist that people don’t really think about. They become the stereotype of an artist, not being able to talk about themselves. In the business world that doesn’t cut it. You have to be able to talk about your work, even if it’s just, ‘I like to draw monsters’.

GL: Yeah, and it’s important to think about those things. They definitely force you to think about it in art school and to talk about it, but I think maybe just in the fact that I wrote essays on books a lot, it became easier for me to say exactly what I wanted to say about my work or someone else’s work. I think it gave me an advantage. I couldn’t imagine having done it any other way. I think that if I didn’t in art school, I would’ve driven myself pretty crazy.

SW: Yeah, you do go a little nuts… it sounds like such a smart plan having that balance.

GL: Totally, it’s weird when you’re in a place where everyone is an artist. That’s not the way the world is, you forget. Everyone is amazing and creative and wonderful, you forget that to the rest of the world what you’re doing is cool or maybe not cool, interesting and out of the ordinary. I remember one of the first days of my classes, my new teacher freshman year was like, ‘How many of you were the best artists in your high school class?’ And everyone raises their hand. It was just like [Laughs] now you see, this is going to be different. It’s amazing, but it can be so overwhelming. It was nice to have classes that weren’t just to remind myself that not everyone is an artist, pretty much. Especially in places like NY, you can always assume someone is an artist.

 

sweetboys
Sweetboys

 

SW: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s a pretty safe assumption. I’ve got one more question, totally unrelated to anything else. What is your favorite B-movie?

GL: Well, I really loved “The Room”, that classic awful movie. Last year we watched a movie called “Thankskilling” that I really enjoyed.

SW: Yes!!!

GL: It was just about a fucking turkey that killed people, and he kept making turkey puns! [Laughs] That was maybe one of the best things I’ve seen.

SW: I’m so glad you just named that, just on a personal note, Ray and I were broken up for a period and that was the movie we watched when we rekindled our love.

GL: [Laughs] That’s so romantic! ‘It’s Thankskilling!!’ [Laughs] Oh my god, I only watched it once but I could watch it again. My roommates are like, ‘we don’t need to see that again.’ No, we do! It was amazing.

SW: The best part is the beginning with the lady just running around with just her top off.

GL: Totally! She’s not that hot, you don’t know what’s going on or why she’s naked, and then that beautiful evil puppet comes out, it’s just like magic.

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