Saturday, December 17, 2016

Artist Interview: Lauren Marx

Attached”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencils, Gel Pen and Acrylic on Mixed Media Paper, 8.5 inches by 11.75 inches (14 ¾ inches by 11 ½ inches framed).

The artist interview I have for you today is a wonderful treat.  Lauren Marx has such a unique voice, masterful execution of her craft, and a splendid ability to dance the fine line between beauty and the macabre.  That makes for a brilliant trifecta.  Please enjoy this Question & Answer round and check out the links at the end to find more of her and her lovely work!

"Demeter", Ballpoint Pen, Ink, Colored Pencil, Gel Pen, Marker, Graphite on Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper, 12 inches by 12 inches (14.5 x 14.5 framed), 2015

1.  Were you always an art kid, or did you stumble upon it later in life?

Oh, I was always an art kid! I would spend hours drawing horses, dragons, and my favorite cartoon characters.

Fall Apart Like Me”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Graphite, Colored Pencils and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 20 inches (23 inches by 23 inches framed).

2.  What style of art is your favorite and why?

Oh my favorite by far is the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painting style. It is a great mash-up of my other favorite styles: renaissance and art nouveau. The style is just so romantic.

Fire-breather”, Ballpoint Pen, Ink, Colored Pencil, and Marker, 18x24 inches, 2013

3.  What do you use for inspiration, or how do you generate ideas?  Do you keep a sketchbook?  Because I imagine that would be a stunning thing to flip through.
I use lots of things for inspiration! I collect animal skulls, feathers, taxiermies, shells, eggs, and various rocks, that can end up in pieces. I also find inspiration from my various art books and scientific illustrations. When it comes to generating ideas, they just kind of come to me. If I try to actively think of artwork ideas, nothing will come to me and I end up feeling very stressed. My ideas usually slam into my mind and become obsessive images until I can get them out in one way or another. I do keep a sketchbook, but I mainly write my ideas down which are usually accompanied by a very crude sketch. Right now, I am creating a sketchbook that will include more fleshed out ideas from my previous book. I'm having to get used to sketching since I started wanting to make larger works.

"To Kill the Goose That Laid theGolden Egg", 2015, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencil, Liquid Ink, Colored Pencil, Graphite, and Gel Pen on Hot-Pressed Watercolor Paper, 18.25 inches by 24 inches (21.5 inches by 27.5 inches framed)

4.  Your work is so detailed anatomically-did you study biology/anatomy in school, or at home, or how did you come to be so impressively skilled at capturing nature?
Thank you so much! I did not study biology, but I really wanted to! I'm a bit on the obsessive side with perfection and detail. I want my pieces to look “real”, but I can never quite achieve that. The way they look is my attempt each time to make them more accurate. Perfectionism for the win!

Churning Up the Stars”, Ballpoint Pen, 11.25 inches x 23.75 inches, 2013

5.  Can you walk us through your creative process from idea to finished product?
Usually it starts with some sort of image coming to mind randomly, whether I am sleeping, showering, buying groceries. Once that vision hits me, I will either write about it, make a crude sketch, or immediately cut paper down and begin working. To start a piece, I begin looking up usually dozens of reference images per subject on my computer to perfectly recreate the image in my head as accurately as possible. When working on a piece, I start with a rough pencil outline of composition and subjects. Then, I outline the entire piece in pen, moving from foreground to background. I then add color washes with ink pencils to color every part of the piece, except for the background washes, which are done with standard ink following the ink pencils. I then go over all of the color with various pens to add detail, texture and contrast. Once I finished detailing, I add highlights with white colored pencil and white gel pens. Once the piece is completed, I cut down the paper and have it scanned then framed. After that, it is fully finished.

Inhale. Exhale. Choke.”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 17.75 inches (21 inches by 23 inches framed).

6.  What is a typical day in your life?
Well, a typical day will be waking up pretty early, watching The Daily Show while eating breakfast and taking care of chores. Then, I set up my art supplies for the day (I work in my apartment, though I think I will be studio hunting soon), and begin working. I usually work on art all day, taking breaks to run errands, eat lunch and dinner, and to sleep or socialize. I tend to keep things loose. I don't want to get to caught up in my art making and end up not enjoying it.

When the First Became Divine”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencils and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 24 inches by 40 inches (27 ¾ inches by 43 ½ inches framed).

7.  What do you think draws you to other artists' work?
I love realism with flora and fauna. Any artist that incorporates that is high on my list. I also love vibrant colors and contemporary abstraction mixed with realism. What draws me to other artists' work is that I feel they have achieved something that I lack, and their work becomes inspiration for me moving forward.

Red Fox and Indigo Bunting”, Ballpoint Pen and Ink, 18in x 24in, 2012

8.  What are your interests/hobbies?
I collect hoofed animal skulls, and bird taxidermies. I love to go to antique stores when I have free time and completing puzzles. I recently obtained the camping bug too, but now it is too cold.

Swallows”, 2016 Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Colored Pencils, Graphite and Gel Pen on Multi-media Paper, 8 inches by 10 inches (12 inches by 14 inches framed)

9.  What do you attribute to you choosing to make work that is so beautiful yet grotesque?
I really don't know 100% why I make my work grotesque, but I think it has a lot to do with my fear of death and my attempt to rationalize it in various ways, as well as address my anxiety problems and harsh past.

The First”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil and Gel Pen on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 24 inches (23 inches by 27 inches framed).

10.  Is this your full time job, or do you have a job out-of-studio?
Art is my full-time job! I recently got a once-a-week job at a friend's deli to get myself out of the apartment and to clear my mind. Most of my year is spent working on art and art-related business stuffs.

"The Second”, 2016, Ballpoint Pen, Ink Pencils, Ink Wash, Graphite, Colored Pencil, Gel Pen and Acrylic on Mixed Media Paper, 20 inches by 24 inches (23 inches by 27 inches framed).

11.  Do you have a favorite piece you've made, if so, why?
It could be because I recently made the piece, but I would have to say my favorite is “When the First Became Divine”. It is my largest gallery piece so far, and perfectly captured the emotional turmoil that I was experiencing with my family. I also challenged myself a lot with that piece, with working so large and not sacrificing detail. It will be a big stepping stone for my future work. The piece has become very important to me.

The Red Berries”, Ballpoint Pen and Ink, 19.5 in x 13.75 in, 2013

12.  What advice would you give an artist just starting out in the business world?
I would say to try to complete new work on the regular, to only make art that you want to make, and to stay realistic about the art world, your work and your future. I would also suggest buying some books on art careers!

Work in Progress via Instagram.

13.  Describe your work space.
My work space is my loft in downtown St. Louis. My kitchen table is a vintage drafting table that doubles as my drawing surface. I have a cute little cart, that carries all of my supplies, that I drag around my apartment. I usually have my three cats climbing all over me and running like maniacs while I work. My apartment has been designed to fully function as my studio without looking like it.
Lauren's Workspace via Instagram.

A peek at a sketch paper via Instagram.

A beautiful work in progress shot via Instagram.

14.  Did you face any set-backs on your path to being an artist?
Oh yes! Many! When I first started my career, I was still in college earning my BFA. It was hard to keep up with the demand for my work while trying to complete assignments for my classes. I also had no idea what I was doing, and art school did not prepare me at all for the business side of things...or how to frame my work, photograph my work, promote my work, write name it. It was a lot of learning from my mistakes for the first couple of years. Now I am more used to things, but I am still learning every day. I was also not prepared for the competitiveness and pettiness of the art world. I am still judged quite a bit for my gender and age, and it affects almost every aspect of my art career. I know things are getting better in that regard, so I am not too worried about it. Making money has also been a huge issue to deal with. I am slowly turning a profit, but I had no idea how long it would take to get to that point. It has been an interesting challenge these past four years and I look forward to whatever else the art world throws at me.

Work in Progress via Instagram.

15.  You use such a unique mixed media process, how did you come to develop using such varied mediums in your work?
My materials have a lot to do with my anxiety, actually. Ever since I was a kid, if any materials got on my hands, for example: charcoal, paint, and glitter, I would be very upset. I hated the feeling of things on my hands so much, that I switched to using permanent, quick-drying materials when I was in middle school. A lot of my later materials began being used when I wanted to gain greater “oomph” with my pen and inks, that the materials on their own could not achieve. All while staying off of my hands.

Work in Progress via Instagram.

16.  What milestones, goals, or achievements are you striving for right now?
I have a couple that I am trying to achieve. I really want to be featured in the print of my favorite magazine, “Hi-Fructose Magazine”, and to show in Thinkspace Gallery. Both will be very hard to obtain and have more to do with outside forces and luck than anything. I also want to make enough money over the next couple of years to pay off my student loans, buy a house, and rent a studio space. I'm confident that I should be able to achieve all three in the next couple of years. It helps a lot that St. Louis is relatively cheap to live in! 
Also find her here:

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions!  Keep up the great work.

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