"All in a Row"
through our correspondence, i discovered how down to earth and friendly she is. i am drawn to her art because it explores ideas and topics that keep me curious. i had so many questions about her, and her work that i wanted to make her my first artist feature. i was thrilled when she decided to be a part of my project. she took time out of her busy schedule to answer all of my questions. i can simply describe her work as hauntingly beautiful. i hope you enjoy reading the interview!
lastly, i just wanted to say, happy birthday louise!
"Tea" (self portrait)
CSD (yours truly): where are you from and how did you get started in this field? on top of your natural artistic abilities, did you take classes or courses to enhance your work? how did this influence your work?
LR (Louise Robinson): I'm from the North of the UK, a small, nondescript, rainy little town close to the city of Manchester. My initial venture into the visual arts began with a photographic diploma in my early twenties, which led to an art foundation, then a Visual Arts BA Honours degree course. I had been very keen to make short films inspired by the stories that constantly grow inside of my head, but found myself distracted somewhere along the way! My interests led me from photography to collage, from collage to painting, then finally into the realms of digital art. What I love about this medium is how it enables me to combine all of my favorite media at once.
"Naughty Corner" (self-portrait)
CSD: what is your approach to designing your art?
LR: I'm not sure what my approach might acutally be! Often I do not plan a project before tumbling staight into it. My approach will differ depending upon the media used, although I do seem to have a predilection for simplified themes, works which feature colour as the most vital element, and also works that have a deep relationship to my dreams and the unconscious. These appear to be my essentials.
CSD: are there any artists that inspire you? who are they, and why?
LR: I am often more inspired by writers of fiction and the work of musicians than actual visual artists, yet the artists and designers which I feel to be inspired by the most possibly aren't immediately evident in my own work: Paula Rego, Leonora Carrington (also a favourite writer of mine and a great surrealist painter) and the Pre-Raphaelites are major influences, as are many modern illustrators such as the wonderful Olle Eksell. A pretty varied bunch! On a daily basis, I am continously inspired by the works of my own contemporaries, particularly those connected to me via Flickr, and the blogging circuit. Other major influences are derived from fairy tales, mythology, folk art, the stories of Angela Carter, the animator Jan Svankmajer, 19th Century ghost stories, the photgraphy of Lewis Carroll, my own childhood, and issues relating to memory.
"Laberinto" by Leonora Carrington
"Slussen" by Olle Eksell
"Xie Kitchin" by Lewis Carroll
CSD: you thought you were a sycamore tree when you were growing up. I would like to know more, could you tell us stories about it?
LR: The sycamore! This is actually a true and somewhat painful little story, although i am not so sure how well it may translate into words. I grew up on a farm, surrounded by trees, fields and so on, and quite naturally developed a fairly strong relationship with the natural world surrounding me. It made it quite a bit more sense to me than the human world at that time! The sycamore was situated on a small rise that led into the wheat fields, just outside of the farm gates. I used to love sitting beneath it, idling away the hours in ways which I'm sure only a child can understand. I had a passion for inventing scenes and little films in my imagination during those treasured hours alone. In relations to the tree, I simply recall coming upon a horrible realization that the tree was a part of me somehow, quite possibly due to how often I sat either below or within it, as if it was an extension of my own body (or soul). I also think, in retrospect, that I had just reached the age where many children suddenly realize that they are not the center of the universe, and that they are free thinking individuals, quite separate from the other people and forms which surround them. Regardless, the experience stuck with me, and I recall the feeling to be something akin to a great loss. I recovered easily from it; of course, as children just do, although when I revisited the scene after 20 years of absence, the sensation was quite curious and powerful to me.
CSD: which is your most favorite series? which were the ones that were the most natural to create?
LR: The fairytales are possibly my favorite works. Most likely because they are so varied and allow me to experiment with all manner of media and ideas. Fairytales are so open-ended, so fascinating to interpret visually, and I think that this is what continuously draws me towards them. The majority of these works contain complex meanings or symbols, even in the most simplistic design. They means something to me on a personal level, either inspired by my own dreams and experiences, or musing upon the journey of life in general. They also allow me to combine my most cherished themes: the beautiful and the sinister.
CSD: on your twitter account, you describe yourself as the "princess of the paranormal", why? could you also give us five words to describe yourself?
LR: The princess of the paranormal phrase came from my boyfriend. I haven't actually expereinced much in a way of spectral visitations, but I have had some rather curious, unexplainable experiences born of dreams (I am quite a lucid dreamer) and so on which I would find very difficult to explain in words. I am eternally fascinated by the intangible, the unexplained, and particularly how it relates to us as psychological/spiritual beings. I most definitiely do believe in the "spirit" or soul, and have family members who regularly experience "visitations". Thankfully, I do not appear to have inherited this particular gift. Five other words to describe me: impulsive, imaginative, left-handed, nebulous, and a dreamer.
"Lessons in Dreamtime"
CSD: what is your favorite or most inspirational place?
LR: A place where I have not yet been; Northern Europe, particularly Norway, Sweden, etc. I am impossibly drawn to the culture, art, and design integral to these places. I am so very inspired by the landscapes and light also, which creates a pull inside of me that I cannot explain. I feel that both my emotional and creative health would benefit from establishing myself further northwards, but am also quite sure that we are capable of attaining equally great things no matter where we are located. I haven't quite figured out why my internal compass keeps pointing me there, but maybe one day I will.
CSD: how would you like to inspire or influence other people with your art? what and how would you like them to feel when they view your work?
LR: The most important message that I would ever hope to transmit via my work would be the importance of using imagination as a positive, liberating, healing force. My own concerns are very much caught up with nature, memory and my own, personal dreams, although many of these themes are accessible to all. I am deeply caught in a painful struggle to understand and process the painful aspects of existence, especially the damage that is done to the environment and the human lack of respect for other species. Although this may be painful, I prefer to remain on the lookout for hope, and this message is contained within may of my works on the nature theme. I believe that there is both a place for whimsy, cuteness, and seriousness in my work, for combining the beauty and the innocent with the unsettling seems to work some sort of catharsis for me.
CSD: "apple" is one of my favorites from your imagined portraits series, i love that she has two different eye colors, what is the story behind her?
LR: Apple was a counterpart to a similarly serene portrait called Black Cherry. I wanted to design a pair of characters that expressed two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Apple is innocence, purity, hope, and renewal. Whereas, Black Cherry signifies experience, the weight of memory, sensual feeling, and hidden mysteries.
CSD: could you tell us more about the direction of your most recent work?
LR: I never truly leave one media in preference for another, but occasional flights into new directions are good for me, for they help me to breathe a little and not get stuck in a rut. Sometimes, providing art as a commercial product, it can feel like working on a treadmill, even considering the joy of being able to do it in the first place - it is easy to become a little bland if the same media and concepts are repeated too often (for me, anyway). With each different media I tend to create an entirely new style, and this is more due to the media itself than my actual desire. The recent works were an effort to combine more traditional media with a small amount of digital composition after the paper work had been scanned into the computer. This method allows me so much freedom to explore. The 'Singing Tree' series concerns our connections to nature as usual, except this time using 'line' itself as the dominant force. This differs greatly from my more usual technique of digital painting, and brings about an entirely new perspective for me.
"The Singing Tree Series"
CSD: what keeps you motivated and what inspires you to keep going?
LR: I've never known what it is exactly that motivates me. The same thing that caused me to create imaginary films as a child, or that which inspires my fascination for dreams and tales of wonder. An unconscious force, perhaps, for I never envisaged becoming an artist, although I did wonder early on about my love for books and the possibility of becoming a writer. Writing confuses and stresses me, so I think the urge to create visual art is in some way an effort to translate those stories and feelings that never made it into a book. I am naturally drawn to the visual, whereas writing ties me in knots! I also create in an effort to understand myself more. I have always learned something new about myself as a result of my visual work.
"The Bridge of Sleep"
CSD: do you have any advice for all the aspiring artists out there?
LR: The only advice I could possibly offer any aspring artist is to follow your own desire: that which excites you and causes you to lose endless hours of valuable sleep might be a fitting example. More importantly, try not to become discouraged by art as a trend - just be yourself, shine for who you are, instead of following a path designed by others which may not truly represent your own mode of expression. Innovation and self-belief tend to feel far more liberating than following an established rule.
CSD: would you like to share something funny that happened to you recently?
LR: No recent funnies, but I do have two tried and tested oldies for you: At the age of six, I was rushed to casualty (emergency ward) on Christmas eve to have a huge sofa cushion separated from my two front teeth. I had been mindlessly chewing the zipper while laying on the sofa watching TV. The zipper became wedged in the little gap between my teeth and lodged there. I can't actually recall how it was removed, but I must've looked quite a rare sight ambling around with a cushion as tall as myself hanging from my face.
The second amusing catastrophe occured more recently, when I was in my twenties. I discovered one evening that both my arms had turned a funny shade of blue. The kind of blue you might associate with severe circulatory issues. An emergency doctor was called out and most of my worried family had gathered to try to ease my mind. To add to this, I actually had begun to feel short of breath, quite dizzy and extremely unwell. Only later, after much embarrassing investigation did we discover that I had been wearing a new cardigan that had a tendency to transfer dye onto my skin. The only person who managed to find this funny at the time of revelation was my boyfriend. He still refers to it as the time I "had the blues".
CSD: what is your hope for 2010? could you share some of your goals with us?
LR: My hopes for 2010: To continue to work successfully with my art and my business. I tend to lean towards a simplistic life, so perhaps this year I may push myself to visit Norway, and to finally peruse the museums and galleries in London. Most of all, I hope to remain in good health and to continue to find magic in the process of creating.
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