FLOW MAG: Can you tell us something about yourself & your work?
LG: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I have lived in the Bay Area for ten years. I’ve been into doing creative things since I was very young, but when I moved to San Francisco in my mid-twenties I started making art more seriously. I went to graduate school and got my MFA in painting, which was an important experience, but afterwards I felt burned out. I took a hiatus from painting, and it wasn’t until my daughter was born in 2012 that I started drawing and painting again. Since I was working in short intervals of time while taking care of her, I made a lot of small scale drawings and watercolor paintings, usually at my kitchen table. Illustration has always been intriguing to me, but I never had the guts to pursue it until that moment in my life. I really like the idea of making art into something functional, useable or accessible to everyday life. I have worked hard in the last three years to build a new portfolio and launch my career as an artist and illustrator. I have taken great classes and connected with other artists pursuing self-directed careers who have become my mentors and friends. I feel at home and myself in this realm, free to make a wide range of art- from painterly and abstract, to representational.
FM: How would you describe your work?
LG: I work in watercolor, a medium that I love because it can be manipulated to be crisp and clean, or organic and washy. I love the eclectic combination of these two ways of working with paint, and knowing that satisfying feeling inspires me to keep working. I like to paint all kinds of different things- plant life and botanicals, pattern, architecture, landscapes, and everyday objects. I like working with clients on specific projects that require research and communication just as much as working on my own ever-growing list of ideas.
FM: Which materials did you use for your illustration?
LG: I use watercolor and gouache on watercolor paper. I use Photoshop to digitally collage my work occasionally, but more often, my work is just scanned as-is.
FM: What do you like most about your work?
LG: That I get to make it at all! It’s taken me a long time to realize this is what I want to do, and I feel extremely lucky that I have the luxury of doing it. Now that I have a daughter, I carve out time to work, and that makes me treasure it even more. I feel like I have just started to find my niche.
FM: What inspires you?
LG: I always find this question difficult to answer because so many random things inspire my work. When I feel inspired it is usually because I’ve seen or thought about patterns, shape or color combinations. When I see things around that inspire me, I notice myself looking at the shapes within shapes and visually breaking things down into smaller parts. I think this is why my paintings often incorporate patterns- I like the challenge of taking apart those puzzles and recreating them on paper.
FM: Where do you work and how does your office/work space look like?
LG: It’s pretty basic! I’m in the process of creating a permanent studio in our new house, but I’m temporarily working in a second floor bedroom for the moment. I use a salvaged door on top of two sawhorses as a desk. I’ve narrowed my work area down to what I need most- paper, paints, brushes, some books and photos, and my scanner and computer. I try to keep my computer on the sidelines though, as the internet can be my biggest distraction! What I love most about my current space is the sunny window that my desk faces- I have a view of my neighbors rooftops, the sky and a birch tree right outside.
FM: How is life as an artist in your hometown?
LG: I’ve only lived in Oakland for a few months (after ten years in San Francisco), and I love it already. There is so much happening here! It is a totally vibrant community full of different kinds of people, amazing artists and entrepreneurs. I have always found the Bay Area to be a super welcoming place for artists - it is a place where creative people have endless ways to engage with the community, act on their ideas, and build a network of other like-minded people. I’m looking forward to getting to know Oakland better now that I live here.