Monday, April 5, 2010

Artist Spotlight part 1: Alisa Burke

Happy April friends! What a lovely month. With the arrival of exuberant swaths of color to my local landscape I'd like to introduce you to an artist that is also exuberant in her use of color.

I've been following her blog for a little while now, have read her book (more on that next week) and am in love with her wild and whimsical take on the world. I know you'll enjoy her work as much as I do.

Lyric: We have something fun in common. My mother was a potter, as were your parents. My father taught high school art classes. What are some of your favorite memories of growing up with artists as parents. 

Alisa: Growing up my life was full of creativity. Because my parents were potters who were running a business from home, my brother and I always had access to crafts, supplies, projects, and an understanding and appreciation of art. Both my mom and dad incorporated creativity into everything we did- dressing up and hiking into the forest for tea parties, making and selling our own crafts, playing with clay and learning how to throw pots on a wheel, having the freedom and supplies to draw and paint whenever I wanted, letting us draw all over wall before they repainted the living room and so much more.  My own desire and love for drawing and art was nurtured at a very young age and while it seems many people find art later in life, I am grateful that my passion was recognized and supported throughout my entire life! 

L: Tell me about your transition to being a full-time artist.

Alisa: All I ever wanted was to be a full time artist and I really feel like I have been working toward that dream since high school. I knew declaring painting and printmaking as my major in college meant I probably would have to work a "normal" job while pursuing my art on the side and this is exactly what I have been doing since college.  I landed in a marketing position that enabled me to be creative but it still did not satisfy my craving to work for myself as an artist. I decided to get serious and I finally made a plan, set goals and with my husband's support began working as hard as I could to build a  creative business that could pay my share of the bills- just like my "normal job".  This process took me five years to get to a place where I could walk away from my job.  Honestly it was really difficult but I wanted it BAD and I never gave up and finally last spring I quit my job- truly one of the best days of my life! While things often don't live up to my expectations this transition has succeeded them.  I have never worked this hard but it is so rewarding to be doing what I love every day, challenging myself, making my own rules, setting my own goals and making art for a living.  Now I cannot imagine things going any other way- the long wait, the working by day and making art by night, the years of creating, learning and growing as an artist have all made this transition so worth it all. 

L: Why graffiti - and why turn your work into functional objects such as your very cool clutches? 

Alisa: Since college painting classes, I have always loved creating layers of color, texture and text. I used to create messy backgrounds and then paint my assignments on top of them. Because I am drawn to the concept of layers or messy paint, I think moving towards graffiti inspired techniques was a natural progression for me.  I have never been traditional with the things that I create and was always looking for unique ways to redefine my art. When I needed a purse for a wedding I cut up one of my canvas paintings and sewed it into a purse which sparked a whole new way of looking at canvas paintings.  

L: I find it interesting that your environment, the pictures you've posted of your home - white, clean, colorful yet your art is exuberantly messy.  My art tends to be very controlled while my environment is out of control messy.

A: This is such a great question!  My art is messy, colorful and wild, my studio is organized but every inch is covered in images, inspiration and art. At the end of the day I actually need a visual break from it all! Keeping our home decorated in lots of white, clean and organized helps me feel like I can relax and escape from my creative chaos. 

L: Do you have any fears or inhibitions about your art? How do you work through them? 

Alisa: Honestly, I would have to say that art might be the one and only area in my life that I am fearless about. I am REALLY cautious, hesitant and often fearful in my everyday life (typically about silly things) but when I paint and create, all my worries, my inhibitions and my fear melts away.  I have felt grounded and solid in my creative passions for so long (likely because my upbringing) that I have very few inhibitions making, selling and promoting my art. Even when I run into rejection, dead end opportunities and financial challenges, there is this peace and confidence in knowing that being an artist is who I am and nothing will ever change that.

Are you as delighted as I am with Alisa and her work? Next week I'll review her book and yes, I'll be having another giveaway at the end of the month so leave a comment for a chance to win.