Friday, 8 January 2010

Interview with Lisa Hassell from inkygoodness

by Tommy Eugene Higson

Tommy- Right then, first question, will start with an easy one. How would you describe what you are doing with inkygoodness and what are your aims?

Lisa- Inkygoodness started life as a small art show in Bristol back in 2008. Michelle and I were both keen to do something creative together and a show felt like a great idea. We were lucky to sell a bit of work and enjoyed the experience so a group show felt like a natural progression. We were excited about showcasing our work alongside established artists and organising a show was the quickest and easiest way to get our name out there. Inkygoodness 2 showcased artwork by 15 illustrators and we were very lucky to get talented local artists on board such as Andy Council which really helped elevate what we were doing. Following our success in Bristol we hosted 'Wonderland' in our home town of Birmingham last September; exhibiting work by over 25 artists each with their own unique style. We learned that working as a professional illustrator can be very isolating, especially for newcomers who may not know many others in the profession and so inkygoodness has evolved to meet this need by creating group shows where everyone can get involved in curating, selling and promoting their artwork in a professional art show; essential skills to survive as an illustrator.

Tommy- Yeah, that's great, I think that is one of the good things about what you do too, that you do get emerging artists together with more established artists so there's more exposure for the newer artists and that in turn a new audience turns out. And the more established artists see what new makers are doing (and what the competition is!). So next question is there anything else you would like to do with the project, do you have plans to work in any new directions or anything you want to experiment or play around with? I know you'd mentioned the possibility of a print show for instance.

Lisa- Yes! There are lots of things we would like to do with inkygoodness... continue to build on the foundations of our exhibitions, organise more events - maybe a smaller touring show. We'd love to take inkygoodness abroad to Berlin or L.A and involve more overseas artists, but for now our focus is very much UK based talent. We're currently looking for a suitable venue for a show in London next year, tossing ideas about for a theme and the format it may take - we're interested in creating a 3D 'walk through' installation, possibly involving animators. 

We’d love to do a print project in the future, inviting submissions and cherry picking the strongest entries for a printed book. We're keen to showcase creative talent and continue to support our creative friends as they embark on their freelance careers; self-promotion is very important in that respect. We have a strong name and brand identity and are fortunate to be in the strong position of steadily gaining a name for ourselves - its a very exciting time for us, the only difficult bit is deciding which direction to take next!

Tommy- That all sounds cool and I suppose part of the fun is having all that choice! I got particularly excited at the prospect of a walk though installation, I think it would work well with the artists and be something real magical and kinda worlds which you can explore and properly get involved in are always big fun! A book/catalogue would be super nice too, I think when people go to image shows they tend to want to take them all back with them and especially with some of the artists you've exhibited so far!

So what kinds of artists/makers (or anyone else for that matter) inspire you and are you interested in? Obviously there's the people who you've worked and exhibited with so far; Steve Rack, Simon Corry, Gemma Correll Felt Mistress for instance but is there anyone else you're liking at the moment?

Lisa- On a personal level painters such as Kelly Tunstall, Gary Baseman and Souther Salazar inspire me, their work is part illustration, part character art; creating beautifully weird wonderlands, strange landscapes and odd characters who occupy them. I love the idea of creating a narrative through a series of paintings or objects as part of a large installation, and this is the kind of work I aspire towards.

I have huge respect for illustrators too, and I recently attended an exhibition by Croatian artist Yellena James which was fantastic. Adam Hancher and Jack Hudson are incredibly talented illustrators & animators, and have recently executed a music video for Tigers That Talked. Remarkably, they are both still studying and I am really looking forward to seeing how their work develops!

Tommy- It is daunting isn’t it, I remember when we were studying and started Cheap we thought we were doing dead good, then started coming across loads of college kids putting out their own publications, exhibiting and even starting their own clothes brands! It’s good though, I admire people like that, and I suppose it kicks us up the arse a bit too!

So yeah I think that gives us a good idea of what informs you and what you are doing with inkygoodness but I’ve just one more question. I suppose it’s not really a question as to ask quite broadly if you had any other thoughts about image making you wanted to share; any positive or negative comments? Any issues you think people should be conscious of when making? Anything you and Michelle would like to see for inkygoodness?

Lisa- I think it's incredibly important to research, and gather ideas before creating artwork, and it's great to look at other artists for inspiration. However, it's essential to look at a variety of areas for ideas; nature, architecture, music, theatre, literature, to really think about the context of your work. Its no good to just look at other illustrators; if you want to give your work weight and depth, research is imperative. Artists who like to experiment and mix things up, work with different materials and let their ideas evolve and mature, often produce very engaging work and we strive to work with artists whose style is constantly evolving.

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