Interview with Stina Persson

I was so thrilled when Stina Persson granted me an interview this past week! I posted about her new show, Immacolata and her Friends, upcoming in New York at the Gallery Hanahou, May 24th - July 6th, 2007 earlier this month, and was blown away by the colors and decorations in her new work she sent me (via email). So bold and stunning! Stina's work has appeared in many publications including Elle, Flaunt, Marie Claire and Travel & Leisure to name just a few. So here's a sneak preview of what will be at the show if you're lucky enough to be in New York this spring/summer and a bit of an insight into her creative process:

These pieces are portraying a series of Sicilian women you created for the german magazine, Squint and inspired by the names of the Italian South. So what comes to mind when I think of Sicily is mafia and beauty. It seems to be represented so well with the colors, ornamentation and expressions you've used and I was wondering how you model your images. Is it from pictures you study, do you draw using models, or if you could explain your creative process?

I have both travelled extensively and lived for several years in Italy. For some reason Sicily's mix of beauty, saints and corruption triggers my imagination. Then a book of Italian names that a friend gave me when I was expecting my first child got that imagination going. Women wearing names like Immacolata, Crocefissa, Annunziata -- all southern names, all sweet to the point of sickliness -- simply needed to have their portraits painted.

When starting on a piece I use picture reference to get structure and pose. But they take on a life of their own almost as soon as the ink touches the paper.

You use use mixed media with your work. If you could in a way take us through that. For instance, the type of paper and paints used in these latest pieces?

I found a pad of glossy tissue paper the art store and added that to some of the pieces (I use ink for my drawings). I really liked the result and went back to the store to get some more. Of course I had found a pad that had been lying there since the 70s and neither they nor the manufacturer had more. So I had to rethink and really start being creative, I guess. In the end I used all kinds of paper, everything from golden foil to mexican "papel picado" to give these dark girls some color and to add another dimension. And yes, I used parchment cake rounds to create the Sicilian lace head pieces I adore!
Creating these collages were almost a sculptural process and something I would like to bring into my commercial work. I'm not sure how much use I will get from the cake rounds though...

Some of us, (well probably alot of us readers) look to your work for inspiration, and with that, where do you find yours?

Thrift shops, flea markets, travels, foreign supermarkets, my children's never ending imagination, color, fashion magazines, organic shapes and things found in nature, plastic kitchen utensils from the 60's and 70's, movies from the 50's, 60's and 70's, Wong Kar-Wai's movies, anything Hitchcock, Paul Rand, Reid Miles and his Blue Note covers, Enzo Sellerio (Sicilian photograper), old magazines, Swedish summers in the countryside, garage sales, Tove Jansson and Moomin, Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking, fashion photography by Steven Meisel, Ellen von Unwerth, Paolo Roversi to name a few, Japan, the Italian language, good food and red wine with my husband and friends while listening to Keren Ann, Jorge Ben, Feist and Nouvelle Vague.

Who are your favorite artists, designers?

My illustrator friend's Sara Singh, Tina Berning and Cecilia Carlstedt are a great inspirations. Maija Isola and her work for FInnish Marimekko. The early illustrations by Andy Warhol. My teacher Meri Bourgard is one of my favorite artists together with Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Gruau and Jenny Seville.
My friend Claudio Concato - a fashion consultant for many of the biggest Italian designers - has the best fashion eye I know. He puts together thrift store finds and makes the most amazing runway looks with what people thrown away.

I noticed on your site you have a "products" section "under construction", will we be lucky enough to see something soon under that category? If so, what type of products will you be designing?

I'd love to do all kinds of products though, like pillow cases, T's, badges and prints. 24 hours a day just don't seem to be enough, though, but as soon as I get more time...

Could you share with us some photo's of your studio?

Thank you ever so much Stina!

Gallery Hanahou, 611 Broadway, Suite 730, NYC 10012
Stina Persson's Website

Jan Halvarson


Susan Schwake said...

wow! what a great interview jan!

etre-soi said...

great great, love your interviews :)

Anonymous said...

thank you so much Jan!

I love Stina - such an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

amazing artist - great interview!!
thank you!

Lisa said...

Love Stina's work