This Week from Lisa Congdon: Artist Interview - Lisel Ashlock

by Lisa Congdon


Several weeks ago , I introduced you to insanely talented artist Lisel Ashlock . As promised, I've conducted a little interview with her and I am so excited to share it with you! So, without further ado...

Lisa: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist?


Lisel: I remember my first day of kindergarten we were supposed to draw self-portraits of ourselves. I remember hunching over the paper with my tongue sticking out, concentrating so hard on making the little flowers on my dress look real. The sixth-grade TA came over and made fun of me that I was so focused and taking the project so seriously. Maybe it was then.


Lisa: That's awesome. Tell us, did you end up studying art in school? If so, how do you think that has helped you? How (if at all) has it hindered you?

Lisel: Yep- I went to California College of the Arts (CCA) for undergrad, and just graduated from School of Visual Arts (SVA) with my masters. I worked practically full time through undergrad, and really felt like a late bloomer; it wasn’t until my very last semester that I really started understanding how I work, and feeling confident about my process. After I graduated I moved to New York and started freelancing, and sort of hit a wall after a few years. I decided to go to grad school and really focus on my creating a new body of work. Though I bitched my way through it, I really came out a stronger artist, and am so grateful to have had the luxury of two years to concentrate on making new images. It’s hindered me because I will be forever in debt, other than that, I cannot complain!


Lisa: Yes, I dream sometimes of getting my MFA for that very reason. Now that you are out of school, how many hours a week do you spend making art or working on your art business? Do you wish it were more or less or is it just right?

Lisel: It’s hard to say, since I just finished school, which had me in the studio literally 60-70 hours a week. Now I’m evening out, and spend probably more like 30 hours a week either working on projects or getting postcards addressed, etc. I always feel like I’m not working hard enough, so though I never feel like it’s just right, I’m not giving myself too hard a time.


Lisa: Sometimes I feel like I am not working hard enough either. I think it's part of being self-employed. I'm curious, are you a morning person or night person? How does this effect your creative work?

Lisel: I guess as I get older I have to classify myself as a morning person. It really throws me off if I’m not up and out early to the studio; I feel like I’ve ruined the whole day if I’m not working by 10am. That being said, I do love to work late into the night, but usually I don’t have the momentum to do it unless I’ve had a really productive day leading up to the late-night work marathon. And I really love sleeping in too.


Lisa: Speaking of working, describe a body of work you have just finished or on which you are currently working.

Lisel: I just finished my thesis work, for my masters at SVA. I chose to create images for my favorite books and then design my own book covers in conjunction to the paintings. I had the honor of having Paul Buckley from Penguin Books as my thesis advisor for the year, making it an exceptionally challenging and rewarding project. He really pushed my work in a new direction, always giving me very honest, tangible feedback really coaching me on refining how I approach an image.


Lisa: Paul Buckley? Wow! What an amazing experience it must have been. Do you have any dreams for your art career?

Lisel: Oh, my dreams are modest. I hope to be able to have work steady enough to pay my loans and afford health insurance! I hope I will not have to worry about my rent check bouncing! And I hope to always have interesting projects that keep me excited about having my love of making images, also be the thing that sustains me.


Lisa: What/who are your greatest influences?

Lisel: Bruce Springsteen, old family photos, my parents house in the Bay Area on the road up to Mt. Diablo, Diamond Lake in Spokane, WA, my tiny garden in Brooklyn, my cat, my cousin Sarah Pulver who’s painstakingly beautiful design sense blows my mind, bike riding in the summer. Stuff like that makes my heart beat faster and makes me want to make something.

As far as artists, I am definitely most attracted and inspired by the artists of the Dada and Surrealist movements; Max Ernst, Christian Schad, Paul Delvaux, and the father of surrealism Hieronymus Bosch. Other great influences are Andrew Wyeth, Frida Kahlo, Waldon Ford, Henry Darger , Balthus, Edward Gorey, Rackam, Dulac,
Kay Neilsen, on and on.


Lisa: What are the three most important things you want people to know about you as an artist and/or your work?

1. I rely on lists to get things done. I have a million lists going at all times. I include check-boxes next to each thing I need to do so I get to check them off as I go. Totally
2. To me an image is a collection; a collection of stories, or a collection of ideas, or objects that live side by side in a little basket. I’m always on the lookout for that rare proverbial shell, or rock or piece of driftwood that makes my collection special.
3. I pretty much only use five colors; Prussian Blue, Red Iron Oxide, Quinacridone Red, Green Gold, Indian Yellow.


Lisa: What do you believe in?

Lisel: Sometimes I sit with my cat, and put my finger in her mouth when she yawns, and feel how soft her fur is, and hear her tiny heartbeat thumping and think about how she’s this little self-sustained life, that lives and breathes and moves and cleans her paws and I have to believe in whatever amazing force that created her

Lisa: Thank you, Lisel for a glimpse into your work and spirit!

You can purchase Lisel's gorgeous work in her Etsy shop .

by Lisa Congdon

Jan Halvarson


Karima Illustration said...

I love everything, this is absolutly so cool!

Unknown said...

Beautiful work and lovely interview!