PROCESS PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM
I am a curious person. I take art and
ered an epoch especially for slow readers.
school extremely seriously, but I also
She is currently admiring the sculptors
take humor pretty seriously too. Laugh-
Louise Bourgeoisie and Andy Goldswor-
I am a 2000 year old (17 year old) faerie
ing is a high priority of mine. On that
thy as well as the architects Renzo Piano,
who lives in the Sugar Plum Forest (New
same list, just below laughing, is eating
Peter Zumthor, and Herzog & de Meuron.
York). My favorite hobbies are collecting
dessert, preferably red velvet cake or
Langer’s future epoch includes radically
those little fuzzy things on branches
fresh chocolate chip cookies.
changing common social values and en-
and collecting books and folding them
couraging art to stand for its concept and
into shapes. It’s so weird talking about
form and not for a product.
I’m Theresa Alba Zeitz-Lindamood,
My name is Aliyah Taylor. I am 19 years
Daniel Boccato, from a very early age
and I live and create art in Providence,
old; I was born and raised in Saint Louis
fell in love with art. Being also very in-
RI. I was born in 1990, and for the first
Missouri where I attended one school un-
terested in animation and cartooning,
five years of my life, whenever anyone
til my senior year. Through an immense
he started producing his own projects
would ask me what my drawings de-
stroke of luck, I learned of the Oxbow
and animated shorts.
picting, I would insist quite adamantly
art semester and immediately set forth
While still living in Sao Paulo,
that “It’s just a design!” I’ve moved out
upon the application. There I found an
Brazil, he has worked as a trainee in the
of that abstract phase by now, and my
environment where art and writing, my
full-length animated movie “O Garoto
inspirations today include beetles, sta-
two passions, not only flourished, but in-
Cósmico” (The Cosmic Boy), directed by
lactites and stalagmites, bizarre medi-
formed each other as well, and it remains
Alê Abreu. There he had the chance to
cal facts, designs from Islamic, Mayan,
the paradigm by which I model myself
work very closely to professional ani-
and Oceanic art, and cut-outs I find in
and my process. I am very close with my
mators at a top animation studio.
pre-1975 issues of National Geograph-
family: we enjoy our dogs, Wally and Lib-
yourself. I like to eat blueberries.
Daniel is a high school stu-
ic. A few years ago, I used to paint all
by, a shared infatuation with tourist at-
dent in Yonkers, NY, but next year he
the time – but recently I’ve become
tractions whether we’re on a road trip or
will be a student at Cooper Union in
more interested in drawing, collage,
in our own sate, and arguing—a family
New York, NY.
and bookmaking (and especially com-
sport. A family of grammar snobs, I came
bining all three). My other pastimes
by a fascination with linguistics natural-
include savoring espresso, buying vin-
ly, and lately, I have become incredibly
tage clothes and making up stories
aware of its preeminence in my work.
about imagined previous owners, and
I am going into my sophomore year at
learning how to cook.
Pratt Institute. I struggled with the first
PHOEBE PUNDYK My name is Phoebe Pundyk and I am a
year of foundation arts, but I did my best
rising sophomore at Skidmore College.
to trust in the system. It gave me the dis-
being the giant boxes on the floor of
Liza Langer likes the word “epoch”. The
too many particular areas of interest. I
my room filled with magazine pages,
phonics just pop, and the word is her
would like to be a zoologist, a writer, an
post cards, ticket stubs, photos and
theme. She has had an epoch of ceram-
archeologist—I am easily persuaded by
shopping bags from places I like; and
ics, an epoch of Girl Scouts, and is cur-
magazine articles, gallery shows…my
the second being my collection of
rently in an epoch of strict vegetarianism
parents say I swing like a pendulum, but
ideas, inspiring people, feelings and
and an epoch of architecture as an in-
with the knowledge and experiences I
thoughts. For me, art is about the orga-
coming second year at Carnegie Mellon
have absorbed in the meantime, it’s all
nization and presentation of
University. Langer is reading Ayn Rand’s
been worth it.
The Fountainhead, which can be consid-
My dad calls me a pack-rat, but I like to think of myself more as a collector. I have two types of collections: the first
cipline and the pride that was missing from my approach. I don’t have a particular area of interest, or rather, I have
PROCESS PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM
Capture the “right now” as well as the
The idea for PROCESS came to me while I was in the shower. I wondered, “What are my friends
personal philosophy! Annually? Quar-
working on? “
terly? Monthly? Bi-weekly? How fast/ often and when do we change how we
Facebook makes it easy for me to stay in the loop about what my friends are up to, when
work? Talk to the same people on a re-
their birthdays are approaching, and which Jonas brother they are most like, but it makes
curring basis? New content added as it’s
it harder to talk about meaningful things. Because I know what you ate for dinner yester-
created or in line w/ print edition? Poten-
day, we no longer need to get on the phone or—drum roll please—sit down and just talk.
tial for video/audio! I would LOVE to do
videos. Is print necessary? Maybe not... Is
I wanted a good reason to talk to everyone again about the things that matter and to let
print gorgeous? Definite yes. Magazine
the conversation wander into wonderfully unexpected places. So in the last week of May I
vs. Book format. Laying out a magazine
put out a call on Facebook to a bunch of different artist friends for a few images and a short
takes a pretty significant amount of
text, then began recording and transcribing conversations. All conversations happened
time, but can come out fairly regularly. If
either in person or over the phone because I have a sneaking suspicion that when using
content is published on a website, what
email or IM people think way too hard about what they’re trying to say—or not at all.
if once a year, or quarterly, an anthology is released with everything from the
The first issue of PROCESS is based entirely around these recorded conversations. They begin
website in book form. Websites are less
and end abruptly, go off on tangents, and occasionally become incoherent. And that’s
special. Make it better. Make it cheaper.
what I love about them. In each conversation, both sides are pushing and racking their
Make it bigger. What does it mean to
brains to make sense of it all. These are the types of conversations that you wish you had
make art today? Themed issues or con-
written down. Now the thoughts are no longer fleeting.
versations? What’s next? When will it get boring? Start working with writers? In-
This first iteration of PROCESS has come together in magazine form but I didn’t just set out to
terview friends of friends? Have friends
make a magazine. My broader goal is to connect all the artists, philosophers, and creative
interview their friends? Make art using
minds I know (and soon enough the ones that I don’t yet know!), and to keep a dialogue
somebody else’s process. Start with the
going about what creativity means today. That means I need your help and participation!
same prompt. Have dinner together. Get together and make a collaborative piece
Please don’t hesitate to add to the list of ideas or tell me what works and what doesn’t by
of art! Come up with more ideas.
emailing: email@example.com I’ll take every fleeting thought into consideration!
THANK YOU to all the included artists, and especially to my family, Theresa Zeitz-Lindamood, Phoebe Pundyk, Daniel Boccato, and Liza Langer for early feedback and diligent editing. Also a big thank you to everyone who has gotten excited about this project, joined our mailing list, and added us on Facebook. You rule! P.S. Throughout this project I blogged a bit about the process of putting this together, check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/processprocess
when Einstein was in school he was considered crazy and he got kicked out. If they had given einstein ritalin, where would we be now? would he still have jumped out of his seat to go sit on an egg AND TRY to hatch it?
Andra Khoder: I was writing this applica-
ger materials or move things around a little
bouncing ideas around. Something I struggle
tion essay for Oxbow, an arts high school in
bit.” And it started me thinking about how
with is how my process is shown in or related
California, and the subject was “Write about
I work. By interacting with people and see-
to the product. And that’s where my whole
a time where you had to change your course
ing how they work I come up with my own
idea that I joke about comes from, where I
of action” and I couldn’t remember a time
projects. Whether it’s just sitting silently in a
want to stand with my piece of art when it’s
when that had happened to me.
room with them and doing our own work or
being shown and tell people about how it’s
having this conversation. This is how I get it.
made and what it means to me. Because I still
Casey Gollan: I had trouble with that too.
don’t know how to cope with the divide beCG: What would be non-obvious to me, in
tween product and process, or how process
AK: I asked Telfer, my art teacher, about it
a lot of artwork, is that behind all artwork is
translates or is shown in the product.
and she said, “Think about a project. If you’re
some sort of process. For some people there
building something and a piece falls off or a
isn’t a lot of depth, it’s just using a technique,
AK: I struggle with that too because I have
piece breaks, you have to think about stron-
but for others there’s this amazing process of
this idea and I work on it and I think “This is
to other people but to me that whole phase
and make it totally different.
of collecting ideas and images is where I get
an idea of where to start. A good word for it
put the darker colors on first and then put
the lighter colors on after so that they pop
In the videos, one person says to
more. But somebody else says put the lighter AK: By the time I get to my end product, I
colors on first and then do the darker colors.
can’t even remember my process because
And then another person says do the color
I’ve jumped so many times from one thing to
that covers up the most area first and then
another. Just completely stopped one thing
color in order until you get to the smallest
and did something else almost automatically
surface. I take all these different ways of do-
ing things and I mix them up into what I do.
That’s basically how I work. I love to absorb
About incubating, I saw those Bub-
ble Drawings by Charlotte X.C. Sullivan that
you sent me, where she blew inky bubbles
onto the paper and got the outlines of the
dad was very ill-educated and he didn’t get
bubbles and they looked so crazy. And then
very good grades. When he was very little
I went into the darkroom at school and was
he came over on a boat from Lebanon, and
doing all this crazy stuff with photo paper
English was his third language. He didn’t go
and developer. I have the process in my head
to college, he went straight to the Marines,
of what that person would do, but what I
but he’s one of the smartest people I know
so cool, this gonna be awesome!” And then
do is completely different. Like, I then took
because he just absorbs all this information:
all of a sudden another spark happens be-
a popsicle stick and put it in developer and
what people talk about, what he reads. He’s
cause I’m having another conversation with
then put the popsicle stick on the paper.
not a great reader, he can’t read fast and he’s
someone or I notice something cool that
I’m a lot like my dad, because my
the worst speller in the world, but he knows
someone else did and I think “I can incorpo-
CG: So taking bits of other people processes
so much about everything because he just
rate that into my project!” And what I’m do-
and techniques and translating them into
ing turns into something completely differ-
something new. CG: One of my English teachers was telling
ent from what it was. AK: Yeah. Before I called and talked to you,
me that her dad never went to college or
CG: I wasn’t even thinking about visual ideas,
I was on YouTube watching videos of how
had a formal education. So when she came
but that’s what happens to me too. I spend a
people do their makeup. Not regular make-
back from college, where she majored in lit-
lot of time on the internet just reading and
up, but crazy makeup. So when I’m doing my
erature, she was like, “Look at all these books
looking at pictures, and it can seem frivolous
own makeup I think of that but I change it up
I’ve read!” And it turned out that he’d read all
those books and more because he just loved
rates human from artificial intelligence. Logic
CG: The doctor comparison is interesting
is just simple arguments. It can tell you what
because that’s a situation where it’s life and
It’s like the debate of IQ and SAT
the right answer might be, but it can’t look
death. But what’d you end up writing that
scores and what they indicate. One thing
at a tutorial for how to do makeup and then
that standardized tests can’t indicate besides
come up with new ideas based on that. AK: Well the situation that made me have a
process, or why you know the things you know, is passion, how much you care. It’s so
AK: Right. We’re doing logic in math, which
new realization about myself was the essay
important to have a passion for learning and
I love because I never realized it before, but
itself. And because Oxbow asked me that
a willingness and ability to absorb things. It’s
I’ve always seen two sets of arguments: logi-
question, I realized how I get sparked.
tough to pay attention to all the things go-
cal and emotional. First, I always think logi-
ing on around you and you have to prioritize
cally. I’m like, “This is the easiest way to get it
CG: It’s the concept of metacognition, which
what’s really important, or fresh, or inspiring.
done,” and then my other side is like, “But we
is basically thinking about thinking. So you
But if you can absorb those things, that’s one
could do this, we could do that!” Even when
wrote your essay on writing your essay.
major place where you can synthesize ideas
someone asks me for relationship advice,
That’s something that I always do. My first
from. You could have perfect SAT scores and
I think about it logically, but even though I
approach whenever I have to do anything is
be culturally and creatively illiterate in every-
always consider the logic, I usually react irra-
thinking about the thing itself to the point
thing except test taking strategies.
tionally or emotionally because it’s a human
where it becomes my answer.
interaction. AK: Yeah, and another thing I just thought
AK: One thing I said at the end was “Thank
about, back to those makeup tutorials, is
CG: If they wanted a rational answer they
you Oxbow, because no matter what hap-
this one girl who was like “So many people
could ask a machine.
pens, this essay that I wrote for you impacted
ask me how I do my dotted blush,” and she
was like, “It’s so easy! You just take a fishnet
AK: Exactly, and most of the time the ratio-
stocking and stretch it over your face then
nal answer is not the one you want. Take, for
CG: That’s how I felt about my college pro-
apply the blush over it. Where the holes are,
example, the character House. Everybody
cess. I mean everyone else was so pissed
the makeup will go.” And I’m thinking to my-
hates him, and it’s because he thinks so logi-
about having to write college essays but I
self, “I would never have thought of it that
cally, he takes emotion completely out of his
think I learned so much about myself. I guess
way! I would’ve just done it freehand.” Then
decision process. And because of that people
it’s not necessarily learning it like for the first
I’m thinking about, “What if I use lace? How
think he’s so rude.
time, but having to distill something person-
cool would that be? What about different
If during the diagnosis someone
al into words makes it so much more clear.
were to say something stupid he would shut
That’s why writing is so hard for me. I can
them down because he’s not interested in a
blabber on for hours and it just doesn’t make
creative or emotional course of action.
sense later, but to have to write an essay
CG: That ability to improvise is what sepa-
that is intended to be understood by other
this quote I love which is, “A potential trap
CG: I don’t think that you can actually create
people forces you to understand yourself on
of thinking about thinking — what we call
or destroy matter.
a whole other level. That’s why I love having
metacognition — is that you can get stuck
to write. I don’t love writing, because it’s so
in a recursive loop where you are think-
AK: But then how could something so small
stressful, but I love being forced to write be-
ing about thinking about thinking, and so
get so big?
cause that’s how I distill my thoughts.
on — until it’s like standing in a hall of mirrors. And then before you know it, half an
CG: I guess it’s just transforming. What’s the
AK: Another thing that I’ve been thinking
hour has passed at the supermarket, and you
difference between atoms and matter, be-
about like crazy, this is sort of unrelated, is
still don’t know which floss to buy.”
cause you can’t create or destroy matter.
that my physics teacher, Mr. Copolla, was
saying that everything on earth is made out
cide by Jonah Lehrer, which I haven’t read
of atoms. When you’re eating an ice cream
but really want to. The interesting thing
sundae, it’s made out of atoms. The universe
about what he’s saying, to me, is that you can
CG: I don’t really understand it and the fact
is made out of atoms, or at least this is what
go on forever in a recursive loop of thinking
that I don’t understand it makes me think
we think. But the fact that he said ice cream
about thinking, but how we decide—I mean,
that it’s not real to some extent.
sundaes are made out of atoms made me
I haven’t actually read the book—is an emo-
think, we’re made of atoms. We’re atoms in-
tional thing that doesn’t necessarily have to
gesting more atoms. What makes us want to
do with logic.
It’s from a book called How We DeAK: I think atoms are made up of matter.
Another thing that I haven’t read
CG: Like I kind of get it and it sounds re-
but I want to read—I’m so behind on read-
ally good, but what if in a hundred years
ing things, but I know about all these things
they’re like “Hahaha they were so stupid!
I want to read—is this book called Out of Our
They thought everything was made up of
AK: It drove me crazy and I started thinking,
Heads by Alva Noe, and his theory is that
“How can an atom have emotion?” When
consciousness, which we think of conven-
you think of cells, those cells are created by
tionally as inside our own minds, is actually
AK: It goes back to: how could they not re-
atoms. And what makes up an atom are pro-
external. He says, “Consciousness requires
alize that the earth was round and not flat?
tons and neutrons and they get smaller and
the joint operation of the brain, the body
There’s always going to be that “Oh my God,
smaller and I just don’t understand how this
and the world.” And I like that because I don’t
they were so stupid.”
could create happiness? How can something
understand either how lots of atoms alone
made up of atoms contemplate and struggle
could think about atoms.
CG: That’s sick! It’s like cannibalism.
with the fact that it’s made up of atoms? CG: There’s the metacognition again. There’s
CG: The way I look at it is if you’re just using logic, either the line is drawn prematurely
AK: When a baby forms, aren’t those atoms
and there’s no creativity, and no new ideas
creating more atoms?
get created, or the line is never drawn and
you’re stuck in that hall of mirrors. The deci-
the back of her house and they never went
swim, and the ones that can’t swim die. The
sion to believe in atoms is an emotional, ir-
looking for her. There was a pack of wolves
ones that can swim and reproduce in the
rational one, I think. At some point you just
living there—I have no idea if this is real or
waterlogged environment do and then they
have to have beliefs and accept things as
not—and she was raised by these wolves
create children that can also probably do
true—even though I don’t know if there can
who took her in as one of their own. When
that, because it’s probably hereditary.
be true or false at all. You just have to accept
they found her she acted exactly like a wolf.
things to move on. Looking at it this way, ev-
She didn’t even make human noises, she
AK: Well I thought of that bathtub thing
erything is a gray area.
spoke wolf language and made the sounds
when I was really little, before I even knew
that they make. And she had strange psycho-
AK: Another thing I was thinking about is this:
logical characteristics of wolves. For example,
how weird is it that when somebody does
you know how most dogs won’t understand
something we like, or something we consider
when they see themselves in a mirror? This
to be a good thing, like a dance performance
girl didn’t recognize herself in a mirror. It was
AK: I’m so weird! Another thing I thought—
or a concert, we clap our hands. We take two
a nature vs. nurture thing.
back when I was little—was that we could
limbs and slap them against each other and
CG: That’s crazy. You’re a genius!
totally teach a bear to talk human. When a
make sound. And what about people waving
AK: If you think about Tarzan he’s this boy
cub is born, bring him up in a human envi-
to each other or giving high fives.
whose parents died in a boat wreck and gets
ronment so it only hears human talking.
taken in by a mother Gorilla. So he grows CG: We have such strange conventions!
up as a gorilla and when he meets Jane he’s
CG: I don’t know if they’re biologically capa-
like...what are you? He didn’t even recognize
ble of making those human noises.
AK: What if there are aliens on other plan-
the fact that they looked the same.
ets—which I totally believe. I don’t even
know what kind of bodies they would have,
I was little was that humans could totally
but say they have eyes. What if their way of
adapt to living underwater without coming
CG: But I’m seriously wondering if we know
congratulating someone, or saying hello, or
up for air. What if one woman gave birth to a
for a “fact” whether they’re capable or not of
giving applause is moving their eyes up and
baby in water and all throughout childhood
making those sounds.
the baby was always in bathtubs and pools.
What I used to think about when
AK: I know! But I was little!!
And that baby grew up and had a baby that
AK: I was just right now thinking of my dog,
CG: That is really weird, I’d like to a see an
was always in water. Eventually, in however
Luka. We got him when he was three months
entire auditorium of people just wiggling
many millenniums, they might be able to
old and never really took him to the park
their eyes up and down at the end of a per-
swim like three laps in a pool without com-
when he was little because he was so small
ing up for air. They might have webbed fin-
and we were afraid of other dogs. So he
never heard a dog bark, except probably in
AK: What if the aliens had light up fluid in
the store where we got him. But I remember
their spine and it shot up and down when
CG: The evolutionary process! You remind
when we took him home and he first barked,
they wanted to applaud?
me of that guy who thought that if you
he flipped out. He was like, “What was that!?”
wanted hard enough to evolve some feature
It wasn’t even a full bark. But I’m wondering
CG: We’re back to the idea of conventions
you could just do it. People believed that for
if he learned that from those older dogs in
and just biologically speaking, why do we do
a while but it got disproved.
the store. I like to think about that.
AK: I want to evolve to lose 500 pounds!
CG: Or what if when you raised a baby you
the basic things we do? AK: If you think about it, we’re told from the
taught it the wrong colors like, “This is red,
time we’re born that when you clap it’s for
CG: Haha, but I think we actually do adapt,
this is green.” But it was actually the oppo-
something good. But what if you weren’t told
like if water were to keep rising. The thing you
site. Would they actually perceive that? How
that, what if you were told to instead cross
don’t think about is that so many people die
much of what we take for granted as what
in that process of adaptation. How it works
is—like red is red, it just is—how much of
isn’t that you train someone in water their
that is a belief rather than a fact. To me that’s
CG: I saw a YouTube video about a girl who
whole life and as a result they become more
a really blurry line.
was raised by animals. I guess her parents
adapted. The way it happens is that a condi-
were junkies and one day she crawled out
tion is brought up where everyone needs to
AK: Mr. Douglas, my 6th grade science
teacher, and I were talking about that and
have to do it. It makes it easy to be compla-
him out because they couldn’t handle it. He
he asked me, “what color is the sky?” I said,
cent in regards to linear work. But people are
basically had insane ADD, but because of
“it’s blue!” But he was like, “well, how do you
worried that ADD medications are making
him we advanced so much technology wise!
know?” I was like, “because it’s blue!!” But it
it easier to be productive at the expense of
If they had Adderal, or Ritalin, or Concerta
could totally not be blue, that’s just what
non-linear or spontaneous thought, which is
back then and they gave that to him where
we’re told it is.
basically what we’ve been talking about for
would we be now?
40 minutes as the source of everything good CG: And not only how do we know, but we
in life. The source of everything interesting
know for a fact—I keep saying that, even
seems to come from taking that leap beyond
though I don’t know that we know anything
the pre-defined linear pathway of logic and
AK: Would he still have jumped out of his
for a fact—that we probably don’t see the
rationality that everyone gets to, and going
seat in the classroom? Would he still have
same shade of blue, but I guess it’s close
in your own spontaneous direction.
woken up thinking, “I want to go sit on an
enough. That’s the weird thing about percep-
tion. What we do know is that we all have dif-
medication induced state as “productive
ferent pairs of eyeballs. So how do we know
mediocrity,” and said that that term is what
CG: I know from when I was on ADD medi-
that we’re seeing the same color? It could be
is starting to define our nation. Instead of
cation that it became easier for me to just
producing less but thinking more, we’re now
do stuff instead of thinking or asking, “why
Another article referred to this
CG: Oh my God. That’s messed up!
super productive but our ideas are medio-
do I have to do this crap?” And the whole
AK: We may be seeing a different color but
cre. We’re getting to that wonderful point of
system is bent on rewarding those that just
we’re still told that what we’re seeing is blue.
imagination less and less as a result of our
plow through. Looking back, the medication
Have you ever read the book The Giver? In
medications and our obsession with produc-
basically shut off or dulled my metacogni-
that society they make it so that everyone is
tion, which can sometimes mean painfully
color blind. They have the one person, The
taking the hard way out of things. I feel like
Giver, who sees red, who sees blue, who has
AK: I heard that when Einstein was in school
sometimes people think I’m being lazy be-
he was considered crazy and he got kicked
cause I appear to be doing nothing. But I feel
out. He wondered things like, “if I sat on this
like what’s harder than just writing some BS
egg, would it hatch?” And the school kicked
is questioning, for every single thing: Why
CG: So I want to ask you a question about how that relates to your art. We’ve been having really good rambling, but this conversation is almost on the edge of my brain right now. This has gotten to the point where I’m like OH MY GOD, I want to close my eyes because colors are freaking me out. AK: Right? CG: So what’s interesting is that this is just what goes through our minds. One of my friends sent me something she was working on on vacation and she wrote “creative minds never really take vacations,” which I think is totally true, we don’t! Even when people think you’re doing nothing, this stuff is what I’m thinking about when I’m trying to fall asleep and I’m like, “please shut off, brain!”
In an article I recently read about
ADD medication they were saying that it enables you to accomplish linear tasks. For example, you can sit down and plow through boring work more easily than asking why you
should I do this? How can I make the best of
the same creative place it could help you get
functioning “normally”, you’re functioning
everything I do? How can I allocate my en-
through your work, but for someone who,
less like yourself. When you think about
ergy and my time and my thought into what
like you, is in this different plane of thought,
something like ADD as a gift rather than a
really matters. Is this important? No. Okay,
I think it could harm your creativity. The way
flaw you can start to ask yourself: “Why do
then I won’t do it.
my doctor equated it to me at the time was:
we fight our gifts?” ADD might be the source
of my crazy ideas or my spontaneity.
If I spread my attention across ev-
“it’s like putting on your glasses, there’s noth-
ery unimportant thing that somebody asks
ing to get addicted to, don’t worry, it won’t
me to do, everything will be mediocre, but
change your personality. You’ll just see more
AK: Today I wasn’t on it, and by now it
maybe I’ll get better grades. That to me is the
clearly what needs to be done, because
would’ve definitely worn off. But even sitting
difference and the sacrifice we have to make.
you’re not seeing the bigger picture when
on the beach, I wouldn’t have wanted to ex-
And I needed medication at the time, be-
you’re off the medication.” But when I was at
plore if I was on the medication. I’ve noticed
cause unfortunately in our education system
Oxbow I had a conversation with one of my
that when I take the medication it does alter
you have to jump through certain hoops. The
teachers about adaptations, and this was at a
my personality. Not by a lot, but I remem-
concern is that if you don’t jump through
point where I was going on and off, deciding
ber one time when we were staying after
those hoops and get good grades, you limit
whether or not I really wanted to be on this
school for Zephyr, and it was you, me, Telfer,
yourself. And I’m grateful that I spent those
medication. What I said to him was that I felt
and Alison. And someone said to me, “you’re
two years on Concerta, but now I’m like, “oh
like I was taking medication so that I could
awfully quiet!” And then later, at 6:45, when
over a year ago, before I went on medica-
be productively mediocre on tasks don’t re-
the medication wore off, I started talking at
tion—for years and years I refused to take
ally matter. So why then was I doing them in
a hundred miles per hour. 6:45 was always
medication, it just wasn’t going to happen
the first place?
the time when I would start being creative,
—I was like, “It’s going to change who I am.” I
or start talking, or doing all my things. Before
know I’m not going to sit at my desk shaking
adaptations. Every piece of technology is
my foot, tapping my hand, and looking up at
an adaptation, whether it’s medication, or
the sky. Instead, I’m going to be sitting there
glasses, or shoes. If I didn’t wear glasses, my
with my legs crossed, hands on the desk, do-
art would be different because when I drew
ing my work. At the lunch table I’m not going
something from far away, I would draw it
AK: I don’t know, Casey. I mean I only take
to be chattering like “Wow, isn’t that a beau-
blurry. And I actually have a friend who would
my medicine a couple of days before I know
tiful butterfly?” I would just sit there. When I
draw blurry things without her glasses. I was
I’ll have to write an essay, or I have a test, so
told that to my doctor he was like, oh no, it’s
talking to Telfer the other day and she asked
I can get the information now, take the test
not going to do that, but I think it does. The
me, “why do we fight our gifts?” That is such a
and regurgitate everything, and then forget
person who thinks about all these random
powerful question. The idea of adapting is to
things, this is me.
take what makes us different and make it the
God, I would never go back!” I never again want to be in a situation where I have so much work that is so boring that I just have to plow.
And that’s the hidden benefit of
being an artist that doesn’t take vacations. Last week you were saying how you were going crazy because you didn’t have anything interesting to work on. I think our school and life can be kind of boring and tough in it’s monotony, so part of our existence is constantly giving ourselves things to think about. Biting off questions that are bigger than we can chew. AK: When I was talking to my ADD doctor
CG: Yeah, maybe for someone who isn’t in
On every level we have different
that time, I just sat there. CG: Why do we fight our gifts?
same as everyone else so that we can func-
CG: Another quote that I love is by Paul
tion like everyone else. Except when you’re
McHugh, from that same New Yorker article
about ADD, he said, “maybe it’s wrong-foot-
two fancy old sisters because his father was a
or just somewhere else entirely. But who’s to
ed trying to fit people into the world, rather
drunk and off doing stuff, so Huck lives with
say who’s right? There was a really interesting
than trying to make the world a better place
these people who try to civilize him. They
discussion online about “What, in a hundred
for people.” It’s a subtle difference, but it’s
make him dress up, and always go to church
years, will people be saying about us?” Like:
so important! An example from Kurt Von-
and school, blah, blah, blah. But as soon as
how barbaric were people to ban gay mar-
negut—again, I haven’t read Slaughterhouse
Huck left the house he would take off the
riage? How inhumane were people to keep
Five, but it’s on my list—is that they tie lead
fancy clothes and go get in a fight in a mud
domesticated animals in cages?
anchors to the feet of dancers so that nobody
pile because that’s what he loved to do, he
will be better than anyone else. And I think
was being a little boy.
mal to us and that’s what’s interesting about
that everyone who reads that would find it
Twain was writing about how
convention. It’s often so natural that we
pretty horrifying, but that’s basically what
people conform because they’re embar-
don’t even notice it enough to question it.
we’re doing, making everyone homogenous
rassed of what other people think of them.
And that’s what interesting about the drugs,
and in a state of mediocre productivity.
Just like the sisters kept trying to civilize
is that they made me worse at questioning,
Some of these things are so nor-
Huck, society as a whole tries to get people
which is maybe the most important thing
AK: Well actually, this past Tuesday, I had to
to conform. “Don’t be different, be the same!”
make up a Huck Finn in-class essay—well
Not only do people want to conform to fit in,
first of all I didn’t read the book—but one of
but they are being told that they need to to
AK: Imagine what would happen if nobody
function. I also wrote about how Huck didn’t
had ever asked questions about race.
conform to society’s view that if you help a slave you’re going to hell. He wouldn’t have
CG: Imagine if Huck Finn had been on Ad-
been able to accomplish something great
had he not rebelled against that belief which he knew was wrong.
AK: He would be the perfect little boy. There would be no story, there would be no change,
CG: Well there’s the concept of wisdom and
there would be no emotion when reading it.
emotional intelligence: knowing when to
It would be empty...nothing there.
break rules. One example is the empathetic janitor knowing when to break the rules
CG: I think we should all defy convention
of his job to be considerate of hospital pa-
and applaud by wiggling our eyes up and
tients where he works. A more well known
down. Clapping just seems so instinctive,
example would be Huck Finn empathizing
but I think you have truly found the future
with Jim the slave and realizing it’s not right
of applause. And I’m really glad that we had
to treat people that way. Breaking the rules
this conversation because I feel like so much
the quotes that I got and ended up choos-
and conventions of the time to do what he
of the time thoughts like this are fleeting.
ing was by JFK and it was: “conformity is the
felt was right.
You have an idea and then it’s gone. The nice
jailer of freedom and growth.” And we had to
thing about recording is that it catches that
relate that to the book, which I thought was
AK: And then there were libraries that
moment. But the annoying thing is going to
great because that is something I could to-
banned the book altogether.
be typing it up!
tally write about... CG: When I had to write that essay I wrote
AK: I have an idea. You can go into the future
CG: Whether or not you had read the as-
about how ridiculous it was that anyone ever
when it’s been typed up and then just copy
signed book, you could probably write your
banned Huck Finn. It reminds me of the story
and paste it back to the present.
own whole book on that quote.
about the man who goes into the future and finds that everyone is insane. Well his views
AK: So one of the things I wrote was about
were just so different from the mass opin-
how Huck Finn—have you read it?
ions of the future. We need to consider that
CG: That’s brilliant, thanks Andra! // PROCESS
someone or something that we think is inCG: Kind of.
sane might just be misunderstood. We might not be ready to understand. The understand-
AK: Okay, well Huck Finn lives in a house with
ing could be too far in the past or the future,
I don’t want to make it autobiographical, I know it’s based completely on my experiences, but I don’t want it to be about me.
gather together to build a show. They don’t have experience with art but they have crazy ideas. We don’t have a very strong arts program, so I always thought it was important to present it well otherwise it would dissolve into a crazy mess. It doesn’t always exactly look like art so if you don’t present it right you won’t be taken seriously at all. CG: The problem with a lot of high school art shows is that most of them look so unprofessional that good pieces can look bad. Casey Gollan: Tell me about your film.
bus. I like to draw a lot, it’s a very important
DB: It’s not necessarily about whether or
thing for me. This year I haven’t rode the bus,
not they can draw and paint as much as it
Daniel Boccato: I haven’t really started
and I’m branching out now. I want to focus
is about making something that is real for
working on the film yet, I’m just thinking
on another vantage point of the teacher or
about the story and the characters. At the
educator. Right now I’m writing, thinking of
moment I’m just really trying to get inspired,
specific images I want to have in the movie
CG: It’s so cool that you did this because
watching other films that I think are good.
even if I don’t know how I want them to fit
I’ve had the same idea. I was talking to a girl
I don’t know if you know this but I’m from
at my school who said to me, “I wish I had
Brazil, I moved here in the beginning of high school. I lived in Connecticut for two years and then I moved to Yonkers. The whole high school concept is very different
something I was passionate about like you CG: Especially with an animation, you need
are passionate about your art.” But I think art
to do a lot of planning beforehand. It’s not
is just a way of exploring things, I don’t think
like you can just film stuff because all your
you need to know how to do it a certain way
from my life back in Brazil.
pieces have to be pre-made.
to be considered an artist. The worst thing ever is when people say, “I’m not talented” or
CG: How so? I don’t know any-
DB: That’s true but also because I’m
“I can’t draw” because you don’t have to be
thing about Brazil.
working by myself I have to advan-
able to do something like everyone else to
tage of working very organically. If I
share an idea.
DB: I’m mostly talking about the
do make a whole scene and decide that I don’t want to use it, it’s a big
DB: I was really surprised with the way this
waste of time. So it’s good to plan, but I
came out. The very beginning was basically
so it was very urban, much more urban
don’t necessarily need to have everything
that I wanted to make an exhibition, and I
than Connecticut or Yonkers where I
figured out before I start.
found this space in the school which was
cultures, not even so much what things look like. I lived in São Paulo
live now. The mentality behind educa-
amazing. Even before I was thinking about
tion in the US was more challenging for
CG: So this is what you’re working on right
the whole grand picture of how it would af-
me. I found myself to be closed off or unable
now, planning for this animation, but I also
fect the whole school, I really just wanted to
to express myself because of the way that
want to hear about your other ongoing proj-
take advantage of that space to show some
everything had to be “inside the box.” And
ect, which is creating a gallery space within
cool art. I never envisioned “non-artists” par-
the movie is mostly about those experienc-
your high school. How did that whole thing
ticipating as if they were artists. People that
es, not so much social or political criticism,
don’t even ever visit museums and galleries
but looking at the beautiful things through
started coming up to me and saying, “hey I
the experience of looking out of the bus
DB: It started with making one art show. I
really want to do something in your gallery!”
window: birds, trees, et cetera I always did
always had the idea of presenting it very
And what they make is so passionate and
a lot of sketchbooking, drawing kids on the
nicely, with postcards and a professional
real that I don’t even know where they get
website. But presenting it in a different way
was very important so that it would distance itself from a regular school project. A lot of it
CG: I think a lot of people feel limited by
is not made by “artists,” it’s just students that
some stereotypical definition of art, they
don’t know that it can be anything. What’s
at midnight, they kick you out. Five minutes
also interesting is the idea of context, the
after you order, you get the bill.
way you present it: as a gallery with a really professional website and a beautiful space.
CG: They’re getting you in and out.
One of my Hometest pieces for Cooper, for the prompt “Activate,” was a project I called
DB: Right, the first time that happened to
“Context.” I took rocks that were just scat-
me, with my family, we almost got outraged.
tered around and made rock sculptures out
If they’re trying to make money, they should
of them. When I came back to the beach
respect you and hope that you’ll buy more
people had made more rock sculptures. You
food before you leave, rather than pushing
don’t have to be an artist or creative to do
you out. In Brazil it’s the total complete op-
that. Everyone is able to do it if they’re given
posite. It’s really hard to think of the differ-
the right context, which is awesome.
ences. It’s really so much larger than just the
DB: I saw that! I liked it.
cultural differences also. Moving here four
in Brazil, I could tell you about all of them in
years ago is something that really changed
5 seconds. The best of theirs might not beat
my life. The other aspect is not being able
the worst ones here, which is kind of sad but
CG: The animation is focusing on the bus ride
to call either place home. Brazil is where my
it’s true. But I do contemplate going back. So
as a symbol for education in America.
roots come from, I’ve been back once and I
much stuff is going to happen in the next
wish I could go more often but we just didn’t
four years of my life that I don’t even want to
DB: Kind of. That’s quite a good way to de-
have the opportunity. Maybe you can’t imag-
think beyond that.
scribe what I’ve been thinking about, but
ine, but try to imagine how weird it is not be-
what I want to deal with is not necessarily
ing able to call your home, “home.” The bus
just the bus ride. A few years ago I had to
is going from somewhere to somewhere.
idea of making the movie just of the bus ride,
Where is it taking you? Do you want to be
but now I want to expand it.
taken in that direction or not? Perhaps we
CG: Any thoughts on what’s next? DB: Cooper!
should be self-sufficient, and not need to
CG: Are you going to finish your animation
CG: What do you think the cultural differenc-
call a geographical location home. There’s all
before the summer’s over?
es between Brazil and America are? It’s not
these different things. I don’t want to make
something I know a lot about.
it autobiographical, I know it’s based com-
DB: Well the idea I have it’s probably going
pletely on my experiences, but I don’t want
to be about more than five minutes but less
it to be about me.
than ten. Have you ever done animation?
CG: More universal?
CG: I haven’t but I know how slow it is.
DB: I guess that’s why. I think the emotions
DB: It takes a very long time, especially since
that I’ve gone through are more interesting
I don’t even have a specific idea yet. And I
than my own personal story.
doubt I’ll be ready by the end of the sum-
DB: To give a very simple example, unrelated to high school, is being in a bar or a restaurant with your friends or family, and they close at midnight. In the United States,
mer but if I’m not doing else I think it would CG: So you’re going to Cooper Union, which
be a great project because it almost brings
is in the US, but did you consider going to
closure to this chapter of my life. If I needed
school in Brazil or would you consider mov-
to finish after my first year of Cooper, I might
ing back at some point?
never finish. I’ve been involved in animation for a long time and it’s always hard to settle
DB: I never really considered going to school
on one idea, especially in my teenage years
in Brazil because I got into Cooper. But one of
where I’m changing so much every day. It
the huge differences, school-wise, is money.
would be great if I finished, but maybe un-
And I think that money doesn’t necessarily
equal a good education but there are more opportunities in the United States than in
CG: Good luck! // PROCESS
Brazil. There are one or two major art schools
I always wanted a really cool sketchbook that was filled with all these doodles and sketches, but that just doesn’t happen For me.
Casey Gollan: So tell me about your project.
ing and things that inspire me: rip outs from
“Well, I have all these ideas and now I’m go-
I read from your description that it was done
magazines, photographs, postcards. When
ing to make my masterpiece!” That doesn’t
as an assignment for a color class?
you needed to submit a sketchbook for Coo-
really work because when you do something
per and were like “I don’t have one!” I totally
it’s not going to come out how you imagined,
Phoebe Pundyk: Last semester I was in this
knew what you were talking about because I
or it’s going to spark a million new ideas. So
class called Color which was all about color
always wanted a really cool sketchbook that
with this project the process was to make a
theorists, and applying those concepts, as
was filled with all these doodles and like mov-
series of over ten, but you end up with ten
well as just exploring what color can do. We
ing sketches but that just doesn’t happen to
drawings of this object, which was supposed
used paints, collage, oil pastels, and stuff. And
me. My process is more that I have ideas that
to represent you in some way.
this is one of the final projects that I did. The
are easier for me to describe in writing and
reason I submitted it was because it really
by looking at other things. That’s been sort
CG: Yeah, I wanted to know why you chose
made me change how I think about making
of frustrating because then when you go
art. My sketchbooks have mostly been writ-
to make some sort of final piece you’re like,
PP: Well it didn’t actually have to represent
it was more like I just started and kept going.
your instincts to make decisions subcon-
me in a really meaningful way. It was more
I even put a movie on while I did it because I
sciously that in the end produces cool stuff.
about the shapes. Her examples were re-
was trying hard not to over think what I was
It’s not like, “I have blue eyes so I better add
ally weird, like a solid bowl or a cake stand.
some blue in there.”
CG: How many did you do?
CG: When we think about it too hard we get
I chose a fork because A) I like to eat and B) I just thought the shape was cool and it would give me a lot to work with. She showed us
some examples and people had done safety
PP: I ended up doing about 25 and then I
pins. She really wanted us to pull apart and
really narrowed it down into what I thought
PP: Exactly, “I’m tall so I should pick a fork be-
abstract the object so you wouldn’t even
were the best ones. I took out the really ugly
cause I’m tall and narrow so that resembles
know what it was. I thought I could do some-
ones. Some of the ones took 5 minutes and
me, and I have straight-ish hair so that’s like
thing cool with forks, and the prongs. And
others took 20 minutes and you can see that
the straightness of the prongs—I really look
this fork that I just stole from the dining hall
some used water, some were with less mix-
like a fork!” But I actually just picked an ob-
had little dotted designs on it.
ing, more sketchy. I had a lot of fun playing
ject that I liked and that was what was fun.
with what was going to happen. So that
So this wasn’t my final project, it was my sec-
afterwards I went back and looked at them
ond to last, and I thought, “I really like doing
CG: Was it plastic?
The best part may not be the final product, it could be three steps before it. PP: It was a metal one. CG: But you stole it anyway.
this, maybe I’ll combine them into a big fork combo.” But that defeats everything that I just did and I’ll probably have to go through the same process to get back to where I was. A big final piece might be cool but it’s just totally different. CG: A different process to get there.
with the idea of “Self Portrait: Icon” and paired
PP: Exactly, and I liked that with most proj-
the series together. “I see Phoebe in that, or I
ects you’re like okay I’m gonna make 5
see the artist in that.” It was also really fun be-
thumbnails and then make a big sketch. But
cause one thing that’s stressful about mak-
in this one there was no big one. The big one
ing art is when you set out to make a piece
is weeding out of your 30 drawings to get
PP: Yeah. And as it turns out I didn’t end up
that’s like: “I’m going to describe the sadness
the ones that best describe you. Later going
pulling the object apart but instead I zoomed
of this rose!” It’s like this constant question,
back to the initial goal and looking through
in on certain aspects of it. I found the shapes
“Does this do that? Does this do that?” This
what you have.
and the grooves so interesting that I didn’t
was so cool because you did that afterwards
really need to abstract the shapes and the
and used your gut feeling, what you know, to
CG: Instead of working up to some big prod-
lines,. It ended up so that in some of them
create the stuff.
uct, you’re working a lot and then editing
you can’t really tell that it’s a fork unless you
down to the final thing. What that reminds of CG: That’s how I feel with a lot of stuff. I’ll
is the process of photography. I love when I
have some idea or assignment—like with
look at a photographer’s monograph and I’m
CG: And it’s also part of a series so you can
my final project they were like: “You have
like, “Wow, every photo they took was amaz-
see what’s going on.
a month, now do stuff!” And some people
ing.” But if you think about it, you might look
know, but it’s still not just random shapes.
started working the second they got it, but
at a book of someone’s entire career and it
PP: Yeah. And back to the series thing, the
I was researching for three weeks. I get im-
has a thousand photographs. But for every
project was a self portrait icon—but that
mersed in whatever I’m working on to the
one of those photos there were probably a
didn’t really have that much to do with my
point where I can make without thinking and
hundred or more that didn’t make the cut.
big revelation. We bought stacks of Canson
later I’m able to relate it to what wanted to
Back when people shot on rolls you would
paper and oil pastels and we would sit there
say. It just happens.
shoot an entire roll for one image.
these drawings. And I wasn’t really thinking
PP: Which is so cool because that’s the fun
PP: That’s what’s great about digital, you can
about the color choices or what I was doing,
of it! You know so much about it or you use
just snap, snap, snap.
in and outside of class just cranking out
CG: It’s more impulsive. It lets you plan less. A
art requires great waste. I have such a prob-
have people drawing your forks for you, but I
blessing and a curse with film was that every
lem buying art supplies because, in a weird
guess then it wouldn’t be you.
time you shoot a picture on film it was like,
way, it forces me to consider what the end
“There’s another 25 cents!” Between all the
result is going to be. I need to just use ev-
PP: My mom knew of this guy who had a
costs of film and chemicals.
erything I want and then decide what works
studio of people painting paintings for him,
and doesn’t. I can be super wasteful.
and he just instructed them on what to do.
PP: With this project they were quick draw-
I always thought that was just insane. Be-
ings. They’re not masterpieces. I could defi-
PP: But at the same time it’s not really waste
cause then it’s not his art, it’s just his ideas.
nitely go back and add stuff but when I was
because you have a whole story behind it
He signed every single piece, though. There’s
in the groove you just crank out whatever
that tells how you got to where you ended,
different ways of showing the world
comes to mind. Each one was planned from
and it’s totally different from where you
the previous one. You do one which sparks
started. CG: That’s why I was weirded out when I
another idea so you start a new drawing. CG: That’s what’s cool to me about your proj-
found out I got into art school under a bind-
CG: That’s exactly what I was talking to my
ect, is that you’re basically saying, “Here it is.
ing decision, because I have had exactly
friend Andra about. This is your first time that
My process of getting here, everything from
the same thought. I feel like there are other
this is how you work, but for her and for me,
the time I started to the time I finished, is my
things I could be. Certain projects I want to
this is how we work all the time. She was tell-
final product. So put it all on the wall!”
be very involved in the execution, like with
ing me, “I can’t even remember my process
your forks, if you had somebody else making
by the time I get to the end because every
PP: The best part may not be the final thing,
those they wouldn’t have that subconscious
time I do something I get a different spark
it could be three steps before it.
manifestation of you. At other times I just
and it changes what I’m doing.”
want to hire a master wood worker to follow CG: That’s the reasoning behind Sol Lewitt’s
my directions. Sometimes I have an idea that
PP: I don’t know why it took this long for me.
quote: “The idea is the machine that creates
I want to talk about through an object, which
I think just because I’m just very organized, I
the work.”That it doesn’t actually matter what
I just need built.
plan and go step by step, it’s my nature.
you make, so much as your concept. When I was at the Cooper End of Year Show, I was
PP: I think we’re talking about two differ-
CG: I remember you always starting projects
talking to someone who is a student there.
ent things. The craft of ideas, a philosopher
on the day they were assigned, being fin-
She seemed very meticulous and kind of like
showing the world ideas through art, versus
ished a week ahead, and then laughing at me
a Type-A personality and she was saying, “Ev-
art that you admire for its craftsmanship.
while I did mine in the last minute.
eryone else is so conceptual that they’re like, ‘I have the best idea ever, so what I make can
CG: There should be a dating site to match
PP: And I still ended up with pieces that I like,
look like shit because my idea is so good!’,”
up philosophers and talented artists that
but it seems like this is a more enjoyable pro-
But she was saying, “Not me!” And she made
have no ideas.
cess. Not that I didn’t enjoy making stuff for
this beautifully constructed model of an air-
my whole life.
plane wing out of wood. I was just thinking
PP: It can suck sometimes when you have to
that I’m one of those people who thinks my
do a project that you’re not inspired about. I
ideas are good enough!
have had to use a philosopher to spark my
CG: “I regret my whole life before this!!”
brain with crazy ideas. PP: I think this is a pivotal moment for me just
PP: For her what’s important is the craft, but
because I can still have goals and ideas—I
for other people they may not be able to
CG: A muse. It reminds of the artist David
also like to conserve, I don’t like waste. So
make things well, but they have really cool
Horvitz who is every day for a year sending
in the past I’ve done three small sketches
ideas. Or for other people it’s a combo.
out spontaneous directions by mail or on-
on three pieces of paper, and then I use one
line. He’s just doing the idea part, writing it
more for the big one. And that’s a total of four
CG: I’m waiting until the day when I either
in words, and he’s saying that you can use
things. Now I’m like, “Screw that! I’m using a
have a machine that can make the thing for
his ideas for an exhibition or whatever. But
dedicated notebook for every single project
me or I can have a hundred assistants. Almost
I’ve been following him since the beginning
these days.” It’s crazy!
none of the conceptual artists make their
of the year and I can tell when something is
own stuff. People are like, “I’m so honored
his direction. It’ll be like, “take a photo of the
to be installing this artwork!” So you could
sky and mail it to me.” Well he loves skies and
CG: I think it’s generally a truism that great
he loves mail. PP: Yeah, he loves mail!
eryone sees things differently. It’s such a cool
PP: This past semester it’s been interesting to
idea, the interpretation. Text on the wall is
talk about color because color is something
actually less limiting because when there’s
that triggers those emotions. We did all this
no real image of it every single person has a
abstract color and shape work and it was in-
CG: So I guess on every level there’s some
different interpretation. If it’s installed you’re
teresting to think about the progression of
sort of fingerprint. But I feel weird about
seeing one person’s interpretation.
drawing in charcoal and graphite, it’s black
the fact that the factory painter signs each
and white, and then you add color to it and
piece. When I work with other people, which
PP: If you think about the viewer: a person
I have—on my Final Project I built that huge
goes to a museum expecting to be stimulat-
installation and had 30 different people
ed by visual art and a person goes to a book-
CG: For me it’s a whole other thing to worry
helping me. But I’m not pretending that I did
store expecting to be stimulated by words.
it myself alone in a day, taking credit for the
So I think it throws people off when they go
craft or construction is not what’s important
into a museum and are like, “Whoa, I have to
PP: But color draws people in. Let’s say
think about this through language.” It’s two
you take a picture and you have this philo-
PP: What he’s doing is sort of like art plagia-
If certain animals are what we call color blind, but they live in the wild, you would think that they need to see more colors compared to us. Maybe we’re actually color blind.
rism. CG: With Sol Lewitt they don’t list the people who install his work, right? PP: No, they have one at the Tang, the museum at school, and it just says Sol Lewitt. CG: But I guess with him, it’s common knowl-
it’s like a whole other realm.
edge. And people feel good enough that they get to be a part of it. They don’t need
recognition, “I’m getting to do the art of someone famous!”
sophical idea that you want to send across. It makes you feel something, but the idea
CG: I read an awesome quote by a photogra-
doesn’t come across. I’m not saying what
pher named Sam Falls who was saying “I real-
I’m trying to say clearly, but getting feelings
PP: What if he wasn’t famous? It’s like, “Oh
ly dig conceptual art that requests time and
across and getting ideas across are two dif-
cool. I just scribbled on a wall for three days.
mental processing, but this usually ends up
I hope that people like it.” It reminds me of
in a sort of ‘knowing’ that doesn’t necessar-
what I was saying in the beginning, that my
ily drive me back to the artwork. The pieces
CG: That’s what I struggle with too, trying
sketchbooks are mostly written ideas that
I always return to and can look at over and
to do both because you want to have a bal-
the final intention is to visually represent. But
over in a museum’s permanent collection
I feel like if I give the idea to someone else
are works that make me feel and not think,
they would interpret it in a totally different
where there’s no pedagogy but just empa-
PP: You want to spark their brain but also
thy.” I’m really conceptual, so the primary
give a certain feeling. I think it happens a lot
reason I make stuff is that I’m thinking about
with abstract art when you try to read into
CG: That’s what I like about Lawrence Wein-
a problem and I want to find a way of talking
the ideas and meaning of shapes, and lines,
er. When they installed his text pieces at
about it. Sometimes the only way I can think
and colors. But maybe you just look at it and
the Whitney, like “A GLASS OF SALT WATER
of doing that is by making something. One
you get a certain feeling, that’s the point of it.
POURED ON A RUG,” they could either put up
example that he brought up is the painting
And sometimes you don’t know what you’re
the text on the wall, or they could spill the salt
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, which I
saying until its done.
water on the rug. Every time a curator puts
love. My older sister had a print of it in her
that in they’ll install it differently. My friends
room for as long as I can remember. Certain
CG: I got into an interesting conversation
were like, “Why are you giggling? What do
pieces of art are just emotional and I agree
with my friend Andra about color and she
you see in this? It’s just words!” But his work,
that those are the ones that we return to.
started talking about the book The Giver
to me, is ultimate statement about how ev-
where the entire society is color blind and
only one person sees red and has feelings.
ing about. Just because I call something red
PP: Maybe it had to do with survival skills and
We started talking about it biologically, but
and you call something red doesn’t mean
how we used to need to determine whether
it made me think, “How do we even know
it’s the same thing. We’re just taught to call
certain animals or plants were dangerous. It
we’re seeing the same colors?”
it the same thing. Maybe the doesn’t even
probably had something to do with survival
make sense. I was saying, “I just want to close
of the fittest.
PP: I’m taking a science class at FIT called
my eyes because I don’t want to think about
Light & Color, which is all about the physics
behind seeing color. In art class at Skidmore,
CG: It’s like how bees see ultraviolet “landing strips” on flowers.
we didn’t really touch on that because it just
PP: Well there are really only four different
blew my teacher’s mind, all the theories and
hues, but then there’s five million “in-be-
PP: If certain animals are what we call color
stuff. It’s crazy how animals see color totally
tweeners.” We really only define and title red,
blind, but they live in the wild, you would
different than we do. And that there are color
green and blue, but we call so many things
think that they need to see more colors
blind people who don’t see black and white.
brown. Like, that first person just decided we
compared to us. Maybe we’re actually color
In some people, the cones that see red and
should call that thing brown? My teacher was
Matisse was trained as a master artist. But either HIS ideas or a desire to express more emotion took over and HE APPLIED THAT fundamental skill to making more abstract art.
CG: How do we even know what they see? We can’t even tell—I mean, I guess we can— but how can you tell what another person is actually seeing? PP: And you can’t ask a dog, like, “Yo, is this green?” The dog would be like, “woof.” I guess we just have to scientifically know. Because nothing is actually a color, it all has to do with light and wavelengths and pigments and dyes. And molecules absorbing dyes. The
green overlap a lot so those two colors be-
saying that different ancient cultures were
interaction of light and matter. That’s why in
color blind and interpreted colors differently
the dark everything is black even though it’s
based on what colors they saw in their en-
still a “green” plant.
CG: I actually have that but I can totally tell
vironment. For example, African tribes only
the difference between red and green, even
see colors X, Y, and Z, so those are the only
CG: That’s what’s cool about photography
when they’re next to or on top of each other.
colors in their vocabulary and also their sight
too. Our eyes function really differently from
But with differences that are so subtle, like
range. If they come to our culture where we
a camera, and we lose our ability to see color
those freaking dot books, I can’t tell the dif-
see 5 million colors—I didn’t really under-
as it gets darker and cameras do too. But
ference. I can tell the difference between a
stand whether or not they actually saw the
if you take a long exposure on a camera at
red pepper and a green pepper but appar-
difference between the colors or they just
night you might not see colors, but you’ll see
ently I can’t be an airplane pilot because of
didn’t have words for them.
the light that is captured when the camera
all the little blinking lights.
keeps its lens open for a long time. CG: I would’ve thought it was just an issue of
PP: So you know which version you’re seeing,
not having different pigments. I read a weird
PP: It’s like a machine we created to mimic
which version you call red and which version
thing that the world is actually getting less
our eyes that actually does something totally
you call green?
colorful. I can understand how they would
different. I guess we failed at that.
measure old vegetables and new vegetables CG: Yeah, same as everyone else.
to determine that vegetables are getting
CG: It’s like trying to get other people to rep-
less nutritious—we’re doomed!—and I don’t
licate your art! So what were you thinking
PP: That’s what we all did too we defined dif-
understand how they determined this, but
with the colors in your project?
ferent stuff and we all just happened to de-
they did. We apparently used to be able to
fining the same things.
perceive more colors, something about “the
PP: We had a set of oil pastels, which is some-
spectrum used to be wider. “
what limiting but you can do some mixing.
CG: Well that’s what Andra and I were talk-
Some of them are in the same color range,
which was just because we only had 10 or 12
CG: I think getting into that process of get-
to art. When a kid draws a stick figure or a
original colors, but I wasn’t actually paying
ting so consumed by what you’re working on
doodle it’s not something that would fit in a
too much attention to the colors. I can’t really
that you just create it is important because
museum but maybe it captures something
remember because it was sort of thought-
that disconnect between my mind and the
that a masterful rendering wouldn’t because
less. It wasn’t random, like, I’m closing my
real world is what frustrates me a lot when I
as you get older and build up technique—I
eyes and picking a color.
draw. I feel like if I could represent the thing
don’t know how it happens—but you lose
in a sketch I would, but a sketch won’t do any
whatever you have in the beginning. So
CG: Yeah, that probably wouldn’t go over
good until I’m ready to make the thing exist
there are good aspects of being an amateur,
well in a critique of an assignment for color
physically. I have to get to know it on some
not having that ability to render what you
other level first.
have in your had. It forces you to think about your concept more.
PP: Right, there definitely was some thought
PP: It’s weird for me because I always thought
behind it but not really intention. It was just
it’s just that I can’t draw.
about making a cohesive drawing.
PP: You have a different set of skills and language you’re using to express what you’re
CG: YES! CG: So this is also something that’s not old,
trying to say. It won’t necessarily be beautiful.
but it’s not your latest work. What have you
PP: It’s so bizarre to me because I can draw,
done since this?
I do have that ability, but maybe it’s not—I
CG: Well what Seth Godin said that was so
don’t know. It’s just so weird. I can do it but
cool was, “Be an amateur because you want
PP: Well I sent this because it was what
it’s just not how I intend. The work that I’ve
to, not because you have to.” Then you can
sparked my change of thought, and I was
done for my color class, I like a lot. But I feel
decide whether or not you really want to ab-
really excited because it was such a crazy
like I changed as an artist even though the
experience for me. I guess the next and final
work doesn’t seem as good. It’s more on a
thing I did was basically the same project but
deeper level than an ability level.
with different lumps of creased fabric, so it
PP: It’s so crazy. There are so many ways to go and so much to figure out. It’s mind blow-
was more about texture and shape. I did a
CG: I just read an article about Pixar, who I
series that ended up being 10 or 12 similar
would say is a group of people that have a
sized drawings, but I wasn’t trying to abstract
grasp on making things that are technically
it because the fabric was already abstract.
well drawn but capture feelings. Especially because computer animation has the po-
ing. CG: I agree. I lose sleep over it. PP: So that’s where I’m at.
CG: Something I have to watch, is that I have
tential to look so lifeless. But they’re know
a hyperactive imagination. So I will usually
for their lively animations. They were saying
have a picture of what a project will end up
that they go to locations from their movies
looking like in my head before I even begin.
to research how it feels, not just what it looks
PP: I have a lot of ideas. I don’t really know
like. And I think that shows the difference be-
where I’m going as far as creating stuff. I
tween rendering something accurately and
spent the past semester working, and ever
capturing the feeling.
since I’ve been home from school I’ve been
PP: That’s exactly what happens to me. CG: It’s not a picture you can make. Like the
CG: And where are you going?
spending a lot of time just looking.
difference between the camera and the eye.
PP: It’s just weird to think about that. If you
Not necessarily a picture of how it looks, but
look up a lot of famous artists, they’re more
of how it feels.
famous for their abstract stuff, but Matisse
has incredible skill and was trained as a mas-
PP: My brain is just full of, “Whoa, that’s awe-
PP: That’s why I prefer to use writing to de-
ter artist. But either their ideas or a desire to
some!” But I don’t know where it’s going yet.
scribe projects in my sketchbooks. If I use
express more emotion took over and they
At school I don’t really have time to create
sketches or drawings they’re either very
used that fundamental skill but applied it to
things outside of art assignments but now I
loose or more like diagrams. If I have an idea
making more abstract art.
have time to think and do whatever I want.
of what the final thing is going to look like
Actually, my brother has been making a lot
it becomes unbelievably frustrating because
CG: It reminds me of another thing I read by
of movies and films so I asked him yesterday
it’s not turning out how I want it to be. Either
Seth Godin, who’s an entrepreneur. So he’s
if he wants to make a movie with me this
I don’t have the skill or—I don’t even know...
talking about business but it totally applies
summer and he said yes.
CG: Awwwwwww. So cute! PP: That would be more of just a comedy than artistic route. A mockumentary or something. We just wanna make fun of stuff. CG: When I was like, 11, I took my first art class outside of school, which was video. And everyone was making these art films and me and a couple friends in the program just made a comedy. So at the end there was this pretentious 11 year old art film festival and then our 10 minute comedy. We were like, “that’s awesome!” I’m still weird about video art. PP: For me, the fun of film is storytelling. There were so many times during the year where I was like, “This would make such a great movie!” or “I wish I had a video camera!” I saw a couple of documentaries recently, and documentaries fascinate me because they go back to the whole process thing. You just film like 300 hours of stuff and then extract stories from that. CG: Kinda like what I’m gonna do with this conversation! PP: I went to the Angelika and saw this documentary on Valentino and coincidentally the director was having a Q&A. And his inside scoop on making the film totally fascinated me. CG: There was that awesome quote by Gary Hustwit, who directed Objectified, “A documentary shouldn’t answer questions. It should provoke more questions from the viewer, and not think for them.” That’s also what a lot of art I like is about. PP: Movies are just really fun because it’s an-
money and beauty and Italian lusciousness.
directed by Marshall Curry, and it’s about
other fantasy world or showing a really spe-
And he doesn’t know what is going on out-
pre-teen go kart racers who are basically try-
cific obscure part of the world that nobody
side of the fashion world. And nobody would
ing to qualify for Nascar. If you want to be in
knows about, and that open up this big can
know that unless that guy had made a movie
Nascar you have to zoom around the track at
of worms for the rest of the world. With the
90 miles per hour when you’re 11. It seems so
Valentino film, he has been around in the
crazy to the rest of us but that is their entire
fashion industry for 50 years, but it’s like he
CG: A very specialized documentary I saw re-
world. It seems scary and funny to us but this
lives on another planet. This planet full of
cently was called Racing Dreams which was
is like their standardized test of racing. It ac-
tually won best documentary at the Tribeca
though is that every single article from the
disconnected from the entire world. Just like
past 50 years has been about how he is this
the Nascar stuff it’s so funny to the rest of the
incredible legend with his haute couture
world that they’re so serious about it.
PP: The director of the Valentino movie is a
fashion and nobody could ever replace him,
journalist for Vanity Fair and he had an as-
but there’s a whole other side of him. Things
CG: I know exactly what you mean, thanks so
signment to write about Valentino, so he
that are dead serious in Valentino’s world,
much for talking to me!
did all this research even though he wasn’t
we just laugh at. He’s this hilarious guy who,
interested in him at all. What he realized
in his own mind, is not hilarious but he’s so
My art is not as conceptually advanced as some other peoples. Or maybe it is in a different way. There’s a lot I have to learn about the process.
Casey Gollan: Tell me about your project.
and draws at all but you have these very
changed and revolutionized itself over the
detailed plans in your sketchbook. What sur-
course of a project but I tend to have my
Theresa Zeitz-Lindamood: The project
prises me is that at this stage they’re already
idea, make it, and then build off it in the next
that I emailed you is the one that I’m excited
very nice looking. I’ve been talking to other
about right now, and it’s been a little while
people about how if I could draw what I
since I’ve been excited about a new proj-
wanted to when I had my ideas, I would do it.
CG: That’s interesting because it’s so differ-
ect. It’s taking these South Seas designs and
But it takes me, like, a month of getting into
ent from almost everyone else I’ve talked to.
carvings, which I really like and have lots of
the project’s specific mode of thought to be
books about, and applying them to modern
able to make stuff. What’s your take on that?
design objects. Not really high end, “designy”
TZL: I read some of the excerpts of your other interviews and I was like, “hmmm...this
things but toilets and Coke liter bottles. It’s
TZL: That’s interesting. When I do my proj-
the intersection of those things. I find it very
ects, the vast majority of the time I’ll go back
amusing to work on.
and look at my original sketch or plan for it. It
CG: I’ve seen your portfolio and you’ve done
isn’t what I do!”
has a lot to do with my final product. I don’t
a lot of painting of insects. What sets them
CG: The first thing I noticed is how beautiful
usually write anything down about a project
apart from other things is that they’re really
your sketchbook page is. I don’t know what
until I’m sure where I want it to go, or what
well executed. But you also have a concept,
the different circles of art students are, but I
the composition will be like, or I’ve gotten
like this project combining an old aesthetic
guess I identify most with these people from
the general feel of it. I don’t really take notes
with new designs. Where do you get that old
Oxbow who are like, “We’re so conceptual,
before that point, so it does give my sketch-
aesthetic? I feel like I’m really part of my own
we don’t even have to make art because we
book a more finished feel. I sort of wish I was
time so for me to do a tribal carving feels in-
have ideas!” I’m not a person that sketches
one of those people where my idea totally
TZL: I don’t know. I guess it mostly relates to what interests me. If I’m looking at these things and for some reason I can’t get them out of my head, I just find them so fascinating, then that’s valid and meaningful. I like to explore them. CG: Awesome. So a lot of what you do has to do with looking through books? TZL: My mom is a librarian so I get to go through the collection and if there are any art history books published before 1940 I get to find them and keep them, which is excellent. CG: Oh my God! So you have a ton of art books? TZL: Yeah, it’s also where I get most of my collage materials from. I have lots of Biology books. I don’t have that many, but I have a fair amount. The stack keeps getting bigger and bigger. It’s what got me into collage. Last fall I really started collaging a lot and I
have one idea when I make a piece, it’s more
to draw and paint well. I definitely struggled
love it now. I feel like it’s helping my art be-
of a collection of ideas that I’ve been working
with it, I wasn’t always just very comfort-
come a lot more free, less about the process
on and thinking about which come together.
able with a paintbrush or with drawing, but
of just painting or drawing. Sometimes it
Sometimes there is directly a statement of,
I always really liked it. There was definitely a
gets very—not slow, I actually work pretty
“This is the point I’m making in this piece”
time where I wished I was able to represent
quickly—but with collage it’s even quicker
and I would hope that it comes through.
something well and couldn’t. It was frustrat-
and more spontaneous.
ing but now I feel like I’m at a point where CG: So the conceptual way of working is to
if I want to represent something I can, more
CG: Maybe I only associate with these con-
come up with a concept which you can use
ceptual people, but I’m very interested in
to generate the art, but your approach is
your execution which seems like a rare thing
more about planning your composition.
today. What are the roots of your painting and drawing?
CG: I’m so far from that point!! One of my friends who’s very into concept was say-
TZL: That’s an excellent way of putting it.
ing how she was really considering liberal arts, which is the same as I was. But she said
TZL: I’ve definitely noticed that too. I don’t
CG: Have you always been able to paint and
that she felt like she needed to have her ass
know if it’s all artists, or just people in art
draw like you do? When I talked to someone
kicked in art—like, “I can think, but I don’t
school, or the people going into our class at
in a portfolio review they were like, “You
know if I can draw.”
Cooper Union, or the people I’ve met at pre-
should really try to paint and draw because
college programs. I don’t know why that’s
you don’t have any painting and drawing,
TZL: Maybe because I’ve spent so much time
survived and thrived in me despite all the
even though the skills might not happen
on the technical side I’m more behind on
other influences. I would definitely identify
overnight.” Is it a thing you’ve always had?
the conceptual side, which is a valid point
more with the materials and process of paint-
to make. My art is not as conceptually ad-
ing and drawing more than just thinking of
TZL: Not always. There was a long time,
vanced as some other people’s. Or maybe it
ideas. I mean, ideas are important to me but
through middle school and freshman year of
is in a different way. There’s definitely a lot I
I feel like they’re more obscure. I don’t really
high school where I really wanted to be able
have to learn about thinking about art and
spiel about them! CG: So that became the concentration for your whole series of Hometest projects? TZL: Yeah, it did. I like working around a concentration like that. It was a really interesting one because there’s so much potential with the idea that anything can grow out of anything. I remember you said something about my Hometest seeming very “cohesive” to you, and I like that the cohesiveness comes across when I do a series. I spend a lot of time thinking about that. CG: That’s interesting because I’m so the opposite. I spend time thinking about the concept to the point where I go crazy and then
I like projects with complicated Designs because it allows me more time to sit in my studio and work, And that’s the part that I enjoy most. to seclude myself and work oN stuff IS SOMETHING I find very fun.
what I make can be totally not cohesive.
thinking about the process, and I’m look-
tice, but then afterward I kept thinking about
when I was taking an art history course in my
ing forward to learning about it at Cooper
them and how they looked. Some things just
school so I was really being exposed to the
Union. And then there’s people like you who
stick in my thoughts. For example, I read this
old artwork, which was fun. But I wouldn’t
are looking forward to learning more of the
very very short article about teratomas and I
say that the majority of my influences are
technical things. I think that’s cool!
just started tell everyone I met about them.
Old Masters or anything, there are some I
But the fact that it all came out of that one idea lets me argue that it’s cohesive in some sense.
This is so random, but I’ve seen the
Facebook Graffiti that you’ve done for people, which is really accurate reproductions of famous paintings. A lot of the artwork that I connect with is contemporary and conceptual but are your influences older or different? TZL: I did most of those Graffiti drawings
like. I’m reading a lot more about contempoCG: I know your Hometest had to do a lot
CG: What’s your 30 second run down of tera-
rary art, especially thanks to your blog and
with teratomas. It seems like you find these
that interest you, where does that come
TZL: Hmm, let’s see. A teratoma is basically
a tumor that grows from stem cells, most of
really strange biological or natural things
the time in the ovaries. Because they’re stem
TZL: It’s really interesting to me. I don’t really
TZL: I really like the biological things and the
cells they can grow any body part in them,
have a single painter or group of artists that
teratomas. The things that stick in my mind
things like brains, eyeballs, hair, and a full
inspired me the most. I feel like my inspira-
are what I tend to create art about. I spent
size set of teeth. Teratoma is Greek for “little
tion is more from outside the art world. I like
a lot of time at the RISD Nature Lab doing
monster” and it’s got a Greek name because
to read a lot of research things, like the tera-
observational drawing, because they just
they would find them in people since An-
let anyone in, and I did all these drawings of
cient Greek times. They’re surprisingly com-
beetles there. Mostly just as drawing prac-
mon too. I used to be better at giving a little
CG: So this series is what you’re working on
now, but what’s next?
CG: Maybe it’s just for me and this other
TZL: I don’t know. I’m looking forward to
group of people, but a lot of what I’m im-
learning more about thinking about art
TZL: I have this project I’ve been working
mersed in is asking questions about mak-
and the conceptual side of things at Cooper
on for a while, I call it my “Special Book.” It’s a
ing the things themselves. For example, my
Union next year.
series of drawings which are sort of abstract.
answer to a question would be asking why
It’s a lot of cells and geometric designs. I’ve
I have to answer the question in the first
been working on it since February.
place. It’s this crazy kinda of metacognition
CG: I think I’ve heard about it.
CG: It’s definitely on that side of the scale.
and that means that I’m always changing the
TZL: I think it’ll be interesting to see how it
way I work and deal with things. But since
mixes with my approach, not that my ap-
you’ve been painting and drawing it’s been
proach is opposed to it or anything. I’m
TZL: Yeah, I was really excited about it when
that same process of sitting on the floor and
excited for next year. Today I was in the car
I started, but I’ve just been working on it on
just doing it?
with my dad, and I was like, “I’m imagining
and off. They’re loose drawings and I was go-
right now that we’re driving to New York and
ing to spiral bind them together. I would like
TZL: Yes, but I just really enjoy the process
I have all my stuff for Cooper Union in the
to work on it more. I want to make the book
of it. Far and away I am happiest when I’m
back of the car!”
an experience where you’re just sort of over-
starting a project, or in the middle of a proj-
whelmed by the volume of these drawings
ect and just busily working away. That’s why
CG: For me it’s going to be pretty anticlimac-
of cells and shapes turning into one another.
I like more complex or involved projects with
tic when I go there, or go home for a break
I’m hoping to get a lot of art done this sum-
complicated designs because it allows me
because it’s like a 30 minute train ride, which
more time to sit in my studio and work. And
I do all the time. I want my family to move to
that’s the part of it that I enjoy most, to se-
California so that I can have an actual break
CG: For me, I’ll be sitting in class or some-
clude myself and work of stuff, I find it very
when I get home!! Thanks so much for talking
where boring and I can be thinking or day-
to me and I will let you know how it goes!
CG: Any last thoughts? Final words?
dreaming. A lot of my process is getting out and reading or doing other things. But when you work it’s kind of like sitting in a room and actually doing the crafting of the piece. TZL: Yeah, I would say that most of the time I get the ideas for my artwork out of the context of the studio. I’ll be in class, like you said, or walking down the street or in the shower. CG: I think you’re, like, the third person to bring up getting ideas in the shower! TZL: I had some good ideas for Cooper Union things when I was in the shower but not really other things that I can remember. When I’m actually doing the working, I have a little room in my house that’s my studio. I’m an only child so there’s a lot of empty rooms. CG: That’s helpful! TZL: Yeah, it is. I sit in here and I’ve got a little desk but I usually sit on the floor if I’m doing something bigger. I don’t usually like to sit in a chair or at an easel, I find it uncomfortable.
Studying architecture is like being in the gray of the Venn Diagram. it’s the in-between spot between art AND science—it’s just where I want to be.
Casey Gollan: Talk to me about your project
Looking at it now it kind of looks like an
ing a courtyard, and the one after that is a
atrium or some part of a Baroque cathedral.
big open space. That could be a sweet build-
Liza Langer: Well, I’ve been thinking a lot
I don’t think it’s that far off from being what
about vegetables and fruits lately and how
we consider standards of architecture to be. I
they relate to architecture. I’ve always want-
especially like the portion of the print all the
something that is offered in most high
ed to just cut open a pepper, dip it in ink, and
way to the left. It shows the tip of the pep-
schools, it’s really passed over entirely. I don’t
put it on paper. And I was thinking about
per with its little bumps. It’s the tip of the
remember you being crazy about architec-
using it for architectural models too, having
ture so what made you jump from the work
a model and just cutting it. Making section
you did in ceramics, making a series of tea-
cuts, dipping it in ink, putting it on paper.
CG: It’s interesting that you’re going through
That way it can be replicated over and over
the pepper like this, it looks like the floors of
again instead of slaving over a drawing.
a building. What it reminds me of is when they scan someone’s brain and create a vid-
CG: But you would only get the shape of the
eo of the cross sections. Cross sections are an
interesting way to look at things rather than the exterior form.
LL: Right. LL: Architecture doesn’t necessarily have to CG: So you would essentially be obligated to
be building. Architecture is just spatial artic-
say, “I didn’t design this building, it is a slice
ulation. If you look at any kind of landscape
of a pepper.”
architecture—it’s not a building but you can sense when you’re in a threshold between
LL: I was really just looking at the spatial def-
one place and another. You don’t necessarily
inition of a pepper, how the space is being
think about it but I’m being trained to speak
articulated. Plus, if you look at this interior
about architecture and know about archi-
shot [next page] I just love the texture, the
tecture. But there’s a sense of being in two
modularity, and how it’s all these little cells
places at once when you’re in a threshold,
glowing with the hard light behind it. I also
and then being in a different space. So if you
like those two photos because they show the
were at the top level of this pepper and go-
ink bleeding through on the pepper.
ing from one bump to the next there would definitely be an awareness of going from one
CG: What kind of room would a pepper
I know that architecture is not
space to the next.
make? CG: Looking at the print as a kind of floor LL: If you look at Baroque architecture from
plan, on the top level there isn’t a wall but
the 1600’s, especially with the cathedrals,
there are two distinct rooms, and then the
they articulate it in an undulating manner.
next level looks like there’s a hall surround-
pots and other sculptures, into architecture?
LL: Well I think that in my junior year I was
tecture is like being in the gray of the Venn
museum as art object. It’s totally iconic. It’s
taking Art History, Physics, and Calculus and
Diagram, it’s the in-between spot between
a symbol for art, right now SVA is running
going in knowing that I was going to be
art and science—it’s just where I want to be.
an ad campaign with the Guggenheim on
learning about those three topics just made
But I never really wanted to do skyscrapers. I
it, all over the subways. I always have weird
my day so much better. That’s why I decided
was never really into Mies van der Rohe. He
experiences with the Guggenheim, maybe
that I wanted to apply to architecture schools.
has very valid things that he’s saying but his
just because I haven’t liked their shows in a
I could see that even if I didn’t end up want-
style just wasn’t for me. I was confused about
while, but also because the architecture gets
ing to pursue architecture, what you learn
what architecture really was and what I was
in the way of the art there. It’s a very specific
is really valid for other fields such as sculp-
getting myself into. And not to say that Frank
experience that the shows need to conform
ture, engineering, et cetera. Studying archi-
Gehry is the best architect, but he made me
to. Because of the structural needs they have
realize that architecture could be whatever
beams coming out of the walls as you curve
I wanted it to be—sculptural. Some of his
around and around which creates these little
buildings aren’t built the greatest, they leak,
viewing spaces. So there’s no continuity un-
they’re expensive, they displace people. But
less you go off the ramp into a side gallery
at the same time his art is architecture and
and that’s a whole other thing. I just get very
he allowed me to see the different uses and
distracted by the architecture there.
forms of architecture. LL: One of the things that Mies van der Rohe CG: I was just talking to my older sister about
said was that “form follows function.” The
the Guggenheim by Frank Lloyd Wright ver-
slang that we use in school is box architec-
sus other museums. I read a quote by Julie
ture vs. blob architecture. Frank Gehry is defi-
Lasky on the blog Design Observer and she
nitely blob architecture.
said, “We have grown accustomed to locating museum architecture along a spectrum.
CG: More organic.
At one end are buildings that are sculpture in their own right; at the other, boxes that
LL: Right, the more formal terms are geo-
decline to compete with their contents.”
metric and free-form. While Frank Lloyd
She was complimenting Renzo Piano’s new
Wright had great ideas about articulating
Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago,
form, especially with the Guggenheim, it
which is on the box end of that spectrum.
doesn’t seem to allow for the art to stand on
Also “boxy” are the New Museum and the
its own. Quite literally sometimes because
Whitney. We ended up talking about how
of the curve. Curved buildings are always a
much we love the Whitney. If you look at
problem. You have to figure out how things
the space, it has really nice details, like the
that are rectangular fit inside. It’s an ongoing
stairwells and the windows, but it’s really just
issue. Focusing on the curved exterior and
kind of boxy. I consider that a good thing for
not allowing the interior to be functional is
a museum, though. The Guggenheim is a
another problem. At the same time he made
some really big statements.
the form right or the function right, you can’t
by its own language and “in-ness”. As an
have a complete object. When you have
outsider, it seems very focused on who’s big
CG: What’s cool with your peppers though
the balance, that’s perfect. Balance is some-
right now and what the trends are. It’s not as
is that you’re not looking at the outside so
thing that most it seems like people forget
freewheeling as art because you absolutely
much as the inside. What I read and liked
to think about. I was joking with you before
need clients and firms when everything is a
about form and function that I liked isn’t the
about how I feel like architecture school has
big expensive production.
truism that “form follows function” but that
its own different language, “Articulating the
“form and function are a balance.” One is not
form!” or “What’s the program?” I think archi-
LL: One of the things we’ve learned about is
greater than the other, and if you don’t have
tecture is so important but it feels burdened
that when there’s a period in time where ev-
have nothing to show. So what they’re doing
ed in textbooks, there’s so much in this little
is experimenting with making study models
world that is set in stone so where is there
and trying to figure out what their style is. It’s
room for new stuff?
a tough time, but it’s also a time of freedom from clients and the ability to define or rede-
LL: I think that the only conventions we’re
fine what they represent.
really pushed to adhere to are drafting, making models, and North is always up on plans.
CG: One of my favorite quotes from The
You just follow those three ways of describ-
Fountainhead is Howard Roark saying, “I
ing what you mean and for the most part the
don’t build in order to have clients, I have cli-
professors will understand what you mean.
ents in order to build.” This is almost the same
As long as your model is documented in
situation, except you just don’t have clients
your drafts you’re fine. They may push you
period. You can just dream.
one way or another so that you can explore other ways of articulating but for the most
LL: I’m about a third of the way through The
part they’re not forcing conventions. First
Fountainhead right now.
semester we did cubes. It sucked, but it was
when there’s a period in time where everything is stopping, like with the economy right now, something called Paper Architecture comes up, and that’s the development of theory. CG: What are your thoughts?
learning about expectations in terms of producing what you mean.
LL: It’s at the part where you can start to tell that everyone knows everyone else and
CG: How do you explain that last idea?
they’re all referencing someone else. Right now he’s about to start working on a project.
LL: Basically, your model should match your
It’s really tense, I can’t wait to read more.
CG: I love how Ayn Rand never really shows
CG: One of the major differences with art
you Roark’s architecture, but you just know
and architecture is that in art you don’t need
that he is truly the best architect in the world.
millions of dollars to make art for yourself. If
erything is stopping, like with the economy
It’s interesting that I don’t even need a pic-
you’re a young architecture studio, you can
right now, something called Paper Architec-
ture to tell me. It’s all in her theory. But he’s
make some really realistic renderings and
ture comes up, and that’s the development
someone that is totally uncompromising
models, but what do you think about the
of theory. Making things that speak to archi-
and basically spends his life starving in the
fact that architecture basically exists as a ser-
tects, to build up thoughts and ideas but also
name of architectural integrity. So, I guess
vice to other people? The way I look at it, the
a portfolio. If there’s a firm right now that’s
my question about the in-world of architec-
amount of innovation that you can provide is
just starting they’re not going to get any
ture is: do you feel like architecture school
based on how much other people with mon-
work because nobody knows who they are
is teaching conventions? Like, the language
ey want to let you innovate. That to me is
and even if somebody does find them they
already exists and the styles are document-
such a detractor from entering architecture,
as much as I love it. A rich client who wants “something classic” would make me cringe. LL: What Ayn Rand is describing in The Fountainhead about how Roark waits for a client who will let him do exactly what he wants and nothing else, that’s a bit extreme. Obviously some compromises end up happening in real life but sometimes you have to bend the rules of the game... CG: Ughhhhh LL: ...which is horrible, but if you can do that you can eventually change the game. What’s wrong with that? Is your priority to make sure that every single client you ever have does exactly what you wish to build or is it better for you to reach a point where you can make something where people say, “Yes, that
so much celebrity in architecture.
would be totally fine.”
to buy something new that looks like what you’ve done before. And where’s the fun in
LL: That’s what we call “starchitecture”: Rem
that? Unless you’re a “starchitect” or a famous
CG: Even in advertising they’re saying the
Koolhas, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry. They can
artist you can’t just change the rules. It’s hard
point of buying ads isn’t directly to generate
do whatever they want.
to me from both perspectives. As a creative
sales. Who clicks on banner ads anymore? But
person I don’t want to do what I’ve already
when you see a name you become comfort-
CG: Because people are so familiar with
done. As a person hiring an architect it’s kind
able with it. It pops up on your radar, and the
of uncomfortable that if I hire someone I like,
fact that you know about it makes you more
they will totally switch it up. I guess you find
comfortable with it. It’s reputable. The allow-
LL: Well there are examples of architecture
your own style, but being known for some-
ance to innovate or be creative just seems so
based on merit instead of fame. At MoMA
thing can be limiting.
incremental with architecture.
P.S. 1 they run a competition for young ar-
LL: You don’t have to make big projects all
chitects to spatially articulate their courtyard
LL: If you look at any band, if one of their fans
with water, shade, and seating.
doesn’t like what they’re doing now they say,
the time. But if that’s what you’re looking
“that band is such a sellout!” But they’re goCG: It’s always so cool!
ing through the same issue.
can’t even design something they want until
LL: It’s really helpful to get your name out.
CG: As consumers, we don’t let people
they’re thirty or forty.
My friend Mike and I have decided that we’re
to do and no one’s ever seen your work before, it might be a problem. Most architects
entering a competition. We’re not getting CG: That’s another thing that irks me. My
our hopes up about winning, that’s not the
LL: Maybe it’s not so much about selling out
understanding is that in architecture, your
point. The point is to build a portfolio and
as much as it’s about making crappy work, in
fame equals how much people like you
get our name out. The people who are suc-
the eyes of that group of fans. That doesn’t
equals how much cool stuff you get to do.
cessful trying to get jobs right after graduat-
mean that a band should stop doing what
In the art world someone can rise to the top
ing are those who have entered lots of com-
they’re doing. Everyone is always exploring
very quickly. And they may or may not be
and changing. It should be their own call.
architects that I know of are famous because
CG: I guess this applies to any creative per-
CG: If you’re an artist you can produce a lot
they’re good but I feel like you have to get to
son, but the bad thing about having a port-
of work on your own and then after you die
that point before you can have creative con-
folio is that when you’re approached for
it can become famous. I’m not really aware
trol. It seems like a strange paradox. There’s
commissions or projects people are looking
of architects that get built after they die. That
good, it’s kind of a crapshoot. Most famous
who’s an architecture student will tune in to flaws others might not recognize. As someone who appreciates architecture but has no formal education in it, I think I approach it differently. How much of what’s important in architecture is what you learn and how much is what you’ve always had? I want to design a building without knowing what it takes to design it. I just want to have the idea. I don’t want to deal with isometric diagrams or whatever, that’s crap I want to hand off to a brilliant engineer. How does being trained to have that whole package including the technical skills affect you? LL: I think those skills challenge you to ask yourself if you really know what you’re building. makes me think that architecture is very re-
ple can’t see art so they understand art and
CG: As humans we live in buildings. Some
flective of current trends.
the world in a completely different way. They
might be less sensitive to their surroundings
think differently than someone who is very
than others, or some just don’t care as long
LL: Trends are strange because someone
visual and takes into account color and form
as it’s a roof, we should all be happy to have
starts something, then someone likes it and
and light. So I’m going to work with her this
any kind of house. But as someone that lives
it just keeps going. It may or may not be
summer to make study models and get her
inside architecture, where everything was
something good. It may just be keeping up
help answering what people process when
designed by someone, couldn’t an average
with the Joneses.
they touch different things. Another idea
person be just as effective?
is having a gradient of materials that affect
CG: So recently you made the peppers, this
acoustics. A space might be very “ping-y” at
where he says, “I couldn’t have learned how
There’s a quote by Rauschenberg
summer you’re a graphic/exhibition design
one end and covered in felt at the other, to
to be an artist, because knowing more only
intern at The Met, and what’s next?
completely absorb the sound.
encourages your limitations.” What amateurs
LL: My friend Michael Jeffers and I are en-
CG: What will your building taste like?
can bring to tasks they approach is sometering this student competition to design an architecture school in northern Ontario.
thing I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I think I could design a building based on
LL: We haven’t gotten to taste yet.
The big question is: what can architecture
my firsthand knowledge of living inside them. Things like knowing how to make the
be? We’re talking about how architecture is
CG: Sweet foods can gradient into the sa-
diagrams and all the technical details could
an evolution. One one the words we liked
be a distraction from the real issue: how do
in the visual world that is a synonym to evo-
people interface with this space?
lution in history and science is “gradient.”
LL: The peppers are something I’ve just been
So we’re looking for all sorts of gradients
thinking of doing for a while, whereas the
LL: I think my education in architecture
that inspire students in all 5 senses. For ex-
competition is something that’s asking for a
didn’t start in architecture school. I consider
ample, you might have a wall that starts off
more complete concept. Our goal is to really
myself to be a sculptor-to-soon-be-architect.
really rough and bumpy but ends up really
allow the students to consider both function
I’ve found that my classmates that have nev-
smooth, and you get all the textures in be-
and form at the same time.
er done sculpture have a completely differ-
tween. There’s this one woman at The Met,
ent approach from me. There is a burden of
Rebecca McGuiness, who works with the
CG: It’s scary to design an architecture
technicality but at the same time, I never let
visually impaired and runs blind tours at the
school. In the same way that someone who’s
go of sculpture, it’s still the first thing I think
museum. They can go to The Met and touch
an audiophile will hear subtle differences
a specific collection of sculptures. Blind peo-
in the position of two speakers, someone
Before I start a sculpture I always consider my concept. The concept is primary and the sculpture and technicalities are secondary. I can’t do anything before I have an idea about it. CG: If you approach by way of sculpture,
LL: My concepts start off really broad and I
that OXO potato peeler designed with a
what is their approach?
experiment within the concept. There are pa-
grip for the arthritis weak and the iron man
rameters around my experimentation which
strong. If they can use it, everyone else will
LL: I’ve always been a conceptualist. Before
defines the form. For example, I explore us-
be able to as well. The most sustainable de-
I start a sculpture I always consider my con-
ing X, Y, and Z as my restrictions.
signs consider how someone will use it. How
cept. The concept is primary and the sculpture and technicalities are secondary. I can’t
it will be timeless. CG: What kind of restrictions? CG: That’s the other thing about architecture
do anything before I have an idea about it. I don’t know anyone that can do anything be-
LL: One of my projects had to examine the
that you almost have to worry about, that
fore they have an idea about it.
space that is made by a knot. Everyone just
doesn’t necessarily apply to art. A lot of art
put a skin over their knot, but I said, “what if
exists permanently in museums, but not in
CG: I think about that a lot because a lot of
the knot was squeezing around goo? What
the same way as the museums themselves.
things I feel proud of are the result of starting
would it look like?” I did all these different
Architecture is utilitarian. You don’t buy a
with a concept and expressing it. It’s a very
models around the idea of squeezing.
building for 10 years, you buy a building for-
conceptual way of doing things. But there’s also the way of just doing things. LL: Experimenting.
ever. CG: So the squeeze would be a limitation. It could be less of a limitation and more a cir-
LL: As we saw with the subprime mortgage
cumstance. What do you work with if you
bubble burst, that wasn’t the case. With this
don’t have limits?
economy, everything going down, things
CG: Right. We’ve talked before about the
I’ve been hitting at this point over
that aren’t timeless will just be thrown away.
book Art & Fear, where a ceramics class is
and over and over but I feel like there can
When people are buying crap just to sell it
divided into “quality” and “quantity” work-
be a lot of room for BS in architecture with
again, it goes nowhere. Sustainable is time-
ing groups. In the end the people with bet-
all the terms (“articulate the program!”) and
less. But how do you make something that’s
ter products are not the “quality” students
concepts. What’s interesting to me about
timeless? The Greeks didn’t just have a stan-
but the “quantity” ones because they had so
architecture is that it’s such a human thing.
dard that they had to go by, they had to de-
much practice with the act of making. When
To me the best test, aside from “does it stand
velop their classical Greek architecture. What
you’re only working with big concepts your
up?” is how people interact with the space.
makes a standard?
projects are more thoughtful but you do
You don’t design a building for no one to use.
less of them. I’m totally conceptual, so I’m
My thought is that above all, architecture
CG: The New York Times just reviewed the
just playing devil’s advocate here, but can’t
should be centered around the experience.
new Cooper academic building by Thom
concept can get in the way of the essential
Mayne of Morphosis, and the article said that
concern of architecture: the connection be-
LL: In Objectified by Gary Hustwit, everyone
when people look back on the buildings of
tween person and space?
was talking about ergonomics. There was
this point in time, they will feel proud of this
one. This is something interesting to come
even in model form, just loose sketches.
couldn’t do it without referencing Greek ar-
out of our time. The thing with architecture
CG: You can design and plan for contingen-
chitecture. It’s a decorated box with colored
is that it wouldn’t be strange to create a clas-
cies, but you can’t necessarily anticipate the
glass. Very tacky.
sical Greek building today, it would just ap-
fact that a railing you added will be great for
pear to be fancy. Those things are so timeless
skateboarding, or that surface is really recep-
CG: It might be tacky, but isn’t a box very ver-
that they’re still around, but do you see any
tive to graffiti. I guess this is more of an obser-
point in building them again and again?
vation than a question, but you can theorize
LL: I want to say no. I’m going to say no, but
forever and still not understand how people
LL: Sure, but in terms of exterior facades it’s
will act until it’s in use.
something that makes me want to puke. I
if that’s what somebody wants and nobody
haven’t really focused on architectural his-
imposes something brand new upon them,
LL: It depends on the program, but it’s true
they won’t just throw it away because they
that architecture needs to be versatile and
will love it.
allow for flexibility because we can’t antici-
CG: I want to know more about art history
tory too much yet.
pate everything. If you make something that
because on one hand you make great dis-
CG: Would you agree that architecture basi-
allows different things to happen then that
coveries by standing on the shoulders of
cally comes down to being paid to give peo-
space will be more fruitful because the peo-
giants, what came before you. On the other
ple what they want?
ple are experimenting with it.
hand ignorance is bliss.
LL: Well, people don’t necessarily know what
CG: It’s back to the concept of the museum
LL: They always tell us to bring your own
that has a specific idea of how you should
experiences into the situation, so you don’t
look at art versus the museum that is a re-
need to have formal teaching to be able to
configurable open box. What building would
think about a building but you do need for-
you knock down? What is the worst architec-
mal education in order to make the build-
ture you’ve ever seen and why?
LL: 1980’s architecture, where they’re go-
CG: But there is validity in learning it? It’s not
ing back to Neoclassical but using glass to
just a hoop you have to jump through?
CG: I guess that’s why they hire an architect. LL: It’s always that first building where they say, “Look at how this is being used!” And that will convince people. CG: What’s your first building going to be?
evoke columns. All that they wanted to do
LL: It’s still in our brains right now, it’s not
was make a rectangular building but they
LL: There’s a lot of validity to it because we don’t just look at architecture. They require us to eventually take eight classes outside the school of architecture. The National Architecture Accreditation Board has changed the standards in saying that students getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture need to learn other things. For example, I’m hoping to get into a welding class and an abnormal psychology class. CG: Awesome. Thanks for answering all my questions! // PROCESS
I think there has to be something magnetic about it, BUT Artwork that you do for yourself can’t be anything but what it is. If it doesn’t turn out to be the most attractive thing that doesn’t make it any less valuable.
Casey Gollan: So we talked a few days ago
my comfort zone generally lies in reading
okay with is when they try to pass it off as
and then audio file went away or never ex-
and writing—all that liberal stuff. The deci-
isted, which was weird, but maybe good be-
sion to go to art school was a way to get a
cause I think we can have the same conversa-
kick in the area that I’m not as comfortable
AT: Whether or not you put an intense con-
tion or maybe a different one except better
with and need a little kick in.
cept on top of it, art is articulation. I’m not
or more concise! Aliyah Taylor: Concise is good! CG: Tell me about your project...again.
a planner. Most of the thought comes to me CG: From your project, which deals with spe-
in the process of doing it. You learn things
cifically with poetry, and the very academic
through your hands and you don’t necessar-
looking essay you sent me along with your
ily predicate what you’re about to do next.
pictures, it seems like you’re getting those
Some people are doing the talking, they’re
liberal arts on your own.
just doing it visually. There are different ways
AT: I took this poem from Tender Buttons by Gertrude Stein and I printed a book with in-
AT: I’m really interested in critical studies and
taglio illustrations and movable type for the
art history but I think it’s really important to
words. It’s been an interesting experiment.
know about the creative process firsthand. You have to supplement yourself but you’re
CG: I know your first year at art school, Pratt,
getting a comprehensive understanding of
was kind of a weird experience. Can you
the art process. You have to take the initiative
elaborate on that?
to do the thinking that goes into your work, because they’re not going to ask you for it
AT: My first year was nothing if not hell be-
at a vocational school like Pratt but they’re
cause of all the foundation requirements. I
certainly not going to fight it either. If you’re
learned a lot technique wise but as far as the
constantly thinking, then you’re constantly
classes went I was not too thrilled and was
coming up with ideas and constantly making
strongly considering transferring. Towards
your work more authentic and meaningful,
the end I realized that it could only get better
whether or not you have a lot to show for it
and despite the fact that I went through a lot
in the end.
the first year, Pratt is probably where I want to be. I felt pretty limited in terms of creativ-
CG: Do you think that if you do more research
ity, but it widened my perspective in a lot of
or put more thought into your work it makes
other ways. I wasn’t too conscious of it but I
it more authentic? I don’t think that that’s
think if you open yourself up to the founda-
what makes work authentic but a lot of peo-
tion process and let go of your inhibitions,
ple try to pass off bullshit about their work.
your work will improve. It’s the people who
If you don’t put thought into something and
to be an artist. I find myself constantly look-
are flexible that make the most progress. I
then try to talk about how it represents the
ing at my life critically, not just my art. But
talked a lot of shit at the time but I have no
sadness of your heart, that’s where it gets
I’m less self conscious doing art than I am
annoying. I was asked for my Cooper supple-
making life decisions because I think about
ment: why do you think it’s important for
my life from an aerial perspective. It’s like I’m
CG: And now that you are open to it you
artists to speak and write about their work?
constantly writing my own eulogy—not to
don’t have to do it again, hahaha.
Part of my answer is that it is important be-
be fatalistic—but the fact that we’re going
cause when you speak and write about your
to die and we only have so much time to say
AT: Well I now have to go through a fine arts
work because you articulate your thoughts
what we want to say makes me think: am I
foundation so technically I am doing another
in a concrete way. But I also said that some
making the right decisions? How is this go-
people probably shouldn’t speak and write
ing to influence my future? Rather than just
about their work if they can’t do it honestly.
saying: how am I going to enjoy the present?
CG: Did you apply to liberal arts and art
I feel like galleries and collectors and mu-
That’s why I decided to stay at Pratt. The thing
seums want to know all about the concept
is that I was enjoying it. Despite the fact that
when sometimes there is none. I think I’m re-
I hated the foundation, I loved doing the art.
AT: Yeah, I applied everywhere and I didn’t
ally okay with someone that just does some-
If I can get over what I should be doing, if I
think I would end up at an art school because
thing because it looks beautiful. What I’m not
can kick that out of my mind, then I can enjoy
what I love doing and live in the present and
Life and that’s one of them.
stop looking at my life from high above and
My little sister got the most intense fortune cookie once that said something like, “The
AT: I’ve definitely seen that book both on
key to life is to be needed by one other hu-
your blog and Strand bookstore. It’s an amaz-
man being.” And I was like, “Damn, that is a
heavy fortune cookie!”
my childhood. Like, “I remember that day viv-
CG: Another quote I love is, “If I have a little
AT: I’m thinking about it. It’s important to
idly when I had a phone conversation with
money I buy books, then I buy food.” But
be fearless and not go out with the objec-
my friend Aliyah...”
anyway, I think that quote is so interest-
tive of intimidating people but I think you’re
ing because it’s a statement about living in
going to find your own people just by being
the present moment. Not necessarily liter-
yourself. I’m dealing in cliches. I can’t add too
ally looking good, but being concerned with
much to what you said because I agree with
how what you think, say, and do makes you
it all. As a girl, image is a lot. My friends will
look in the eyes of others. It can limit you. A
insult my clothes openly but I feel better and
lot of my mental energy is spent being aware
better in them whether they like it or not. I’m
of: “Why am I thinking this?” “Why am I doing
still concerned with appearance, but how I
appear to myself.
AT: I personally am concerned with appear-
CG: I think it translates to artwork too. To ac-
ances, I know it. Especially as a girl I try to
cept that my artwork was a lot about process
look good, but that almost makes me less
I had to give up my dreams about product.
self-conscious that I do it for myself. When
The way I put it to another friend is, “I have
I think about it and take the vanity out of
these dreams of things which I can’t make
it, not just literally how I look, like what I’m
real.” And that’s a product-oriented way of
wearing—that’s never gonna change, I’ll al-
thinking. I feel like I rediscovered the original
ways be concerned with what I’m dressed
way I worked as a kid, which is just playing.
in. But how I look to people? That concerns
I start with the idea or some restraints and I
me less and less as I get older. It’s important
just make it. I work with my hands. I leave the
not to be so self-conscious and to have con-
analyzing to later.
just let it happen. CG: I do that too, it’s really bizarre. I imagine events as if I’m 40 and writing a memoir of
viction in everything that you say and do as long as you’re being true to yourself, as cli-
AT: It’s very frustrating to imagine some-
ché as it sounds.
thing because it never looks the way you want it to look. I’ve found that, for an artist,
CG: It sounds really cliché. CG: Like, I don’t know what is going on in my mind that I think that but I’m just so hyperac-
I have surprisingly very little imagination. I have my internal voices that tell me what to
tive in my brain.
do and where I should be going. I look at certain artwork and think, “I wish I had come up
CG: I’m glad I don’t have a womanly fig-
with that.” I’ll never be an illustrator because
AT: Yeah, I need to shut off the internal mono-
ure to maintain, but I think you have to be
I don’t possess that sort of imagination. A lot
logue a lot of the time. I think about it not
some degree of crazy to not care at all what
of the artwork I’m attracted to isn’t some-
necessarily as me writing my memoirs, but
other people think of you. It can be scary to
thing I could make.
what my friends and family are going to say
be around someone who doesn’t care at all
about me at forty. You’re probably a little bet-
what you think of them. Those people are
CG: It seems like a backwards thing to think.
ter off then I am, because I’m so concerned
intimidating. But that wanting people to like
I sat down to write a story for a creative writ-
with how I appear that I don’t concern myself
or think of me in a certain way can be a limit-
ing class and what I ended up writing, after
with what I’m enjoying in the moment.
ing factor not only in my life but in my art.
an hour of staring at the screen, was, “For an
Maybe those intimidating people have got it
artist, I am terrible at making things up.” But
CG: This designer that I love, Stefan Sagmeis-
right, but if it makes it hard to be with other
what’s interesting is that when I’m making
ter, says “Trying to look good limits my life.”
people...to me, dealing with other people
conceptual art I’m not dealing with imagina-
He has a book called Things I’ve Learned in My
is so important and essential to what I do.
tion as much as I’m dealing with truth. I’m try-
ing to ask questions and understand things.
but you have to embrace everything that
densed version of what I want to say. I tend
I’m very philosophical. I’m not telling a story,
you come up with. There’s no direct way to
to get lost in words, they’re such a necessary
I’m not painting a picture, and I’m not here to
get where you want to go.
research, finding or not finding answers, and
CG: And if you take a direct way you miss ev-
CG: With an art project you have a token of
coming up with more questions. Nowhere in
ery possibility ever.
learning that’s inside you. The product itself
make things up. I’m posing questions, doing
that process is there making stuff up.
means nothing to me except that it exists AT:
It’s like what Stephen Thomas says,
as a nice thing that shows where I’ve got-
AT: Right, trying to understand the reality
“There’s no worth in shortcuts!” Well, I feel
ten to. A product starts looking old but the
that you already know and trying to articu-
like he would say that, he didn’t actually say
ideas that I’ve gained don’t start looking old.
late it better.
that. But that’s what I learned from him, is
I build on them and I re-evaluate them with
that shortcuts aren’t going to make you hap-
a new perspective. When I look back at old
py in the end.
artwork, I’m like, “How did I like that?”
manic in some way. How else could you cre-
CG: I think this whole thing of questioning
AT: There are a few post-modern authors, in-
ate a whole world full of little characters and
and being conceptual is not only refusing
cluding David Foster Wallace, who want their
imagine their entire lives? None of it is real.
to take a shortcut, but it’s taking the longer
work to be penetrable. They don’t want to
You need to be some sort of insane to make
than regular way. If you’re lazy, you take a
answer any questions for you, they want to
that happen. David Foster Wallace, who
shortcut. If you’re normal, you go the normal
leave you with more questions.
wrote Infinite Jest, which I’m reading now,
way. And if you’re crazy, you go the meta-
has this great quote, “Fiction is about how to
physical way, which is crazy and makes your
CG: He ended one of his books mid-sen-
be a fucking human being.” I love that. Fic-
tence! I think he does want to leave you with
CG: Exactly. I was thinking about fiction and how people who write fiction have to be
tion would seem to not be about real life, but
really it’s about showing something about
AT: Art isn’t painless! Certain people are re-
the real world that you can’t necessarily say
ally well rounded and put a lot of painstak-
AT: There’s no correct way to read it. You
through writing about real events.
ing thought into what they’re doing. There’s
can enter at any point. That, to me, is more
so much anguish that goes into it.
meaningful than Anna Karenina, no offense.
AT: It’s like having a matrix. You’re still ex-
I’ve read Paul Auster and I’ve fallen in love
ploring the same experiences that you had
CG: But I think it’s a good kind. I have a pol-
with his book City of Glass because it makes
as a human being, but you’re taking these
icy to never stress about anything. The only
no sense. It leaves you with so many ques-
pawns in your imagination and playing them
time where I let myself feel anguish is when
tions. We were talking about how the differ-
out through the process that you’ve known
I’m making art. But that’s not what the art is
ence between a readerly and a writerly text
your entire life.
about, it’s just a part of the process. I don’t
is what really causes you to draw your own
make art about the darkness of my soul. It’s
interpretations out of it. You can’t take some-
CG: I think the problem with some of my
just a stressful process. You can be a happy
thing linear out of it. You can’t draw a pic-
artwork is that it might be inaccessible be-
person and go through that. I remember
ture from it. It’s interesting because he had
cause it’s so much more pedagogical than
crying at least once over an art project at
a graphic novel made out of his book, and
emotional. It teaches rather than tells a story
that’s a medium that I’ve become really fasci-
or conveys and emotion. That doesn’t neces-
nated with: creating a cartoon where things
sarily attract people to an artwork. It turns
AT: My parents always wanted me to study
happen in real time. To make it more com-
writing, it’s what they felt I was naturally most
plex, with so many layers. Instead of freezing
gifted in, but I never wanted to. For as much
a moment, you’re creating a way to read time
AT: I think there has to be something mag-
pain as I put into my writing it just wasn’t
that isn’t linear.
netic about it. Artwork that you do for your-
worth it. I feel so much more validated at
self can’t be anything but what it is. If it
the end of an art project. Even if my project
CG: I had something I wanted to say but I just
doesn’t turn out to be the most attractive
wasn’t as impressive to my parents, even if
forgot. I’m really losing my trains of thoughts
thing that doesn’t make it any less valuable. I
they didn’t get it, I felt like I could really stand
today! When I was working on that story,
may not be attracted to what I create but I’m
behind it and was so much happier for hav-
I had this image where I was losing all my
still glad I made it. Maybe one day I’ll get to
ing had it in my life. What I had to show was
trains of thoughts and I just had this image of
where I want to be in terms of technical skills
just an imprint of the whole process. A con-
all these trains going off cliffs. Like, five trains
Creativity is so cruel it’s not an easy thing to capture. going off of cliffs in slow motion and I was
to find a pen and a piece of paper. It’s defi-
like, “OH MY GOD!! My trains of thoughts!!!”
nitely a worthy sacrifice, I think, to getting
best seller out of nowhere.
AT: Of course it did!
sleep and right after you wake up are the
CG: Then again, if you don’t write a thought
CG: So she was saying, “I wrote this interna-
most creative times for the brain. But I think
down and you don’t remember it, how im-
tional best seller thing, and everyone started
they’re also the most groggy times.
portant was it? Obviously I think it’s impor-
looking at me like I was doomed! How do
AT: I’ve heard that right before you go to
tant because I know that my memory is not
you follow the biggest act of your life? Do
CG: You have to make the sacrifice: am I go-
that good and so I keep all these things that
you just write another best seller? What if
ing to wake up and write this down or am I
I collect like crazy in an online searchable
your book flops?” What she said is that be-
going to sleep?
web, because I need to have to those frag-
fore the Renaissance, a person wasn’t a ge-
ments. But I think there’s value in not writing
nius, they had a genius, which was separate
from themselves. If they didn’t do so well on
AT: Don’t you hate that feeling that if you don’t write it down you’ll just completely
something or their book flopped, they felt
lose it? I was reading the letter that I wrote
AT: Creativity is so cruel because it’s not an
bad, but it was also their genius’s fault. Even
to myself from Oxbow and I remember that
easy thing to capture. It curls up on your lap
though nothing has actually changed—
my biggest problem at Oxbow was having
like a little cat. AT: You can sort of outsource your guilt.
too many thoughts and not enough time to write them down. It was always like, “dammit
CG: Hahaha. There’s an interesting TED Talk
I was just about to go to sleep, why does this
by Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the book
CG: Exactly, she said that this is what’s been
have to happen now??” And then I would
Eat, Pray, Love. I haven’t read it but Oprah se-
killing off our writers and thinkers and artists
get out of bed and have to fumble around
lected it as one of her books, and it became a
since the Renaissance, the pressure of mak-
If it’s not what I want to show for myself, that’s fine. Eventually it will come. The magnum opus is really the fact you were here, you showed up, and you had the ability to do it.
ing the next greatest work ever. She said that she has learned to externalize it. She’s very structured, which reminds me of you. She sits down and she just writes for X amount of hours. Later she looks at it and if she wasn’t channeling something awesome she can say that at least she did her part and showed up for work. Where was her genius?? AT: Hahaha. You have to really look at your work from the glass half-full perspective and just say that shame and regret are not pro-
ductive things to feel. I can’t feel that right
state of euphoric productivity. You’re just
now! I just have to be happy that I have the
getting done what you want to do.
right? AT: Yeah, it’s non-fiction so you can read a
ability and the discipline to do this anyway. If it’s not what I want to show for myself, that’s
AT: It’s very rare but it happens from time
chapter here and a chapter there and some
fine. Eventually it will come. The magnum
to time. It’s so rewarding, but you can’t get
of them are really fascinating.
opus is really the fact you were here, you
there just by wanting it, you have to get there
showed up, and you had the ability to do it.
by discipline. Or at least, from my experience,
CG: That sounds amazing. What else is on
I have to get there by discipline.
look good limits my life.” It’s this mode that
CG: You were talking about the time before
AT: Well, just that I would love to journal a
you have to get into, I’ve read a little bit
you fall asleep and after you wake up as the
few thoughts right now, but I’m driving and
about the concept of flow, which is just this
most creative times and it reminded me of
CG: Again it’s back to that idea of “trying to
something. I heard that Dalí used to have a huge lunch and then take a nap. But he
CG: Well don’t talk, drive, and journal!!
would put a metal bowl on his lap and hold a metal spoon in his hand. This was every sin-
AT: I won’t, I won’t! I put a limit on two things
gle day. And when he started to fall asleep
the spoon would fall into the bowl, ring, and wake him up. So he would pick the spoon up
CG: If you were in New York you wouldn’t
and go back to sleep. Doing this over and
even be able to talk and drive, you would be
over, he would rapidly keep falling asleep
arrested right now! So this has been an hour-
and waking up until he was in a sustained
and-a-half, and I don’t even know how in the
state between asleep and awake.
world I will transcribe it because it is pretty incoherent. We had to push harder than last
AT: Have you read Richard Feynman? It’s
funny—well, it’s not funny—but I have insomnia. I’ll go to sleep for 15 minutes at a
AT: Yeah, I was just blathering empty meta-
time and then wake up and have a million
phors the entire time, but I’m glad that we
thoughts and then try to sleep for 15 more
went through this, as painful as it was.
minutes, and that just repeats until I fall asleep. But Richard Feynman talks about
CG: I know! There’s soooo much anguish in
how he harnessed his insomnia. I don’t know
how he did it. Do you know who he is? AT: Hahaha. Let’s make some really dark artCG: No, I have no idea.
work okay?? I’m about to go dye my hair and pierce my eyebrows.
AT: He’s a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project. He got interested in
CG: Okay, well send me a pic. I’ll talk to you
consciousness and he tried to stay awake
through each level of sleep—which doesn’t sound like it makes any sense—but he tried
to describe the feeling that he felt in the first stages and the second stages. He almost got to REM, but never got that far. Right before that he could describe what it was like to be asleep. I don’t remember how he did it but if you can, look up his book. It’s definitely worth a few chapters. CG: Definitely worth getting the gist of,
THANK YOU FOR READING PROCESS MAGAZINE! I HOPE YOU HAVE IDEAS, ART, AND QUESTIONS TO SHARE! SEND AN EMAIL TO IDEAS@CASEYAGOLLAN.COM AND WE WILL BE IN TOUCH!
PROCESS MAGAZINE // CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS // ISSUE 1 // JUNE 2009 // PRCSS.COM PROCESS PROJECTS IS AN IDEA BY CASEY A. GOLLAN