Seasons. Cut paper. 2013.
Where were you born?
I was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado where I garnered my deep appreciation of nature from a childhood spent enveloped in the forests and glades of the Rocky Mountains. The formative experiences I had in the dense woods and sun-dappled meadows of these mountains heavily influenced both my paradigm and my visual interpretation of the world. This connectivity helped me develop an acute awareness of detail. The fluorescent dabs of chartreuse lichen on cold, grey granite, or the delicate follicles of soft downy hair on the unfurling frond of a fern delighted my eyes and taught me about beauty. It was in nature that I learned about art, through the symmetry of a butterfly’s wing or the iridescent greens and reds of a ruby throated hummingbird’s tiny feathers.
When the tides of my life pulled me away from the Colorado mountains I so loved and placed me into the chaotic cacophony of a California city, I began to understand that the experiences I had as a child were uncommon to many who didn’t have the fortune to grow up amongst the trees. Reflecting on this, I began to understand my purpose as an artist. I feel that is my role to visually depict the sacredness of the human experience, especially as manifested in nature, so that others may connect to this powerful source of abundant primordial magic. In my art I strive to provide a window into the sacredness of the ordinary world and the latent spiritual potential of every human individual.
What is your major at AAU?
I’m working towards a master’s degree in Traditional Illustration. I also have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in Editorial Journalism and have written for a wide array of publications, including Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, Climbing Magazine, and Elephant Journal.
How would you describe your work to someone?
I strive to capture the organic framework that makes up the world we live in, the underlying patterns that become visible in elevated states of consciousness. While my work is constantly evolving, at the moment I have two very distinct styles I’m working with. Both styles are very design-based with a graphic sensibility. One style uses cut paper and is more geared towards children’s books, while the other style is predominately pen and ink with intricate detail and allegorical content. I like to explore the design potentials created with dynamic symmetry while using imagery borrowed from nature- flowers, birds, fish, animals, trees, etc.
Who or what influences your work?
Although I find inspiration in thousands of places, nothing influences my work or my perception of the world as much as my daily meditation practice. I’ve been studying Tibetan Buddhism for a little over a decade and have attended numerous meditation courses including a month long retreat. Nothing focuses and cleanses my perceptions as powerfully as meditation does. It’s like wiping the dust off of a pair of glasses- suddenly you notice the small beauties and intricacies all around you. I also find that meditation greatly heightens my creative powers, as well as my ability to concentrate.
As far as other artists go, I find inspiration from artists of the past such as William-Adolphe Bourguereau, John Singer Sargent, and John William Waterhouse. I’ve always been inspired by Frida Kahlo and Georgia O Keefe, not only for their art, but also for their boldness as female artists and fearlessness with which they lived their lives. I’ve been very influenced by Alphonse Mucha’s design sense and am a fan of Maxfield Parish and J.C. Lyendecker. Contemporary artists that I admire include John Baizley, David Hale, Nicomi Turner, Josh Keyes, James Jean, Jeremy Mann, Nikki McClure, Emily Hogarth, Nimit Malavia, Sylvia Ji, Tiffany Bozic and Joao Ruas.
I find a lot of inspiration in literature and poetry, as well as in music. I am also inspired by strong emotions, whether it be sorrow or joy, happiness or loss, love or grief; I find they provide potent creative fuel. My ultimate muse is found in nature- in redwood forests, granite mountaintops, desolate deserts, or the vastness of the sea.
What is your process for creating work and what materials do you prefer?
My process begins first with inspiration, which comes sometimes as vague and fleeting images that flash before my open eyes. I attempt to capture these with quick and messy sketches that would be intelligible to anyone else. The next step is generally collecting reference photos, which can sometimes be the most time-consuming part of my process. For my pen and ink drawings, I’ll often use Photoshop to test out compositions before starting a pencil drawing, which I’ll eventually ink. Recently, I’ve started scanning my finished pen drawings into Photoshop to color them.
My cut paper illustrations come much more organically to me, and I often just draw the designs straight from my head without reference. The process of cutting the paper, then assembling and gluing the layers is extremely tedious and time-consuming though.
What is next? Upcoming exhibitions, trips, graduation, etc.
I’m planning on graduating in December of this year. Between now and then I have several commissions I’m working on, including a few album covers and concert posters. I typically spend every break from school traveling, rock climbing, and being out in nature as much as possible.
The 6-on-6 Artist Interview series consists of 6 questions for student artists asked by the Library staff on the 6th floor.
Marisa Ware’s interview was conducted by Audrey Ferrie, Library Director, in January 2014.