Have you grown with your work over the years or has your work grown with you?
I think if you look at the work, and if you know me personally, you can definitely tell that the work has grown with me. It’s always a reflection of the things I’m feeling at that specific moment in time or a reflection of things I’m going through. [That] influences changes in imagery and tone.
How have you seen your work evolve over the years?
I’ve worked with a lot of different mediums over the years. I studied printmaking in college at the Kansas City Art Institute and had access to inks, presses, and all kinds of expensive equipment. The year I went to college was the first year that they discontinued the illustration department, so when it came time to pick a major I ended up in the printmaking department instead. It worked out because printmaking is very heavily drawing and pattern based and besides learning the process, we were basically allowed to do whatever we wanted. Sculpture project? Sure. Sewing? Go for it. Which was great because I mostly just wanted to draw and
I was also a really bad printmaker. I didn’t have the patience or precision. I would just do stuff and be like, “I know this is the wrong way to do it but let’s just see what happens.”
I was definitely influenced a lot by the repetition of the process of making multiples. I was allowed a ridiculous amount of studio space and by my senior year we were all making these enormous drawings. After I graduated the only space I had was the living room of my apartment, so I started embroidering because it was portable and I could watch hours of TV while I worked on projects. Even once I moved back to Chicago I kept doing needlework because I was living in the suburbs and working two jobs in the city and commuting. It was easy to work on public transportation. Eventually I got impatient with that and went back to drawing and I am a much happier and less irritable person now. I usually work in pen and ink, markers, sometimes paint and pencil. Drawing is a lot more of an instant gratification process. [It’s also] easier for me to manipulate. I am both impatient and a control freak so I think it suits me best and makes me happiest.
What got you into creating art?
It was the only thing I was actually good at. I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. I used to have to go to work with my mom and I would sit and color or draw for hours. I was lucky enough to have other artists in my extended family who encouraged me to keep doing it and the support of some really great teachers along the way.
Would you consider any of your work confessional?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that of my current work, but when I was doing a lot of embroidery I would give the pieces stupid long titles that had very little to do with the piece but would blurt out my personal problems, mental health issues, [and] guilty feelings about things that were happening in my life at the time. I had titles like, “All the Previous Homes (And All My Laughing Damage Deposits)” or “Signs Point to Yes (But This Headache is Well Deserved)”. Always along those lines. I think if any of that still exists in my current work, it’s much more buried and veiled.
I'm big on pattern in my work, partly because I usually dress myself in patterns and partly because the repetition is calming to me. My life and my art are always intertwined. I'm in a band and I write songs that I make drawings of or I make drawings and give them titles that I end up writing songs about and then I tattoo them on my body. I’ve always, always used animals in my work. I’m bad at drawing people and I’m just a scowl-y person. I like animals better than I like people. I think using animals makes some of my themes a lot subtler and beautiful for someone to look at or stomach, rather than using people—especially with the ideas of self-harm that have been pretty present lately. A lot of it deals with pain, carrying it with us and piling it on—just really dealing with over the top mental health issues while still trying to just fucking stand up and keep going. And there’s beauty in that too. I don’t want to be super blatant with it because it’s so personal and I still struggle to be open about those things in general.
What inspires you to create?
I’m really inspired by everything I see around me on a daily basis. I’m constantly looking for imagery on my way to work, on the bus, reading— I listen to people speak and catalog things I like to use later. My brain doesn’t turn off very often. Whatever comes out on paper is all of that filtered through my personal feelings and experiences. I’m trying to collage it all together to make sense of where I’m at. It’s sort of a weird way for me to organize myself into the world.