I have a lot of extremely talented creative people in my life. It’s important for an artist to be surrounded by other artists, since they are a constant source of inspiration and critical evaluation. For me, it just sort of happened that way. I’ve met all of the people mentioned below at various points in my life, and they’ve all had a major influence both in my art and on who I am now. I asked each of them to describe the work they do and why they love it. We all create very different kinds of art from one another, with very different philosophies and methodologies, but we all share the same passion. It’s crucial for an artist to surround herself with other people who share the same passion. They serve as a constant source of support, unconditional love, and understanding.
Sarah Martin – Photogropher
“As a photographer I love that my camera is an extension of myself. While a camera is perfect for capturing those Kodak moments, it’s the imperfect moments I find so special. I prefer to shoot candid portraits or street photography, to capture the beauty of people, women in particular, in their most honest state (when no one is watching).”
I met Sarah in college on the first day of 2D Design. She told me that she liked my Steve Madden boots, and the rest is history. We’ve seen each other at our best, but more importantly, we’ve seen each other at our absolute worst. She is my life partner, maid of honor, godmother to be, etc etc. Sarah has had one of the biggest influences on me as in artist, but also as a person. She inspires me every day to pursue my passion, no matter what else might be going on. She has a full time job (actually a really amazing job), but she picks up odd jobs here and there photographing and writing – not for the money, but because her life would not be complete without these pieces. Because of her, I know that I am first and foremost an artist, no matter how I actually earn a living. She’s taught me that a “career” does not define my life. In so many ways she’s taught me to forget about my insecurities and just love myself – that as long as I’m happy, the rest will figure itself out. Because of Sarah, I’ve spent the last two years making prints on kitchen counters with spoons and rolling pins, all because my life wouldn’t be complete without art. She reminds me of this daily. Her drive and persistence are some of my favorite things about her, and it’s pushed me to persevere as well. Sarah lives a full timezone away from me these days. Modern technology makes it incredibly easy to stay in touch, but some days I still feel like I’m in a long distance relationship. Much like a true couple, we have to work hard at our friendship. But we make it work, we have to, because our lives would not be complete without each other. I don’t believe in soul mates, but if ever there were such a thing, she is mine without question.
Click here to see more of Sarah’s work.
Stephanie Bianca – Fashion Designer
“I design & create custom clothing & swimwear using a mix of sustainable design techniques & materials. I started with a focus on custom swimwear and since then have evolved to designing luxury streetwear. My design process starts with an idea, a vibe, a color… I allow my creativity to flow to create something unique and personal. I love making clothes that evoke emotion and show personality. When you wear clothes that speak to your true self – it’s a fucking amazing feeling that I think everyone should be able to enjoy.”
I met Stephanie at Pratt. We were both doing a pre-college summer fashion program (this clearly worked out for her. For me, not so much). We ran around New York like you can imagine a couple of teenagers let loose would. We acted like assholes on the subway, and we bought the most disgusting rum punch you can imagine to drink with our Oreos. Apparently to other girls in the program, we were the “mean girls.” Honestly, I just thought we were funnier than everyone else. That was about 8 years ago. Since then, Stephanie and I haven’t stayed especially close. Our small group of friends from Pratt all but lost touch. Stephanie and I have kept tabs on each other via social media where we’ve exchanged the occasional pleasantries. So when she told me she was planning on moving to Denver, I was pretty excited. Ever since graduating from college, my core group of friends in the Denver area have slowly begun moving away, and I’ve started to feel a bit lonely in the city I’ve worked so hard to make my home. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to have a familiar face back in the city. To be honest I was afraid it was going to be awkward the first time we made plans. You know those friends who you don’t see often, but when you get together it’s like no time has passed? Well this is the most extreme instance of that I’ve ever experienced. 8 years! And it’s seriously like nothing has changed. She also made me THE MOST DOPE sweatshirt that I’m actually wearing right now. I haven’t really touched on her talent, but believe me, she has a gift. I’m so happy we finally live in the same city, and I can’t wait to get to know her all over again.
Click here to see more of Stephanie’s work and shop her collection.
Mathew Brian – Painter
“My mother helped me discover my interest in art. She mainly worked with watercolors which is how I started painting. From there I moved to pastels and charcoal pencils. I stopped painting as much to focus on swimming year round then picked it up when I moved to Denver in 2007. My aunt and uncle had a gallery in the highlands near 38th and Yates that they owned until my uncle passed away in 2009. Uncle Bob had a lot of influence on my venture into abstract painting and landscapes. I would describe my work as modern eclectic based from a mix of abstract expressionism and fauvism.”
I met Mat on my first day of work at Hanna Andersson. He asked me if I knew how to board fold…in a demon voice. It was love at first sight. We bonded instantly over our creative natures as well as plans to attend the Women’s March. I rambled on about my then boyfriend’s unwillingness to accept me for who I was, and he showed me all the best wallpaper Instagram accounts to follow. I learned very quickly that Mat is a very passionate person. Much like colors in his paintings, Mat is very highly saturated. His heart is fully in everything that he does, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve. Mat works tirelessly to realize his privilege, thinking about how he can use that privilege to help people without a voice. Mat doesn’t just advocate for whatever social cause is in the spotlight that moment. He is an advocate for everyone, all the time. He never turns it off, which sometimes seems impossible because the ferocity of his passion burns so brightly, but it really is constant. In that same respect, Mat is an extremely fierce friend. Not just when he needs to be; when he sees me going through a hard time, or when he’s celebrating my good news. He’s an advocate for me all day, everyday. He also doesn’t take compliments well – they make him feel awkward. Which is why I’m so thrilled he agreed to be a part of this post. He deserves all of the support and attention that he provides to everyone else. Mat makes me want to use every platform at my disposal to build others up and make sure their voices are heard too. I think his paintings are a perfect representation of himself: bold, pure, and genuine.
Angel Estrada – Printmaker
“Landscape is a subject matter that is universal enough for anyone to find meaning within, whatever that may be. Allowing the viewer to travel in the image is what I aim for, the invention of a place in a picture for someone to get lost in if they so choose. The landscape has been ever present for me and I thought it would be the best muse for the pictures I am trying to put into motion. Abstraction, it is the vehicle that I have choose and deemed best for me to invent these landscapes. The abstraction isn’t completely void of representation. Composition, color, and lines are there and they help shape the horizon, the forms and shapes of the land but still leave it open to the viewer’s interpretation. I want the viewer to have a conversation with the piece that they see. Tell me what you see, don’t tell me, hold it and keep it. Lock it away in your own vault of experience. That is why I invent pictures. Communication that is silent but effective for the viewer. I am not calling them to struggle, to pick the image apart or try to figure out if there is a deeper message. It is theirs, no one else’s. If they hate it, love it or fall somewhere in between, that is theirs and no one can steal it from them. I feel that land is experienced in the same way. A person can look out on the landscape and feel whatever emotion comes to them in that moment of looking out. I am trying to invite that type of experience into the prints I am making.”
Last winter I applied for a solo alumni show at the O’Sullivan art gallery at Regis University. After a lot of thoughtful consideration, the art department at Regis granted me a duel show with Angel. I’d met Angel in a Printmaking studio class, and occasionally saw him in passing outside of class in undergrad, but that was the extent of our relationship. I did know that I found his work very striking, and unlike a lot of our peers, I was impressed with how he talked about his work and gave critical feedback to others. So, if I was going to do a show with anyone, I was pleased it was him. Since them, I’ve spent a lot of time with him, I’ve gotten to know him better, and I’ve forced him to sing karaoke to a large group of vacationing gays. And now, I can’t think of a single person I’d prefer to be sharing a gallery space with. We share a similar love for the process of printmaking that makes it hard for either of us to discard pieces that are less than successful. But more so, he offers me open honest feedback on my prints, which is invaluable while preparing a cohesive body of work. I’m endlessly amazed at what Angel is able to achieve with very minimal mark making and how his experimentation results in just the most stunning color pallets. His work makes me want to push my art and try new things. I am also immensely grateful for Angel because, whether he knows it or not, he forces me to be accountable. Working with him makes me want to be more reliable, more responsible. All the while, he’s accepted and really embraced me for who I am. He’s allowed me to be completely myself in a show that is only half mine, and I love him so much for that. I’m so overjoyed this show brought us together.
Click here to see more of Angel’s work.
Lucienne Christman – Hair Designer
“On impulse, I decided to combine my art school training with my love of high fashion by entering the world of craft hairdressing. To me, manipulating hair is like working with the finest silk fibers; tinkering with lines and shapes to create weight or airy movement on a live canvas. When it comes to hair design, I’m heavily influenced by the geometric mod looks from the 60’s in both my shorter cuts and editorial styles. However, the collaborative element that comes from working on a live model is what makes it the most stimulating and rewarding.”
Lucie. There are no words that properly do her justice. I mean that in the best and worst possible way. She’s my off the wall friend that I have always been able to count on in supporting any and all of my truly terrible ideas. Everyone needs this friend, especially every artist. Because what is art without taking risks, what is life? Lucie is always her most honest self, all parts of her equally magnified at all times, and she does not apologize for this. Her fearlessness has always been inspiring to me, even when it’s been hard to watch. Almost out of no where, she decided to dive into a career in hair, and when she did this, she found her passion; her way to do what she loves and get paid for it. This sort of leap of faith is something a lot of people are not able to make. Maybe because it isn’t cautious or well thought out, but caution has never been Lucie’s style. And her spontaneity has gotten her to where she is today; a successful hair designer, living her best life. Me and Lucie have always seen ourselves as sisters, twins even, but the older we get, the more we fall in line with the grown ups we are meant to be, I realize we’re not sisters at all. Lucie is my alter ego, she is the person I wish I had the courage to be. We’ve had almost symmetrical lives in our upbringings, education, appearance, style and friends. But as we go through life parallel to one another, she has the capacity to think and act in ways that I do not. When I replay a scenario in my head, I play it out how Lucie would have handled it, bold and unapologetic. I strive to have even a fraction of her nerve. Like I said, sometimes it’s been hard to watch Lucie throw herself all in to her spontaneous, and sometimes insane, ideas. But when I saw her successfully finish hair school, and when I listened to her talking about her future plans, I’ve never admired her more. I’ve never been more proud of this grown up version of my alter ego – which gives me hope for my own future, the grown up version of myself. And Lucie, I thank you so much for that.
Olivia Williams – Graphic Designer
“I spent 10,000 hours in college to become a Graphic Designer, perfecting my craft and learning the different elements of design. I love being able to express myself through a computer because I find that there are endless possibilities to what I can create. I love incorporating my love for fashion, music and art in to my designs and collaborating with other creatives who have the same passion. Whether you are a creative who loves to paint or a creative who loves to sing, the most important thing is to create something every single day. We are meant to use our minds that way and share it with the world, and thats the best part!”
I’ve known Olivia (actually, that sounds weird. It’s really just Livi) since high school. In 2009, Livi missed the first week of school because she had swine flu. This might seem irrelevant, but it’s not. All day everyday that week, she and her sister Zoe (who also had swine flu) sent pictures and videos of the two dancing and acting just as insane as they always did. Here, this girl had the flu, a really weird flu that everyone was freaking out about at the time, but she refused to lay in bed feeling sorry for herself. So she got up and danced. This, to me, perfectly sums up Livi Williams. I was friends with Livi’s sister Zoe, but as anyone who knows the Williams sisters can attest, they are a package deal. So I became friends with Livi as well. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s danced over every roadblock that comes her way. Her style and her creative eye have always been entirely her own. When she wasn’t outright embraced for this, she embraced herself. She built this stunning website to showcase her talent. She continued to push herself to keep creating, she invested in herself. And it paid off because now she is living every graphic designer’s dream in NYC. She has helped me see the importance in owning my craft, even after being turned down from job after job. She has shown me I can’t wait around for big things to happen, I have to make them happen. Because eventually, if I work hard enough, my craft will spill over into my career. That’s exactly what she’s made happen for herself. And I think that’s a lesson every artist needs to learn, because no one is going to get you to where you need to be except you. And Livi danced herself all the way to where she is now.
Click here to view more of Livi’s work.