I must say your artist name “Defective Barbie” caught my attention. Can you please tell me how you created your alias and what the significance is behind your name?
In my early teen years, I was trying to come up with a clever screen name. I went with Defective Barbie because I spent so much time with dolls as a kid, but by the time I entered my teenage years I was rebellious and full of angst. I thought the name felt appropriate. It’s always been the placeholder for my online identity, and it probably always will be. Over a decade after having thought of it, it was the simplest choice of artist names, because I feel it matches the message of my artworks perfectly. It’s an ironic concept, to suggest that women who are painted as thinking and feeling beings rather than flawless objects are “defective” and the distinction is important to me.
You trained as a professional artist and after your studies, you moved to Los Angeles to pursue a full-time art career. Can you please tell me more about your creative journey?
Facing college I had no idea what kind of career I wanted to pursue but I knew I could at least earn a degree if I majored in art. It’s always been what I’m good at. I suspected I could make art for a living, but it was a constant struggle against what seemed like only evidence to the contrary. The abysmal job opportunities that followed my 2010 graduation, including two years of retail and office cubicles, did wonders to improve self-confidence and self-reliance. Creative opportunities weren’t going to just fall into my lap, which led me to be my own boss. I used what I’d learned from other businesses to help grow my own plan, and I started carefully studying the artists that inspire me. I moved to LA to be near family, but it’s also an inexhaustible resource for creatives. That was a lucky coincidence. I’ve had to become a jack of all trades, had to risk every penny I make in the tools I need to create, and I have endured some otherworldly levels of stress but once I started the climb I couldn’t look down. I’m hooked!
Watercolor is your predominant medium. This is a challenging and unforgiving medium to work with. How do you use your choice of medium to communicate emotion through your work?
Watercolor is special in the way that it moves. You can control it only as much as its willing to be controlled. I love how transparent and ephemeral it looks, especially when you let it run wild, it looks alive. It feels very natural to portray thoughts and emotions through portraits with a medium like that.
Your style is very unique. You create suspended portraits with preserved negative space. Is your use of negative space intentional? What message do you hope to communicate through your unparalleled style?
I love negative space, partially because I’m very drawn to art that has an unfinished aesthetic; it’s like being able to peek behind the curtain of an artist’s mind. I want my portraits to be as real as possible in the sense that they’re human: incomplete, flawed, evolving, filled with energy and movement, so yes the style choices are very intentional. I want to interrupt people’s perceptions and reach them on that gut level, where they can look into my paintings and see a part of themselves reflected back, which I think that blankness really adheres to. I want my art to elicit an open minded experience about humanity, whether the audience likes the work or not.
You have recently started to translate your art into larger scale murals. Can you please tell me more about this transition?
Street art has been a key influence on my style and subject matter. It has an edge and an attitude I’ve always admired. I owe a lot to the generations of artists who worked to bridge the gap between graffiti and public murals because they opened such a huge door for creative expression. Now art is a part of the landscape and community in ways that were never possible, and it’s like magic watching the trend spread. You can’t drive through LA without feeling like you’re in a renegade art gallery, and I want to be a part of that. I want to contribute to the idea of upending how art is consumed.
What’s next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions you are looking forward to?
If you’re in the Northern California area I now have a collection of artworks on display at Golden Moon Gallery in San Mateo. For those in LA County, I have prints available through SugarMynt Gallery in South Pasadena. I will also be exhibiting at Kaaboo in Sept, which is a huge music and entertainment festival in San Diego. My next big project involves combining dried butterfly specimens with the paintings I traditionally create. Most people look at me like I’m nuts when I try to explain it, so the juries out until I unveil it at this year’s event. I’m really looking forward to Kaaboo because it will be my last big show for the year, and after that, I have a distinctive change in my creative mission planned. I’m currently researching grants to help me achieve it, but for now I’m going to have to remain cryptic on the subject— can’t ruin the surprise. I also have a couple of murals in the works, thanks to some team work with SugarMynt Gallery, where I’ve been curating exhibitions for the past year. I don’t yet have set dates as they are still in the beginning stages, but I hope to be spreading on the paint before the end of this month and into July. Details will be on my website and social media as soon as they’re available.