Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Izzy Welsh a local artist that I just met last weekend and fell in love with her work. Izzy is a participant in Brush and Pen: Festival for Artists and Authors,
Welcome, Izzy! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me this morning.
Katelyn- you tell our readers a bit about yourself that isn’t art related ?
Izzy- I’m a fairly recent transplant from North Carolina, about a year and a half now. My husband is a Minnesota native who was stationed at the army base about an hour from me back home and we pretty much decided that we were going to get out of the south and move to the Twin Cities around our third or fourth date. I hold a degree in Creative Writing from NCSU and will be teaching writing and performance classes at the newly opened (and absolutely freaking incredible) Creators Space in Lowertown. I’ve worked in the theatre/film industry for a couple of decades predominantly as an actor and scenic artist and have lent my voice to some Japanese cartoons. My grandest aspiration for the near future is to write and produce a musical puppet show about chronic depression. I have a toothless chihuahua named Goblin and am a Twin Peaks superfan.
Katelyn- We met at Creators Space at the Open House last weekend. It is an amazing space to be in and to teach in. I came up to your table because I was drawn to your art and a fun playful conversation broke out! It was a great way to connect for the first time.
What inspired you to start making art?
Izzy- I was the only child of a working single mom, so I became very adept early on at finding things to do to keep myself busy. I can’t really remember that “first time” I picked up a pen or a crayon or a stick and drew on something…I guess I’ve been drawing for longer than I remember, ha ha, it’s just something I’ve always seemed to do. I remember this book I had when I was, like, five where you drew little animals with basic shapes and step by step instructions and there was a snail in there that drove me absolutely bonkers because I couldn’t get it right. I mean I fixated on it, trying to draw that damned spiral in his shell over and over, always doing it wrong somehow. This culminated in a massive tantrum and I think I tried to tear the book but I couldn’t because it was made for children. At five, I was having an existential crisis over a cartoon snail. I’m in my mid-thirties now, and I really haven’t changed all that much. I can draw a snail now so I can say I’ve genuinely improved.
Katelyn– LOL! your first existential crisis at five, with a book that was supposed to help you draw! I remember those books! I think I might have gotten frustrated and traced the pictures.
Do you have a favorite medium to work in?
Izzy- I like acrylics because they’re quick and easy. They’re sort of the one-night stand of paints. Oils want you to have this whole long-term relationship with them. I paint on wood because it’s durable and forgiving…also, you can make it into an end table if it comes out really nice.
Katelyn- Okay you are cracking me up! And end table would be fun, it’s kind of like a one night stand!
So…Why do you paint?
Izzy- Oh man, there are a few answers to this one. On the practical side, it’s just a really handy skill to have. Like all art, really. That’s why I don’t understand them taking art out of schools! I mean, if you need a birthday present that’s original you can’t go wrong with something hand-made. Have an ugly wall in your house? Get some latex paint and make it look fabulous…you know, that kind of thing. You can actually save a lot of money when you do your own decorating. It’s gotten my foot in the door at some theatres, too. To be honest, though, I think I really just paint to keep from going completely insane.
Katelyn- The insanity factor is big for me too! Art is the best therapist. Don’t get me going about taking art out of schools, it’s ridiculous!
So most artists have creative blocks from time to time. What do you do when you get a creative block?
Izzy- I try to work on a lot of projects at once so when I get bored or blocked with one, I’ve got something different to fixate on. I’ll work on a piece for a while, get completely infuriated with it, sequester it in a corner, then discover it six months later after getting mad with something else and be like “Wow! This is a goldmine! Why did I ever stop on this?” I also play video games when I get totally burned out. They are an invaluable part of my creative process.
Katelyn- I have some paintings like that which are taking me years to finish. Sometimes I stumble on something that was tucked away and say “Wow, who painted this, it’s amazing” forgetting it was me. I can see how video games can unlock a creative block too.
What Writers inspire you and why?
Katelyn- I’m fired up by writers who aren’t afraid to satirize. Like Vonnegut. Or the guy who wrote A Confederacy of Dunces…John Kennedy Toole! I can’t believe I forgot his name. He was a GOD. I mean, he’s got this fat arrogant man-child sidling around New Orleans being a jerk to everyone and it’s absolutely freaking hilarious, but it also captures the very ESSENCE of the human idiom – how enslaved we all are by the act of “fitting in” and earning money and that modern society generally just kinda makes itself miserable. He could have explored these same concepts in a very heavy-handed tome with lots of tragedy or a thesis paper or something but he didn’t, he made it hilarious and breezy and NAILED IT. I think that’s the most beautiful thing when an artist doesn’t take themselves too seriously. We have this weird notion that high thought can’t be funny and I just think that’s dumb.
Katelyn- High thought and play can be the funniest most awaking form of art!
I imagine there will be some aspiring artists reading this interview. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
Izzy- Don’t listen to ANYONE who you don’t like. Also, spend the extra money on the good brushes…you’ll be happier in the long run.
Katelyn- Ah, good brushes, Yes! I would add to that to clean them well. When you think they are clean, clean them some more.
How can people support you in your art career?
Izzy- Please sweet God, buy my art. Have a friend buy my art. Give my art to family members on national and religious holidays. My art is free of trans-fats and safe for those with nut allergies.
Katelyn- Oh my Gosh! Fat and allergen free, what could be better. Buy Izzy’s art right here…