Artist: Lisa Solomon
Location: Oakland, CA
Web site: Lisa Solomon and Underdogink
Blog: Lisa's Musings
What do you create?
Primarily I’m a mixed media artist. I tend to come up with an idea and then attempt to manifest it. Sometimes this is a one shot deal, sometimes I end up making whole series or body of work. Sometimes I find myself repeating something thematically or visually until I feel as though I’m “done” with it. [there is no scientific method to deciding when one is done – although sometimes I wish there was]. I also love to make crafty things – the occasional softie, pillow case, skirt.... I design Tshirts, totes, and jewelry for my side business underdogink. I also freelance as a graphic designer – although I do much less of that now than I used to. I also love taking polaroid photographs. It’s more of a hobby – but it’s such a part of my visual language now. I’m so dismayed that polaroid has announced the termination of production of their instant film.
What is the first memory that you have of making something crafty/artsy?
First? It’s hard to pin-point. My grandmother is a huge influence on me – she taught me how to crochet and knit and through her I got very interested in embroidery. As corny as it sounds I feel like I was born with a glue bottle in one hand and some material [pom poms, glitter, paper, fabric] in the other. I always seemed to be really happy when I was allowed to color, or paint, or make things.
When and why did you decide to start your business?
Well... I feel as though I “officially” became an artist in 2003 when I got my MFA. I’m so glad I went to graduate school for art... I have been fortunate enough to be invited to show my work at various venues. You can find out more on my website about upcoming and past shows. You can also read my artistic statement online. My graphic design business started in 1995 and underdog ink I started in 2004. Those two things just kind of happened. I just ended up with clients needed design work [or I traded small business goods for services]. With underdog, I wanted T-shirts for myself that I could wear around that weren’t plain and weren’t so fancy I couldn’t wear them in the studio or to teaching. So I started making them. And then people wanted them – so I started selling them.
Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Seriously I get inspired by practically anything. By just looking around and listening. In my art I get inspired by a type of paper, by a color of thread, but something I caught out of the corner of my eye. I love vintage clothing, typography, instruction books, fabric, gutermann thread, my sewing machines. I love looking at art – seeing what other people are doing and how they do it.
Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
This is impossible for me to answer. I’m a tool junkie. I’m always looking for an excuse to buy a gadget or a tool. I love a really well crafted functional tool. There’s nothing like them!
What keeps you motivated?
I’m not very good at sitting still, so I just kind of keep at it. There’s also that feeling of satisfaction when you make something. Sure there’s the struggle and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but there are those moments [however fleeting] that you just know this is what you were meant to do – that everything seems to fade away and fall into place at the same time. I guess in some ways I’m searching for that. Trying to figure out if I have anything to say and how to say it.
How do you get the word out about your work?
I have to say the internet has been an amazing force. Sometimes I feel like it’s just taken over – opportunities and connections seem to flow from one place to the next. Early on I generated a mailing list and that’s really helped. I wish I had more time and energy to devote to putting the word out – but I think we all do what we can.
What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
I want to find a better balance between life and work. I want to really foster relationships with people who want to show, purchase, and promote art for the right reasons. My immediate answer to this question? I want to find a place to show in NY :)
What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Stay true to yourself. Be ready to work really hard. Don’t work so hard that you give up your family and friends. Expect to make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and things.
What’s the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?
This is a hard question. I’m not even sure. I want people to see and bring their own stuff to the work. I guess I just hope that people walk away thinking that it’s genuine. I don’t think everyone will like everything all of the time, but if they can at least respect it, or if it made them think, or pause.... Then I’m more than happy.
Who are some of your favorite indie designers/artists? Oh my god. Where to start. There really are so many people.... And I don’t want to omit anyone. So instead of listing one million people, I’d say start with the links page of my website.... Look through the list of people you’ve interviewed here.... I feel very lucky that there are so many talented people out there – and that I can call some of them my friends.
If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
Welding, wood burning, wood turning, ceramics.... Should I go on?
What's your definition of a perfect day?
Wake up, it’s sunny, have a lovely late with perfect foam, pack up my dogs and head into my studio for the whole day, break for lunch [something yummy] with a friend.... Play online for a little bit, go back to work in the studio.... Head home when it’s dark.... Eat dinner with my husband.... Look through some good books or magazines for inspiration... Watch a good movie... Go to bed. Other good days would be going to a museum or galleries and finding work that really sings.... Or taking a nice long walk... I also love traveling. Being out of your “element” is always inspiring and invigorating.
Thank you Lisa!