Interview with Judy Ragagli
q) Please tell us a brief info about yourself.
a)I live and paint in Los Angeles, California. I was raised and schooled here. I paint hyper-realistic oil on canvas paintings of the classic Barbie's circa 1959 to 1970.
q) Tell us about your humble beginnings, when did you first realized that you wanted to be an artist?
a)My father came from humble beginnings and raised 4 daughters in the Italian section of Chicago, Illinois. I am the youngest of 4 girls. I never realized I wanted to be an artist until later in life. I was never one of those lucky people who knew what they wanted to be at a young age. I had a love for the visual arts at a young age, but, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. That came later in life after college.
q) What are your tools of the trade and why?
a)I use oil on canvas. I use linseed oil with the oil paints. Many coats are needed to achieve a richness. I lay down the paint with a bristle brush and then I blend with sable brushes. I mix all my own colors because it helps to see exactly what I am actually painting. I also stand when I paint, it helps to use your full body. Sitting down to paint is too passive.
q) Who or what gives you inspiration on your morbid art?
a)It is the classic Barbie's and her beauty that have give me the inspiration for my paintings. I also love old movies, and fashions from the 1940's to the mid 1960's. People often say there is a "creepiness" to the paintings, but, they also see other things. I get many different reactions from people who view my paintings. Because Barbie is a symbol and icon of beauty, people percieve beauty as a mask you hide behind. Beauty is a mask that we shut out in some way. I guess one can say there is an icy distance to the paintings. I see my paintings as moody, wistful and thoughtful. I find it interesting to see and hear the reactions. People feel confronted in some way. I find people fascinating and when they look at the paintings they reveal all kinds of things about themselves. I am not trying to get a reaction, but, the Barbie's themselves seem to get a reaction. I also never painted my subject for the "market." I painted Barbie for myself. At first, everyone thought I was crazy when they heard what I was painting, and they didn't get it, but, I didn't care, I loved it. You have to love what you are painting and creating. If you don't love it, it often shows in the work.
q)Is your artistic background self-taught or did you go to college to study?
a)I graduated from a University in Los Angeles, with a Liberal Arts degree. Later, in my early twenties, I learned how to paint with oils in private art classes with just a few students. I as very determined and focused. I worked really, really hard at my work and struggled to the point of exhaustion. After 5 years, my art teacher had a heart attack and I didn't have a teacher anymore. I ended up painting by myself without relying on a teacher. It forced me to rely on myself and what I remembered in class. I just tried to remember everything my teacher taught me and I was constantly struggling. To paint realistically, everything has to be close to perfect, it is very technical. After a very long time, it finally just came together and I was able to rely on myself.
q)How do you deep "fresh" within your industry?
a)Getting excited about starting a new piece keeps it fresh. Keeping it "fresh" is the feeling I get when I am painting and loving what I am painting. Also, I really love my work. It has never been a problem keeping it "fresh." I am always excited about my work. My problem is finding the time to do everything I want to do.
q)What are some of your current projects?
a)Presently, my oil paintings are featured in a newly released hard-cover book titled "EDGYCUTE" -From Neo-Pop to Low Brow and Back Again" by Harry Saylor. I am extremely thrilled about this book. My work is on tour on the East Coast. I am also embarking on a new series that I really excited about. Also, I love doing Brad Benedict's shows. He is an amazing curator .
q)Which of your works are you the most proud of? And why?
a)I mainly like my head-shots and bust-shots the best, and the simplicity of them. They are straight forward. A couple of years back I painted a challenging piece rather large, it was of a full-length 1959 Brunette Barbie wearing a Dior-esque inspired ensemble and she is standing in front of the Arch de Triomph in France. It is a full-length piece with scenery. The France painting took many months to complete. I knew when I was struggling and painting this piece that it would be one of my favorites. It took what seemed like eternity to finally finish it. I think if you breeze through something it doesn't always turn out good. I sold this piece and would love to buy her back.
q)Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
a)I want to do a really large scale oil of a head-shot, maybe 65 inches by 54 inches. My pieces are usually 36 inches by 30 inches, so a large scale piece would be quite the challenge.
q)What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
a)Franciscan Wine and re-runs of the 1970's show "Soul Train" on YouTube.
q)How do you spend most of your time?
a)My work is my free time. I see it as fun. Hard work, but fun.
q)What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?
a)I have always loved the visual arts: Fashion, cinema, music. In the art field, I really admire Todd Schorr, Robert Hickland, Robert Williams, and Ryan Heshka.
q)We really like some of your pictures, how can we get our hands on them? Do you sell them? How?