Interview with Vivienne Strauss
q) Well, first of all please tell us a little about yourself.
a)I grew up in northern
q) Had you always planned on being an artist [or had you other hopes]?
a)I've dabbled with art off an on but didn't get to start doing it full time until two years ago. I've had a wide range of careers so far and art is both the most rewarding and also the most frustrating. Nothing I do ever seems quite good enough but I guess that is the point of doing the work. After all, if you create something "perfect" there is really no reason to continue. I always come back to a quote by Max Ernst who said "The artist who finds himself is lost". It probably doesn't help that I majored in philosophy in college so I tend to over think everything.
q) Do you have a preferred medium to work on? Why?
a)I really prefer just plain fairly heavy french paper in different colors but usually prefer white or light grey for most of my collage work, the images really pop out on that plain paper more so than something with images. For painting, I definitely prefer watercolor ink on paper, I love the vivid colors and the quick, spontaneous mode of working. I love the look of oils but do not have the temperament for that medium at all.
q) How would you describe your style?
a)I guess I do a kind of minimalist surrealistic type of collage. That is the style I'm most comfortable with, just a minimal number of images or pieces on plain paper. Every now and then I do really busy scenes on a busy background and they can be fun sometimes and they are a real challenge for me. I am constantly looking at the work of other collage artists both online and in books and being a part of Scrapiteria keeps my style evolving constantly.
q) Do you go through any certain processes while trying to produce your work?
a)I seem to produce better work when I approach (collage) casually, just searching throw my many boxes of old magazines and books, certain images catch my eye depending on my mood, what else I've been working on, etc. I usually just pull those aside and keep looking and grouping images together. I also have boxes of images already cut and ready to use but lately those have been less appealing to me and I find myself drawn more the the "scraps" especially those bits on the reverse side of other cut images. I usually lay out the ideas and don't glue them down immediately. Other days, I really limit myself to just a few pages and see what I can come up with just from that, giving yourself an endless source of possibilities can be too overwhelming.
q) What are you working on at present?
a)I try to work every day on something, be it painting or collage, right now I have two embroidery shows to get ready for and I'm having a hard time getting back into the groove of working with thread again. Going back and forth between painting and collage seems like a natural thing for me, one is always a nice break from the other and I pull ideas from both mediums to use in the other.
q) What about recent sources of inspirations?
a)We were just in
q) What are some of your obsessions?
a)I think I'm obsessed with creating in general. No matter what I'm doing, I'm always thinking about what I'm going to make next. Figuring out ways to express ideas that pop into my head. Sometimes just a simple phrase I read or hear compels me to try and create something that "says" that same idea, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
q) Which galleries have you shown at and which galleries would you like to show at?
a)I've shown at Nahcotta Gallery in
q) If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
a)I guess just my regular email is good, email@example.com
q) Do you have any suggestions or advice for artists that are just starting out?
a)Most artists work at home or in a studio, often isolated from the world. Being part of a great community like flickr is extremely helpful, not just for inspiration but for feedback from other artists.
q) Who are your favorite artists?
a)There are so many, Lee Miller, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte, Valentine Penrose, Max Ernst, Meret Oppenheim, Ernst Kirchner, Kees Van Dongen, Louise Bourgeois, Francesca Woodman, Remedio Varo, Erte, Edward Gorey, Cecil Beaton, Ray Johnson, Edvard Munch, I could just keep listing them.
q) What books are on your nightstand?
a)I keep way too many books on my nightstand, the cats are always knocking them off in the middle of the night. In addition to a journal and several sketchbooks, Flannery O'Connor The Complete Stories, Surreal Things, Angels of Anarchy Women Artists and Surrealism, The Stories of John Cheever, The Poetry and Short Stories by Dorothy Parker and Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman.
q) To what weaknesses are you most indulgent?
a)Coffee would have to be my main weakness I periodically think about quitting but it will probably never happen, and impulsive purchases which are usually art books or old photographs.
a)I'm not sure what this is? How to see my work?