Artist Liv Lee on collabing with Indonesian kids, creating from a pure place and the importance of playfulness
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Australian based artist Liv Lee is our artist of the month. Together with the kids from the Duduk Atas school on Lombok, Indonesia, she created two Face This T-shirts, a sweater and a tote bag! In this interview she tells us more about her work as an artist, the importance of playfulness and creating from a pure place. Read along if you don’t wanna miss your piece of inspiration today!
Liv Lee’s signature style features wonky interpretations of plants, flowers and fruit, that inspire happiness and evoke nostalgia. When asked about her cultural background and the place where she grew up, Liv explains she grew up in a small coastal town on the east coast of Australia called Port Macquarie. “I was lucky enough to live on a property just outside of the town. Our house was amongst a working vineyard, which meant we would always go and pick some grapes before harvest – they weren’t really nice to eat though to be honest.”
“My mother is French (her parents migrated to Australia in the 1950s) and my dad’s side is from Scotland. I have drawn since I was a kid, but I wouldn’t say that I was totally taken by drawing, I think it was more the creative side of things that I really loved. I used to do anything that was hands-on – I made paper mache apples, sculptures out of dad’s scrap timber, collages out of easter egg wrappings, dinosaurs out of felt – and so on.”
Is there one drawing that you can recall from your childhood? What was it about?
Liv Lee: “I remember a big vase of flowers that I drew in crayon when I was 8 years old – it must have been a nice one, because the teacher laminated it and I had signed the back Olivia “Flower” – I wanted my name changed to Flower because I loved flowers. I knew all the names of the different plants and flowers as a kid, so I am sure the drawing was just a bunch of my favourites.”
Artist Liv Lee together with her drawings, one of them being a big vase of flowers
Are there specific moments in your life that made you decide to become an artist?
Liv Lee: “I remember in my mid twenties I was a bit lost, not loving my current role, but not knowing what I wanted to do. I had never stopped creating things, but I didn’t know how to turn this into a career. To teach myself Photoshop, I started making patterns in the program and one day a friend told me about Surface Design, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but knew it was what I needed to be doing! That night I enrolled in a Surface Design course in Sydney, and started it the next year. After the course I started painting more and more and then really developed my style once I had my daughter and had some spare time during naps to paint and paint and paint.”
What do you like most about being an artist?
Liv Lee: “I love that so much of the art that I make is used on everyday goods – tea towels, blankets, bags etc. When it is sold in this way, it makes art so accessible to a lot of people, it’s being useful in everyday life and most importantly, bringing joy to someone’s space.”
What is the biggest challenge for you, being an artist?
Liv Lee: “It would have to be everything else that isn’t making art. I probably spend about 20% of my time actually making art and the rest of the time is made up of accounting, replying to emails, creating quotes and contracts, making content, updating my website, packing orders, meetings – all of the things! My to do list is never ending. In saying that, it isn’t lost on me how lucky I am to be making art for a living. Extremely grateful.”
As an artist, do you have any dreams? Are there some goals you would like to achieve? Is there something you’re building up for?
Liv Lee: “Yeah, I’ve had a dream to start a clothing label for quite some time now. It’s something I’d love to create with my husband. We’re not in any rush to start it, and I believe I am exactly where I am meant to be right now. When the time feels right, we might just give it a go.”
Liv Lee’s package design is just brilliant.
Pablo Picasso once said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’. How do you remain an artist? And do you have tips for non-artists to cultivate their inner child?
Liv Lee: “I just never stopped making things as an adult. I explored a lot of different mediums – wood carving, pottery, silversmithing, sewing, embroidery etc. The end result wasn’t always great, but that doesn’t matter. I think it’s a great way to cultivate your inner child – go out of your comfort zone by trying new things, without being afraid to fail.”
You designed an artwork by using some of our Indonesian kids’ drawings. With the proceeds of your artwork, we will be able to provide the kids you’ve collabed with a playground. How important is playfulness for you as an artist?
Liv Lee: The best thing that people say to me is that my art made them smile, or brighten their day – I truly love hearing that. And I think a part of that is because of the playful, irreverent style of my work. Without the playfulness element, it just wouldn’t have the same effect on people. So to answer the question, very important – playfulness is the foundation of my art.
When we reached out to you, what made you want to join?
Liv Lee: “I absolutely loved the idea of creating a piece of work with the kids! It’s just such a fun brief that also 100% benefits the children – how could I say no to that!”
This is the wonderful Face This T-shirt artist Liv Lee created by using our Indonesian kids’ drawings. Pic by 4eyes.
When you received the drawings, what was your first reaction? What did you see in them? Can you describe them a bit for us?
Liv Lee: “They all spoke to me, I loved them all. Sometimes as an artist today, you worry about things that you absolutely shouldn’t when making art – like how it will perform on Instagram, rather than simply making art that you love. And this can then influence the final piece. What I saw with the children’s drawings was that they were all created from such a pure place, without worrying about those external influences – to me, they all look raw and honest and 100% themselves and that’s a really beautiful thing.”
Which drawings did you use to create your artwork with? And why did you pick these?
Liv Lee: “My theme for the piece was ‘Nature’s Playground’ so I chose drawings of flowers and animals that would complement my other elements.”
On the left hand side you see the original drawings the Indonesian kids made. And on the right hand side you see how artist Liv Lee enriched the drawings with her wonderful ‘loosey-goosey’ style.
Can you tell us something about how you have experienced this collaboration?
Liv Lee: “It’s been really fun to be a part of this project, and knowing that it will directly benefit the kids is so great. As an artist, I have my go-to subjects that I paint, and this collab has made me see how I can introduce other elements into my work to make it even more playful.”
To conclude, is there something you would like to say to the kids who made the drawings you’ve worked with?
Liv Lee: “Don’t ever stop creating!”
Liv Lee’s artwork is available on tees, sweaters and tote bags. Go grab one as the proceeds support the Indonesian school from the kids who made the drawings.
So every month a new artist will drop an artwork he/she/they made by using our Indonesian kids’ drawings. And the artists we will be collaborating with within the coming months are truly exciting:
Wanna know exactly when? Want to read exclusive interviews with them? And do you wanna make a chance of nifty giveaways? Then sign up for our newsletter, by filling out the form below:
TOPIA Magazine x Face This
We are thrilled to team up with TOPIA, a new culture magazine that explores the power of human creativity. For a more in-depth interview with the artist about creating from a pure place – and flowers, read: Bendy ‘nanas and wonky flowers: Q&A with nostalgia-loving, garden-plucking artist Liv Lee
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