Today I bring you the fourth installment of my deeper descriptions of the processes behind some of my new work with my piece “Be Unique”. I have always admired and been interested in street art, something that has increased in recent years as I spend more and more time installing knitted art in community spaces as a member of Yarn Bomb Yukon. I’ve also resolved that in 2014 I will gain a deeper understanding of art history to better inform my own artistic practice. These two fact coalesced recently as I started my exploration of art history with the history of street art, which ultimately led to the creation of this piece.
I wanted to create a piece that had the feel of an urban landscape covered with graffiti for the background of this piece, but it was very important to me to not copy any other artist’s tags to do so. That meant I had to create my own tag. After some brainstorming and playing around I came up with R4VEN. I like that it links to my business name Raven Mad Designs and to my home in the North through the birds that fill my local environment. I also like that it can stand for a phrase, namely Reaching FOR Verdant Endless iNspiration. Using my favourite pens in the world (a combination of Faber Castell Pitt Pens and Copic Sketch Markers) I created a series of tags and images in some readable graffiti styles (I stayed away from the wildstyle end of the spectrum) on bleadproof marker paper that I then cut out to use in the piece.
For the canvas itself I wanted to work in bright pinks, purples, blues, teals, black and golds. The layering of all of these was a very intuitive process. I scraped and scratched a lot of layers of paint with anything that was readily at hand including my fingers. I sprayed inks over homemade stencils. I rubbed ink pads designed for rubber stamping directly onto the canvas surface. I created a block print of an irregular brick pattern which I printed across the entire artwork’s surface. And I changed directions wildly. Originally I had thought of representing a few styles of street art in the piece so I created a set of yarn bombed trees from yarn and cardboard, and a set of stenciled and wheat-pasted images to accompany my tags. And then I didn’t like the end result and had to alternatively cut them out of the piece with an xacto knife or cover them up. In the end the surface had a lot of texture going on.
For the character’s story that is taking center stage in the piece I was inspired by a friend’s facebook post about how she worried that she “wasn’t normal”.