With the release of this Weekly Feature we are now exactly 1 MONTH away from the upcoming Get to Give Art Benefit! Thus far we’ve showcased the amazing creative talents of 3 artists who are putting their personal touches on Vinchee Packs and displaying them at the Benefit. Which means it’s time for us to introduce you to the woman in the spotlight of this Weekly Feature: Blair Urban.
Armed with a desire to delve deep into her own mind and equipped with a go-getter outlook on life. Blair has the ability to get in touch with her innermost creative self and maximize her artistic potential to the fullest. In both her art and personal life Blair places a heavy emphasis on being an individual and strives to find various ways to set herself apart from the crowd. This is where her apparel line Almarevolution, comes into play.
It’s safe to say Blair is quite the busy woman these days. Between taking classes at FIDM, running her apparel line, creating new art pieces, AND somehow managing to squeeze in a social life all at the same time is no simple task. But it is certainly commendable in our eyes. And so, without further adieu we give to you: Blair Urban’s Weekly Feature. Enjoy!
Name: Blair Patricia Urban
Place of Residence: Los Angeles
Current Jam: Dub Side of the Moon
Favorite Food: Ceviche
Mode of Self Expression: Status Updates
Ark: Hey Blair. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us. Could you being by telling us a little bit about yourself?
Blair: Hey, how’s it going? Where do I begin? I was born and raised in Southern California. If I had no responsibilities and endless resources, I would constantly be traveling the world and painting murals everywhere I go. My dreams have been very potent ever since I was a small child. The things I experience in my dreams are just as vivid as my experiences when I’m awake which lead me to believe in a consciousness that exists beyond this body and this world as we know it.
Ark: Whether it’s in your personal life or in your art, where do you usually look to for inspiration?
Blair: Inspiration is a funny thing because I never know where I will find it. I become inspired when I am working with something fresh, a new process, new people, new materials, or a new surface. Once things become repetitive is when I lose interest and seek to be reinvigorated. I tend to be addicted to change and therefore it is important for me to find components in my life that are stabilizing. I am always observing and always listening because the world has a language of it’s own through which it sends messages that are easy to miss if you don’t pay attention. I live a great life and am fortunate to come from a place that is rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity. However, the world can be equally as horrific as it is marvelous, and finding peace in the middle of it all is my most meaningful struggle.
Ark: Who are a few of your favorite artists, musicians, etc. that you have looked up to over the years?
Blair: When I was little I was mostly influenced by illustrated children’s books like Dr. Seuss, as well as some more contemporary artists that my parents liked. I grew up watching Nickelodeon cartoons like Ren and Stimpy and Rocko’s Modern Life, and I wonder where all the good programming for kids has gone these days. For some reason the pink elephants scene from Dumbo stuck with me when I first saw it back in the day. I remember tripping out on it being the most random sequence, and it may not seem like a big deal now but when you’re 5 it can be mind blowing.
While growing up I was also exposed to some of the greats like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Salvador Dali, MC Escher, Edgar Allen Poe’s writing, Diego Rivera’s murals, and early on developed an appreciation for individual style and expression. There are many ways in which people can be great, and today there are so many talented people who can be considered living legends. I started realizing this once the internet became big and more people were sharing their work online. These days it is truly amazing to witness the development of people’s talent as they are living it instead of reflecting on it many years after their death.
Ark: Out of all the places you have traveled to in your life. Which would you say has had the biggest impact on you, and can be seen in your art?
Blair: I lived in Mazatlán, Mexico for six months. It was an experience that I will never forget and I am so thankful to have been able to spend so much time there. I met some great friends and had some amazing dreams that altered my perspective on life. I did a lot of painting which felt amazing since in Mexico they are very accepting of art in public spaces, the more color the better! One of the projects I did was paint goddess-themed murals throughout a whole house that functions as a spa, yoga studio, and hotel. It is my favorite project to-date. But really, it’s the little things that made my experience in Mexico badass, like being legally allowed to drink beer on the beach until the sun came up.
Also, last year my boyfriend and I traveled to Europe and saw art throughout Italy, France, and Spain. I never really felt a connection with Renaissance art before, but since that trip I have really started appreciating it much more. Although the religious subject matter tends to get quite repetitive, the skill level of those artists is extremely remarkable and you can really feel the passion behind the stories that the paintings are depicting. It makes a huge difference to see the art in person instead of a photo, you can see how the paint was layered and the even the size alone of some of the paintings is very inspiring.
Ark: How and when did you make the transition from doing art on canvas (paper, computers, etc.) to art on apparel?
Blair: I became interested in making art on apparel after learning more about it from a friend who mentored me on the process of designing apparel graphics. I learned about silk screening from my experiences working with eVocal and started doing my own thing a couple of years ago and now have a mini screen printing studio in my home. It seemed like a natural next step to gather my resources and design my own apparel business. My biggest problem is that I am creating a business from an artist’s perspective and the artist’s nature conflicts with that of a business perspective, so I hope to find a balance between the two and develop a business that has soul, manufactures sustainably, and treats people well while still being able function sensibly as a business. I would rather have a smaller business that lives a long life making quality products than a larger business that manufactures crappy products and becomes an eyesore by over-saturating with too many tacky advertisements.
I think people are becoming tired of the bulls**t and being marketed at. There are a few companies who manage to do it tastefully, but for the most part it feels cheap and manipulative and is sometimes just insulting. I don’t intend to conquer the industry but I hope that if I make the right moves I can expose my art to enough people and out of those people some of them like what I do enough and want to support it.
Ark: Is there one specific or “favorite” medium you prefer to use more so than another?
Blair: I like paint the most, but also enjoy graphite and charcoal. I like to watch the colors blend together and I enjoy it when the material I am working with tends to have a soul of it’s own through its texture. I’m not really a huge fan of computers, I only use it when I have to use a digital element and to be honest I’m playing hardcore catch up when it comes to learning the creative suite software but I’m gradually building my digital skill set. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely see the beauty of working digitally, but for me it serves a more practical purpose than a creative one.
Ark: We’re all about trying to learn the creative processes different artists go through when it comes time to design a new piece. Is there a routine you tend to stick to, or does it vary each time?
Blair: It varies, depending on what the project is. The more purpose a project has, the easier it is for me to create because I feel like I’m solving a need and there is more clarity about what the end goal is and it is comforting to know that at least there is usually a solution (even if there are many possible solutions), and eventually it will be arrived at if the decisions I make end up working.
On the other hand, if I am making a piece of art for the sake of my own exploration, the process usually goes something like this: I start out with a realization that gives me a burst of inspiration, and then I get pissed off because this usually happens when I’m driving in the car which isn’t the most appropriate time to dive into a painting. I have been trying to get in the habit of writing down my ideas, but when I put them in words or sketches they all of a sudden seem cheesy to me and I start to hate them. The more I work at an idea, it starts to make less and less sense and eventually seems pointless and obsolete, like when you say a word out loud enough times and it starts to lose its meaning and just become a meaningless sound. This is when I just say “to hell with it” with ideas and go back to using my intuition instead, usually by taking my attention off the details and play with the lighting until the imagery emerges on its own.
The subject matter that interests me the most are those things buried in my psyche and subconscious, and the best way to discover it is to relax and truly open up and just allow them to float to the surface. Doing this is uncomfortable and can put me in a really weird mood and make me feel uneasy sometimes, but it’s all part of the process of self discovery and I enjoy finding my own truths through my art. With the type of art that I really like to do, the solutions are harder to find if they are even there at all. Sometimes the only goal for me it to just observe and be accepting of what I see.
For me, the biggest challenge with my creative process is to wade through the psyche, submerge into my subconscious, overcome my fears, break mental barriers, find my lifeline and reemerge only to see myself exposed and stark-naked in my own truth, hopefully still somewhat sane.
Ark: What is the strangest, most memorable, funny, awkward…(fill in the blank) encounter your artwork has led you to over the years?
Blair: I wish I had something funny to write here, but I don’t. One thing is for certain though, my art has lead me to all the most memorable experiences so far in my life. I have always chosen to follow it and trust it even if it defied reason and seemed like a weird decision at the time. I have definitely taken the twisted, nonsensical, scenic route instead of the straight shooter path, but it has led me to all the people, places, and learning experiences that have made my life grow into what it is and I hope to continue growing organically and enjoying the discovery itself instead of trying to arrive at some point that supposedly defines success. Compromises and hard decisions are inevitable from time to time but this is all keeps me grounded in choosing those things in life that I value the most and weeding out that which no longer works for me.
Ark: Alright. Now it’s time for the “lightning round”. If you could please answer as quickly as possible, we’d appreciate it.
*Blair’s answers are in RED
- Digital rendering or hand drawn?- Hand drawn, hands down.
- Acrylic or spray paint?- Both!
- Still photos or videos?- Stills
- Los Angeles or San Francisco?- LA (<3 San Fran, but I like my beaches warm)
- Coffee or tea?- Coffee
Ark: What are a few of your hobbies/how do you like to spend your free time when you’re not creating art?
Blair: I like to spend time with my family, my boyfriend, and my friends. I like to go out and have adventures, because adventures are what make life worth living. I really like to horseback ride, even though I only do that about once every two years. My dream is to be able to have my own land one day somewhere serene and own my own horse, with an apartment in the city where I can stay when I go do business. I would like to be able to have the space and resources to rescue animals because they are my soft spot and it brings me a lot of pain to see creatures who are going to be killed just because they have no where to live.
Ark: Aside from having one of your custom packs in our Get to Give Art Benefit in June, what else can we expect from you in the future?
Blair: Hopefully more paintings and murals will happen, but I have been spending most of my time at FIDM buried in school work learning about every facet of running an apparel company. I love it, I feel armed with a whole new skill set and I slowly feel the two halves of my brain finally getting along and working together as a team.
Ark: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Blair. Any last words for the readers?
Blair: I am happy to have been able to share my perspective and since I have a tendency to write a lot and my appreciation goes out to whoever made it all the way through reading this, I hope you found it enjoyable. If I had any advice to pass on, I would say that the key to following your passion is to have patience with it and remain honest with yourself which is sometimes the hardest thing to do. It is easy for something you love to turn against you if you follow it for the wrong reasons. I encourage you to stay in touch with me, here are my websites (www.blairurban.com and www.almarevolution.com) and of course you can find me in the book of faces under “Blair Urban Art.”
Now that you’ve gotten to know a bit about Blair, it’s time to let her work speak for itself:
*To see more of Blair’s work visit her websites www.blairurban.com and www.almarevolution.com or connect with her on Facebook