Lisa King is an Adelaide artist whose work spans a number of genres, from large scale oil murals and aerosol paintings on city walls to Skateboard decks and oil on board. She was the founder of Paperhorse studios, an art space off Rundle Mall. Her work is often large, bold and in your face. Lisa is self-taught but that does not mean she considers herself above learning. Far from it, she is constantly seeking opportunities to develop her technique almost to the point of madness. Her style is unique and interesting, as is her character. Her creative instinct and drive has taken her throughout the country and overseas. I had the privilege to ask her a few questions in the midst of her busy schedule.
Where did you grow up- have you always lived in Adelaide?
I have lived and grown in Adelaide, currently yep, still reside in this little morsel of home.
Looking back how did this influence your work?
I guess the primary influence for me was the intimacy and support of the community here. It allows ones creative voice to be heard and I feel it can be great for an early grass roots platform to start your career and get you recognised, ready for future potential. My artistic conscience started many cat lives ago however and for me it was just something that was going to happen organically and was out of my control. So, I guess in saying this it wouldn’t have mattered which city my feet were grounded in, either way I would have found myself in some art scene, in some gallery, with a glass of wine on a Wednesday night, over excited about artistic possibilities, collaboration and future potentials.
What advantages can you see with being a self-taught Artist? How do you learn new things?
Straight up the beauty about being self-taught is that you get to make all your mistakes yourself. Those mistakes really are the fundamental building blocks and substance of one’s style. But everyone works differently. Some people love a classroom situation and educational environments and I’m sure they get a lot out of it, for me though, I like to be guided briefly with the fundamentals and then take what I can in a leather bound book and run for the hills; where my work can then grow, fuck up and form in its own space and time.
You work in a variety of mediums. Which one do you find most comfortable to work in?None of them, and, all of them at the same time. I’m really just a little fish finding my way right now, so early in the stages of learning and uncovering new things. I get excited about different mediums and really don’t want to restrict myself from natural growth. So, I try not to hold back on my instinctive behaviour when it comes to experimentation and uncovering new treasures. I am currently starting to learn how to use aerosol properly and I guess my focus for this moment is the possibility of crossing this medium over with my oil painting portrait style to put a new spin on my previous works, and, also be able to take it to a larger scale and outcome.
I read in a previous interview that you really admired the work of Anna Platten and Brett Whiteley. Could you give us an insight as to why?
Ah the gurus. What would we all do without our heroes to look up to? Brett Whitely is just………. Brett Whitely. It’s not something I would like to sit around and try to explain really, but, I ask you to go paddle in his work and let your emotions and mind swim off into an aesthetic body that speaks the truth and unravels the curiosities of this crazy world. Anna Platten is someone I admire and look up to. First off, she is an amazing Adelaide brewed beauty, but, more importantly her work is the perfect juxtaposition of profound prolific talent, technical ability, aesthetics, illustration and deep story telling. Her work takes you above and beyond just the imagery you see in front of you. It’s magical; it holds deep meaning and for me is super-conscious in its execution. Her painting style really is an example of what I see as one of my most influential. What more can I say…. Again, explanation and words holds no real value as you have to experience everything behind it personally.
Why do you paint or create?
It is the process and notions that come from my work that keep my ambiguity to life and existence in check. It keeps my active mind from wondering too far up or down.
Is public art fun or is it more nerve racking? What do you like most about public art?
It’s a bouncy castle. I actually really love it. My early years, as a creative, saw me as a bit of a musician….. school bands and little stages hahahaha (nothing big but crazy fun more importantly) so, I’ve always seen myself as a bit of a performer; it feels natural to me and at the end of the day the adrenalin and challenges are something I will always crave. I love feeding off people’s excitement, intrigue and energy to make a work fit and for me my art is universal and something to share. Like anything live, the pressure is existent but I like to use everything to my advantage and filtered properly this can only lead to a more executed result I feel.
You love portraiture and in particular female portraits. Is it because you can relate to the female form better?
I’m intrigued with human behaviour and emotion. Call me a full time analyst if you will. We hold so many secrets to great change, freedoms and evolution (of course), but sometimes they lie in a space of the human sub-conscience or unknown terrain. I like to think that our artistic delving into personality and individual outlook can one day make a difference in the understandings to life and love. As far as female form and matter goes…. I guess it has a lot to do with me being a woman yes. Perhaps more a delving into my past as a girl and letting these concepts and “time travels” open a world of creativity that I have somewhat been conditioned to lose in the present.
Are the people in your portraits usually known to you? If so; how does their personality inspire you, do you use their story to influence your work?Depends on what I’m feeling at the time and what the deeper meaning of my work is requiring in terms of style and feel. The stories I create to build into my work at the moment is mostly around my own personal ideas and metaphors. It’s really what material I can find to fit the story at the time. Sometimes, I outsource reference imagery from others and other projects. I also direct my own photographic shoots where I work on pre-production images and take it into my mind from there.
Could you tell us about your overseas travel intentions in 2013-14? What do you hope to see and achieve?
I have just recently got back from Indonesia where I worked within Ubud’s Writers and Readers Festival. I ran a children’s mural workshop (which was cultural bliss) and participated in a collab with some local talent. I’m heading back early 2014 to do some intensive lessons with a wonderful lady in the traditional art form of Batik. I will also be traveling over to Yogyakarta where I hope to do some collab work with a few fellow creatives and designers there. India is also on the cards and I’m hoping to fit in some volunteer work with woman’s and children’s orphanages in Cambodia or Vietnam. Probably taking me into 2015 to be honest. The International realm and working travel sits the most dearly in my heart so my planning has quite broad horizons… The states and Europe for ongoing exhibition and large scale mural projects are in my sights. I could go forever though….. Its endless, these artist dreams.
What advice can you give to an aspiring artist?
Look within yourself because that’s where all the secrets and guides lie. Throw yourself into whatever you want, whenever you want. Don’t put time restrictions on yourself; it takes endless travel and patience to filter out what you want to keep with you on your path. Be dedicated to your journey if you really want it. It’s a lifelong game and it takes great patience to deal with the punches. Hard hits bring great success, even if it’s not great success.
What do you wish someone had told you earlier?
Nothing. My lessons and personal viewings are the most fundamental to my work. Fuck ups, are richer. However; if I think about it…… I do wish someone would have told me to cut my fringe at some point. It seems it’s taken me 32 years to find a haircut that I can sport well and suits the anatomy of my face and style. 60s mod is the biz!