Briefly describe the work you do.
My work is influenced by the connection between the natural world and my internal environment. Mountains represent overcoming obstacles, water symbolizes change and trees, growth. My goal is to create an atmosphere that is brighter, more playful, more colorful and more content than the world in which we exist. In short, I create as a form of therapy.
For the majority of my career, I had focused on mixed media painting. But, over the past few years, the imagery from my two dimensional work has taken on new shapes in the form of installation, sculpture and video.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in Eugene, Oregon. It’s a midsize college town full of hippies and crafts. Between that and working in the family boat-building business, I was always encouraged to make things with my hands. As I grew older, the craft making progressed into fine art and I moved from Eugene to Seattle in search of more culture.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I definitely do my fair share of toiling, but every once in a while I need to come up for air. I balance the isolation by frequent stays at artist residencies. These provide me much needed interaction with fellow artists as well as give me an opportunity to work in a new environment.
Another way I break out of the traditional “studio” is by working on site-specific, outdoor installations. That way, I can balance working in a “box” by interacting with the natural world.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I first started my career as an artist it was primarily for selfish reasons. My practice was not only a form of therapy, it also provided a form of escapism from the outside world. Now, I am becoming much more concerned with how my work can impact the greater community. I am seeking more opportunities outside of the galleries in hopes that my work will reach those other than the typical art patron.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
My schedule varies from day to day, depending on what I need to accomplish. Typically, I start each day on the computer. I answer emails, apply to calls, update my website, do bookkeeping, etc… I wander to the studio around noon and work until 6 or 7. I often will work on weekends, but that is something I’m trying to do less of.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
As I mentioned before, I am branching out into many more mediums and media. Nothing is off limits. I give myself a lot more freedom than I did five years ago.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Music has a huge impact on my work. I listen to almost everything, but my current favorites are Ólafur Arnalds, Antony & the Johnsons and Nick Cave. Seeing my work, no one would ever guess that it was created to such a depressing soundtrack!
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
A librarian. I’ve had two library jobs and I love the atmosphere in a library. But, as cheesy as it may sound, I could never not be an artist.
Liz Tran is a graduate in Print Art and Painting from Cornish College of the Arts.
Public collections of Tran’s work include the City of Seattle’s Portable Works Collection, Baer Art Center, Camac Art Centre, The El Paso Children’s Hospital, Harborview Medical Center, The King County Public Art Collection and The Child Center.
She has been awarded multiple fellowships and grants; including a Grant for Artist Projects (GAP) from Artist Trust, Clowes Fellowship for residency at the Vermont Studio Center, the Nellie Cornish Scholarship and residency at The Camac Art Centre in France, The Baer Art Center in Iceland, Jentel, Millay Colony for the Arts and The Center for Contemporary Printmaking. She resides in Seattle, WA.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.