Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Liz Adams!

Before we get to the main event, I want to mention a couple of things:

1. I'm sorry if my blogs and responses to people are little more sporadic than usual. I'm still struggling to find the magical balance in my life that allows me enough time to write. Currently my solution to said problem is to just disappear for a day or two, ignore everything and write. I'm also as usual totally backlogged when it comes to replying to emails and comments and blog interview requests, etc. I promise you that I will get to these as soon as humanly possible. I try to reply to each and every one of you in some form or another, but it might just take some time, I hope you understand.

2. I did do an interview with Gaper's Block this week, which you can read here!

3. I'm headed to Detroit on Friday where I will be going to a trade show and doing a reading on Saturday, October 4th at 4 pm at the Barnes and Noble in Royal Oak, MI at 5oo S. Main St. And I hope to see all my Michigan area friends and fans there as I'm not sure when I'll get out to the area next!

4. I have a cool Women Who Rock Weds announcement, but I'm making it at the end of today's interview, so make sure to read all the way to the end of this blog!

Okay, now without further adieu, welcome to Women Who Rock Wednesday, the day of the week that I celebrate amazing women and highlight the cool creative things they do on my blog! Each week I introduce you to a fabulous creative lady who rocks my world and give out a prize to a random commenter. Last week we hosted one of my favorite authors, Cecil Castellucci, who agreed to give out a signed copy of her book, BEIGE. The lucky winner chosen at random from across my three blogs is Lovelessangel93 from LiveJournal!!! I will pass your address on to Cecil!

This week, I am excited to bring you an artist whose work I hope to fill my house with someday, Liz Adams! I discovered Liz's artwork when I picked up the book CHERRY BOMB by Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna, our first WWRW featured author. Liz did the illustrations for CHERRY BOMB (an example is on the left) and I thought they were so unique that I went to her website to learn more about her. I found that she'd done lots of illustrations in magazines and newspapers from Teen Magazine to Seattle Weekly and had her designs on things from notecards to skate decks such as this one: Basically her art just makes me squee and sigh and I had to share her with you. So introducing, Liz Adams!

Q: Liz, I came across your amazing art by seeing your illustrations in Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna's book, CHERRY BOMB. That's one of your latest projects, but can you tell us about how you got started as an artist? Your style is very unique, who are some of your art-world influences (whether they are known artists or teachers, friends, or parents)? Also I'm a writer, but music heavily influences my stories, what are some of your inspirations outside of the art-world?

Liz: Ever since I was really little, I was drawing and making stuff. In middle school I started getting into comics and made my own really dumb ones. In high school I did little zines and found art class to be the only bearable thing about school. I was an art major in college and mostly took sculpture classes. After graduating I moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles and got a job as a photo retoucher. I didn't really know what I wanted to do or how to get professional work as an artist. The whole time I was drawing in my sketchbooks a lot and I started painting. I also had a design job and when we needed illustrations I would do them, and it was exciting. This gave me a few portfolio pieces to start promoting with. I made a website, sent out postcards, and tried to make new work whenever I could. It took about six months to get my first real client and it snowballed from there.

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona was a huge influence on me artistically. I spent a lot of time outdoors when I was little. The desert landscape and animals made a huge impression on me. Other influences come from growing up in the 80s', animals, animation, comics and video games. I've always thought female musicians were so cool and spent most of high school and college playing drums in an all-girl band, so music is also a huge influence.

There are a ton of people who inspire me. The list includes John Waters, Maila Nurmi, Joan Miro, Gary Panter, and Lynda Barry to name a few. In college, I was very inspired by my professor Ron Gasowski who taught a folk/outsider art class.

Q: How did you come to work on CHERRY BOMB? What was it like collaborating with Carrie and how do you feel about the final product?

Liz: Carrie was awesome to work with. From what I understand, she put together a list of a few illustrators and submitted it to Simon & Schuster. I was recommended to her by a couple of people she knew. After I was chosen and contacted by the publisher, Carrie invited me to her house to meet and talk about the book. We looked at all the cool stuff in her closet so I could have more of idea of what her character would look like. I felt like we were on the same page about all of the illustrations. I'm not the most fashionable person, but I like fashion and I like drawing cute girls—especially 'rock chicks'—so this project was a good fit. I am really happy with how it turned out and I hope to collaborate with Carrie again sometime.

Q:Do you think you will do more book illustration in the future? What are some of your upcoming projects?

Liz: I hope so! It was fun to tackle a larger project. I am working on a couple ideas for childrens' books right now. One is about a tiny dog that thinks it's a wild beast. The other is about a girl and a magical bunny.

Q: I know from experience that it's hard to grow up a creative soul in this world, but lots of young, creative folks read this blog. Can you share some words of wisdom about being an artist with them?

Liz: My advice would be to put in as much time as you can to your art. I have always been pretty good at this because I don't have much of a social life (hehehe). I think learning to promote is almost as important as making the work itself. Being persistent and patient pays off, and though being patient is sometimes torture.

Q: I love the images of women and girls in your work and find them very empowering. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Are there reasons why you create the images of women that you do?

Liz: Yes I do. Ever since I was little I've looked up to women who did their own thing, so I'm sure that's big part of it. Besides that, I think of my personal work as a way of escaping everyday life. I kind of live vicariously through the characters I create so it just seems natural to make up nerdy, badass superhero girls with capes who play instruments and are BFFs with pterodactyls.

Q: I always ask two standard questions of my Women Who Rock. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.

Liz: Umm...I think the first tape I asked my parents to buy me was either a Debbie Gibson or Tiffany tape when I was pretty little.

I think one of the first concerts I went to was Green Day at the state fair with some friends. I was fourteen. All I remember is that I lied and said I was 12 to get kids admission price and thought I was such a rebel.

Q: Please dish about the moment where you felt most like a rock star. Maybe it was an art opening you did to or a moment of big success in your career, an "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World type moment where you met someone cool, or a time where you just got the rock star treatment. Or maybe it was an unusual rock star moment, like the one Cecil Castellucci tells about here.

Liz: I think it would have to be about three years ago when I landed a job with my first big client Teen Magazine. At that point I had been promoting for about a year and had mostly done work for obscure publications and bands. I was working as a fine art printer at the time and sneaked a peak at my email at work. I saw the message in my inbox and couldn't believe it. I then hid in the bathroom and danced around until I could calm down. Illustrating for the teen market was one of the first goals I set for myself. At the time, it seemed like such a lofty goal, and when it happened it was exciting. I now illustrate for them on a regular basis, and it's opened a lot of doors for me. That may not be 'Rock Star' to most people, but for me, it was pretty awesome.

Q: They say pictures can speak a thousand words and I personally see stories in your artwork. Can you share one of the pieces you are most proud of and tell us what story it tells to you?

Liz: I often don't paint or draw with a specific story in mind. Usually I think of a theme and work within that framework. I like to make everything pretty optimistic and whimsical. Usually the characters are having a good time, or if they are a character facing an obstacle, I like the impression to be that they would overcome that. The final product often looks like a part of the story, but it sometimes isn't quite that literal.

That being said, things going on in my life do inspire stories in paintings. One example I can use is my painting, "Baby Alien Rescue":

For a few years I was balancing my freelance work with my full time job. After a while it just got to be too much. I was so afraid to leave my steady job and take a risk. Eventually I did and all of the stress I was having at the time kind of went into this painting. I felt like this little character looking for something in the dark on a strange planet. She finds it, but there's a huge, dumb monster lurking so It's hard to say if she'll make it back to her ship in time. I'd like to think that she will.

It's awesome to know what Liz put into this painting, but now I would like the blog readers to comment on what story they see in "Baby Alien Rescue" and next week I'll choose a random commentor to win a grab bag of Liz Adams items including this original mini-drawing (2.5 x 3.5):
As usual, the contest winner will be announced next Wednesday when I host Deborah Frost of the amazing band Brain Surgeons! Now for the big Women Who Rock Wednesday annoucement, I promised!

As many of you know the week of October 12th is Teen Read Week so I thought we should do something fun and fictional on Wednesday October 15th. It's been over a year since I've revisited my characters from I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, but I think it would be fun to do so. If you wanted to know more about the story and characters of IWBYJR, now is your chance because I am going to let you interview Emily Black and Regan Parker of She Laughs. Hey, they are women who rock, right? Even if they are made up. So you can leave your questions as comments to this blog or email them to me at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com with the subject Question for Emily or Question for Regan. I'll choose about seven or eight questions from the ones I get by October 12th and post them up for the WWRW on the 15th. I think this is a fun idea and I hope you do too because I can't do this without your input!!!


hana said...

Great interview! My boyfriend's first ever art purchase was her painting "Critters." We're both crazy about her stuff.

Re: Baby Alien Rescue - the first time I saw it, I thought about someone (the superhero chick) finding something she didn't want nor expect. The baby alien looks freaky but actually it's kinda cute. When you're not looking for something, life throws it at you.

The big monster is cussing her out because he couldn't find something so cool. Yeah, that's what it's about. :)

MaricrisG said...

This is cool! I'm glad that you featured someone who really rocks! Lisa does have some serious talent. OMG! I wish I can draw like her but nah! I just put all my talent into making jewelries and crafts which I think rocks too! :) You rock!

Layla said...

I have known Liz since we were teenagers in Arizona. She was always very creative and unique.

I am not at all surprised that she has grown up to be a successful illustrator!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interview! I love Liz's artistic always seems to tell an interesting story and also to surprise. Thanks for the words on promoting yourself. I hadn't thought to emphasize that aspect as much. Congratulations, Liz!

Khy said...

The alien artwork reminds me of Halloween. Probably because it is almost Halloween, but whatever.

This reminds me! I saw a girl at school carrying a copy of Cherry Bomb. It was nice to see a girl holding something other than Twilight.

Sara Hantz said...

Fab interview. I'm seriously impressed that you can ignore everything to write..... I'm hopeless in my addiction to the internet and my email... can't even leave it alone for half an hour!

Anonymous said...

Liz has been awesome since age 9, and probably also before that. Baby Alien Rescue may have been inspired by a series of events a while back involving a paper Michael Jackson taped to a straw. I see Michael in the baby Alien's eyes, and he needs to be rescued.