I’m the child of two artists.I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and I’m based there now, though I spent a decade in NYC in between. I’ve always been an artist thanks to my upbringing, but I never considered it as a career path. Instead I chose to focus on how I could make a living being creative. I actually went to school for
I actually went to school for technical theater production, focusing on set, sound, and costume design, though by the time I was graduated I ended up being more interested in graphic design. I ended up working as a graphic designer & art director for 6 years in-house, first for b-movie company Troma and then a fashion company called Avirex. I was able to launch my own socially conscious graphic design firm as my full-time business in 2001.
After another 6 years of working in the industry I got really burnt out and that’s when I launched my Skull-A-Day project. I had been sporadically making art over the years, but that was really the first time most people found out that I was an artist. It was an incredibly transformative experience on many levels, leading to not only a lot more opportunities to make and share my art, but a complete transformation of my career path.
I now split my time between running my firm as a art & innovation consultancy with my business partner/sister and making art in a variety of formats.
I know that probably sounds ridiculous, but really what I discovered doing my project and in teaching these skills to others over the last few years, is that inspiration is waiting around every corner.
It’s just a matter of training yourself to spot it.
The more diverse people, places, & things that I encounter, the more opportunities I get for new ideas.
As far as I can tell I’ve always liked skulls. I found a drawing of a really detailed skull from when I was 6, so I know it goes back at least that far. I credit growing up in an artistic household to my exposure to anatomical imagery early on, though I was also a big fan of archaeology, biology and pirates as a kid, so who knows.
I will say that by the time I started my project I already had several skull tattoos, so I guess it makes sense that I would think of that image when I had my idea to do a daily art project.
For me skulls are really about the classic concept of memento mori: a reminder of death that makes you appreciate the life you have, so that you live it more fully. We know that death is the only guarantee in this life and since we have no idea when it’ll come it’s imperative that we do something thoughtful with every moment we have left.
To avoid comparing my work and my personal journey with anyone else’s. It’s really easy to get caught up in how good or how successful someone else is and that’s really demotivating for me.
Why bother making anything at all, if someone else has already done it better? Seeing one or two new things is inspiring, but scrolling through pages and pages of great work online always makes me want to quit. I have to really work hard to try to produce more of my own work and focus on that process rather than just passively consuming other people’s work.
Even though I teach it to people all the time, I constantly have to remind myself that my success only came through doing what I was passionate about and not worrying about what anyone else thought or wanted.
Definitely Lee Bontecou, her sculptures are so gorgeous, disturbing and intriguing, I want to live in them. Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral, environmental creations are simply stunning – totally inspiring to me.
I’ve always loved Joseph Cornell’s boxes, they’re mysterious and intriguing and I appreciate how they tell a story from the juxtaposition of everyday objects.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Vik Muniz, I hadn’t encountered his work til after I did my Skull-A-Day project and then realized how much we had in common, in terms of materials usage and overall aesthetic.
I’ve been such a chameleon when it comes to style that it’s hard for me to identify one particular aesthetic as my own. I love playing with contrasts and transforming the everyday into something unexpected.
I just finished a new large-scale portrait installation as part of my role as the first artist-in-residence at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business here in Richmond, Virginia and I’ll be working on something else there next semester.
Ha. Hmm, most people are pretty cool and I’ve actually ended up with some great online friendships with fans that get in touch.
Probably the best note I got was from an acquaintance who offered to give me a real human skull because it was just collecting dust on a shelf.
I had debated buying one for a while before that and had ended up opting for a reproduction, so it was like the universe wanted me to have it.