MARLEIGH CULVER

IMG_0451CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

MC: My work is vibrant and trying to be forward style-wise while using elements of fine arts visual language and aged textures. I try to give my pieces spirit. I don’t think it’s something that can be called any style than my own — it’s hard to categorize. People look at my work and say, “It looks like you,” although I’m still figuring out what works for me.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

MC: Anything you can find in a museum: they are the most intimate places on Earth. Fine art has always been a part of my life. I love large paintings and mixed media. Even though my work includes a lot of visual elements, I appreciate and have an affinity to minimal visual art. I love pop art and hard-edge painting. Other serious inspirations include Japanese design and print-making, Baroque Italian sculpture and 1950’s and 60’s advertising and design. I love vintage album covers. Oh, and cinema! Film is my favorite medium because it incorporates everything: language, imagery, style, craft, sound, editing, time.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

MC: My first real step is to make a folder with inspiration for the project. Then, it’s like this: “I need some music. What is going to be the final feeling of this piece? I have all my elements and now I need to find the right colors to fit the mood. Time to lay everything out in programs and manipulate images.” I just do it. I don’t really sketch, although I know that is frowned upon, but I just can’t start like that. It seems so roundabout to me. I do a lot of great work in three hours just flying through ideas in my head. Some things turn out better than others, some processes are smoother. There is a beacon in my mind of where to end for a piece and I just run for it. This might seem vague, but it is a worthy experience. I’m not done until it feels done. Really, there aren’t any rules for finishing. There are times where I feel stuck and it is out of my control. I don’t enjoy that. I think I just pointed out I’m a control freak.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

MC: I am so young. I hope people see what I do is thoughtful. I’m serious about my work to look right and intriguing, but also enjoy some humor or strangeness. Hopefully my studying, education and attention to all the details shows through. I want my work to be well-recognizable one day.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

MC: Everything I do I love. For eight years, I went to school studying and working in art and design. I have been freelancing for five years and my schedule has been staying continually busy in the past six months. I think this is the start of things for me. Earlier this year I was working in advertising as a freelance designer. All my work comes to me by friends or through people finding me on the internet. I am insanely grateful for how things have been going. I want to make great work. I stay mentally active and interested. I surround myself with good people and beautiful things. Pleasure keeps me going. I work from home for now, but eventually would like to save up for a studio space.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

MC: It depends on if you are working for yourself or for someone else. A lot of my clients have given me some ideas and also freedom. So there is a mix of plan and impulse, which I love. I feel equal about having total openness for ideas and having guidelines to follow. A lot of my work is about feeling it out and not over-thinking.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

MC: Take a break when you need to, but don’t stop.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

MC: It is a focus to me personally, but how you are as a person is the most important. Knowledge of what you’re doing, how you are doing it and where you are pulling your resources from is important. Everything leads from the inside to the outside. People with certain tastes also attract people with the same interests.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

MC: Finding yourself through the work to stand out and be noticed. It takes a lot of work to get out to the top where you can be seen. It can be a full-time job, but it is totally worth it and lands you very cool projects or even interviews! Once you find your voice, it will carry you. People always appreciate someone who is real and honest to themselves.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

MC: It’s a world I was meant to be in. You are in so much control it feels surreal. You have the power to change history or budge in a new style or new piece of visual phrasing. You have a chance to create something new and that may seem egotistical, but it is more like exercising your brain and eyes. The whole process of an artist and person is about growth. It takes a lot of energy to make something incredible, and takes a lot to understand and recognize such a thing. I never feel bored.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

MC: There are too many to name. A current artist I feel very connected to the work is Leif Podhajsky. Elsworth Kelly and Frank Stella are my favorites to see in museums. Guernica by Picasso was a piece I was attracted to and became my favorite while I was in elementary school. Andy Warhol’s early drawings. A few years ago I saw Julie Mehretu’s Stadia III in person finally and it made me cry. It’s this stunning 9’x11′ painting at the VMFA in Richmond. I have a lot of ‘love at first sight’ moments with art and design. I feel the art created before has so much for people to be educated by. Even though I am primarily a designer in my job, art is a very big part of my everyday thinking.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

MC: Technology has become the main tool for some artists and has birthed this crazy internet art movement. Technology is cost and time efficient, convenient and makes any type of creation possible with all the programs out there. When I use the computer, I enjoy seeing how far I can go to recreate a piece to make it look like it was screen-printed or drawn on paper. My phone is glued to my hand and I’m always taking screenshots or pictures of things that interest me. I think it is a great thing, but you have to remove yourself from it at times.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

MC: I don’t know anything but being in this kind of aesthetic-based lifestyle though I know every person views the world differently even by thought-process. I think everyone is able to be a thinker and have creative interests. Artists are inspired by non-artists. I don’t see it as an exclusive viewing, just some people are more into it looking at life through an artist’s eyes than others. Everything in my life is shaped by how I love beautiful things and organization. I am specific and have developed a strong taste.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

MC: I haven’t been able to travel much, but visiting Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, I would have to say Richmond is my favorite so far for personal reasons. I have lived here for about five years and I think it is wonderful. My next destination would have to be Europe because I’m a complete Italophile. I love to visit unfamiliar places.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

MC: I need to read more to properly give an educated opinion. I enjoy reading plays. I am almost done reading 1Q84 by Murakami and that book has me feeling so creeped out and curious about existing. The writing is genius and the images and feelings I get from it while reading are really exciting — I feel like I’m watching 2001: A Space Odyssey or Spirited Away. Murakami writes about details that aren’t superfluous. His use of repetition is just right. That twisting storyline! I’m pretty sure everyone I know is sick of me obsessing over it.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

MC: Bigger! Weirder! I would like to make it so that I am manipulating my own images and not just things I find. I want to make stunning and moving design or art pieces some day. Working outside the computer again would be great. I’d love to make some mixed media pieces like I did in high school. This feels like the start of my life doing what I love and I’m open to any way it will take me. I have interests in doing work for magazines and fashion as well as working on more websites and coding.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

MC: Being focused and intent on your craft and your style. Being entirely dedicated to the lifestyle and having a romance with it.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

MC: Taming a wildflower garden. Attention-seeking. Dreamy.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: MARLEIGH CULVER

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