Artist Interview: Lizzie Reid WINNER OF THE MIAL BURSARY AWARD

by Cass Art

We’re delighted to continue supporting Made in Arts London (MiAL), a professional development initiative organised by University of the Arts London, by awarding a £500 Cass Art Materials Bursary Award. We caught up with the winner of this year’s award, Lizzie Reid to find out more about how she navigates print, painting, collage and the written word:

So how did you become involved with MIAL? 

Since starting uni, I always felt a need to apply to every opportunity going from exhibition open calls and competitions to short-term freelance jobs. I went to as many talks and workshops as I could to better my knowledge of the business side of art, especially as this information wasn't included in my course structure (which seemed outrageous to me). MiAL was one of the platforms offering these opportunities. 

My first application to MiAL wasn't selected. I was in 2nd year and applied with quite a varied, incoherent body of work. At the time, I had actually disconnected quite a lot from my work because I felt an overpowering amount of pressure to make work predominantly to suit the tutors and for the grade. I took a placement year out, got to grips with the functionality of business and art, had the space to get to know myself better and most importantly, recognise my strengths. 

Returning to uni, I allowed my projects to be completely guided by what I wanted and needed to learn, to better my own personal wellbeing and my relationship with my art. Leading to my most confident and connected body of work to date! Near the end of my final year, MiAL accepted this collection of work for their 2018 collection.

Lizzie Reid, Love - Spray paint, oil pastel, paint and white ink

And what exciting plans have you got for the bursary?

My plan for this bursary is to utilise this summer to the max and focus on making! Prioritizing the process of expressing myself freely without financial concern, and getting out in the garden and going BIG! Buy some new huge canvases, refresh the acrylic paints I've been rationing since secondary school, get some neon pinks, blues and yellows (which I'm obsessed with at the moment) and just, flow. I want to see who this Lizzie has become thanks to this body of work and address how she feels now. 

Let’s talk about two of your works for MIAL! It’s Fine by Me and Hoping and Dreaming both use a mixture of materials: paint, pencil, paper and ink. What is it you enjoy about combining different textures and material behaviours?

I love that my mark-making can't be controlled. When they are executed with precision they never look 'right'. It's the same for choice of materials, therefore, trusting that the right combination is within my selection of materials is vital. When I feel it's time to make a piece, I capitalise on that moment. Surrounding myself with all of my materials; paint, pens, tape, spray paint, oil pastels, paper, canvases etc, and allow myself to react instinctively. Sometimes it's fast, sometimes I envision the lines, shapes and colour combinations beforehand, and sometimes it's slow, as I patiently wait for the right mark to come from my hand. One mark calls for balance with another and each mark leads to the next.

Visually I love the contrast and balancing act of materials with opposing qualities, particularly the textural and expressive nature of paint with the flat, solid and sharp-edged quality of ink. It makes playing with suggestive dimensions deeper than the 2D surface much more potent. In Hoping and Dreaming I love the delicacy of the dusty pencil line as it delicately dangles around the added paper vs the strong, bold Posca pen line running beside it. It's Fine by Me is more minimal and features two quadrilateral pieces of paper with one subtly ripped edge complimenting the painterly border, and the sharp edges matching the clean ink line.

Lizzie Reid, Hoping and Dreaming - paint, ink and paper

If I delved into your studio what materials would I find? Do you have any particular brands you love and turn back to?

I am quite an organised person so everything has a home, but there is an abundance of everything. I am lucky enough to now share a dedicated art space in the old dining room of my new house, rather than working from my bedroom floor. First and foremost, my beloved colourful 1.5cm Posca pens and Muji fineliners are my go-to materials. You'll find them near my stash of in-use and empty sketchbooks and canvases. My most used paper is the A2 Seawhite 220gsm cartridge which sits on top of my collection of papers from photographic, tracing, coated and metallic to collage, coloured, tissue and crepe. Next door is a box full of Wickes paint samples, a handful of big paint tubs (for those go-big days), watercolours and as previously mentioned, the acrylics I've had since school. A box of pens and pencils; biros, felt tips, blow pens, oil pastels, crayons and charcoal. A bag of string, an industrial size roll of bubble wrap and my favourite artist books; The Last Vispo Anthology, The Picture Book, Josef Albers, William Klein and Jean Michel Basquiat to name a few. Finally, you'll find paraphernalia for jewellery, concrete and printmaking.

I like to keep my avenues open.

Hoping and Dreaming

Solitude and confinement disguised as independence,

Hard skin and tough shells promoted as power.
Yet we wonder why we urge to peak over our fences,
Hoping, dreaming for someone to send us flowers.

In fact, these aren’t signs of weakness,
They are signs of humanity.
But from inside our boxes of bleakness,
We ignore our similarities, to the point of insanity.

You describe yourself as an illustrator, designer and poet. How do these three branches inform each other and feed into your work?

Well, all three benefit/stem from the fact that I am naturally a very meticulous person. This trait comes in handy for my design work in terms of layouts and fine-tuning visual details, and is what I challenge when making art to open a freer, more expressive dialogue between my subconscious and my creativity. My poetry comes somewhere in between. 

I love methaphorical language through words and visual representation. Poems flow easily when we describe our feelings from the limbic brain in relatable ways. For example in Boxes of Bleakness, I describe my yearning for someone to notice my suffering as 'hoping and dreaming for someone to send you flowers'. In my design work, particularly with logos, I place great importance on interpreting the personality of the business into a visual metaphor which an audience without a design background can recognise and/or feel because of our natural ability to associate.

More obviously, these facets of my practice inspire each other visually and audibly; My illustrative lines and mark-making feature in my art and design work, whilst my poems can trigger an artwork and vice versa, the rhythm of a poem can dictate the creation of an artwork.

Lizzie Reid, How High the Moon - paint, spray paint and white ink

A lot of your work is highly personal. Do you think that being open and vulnerable in art making is essential to allowing others to understand the work and your story as an artist?

No, I don't think being open and vulnerable is always necessary in art making because viewers also connect to artwork from a purely aesthetic point of view too. I think the narrative of an artwork is an additional privilege to have access to and whilst I prefer knowing about the journey of a piece, we are not always gifted that luxury and we can still make our judgements of it. I think the essential part of being an artist is to accept what you are obsessed by and love responding to/through and to do that unapologetically. I think that is the art that can be best explained by the artist and therefore, the story that will be most understood.

Why did the Moon fall out of the Sky?

As the moon falls from the sky
And the plants wonder why
The humans just shy.
Shy away into their lil homes
Under all the tat that their money could earn.
Turn on their screens and close the curtains
Because not even they are truly certain.

Why did the moon fall out of the sky?
Children begin to wonder why,
And the stories can only be personified,
Because no one really knows why.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to be involved in MIAL in the future?

DO IT! Whether you feel ready or not, MiAL gives you the knowledge and space to become ready. If you're wondering whether your work is good enough - apply. They give you great feedback and the application process is a great skill to develop sooner rather than later. If you aren't selected - keep doing you and try again. If you are selected - stay on top of your emails, get a wall calendar, say yes to everything you possibly can, prioritise your future and prepare to feel incredibly proud of your art (which is an invaluable bonus).

And finally, what’s next on the horizon?

Next up I'm exhibiting with MiAL at Free Range in Shoreditch from the 5th - 8th of July (Unit 13, Dray Walk, Brick Lane, E1 6QL). Then I'll be selling prints and concrete candle holders at Canopy Market in Kings Cross from the 9th - 11th of August. Meanwhile, I will be making art, working with the contacts I made at the Affordable Art Fair on exciting new projects and developing logos for two new clients. I am also looking for interesting internships to learn from working within a team under a creative director. By the end of this year, the dream is to be in contact with my dream clients, leave my waitressing job and develop Lizzie's Lines into my strongest source of income! 

Find out more about Lizzie Reid

Find out more about MiAL here

Feeling Inspired?

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