Q & A With Artist Carrie Marill

Meet Phoenix-based artist Carrie Marill.  I came across her work during one of many online art browsing sessions on 20 x 200.  If you aren’t familiar with 20 x 200, get clicking.  They make art collecting accessible and affordable and in turn supports artists making a living by creating.

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Tell me about background. How did you come to be an artist?

I was raised in Alameda, California, a suburb of Oakland and San Francisco. It was a great area to grow up in, close to the bigger cities but safe enough to roam around get lost and be a latch key kid. I was always interested in art and science in school; they were the only two areas of study I didn’t zone out in. College was a nightmare, I kept trying to pick these majors where I thought I could have a stable career, but i failed miserably many times. It took me 7 years to finish undergrad. (Granted, I was working my butt off at customer service type jobs.) After I graduated from grad school I decided to commit to being an artist. Once I took it seriously it all came into focus, and I was able to see how I could make it a job to support myself.

What is a typical day like for you?

Typically, I wake up at 6 a.m. to our 18 month old talking in his special language. (I think it’s something about milk and kitties.)My husband and I recently purchased an 11 unit apartment building and renovated part of it into studio space for our use. The other part is rented out the Arizona State University as an artist residncey program. Artists from all over the world come to Combine Studios to live and make work based on their travels here in the valley and surrounding Southwest. My hand in that  involves making sure the spaces are clean and ready for their stay. Primarily, I make art work most of the day, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 6 p.m. Needless to say, I am tired.

Describe your work and style.

The central pivot of my work is pattern. My subjects and focus will change but the core of my work stems from patterns.I would say my style is pop minimalism with toe dips into natural history illustration.

What are the tools of your trade and why do you prefer these mediums?

I have two methods of primarily working in gouache on watercolor paper and acrylic on linen. I also venture into photography, collage, large scale outdoor murals, printmaking and sculpture. I prefer the former for their strong graphic results and the later for forays into ways of working where I might be uncomfortable.

What are the major influences behind your work?

Major influences are wide and varied from science to textiles. I use art as a tool to investigate the world.

What keeps you motivated?

Most days I’m motivated by the love of my job and the little high I get while working. I definitely get a lot of inspiration from traveling around and discovering the world. Visiting museums, camping, watching documentaries, spending time in the library or browsing around old book stores are some of my favorites. I try to stay curious and keep looking and asking questions.

How do you take a concept from ad idea to a finished piece of artwork? Please describe your creative process.

I know I have a good idea/concept if I don’t have to write it down and it continually appears in my periphery. I usually let ideas cook for a while before I delve into the work. They need time to grow so I have enough ammo for making the work. Once the ideas are resolved I pretty much have the show in my head. It’s also important for me to have time once the work is made to let it simmer so I can come back to it for changes or adjustments, sometimes you can’t see it when you’re in the thick of making. It also helps me to take pictures and look at them later in the day or week. Sadly, I find I am better able to see the work when it’s on the computer.

What artists and creatives do you feel a kinship with? Who’s work do you admire?

  • Romaine Brooks -total bad ass of her time.
  • John Wesley – great use of humor and color
  • Cy Twombly – my first aha moment was when a professor brought a catalogue into class of his work. It’s as though someone said it’s ok to make a big ole mess and it’s beautiful.
  • Margret Killgalen – inspiring woman graffiti artist in a male dominated genre.
  • Joseph Albers and Johannes Itten – the color masters.
  • Hans Arp – biomorphic abstraction at its best.
  • Bosch – beautiful chaos
  • Morandi & Agnes Martin – simple and quiet.
  • Persian miniatures, Gee’s bend quilts, encyclopedias of all kinds, National Geographic, Google images, Navajo pictorial weavings….
  • Murakami – for his reflections on the smallest of things.
  • Richard Feynman – for making theoretical physics approachable and funny.
  • Dr. Seuss, Kierkegaard & C.G. Jung – for titles.

What’s on you presently working on? Are there any new projects in the works, or things you are interested in creating in the future?

I’m presently working on a show for The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in September, based on Navajo pictorial weavings.

Where can our readers find more of your work and purchase pieces?

You can find prints of my work on 20×200 and at Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, Jen Beckman Gallery in NYC and Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Texas.

Be sure to check out Carrie’s website as well!  

Is there an artist you’d like me to profile?  Email me: sarah@msbehaved.com


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