For those of us engrossed in the pop surrealism movement, it would seem that the art and style we’ve grown so fond of has pervaded art scenes all over the world, that pop art is beloved and appreciated by generations young and old, and that pop surreal artists are as diverse as they are plentiful. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case within continental Europe. Finding artists and galleries truly representative of pop surrealism in the “old” continent is difficult at the best of times. This is why I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there is an emerging artist on the scene that people should watch out for, and she’s right in our own back yard. Well, sort of. Sweden is just a short plane ride away from Germany.
Enter Christina Lank, aka “Plantiebee.” Christina’s paintings are often melancholic journeys into the narratives constructed in her mind. Over the past few years, she’s spent much of her time honing her skills as a painter and visual storyteller as well as participating in various group exhibitions hosted by distinguished international pop art galleries. I had the good fortune to be able to have an honest chat with Christina about the art we love and what is means to be a professional creative.
Your name is Christina Lank, but you market your art under the moniker Plantiebee. Why is that and where does the name Plantiebee come from?
The name Plantiebee came from an old nickname of sorts I gave myself in high school. I was at a transitional phase of my life, taking on new friends, changing who I was, they said I was like a plant and I needed to grow. So I used the name plant limb. When I first started painting and creating a blog, I chose a similar name. But now the plant would not only have a limb but also a flower – therefore the bee. Im stuck with it from there on out.“Mona”
Living as a professional artist can be challenging at the best of times, what is life like as a contemporary pop artist in Sweden?
The art world in Sweden is so different. A few years back, I gave it a solid try. I had a solo show, I applied to galleries here, showed owners my artwork…but no one was very interested. I always think of Swedish taste to be much like Ikea – minimalistic and simple. I rarely paint anything in that spectrum!“Waiting To Fly”
What is it about Scandanavian mythology that you find so fascinating?
I don’t know that it is Scandinavian mythology I am drawn to, but mythology and even biblical stories influence my paintings. I like reimaging old stories, so old that they can be melded into my own creations. This is my own way of retelling them perhaps through my eyes.“Omen”
No creativity exists in a vacuum. What artists do you draw inspiration from now?
I find the art of Tom Bagshaw very inspiring, as well as John Brophy who’s painting skills just make me cringe with envy! I am inspired by Annie Stegg’s soft palettes and romantic settings, Kris Lewis’s immaculate skin, Sarah Joncas’ pop… there are so many it is hard to list them all.
You have completed your piece for the Modern Eden group show. What other shows/projects are you working on this year.
Besides the Modern Eden show, the beginning of my year is very quiet. I carved this time out to be able to paint what I want and take my time on projects. I had been painting commissions and show pieces for over a year straight so this small amount of time is very exciting for me. Later this autumn, I have a few shows lined up. I plan to paint a game character (love gaming!) for Ltd. Art Gallery, a “Wicked” inspired piece for the Dream Factory‘s “All Roads Lead To Oz” show, and a piece for the Frida show curated by June Leeloo at Distinction Gallery.
Storytelling and illustrating a narrative has been a central theme in your works. How do you plan and execute the creation of a painting?
Most of the time the painting will be a fuzzy intangible image in my head from the get go. I can see how I want it to be, then comes first and foremost the model. Sometimes I take the photos myself, but since the majority of my models are abroad, I talk with them and show them concept sketches. Once I get the reference photos back, I can start seeing how to actually make the painting work. I do a lot of collages digitally so I can make elements bigger smaller and rearrange things easily.“Love Is A Dangerous Angel”
What advice would you offer budding artists looking to break into the industry and become professionals?
Take yourself seriously. No one else will unless you do so yourself first. This can mean a lot of investment of time and money – don’t neglect things like a website or platform where people can see you. I think the hardest thing an artist has to overcome is running a business as well as being a creative. And of course, create art – create a lot of art. Create every day. Always let your will to create good art outweigh the rest of the struggles that come with working within the art world.“Rebirth”
As an artist, what is it you’re most afraid of?
The fear of no longer getting better at what I do. Being stagnant and running out of things to say with my work.
Has motherhood influenced your art? If so, how?
Not in the sense that I paint children or mothers necessarily. I think the way it has influenced me is more that I want to show my son you can do anything you set your mind to doing. Dreams are possible. Showing my son I went after what I truly wanted to do should hopefully inspire him to one day do the same.“Reverie”
Be it enjoying a glass of wine or playing a favorite album while painting, lots of people have rituals when becoming engrossed with the creative process. Tell us about your rituals.
Lately, it has definitely been audio books. Since I sit in quiet most of the time, and music on repeat for several hours gets mundane, there is nothing better than listening to a good story while painting. Once I sit down and turn on the book it is time to work!“The Keeper of Secrets”
If you could commune with any historical icon, whom would it be and what would you ask?
I think I would just be selfish and dig up the painter, William Bouguereau (Boog-a-row) and see if I could charm my way into learning his secret for painting beautiful pale luminous skin.“Carrie”
You’ve traveled quite extensively throughout your life. What is one of the most important life lessons that your travels have taught you?
The importance of kindness. You get outside of your comfort zone long enough in a place where no one knows you and you can really understand just how much being kind can impact a person’s life.“Sweetpea”
Are there any particular messages that you want your art to impart to your audience?
I think the one thing I try to get across is that whereas before I said kindness is most appreciated, the darker parts of life are more common. And also not spoken about. We live in a funny age where Facebook timelines dictate how and what we see from other’s lives – and usually it is all shiny, happy stuff. So we wind up feeling like we are the only ones who have doubts and sorrows. I want my work to be open enough so others can bring in their own interpretation and find themselves in the painting, and therefore know they aren’t alone.“Equilibium”
If you could do a collaborative project with anyone, who would you want to work with and why?
If I could somehow mash up a digital painting and oil painting I would steal Tom Bagshaw in a second! While I was going through a rough patch with my art, his work really inspired me and helped me climb out to where I am now. Doing a collab with him would be amazing.“Torn”