Lisa King is an Australian self taught multi-disciplinary artist/illustrator, who is recognized for her socially engaging large-scale murals. Over the recent months she has been beautifying otherwise less than perfect urban landscapes around Adelaide as part of her current project “Walls of Wonderment”, which is proving to be a massive task but one that is meaningful and innovative, and reflects why she is fast becoming a formidable force in the world of street art!
We were lucky that Lisa had some time in this intense year to participate in the upcoming beautiful.bizarre curated group exhibition Bitter | Sweet opening at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace on Australia’s Gold Coast this Saturday 18 March, and to answer a few questions about her work, life and the upcoming show!
Lisa’s work for ‘Bitter | Sweet’: “The Rise and The Fall”, 2017
[Oil, acrylic and liquitex on canvas, 100 x 100 cm]
How are you feeling about the upcoming exhibition ‘Bitter | Sweet’ and being part of a beautiful.bizarre curated show?
I was very honored and excited to talk to Director and Founder of BB, Danijela Krha, for the first time as beautiful.bizarre has been a favorite publication and online platform for me for many many years now. I think when I was first starting out (which feels like the present) I would see beautiful bizarre like an image of mine and literally squeal with excitement, screenshot it and send it to my boyfriend.. oh social media. In saying that, when I was asked to be a part of Bitter | Sweet I never felt more excited about being part of such a great show, lineup and title. For me creating a narrative and having a story to my work is super critical and very satisfying as I feel it really helps build a connection prior to the time I have with it in on the easel, so when I hear Bitter | Sweet I just knew I was going to have the most fun thinking about a concept and executing it accordingly. I am a sucker for anything juxtapozed so off on a tangent I went. I came across this face on the internet that I fell in love with… it was all androgynous and powerful and I just knew i wanted to create my work inspired by her gaze. From here I steamed forward improving illustrative elements until I came up with the layout… she is holding a kitty.
What has been working with beautiful.bizarre as curators?
Such awesome and genuinely talented and passionate people to work with before, you ladies are diamonds. Its nice to have such a sincere level of communication but entirely professional approach to an exhibition. I am all about communication and it seems so are you ladies, so it’s been wonderful, even when I was struggling with timeline. I am stoked to be here and am dying with excitement to get to the opening where I shall fall deeply into this brilliant and beautiful curation.
Each artist was asked to create two original new works in response to the ‘Bitter | Sweet’ theme, could you tell us how you chose to interpret the theme and why?
The concept I came up with for my work was “Two divinities who fused into a single immortal “. It’s based around the androgyny.
Androgyny and homosexuality are seen in Plato’s Symposium in a myth that Aristophanes tells the audience. People used to be spherical creatures, with two bodies attached back to back who cartwheeled around. There were three sexes: the male-male people who descended from the sun, the female-female people who descended from the earth, and the male-female people who came from the moon. The moth represents the moon and the girl has been painted with exaggerated features such as over masculine sized shirt, powerful strong gaze and posture but also subtle and gracious soft tones int eh painting along with holding the kitty who looks calm and deep in thought itself.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Walls of Wonderment project?
I am a visual artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. I started out in graphic design in 2010 and took a relatively common diverted path from here to illustration and then slowly into a transition of fine arts and figurative work. I had not made ‘art’ so to speak for some time – I drew a lot through my childhood but early teens saw me head towards music… it was not until 2012 that I decided to give it a fair amount of attention and revisit.
Walls of wonderment is an independent large-scale mural project that I crowd funded to get kick started. I decided to pull back from all commercial, travel work, and focus a full year in my hometown where I will produce a series of large-scale murals. This scale is new to me, so I am easing into it slowly… I also think I am the first female in Australia to paint at heights of up to 30 metres like this (pointless information).
I know you began as a graphic designer, what influenced you the most in 2012 to search for a new career in art? When did you become interested in Street art?
For me I have always been obsessed by youth cultures and indie lifestyle. It was always music posters, skateboard graphics, toy design, stickers, surf, street art and anything that caught my eye… I have always been one to get bored very easily (physically and mentally) so I am guessing my attention when growing up was always drawn in by the more obscure, complex or alternative distractions because mainstream seemed erghh mainstream.
I was a great admirer of creative magazines when I was younger and I think I was really influenced early on by everything that was happening in the States and in Japan… like Andy Jenkins (art dump), Fafi (eu street artist) & IdN mag. I really just loved them so much. I collected them religiously and spent so much time just admiring every detail of every artist and work; it was the best and most exciting feeling.
Working on such a large scale must have its difficulties, what is the hardest part of doing these large-scale street art pieces.
As I am just starting my first wall, I feel like everything is hard at the moment… but like anything practice makes perfect
The first is access to and from the wall. I am very much an artist that stands back, analyses and paints one stroke. Repeat for the whole work. I also paint in the studio via mirror a lot… the fact that I cannot just stand back to see has been a struggle, it’s easy to get complacent when you have to drive a boom down 20 metres before you can even see your work. Also I struggling to blend as well as I would as a studio artist, again… this is mainly due to scale – a cheek bone can sit on a 3×3 metre square and although I know it’s all relative and mathematical, my head is still getting around the trickery of perception and finding my confidence to trust my instinct, sometimes I feel basically blind, which is such a bizarre thing right?
I am really just starting to get an idea of colour and temperature change, and how everything is relative to environment in terms of outdoor vs. indoor texture. Computer swatches vs. print swatches… aerosol colour matching (pain in the total butt) vs. acrylic mediums… I am navigating the process one day at a time. The work is happening and I love it… did I mention I get bored? So at least I am being kept on my toes.
Do you find it easier once you are back in the studio working on smaller pieces? The work for the upcoming Bitter | Sweet show is significantly smaller!
I do get excited about working in the studio after a wall… a controlled environment with controlled temperature and controllable oil paint and no physical burdens like heat stroke and exhaustion… it is bliss. I guess it is hard making the transition back to scale though… just takes a good day to get back into the groove.
Where do you find your muses and inspirations for your pieces?
I usually see a face, personality in an image that draws my attention… it is usually an image off the internet, or of a photographer’s work or friend but I also take my own images from time to time. I love androgyny; I am always drawn to a more obscure beauty than a conventional one… I generally come up with a story or myth and then choose a face from my folder that suits my idea.
What are you most passionate about sharing through your art, if anything?
Emotion. 100% and the tiny details in one’s portrait, usually the eyes… I can be a rather serious person, deep in thought and I think this comes out in my portraits often, I feel I put a little bit of me in many of my pieces. I also hope to portray undertones of natural beauty, free spirit and down to earth metaphors.
I know you may have had this question many times, but for our readers, can you talk about what being a female street artist means, and are there difficulties or struggles that you find in the industry.
I feel passionate about being a female street artist in this day and age… it is all very new and I am proud to be pushing ahead with the rest (minimal) ladies in the industry, with this I can only hope more women will get out there.
It is definitely male orientated and I find it often driven by ego. And although I have had run ins with the guys plenty of times I love the fact that I am different, outspoken, emotional and somewhat do not fit the mould of one particular stereotype… there are no rules to art and I think if you do not fit in then you are doing something right.
Apart from the beautiful.bizarre exhibition, what other projects do you have on the horizon?
I am concentrating solely on my mural work this year, however I am planning on locking myself in the studio over winter to produce works for 19 Karen who I have recently been represented by and of course in the beautiful.bizarre exhibition, BITTER | SWEET at 19 Karen Gallery in Australia, opening March 18th!
10 quick questions! GO
Favourite street art you have done to date? David Bowie, Adelaide.
Do you have a nickname? A few… Kingy (most popular).
Do you ever get afraid of heights? Not really, unless the machine is nasty (don’t look down).
Your go to food when you need energy? Bananas, coconut water, nuts and muesli while on a wall… penne pasta and garlic bread for the carb hit (next day boost).
Most recent book you read? Patti Smith, just kids.
Do you have any pets? Yep, a pomeranian x maltese poochy.
Favourite animal? My dog Ted.
Weirdest habit? Wearing my boyfriends jocks in the home studio.
Favourite colour to paint with? This is the hardest ever. Pink / red.
Tell us 1 thing on your bucket list? Play music again in a kick ass all girl sassy boss band… and build a fully sustainable green home / joint studios with my boy on a hill.