I could tell right away that we would be fast friends. It's probably best that we start at the beginning...
I had known OF Courtney Blazon. Sortof. I had seen her quirky illustrations of goats in sweater vests... or something of the sort from the Missoula MADE Fair. (If you haven't been... do yourself a favor and go.) I had checked out her website. I was intrigued. However, I had no idea who this person was, and had never put a face to the name.
There I was, minding my own business, answering questions about "tidy tool arrangements as portraits" when my dear friend Kristal pulls me aside and says - "Hey! You need to talk to this girl!"
So there she was. Courtney Blazon. The quirky Missoula illustrator in the flesh.
She was excitedly grinning from ear to ear- clutching a postcard of her work in her hands. She quickly introduced herself to me- then told me that she had sought me out that night when she heard I was having a show. "If there was ONE art show I was going to see tonight, it had to be yours!"
Dude. I was so flattered!
So she went about telling me that she had seen my work before, really loved it, and was wondering if I'd be interested in an Artist's Trade.
WHEELS TURNING! I was intrigued!
I agreed, and told her we would be in touch. I would reach out to her- and we would schedule a time for her to come to my studio in Kalispell.
About a month later, we met in my studio to complete the first part of the process. Her Portrait Taxonomy. And I must say. This is one of the quirkiest Portrait Taxonomies I've ever created. It's so unique and interesting! And honestly one of my favorites!
About a month later, Courtney made the trip to my studio. In the weeks prior, we had several email conversations regarding which sort of items she should bring along for the taxonomy. She mentioned that she had a lot of art supplies, but also several pieces of inspirational memorabilia- and hoped that would be ok.
BUT OF COURSE!
I'll let Courtney take it from here with her story and process :
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AN ILLUSTRATOR?
I have been an illustrator professionally for 7 1/2 years.
WHAT LED TO YOU CHOOSING ILLUSTRATION AS YOUR CAREER?
I’ve always loved art, and have always drawn. I knew as a high schooler that I wanted to do something with art as my living, and although it took me several years to figure out how to channel it, I eventually realized that I wanted an art profession that had a strong potential for being able to support me full time. I went first to school for Fine Art, and then transferred over to Parsons School of Design and received my BFA in illustration.
LET'S TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR TAXONOMY. DESCRIBE SOME OF THE OBJECTS. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THEIR SIGNIFICANCE TO YOU AND YOUR WORK.
I chose some of my favorite art supplies, including my markers, pens and pencils, and paper. These are my favorite things in the whole world.
I chose my little sketchbooks where I take all my notes and do all my brainstorming. These are my lifeline. I wouldn’t be able to process my work without writing and sketching.
I chose my pointe shoes for my love of ballet (I practiced ballet for about thirteen years). I find the discipline and artistry of ballet to be so inspiring.
I chose candy, because I love it and eat it all the time. I use bubble gum as a stress reliever and to help keep me awake during a long night of drawing.
I chose the taxidermy and the big eyed doll because of my love of the bizarre, and how that love fuels my artwork.
The little magnifying glass represents my desire look really closely at things.
The little pig statue is dually meaningful to me, as it represents my love of toys and childhood things, as well as my connection to swine (I did a whole body of work about pigs).
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I think the style of my art can be described as Figurative Surrealism, or perhaps Narrative Surrealism. I am mostly interested in story telling and particularly human stories, and I enjoy delving into lots of details and working with complicated compositions.
So here it is! Part 1 of the Artist's Trade! I just love how it turned out! And I wish I could show you a video of Courtney's face when I revealed the finished print to her!
Now onto Part 2 : The Sailor Explorers - A Family Portrait.
The following images will show Courtney's work in progress as she creates a surreal family portrait for me, based on pictures and stories I provided to her.
You're going to love this.
HOW DID YOUR STYLE EVOLVE TO WHAT IT IS NOW?
When I was younger, I spent a ton of time drawing people’s faces, and then I kind of evolved this style where I would collage different images together and draw from that, to start to teach myself how to combine weird and non-obvious things together. Then I started to become extremely interested in developing my narrative, and particularly in the building of deep connections between objects, people, and space in my drawings. Now my personal work is often very large, and filled with a deep current of history and connection. My earlier work was more about training myself to draw proficiently.
HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR DRAWINGS?
I am very into history, natural history, science, literature, and fairytales. I spend so much time consuming and digesting the written word and forming it into the basis for new drawings. For instance, right now I am working on a series of drawings based on volcanic eruption that happened on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa in 1815. The global societal and cultural effects of the volcano were unreal, and from that volcano, a whole domino effect of situations occurred. The more I dig into a subject, the more my brain seems to be able to make connections that fuel my excitement and desire to delve even further into my work. Basically I think I just really like to learn, and my way of processing what I’ve learned is by drawing it!
ARE YOU REPRESENTED ANYWHERE (A GALLERY, ETC.)
I am represented in Missoula at Radius Gallery. That’s all (for now I hope)!
WHERE CAN WE GO TO SEE MORE OF YOUR WORK?
Well! I'm just tickled pink with how this Artist's Trade turned out!
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