(AW) When did you know you wanted to become an artist?
(LMD) I always wanted to be an artist from a very young age. I always found myself drawing and making crafty projects using anything I could find around my home when I was growing up.
(AW) You have a degree in fine art (congratulations)--what advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and a career in art?
(LMD) My best advice for someone wishing to pursue a career in the arts is to experiment with as many different mediums as possible. By doing so, one can settle on a career path (i.e. fine arts, graphic design, illustrations, etc.) and focus on building a consistent body of work. Compiling and presenting a uniform portfolio is crucial as this is a key component sought by art galleries, art agencies, and those who award art grants. Finally, hard work, dedication, and persistence are necessary because success in the fine arts does not come overnight, making a career in the arts is one of the most difficult in today's struggling economy.
(AW) Well put. That is fabulous advice, and so true. Speaking of focus, do you keep an inspiration journal or notebook? How does inspiration go from up-in-the-air to "on canvas?"
(LMD) I keep a large filing cabinet in my studio filled with notebooks, sketches on scrap paper, color swatches, old newspapers, magazines, fabric and various imagery taken from my own photographs and vintage photographs. You could say I'm a bit of a pack rat! Many of my findings come from my grandparents' attic and I also find inspiration day-to-day from my surrounding environment. My process typically begins on my brainstorming board. I migrate these ideas to the canvas in many layers of paint, screen printing, and collage from disparate sources. As far as the finished outcome of the piece, I like to let it evolve naturally, even if it ends up a little different from my original idea. My latest series focuses on vintage photographs of women from Florida set in whimsical settings in a very playful manner. Everyday we are inundated and bombarded with the news of the economic crisis, the war, crimes, etc. To counter this negativity, I wanted to create something fun and lighthearted which allows us to escape for a moment or two.
(AW) Your bio states that a theme in your work is "women's perceived lives both past and present." Can you tell us what you mean by that and why you are so inspired by women?
(LMD) My grandmothers, mother, and sister have always been a source of strength and inspiration in my work. I am fascinated by each generation of women in my life and the many hats we women have to wear daily. Being a military wife, a mother, and pursuing a professional career have afforded me the opportunity to push my own limits and better understand and appreciate the sacrifices and challenges faced by the modern woman, as well as previous generations of women.
(AW) What's a teeny tiny thing that makes you happy?
(LMD) My 9-month old belly-laughing. It gets me every time!
How could it not! Thank you so much, Laura. I so enjoyed getting to know you a little better and hearing all of your thoughtful and insightful answers.