Grafic Design to Freeform Art: MaryAnn Russum

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GRAFIC DESIGN TO FREEFORM ART: MARYANN RUSSUM

WHAT INSPIRED THIS PIECE OF ART?

I love playing with color and shapes in all the work I do as an artist. I feel like this piece was influenced by artists like Joan Miro and Paul Klee, who have been two of my biggest inspirations. The playfulness of their work, especially in Klee’s art, has always fascinated and inspired me.

I usually have a plan before I start a painting but because I was having a creative block this piece, the only pre-planning I did was the colors selection. I let the canvass tell me what it wanted in a way and kept it very free form; almost as if I was sketching rather than painting.

WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND IT?

I don’t know that I have a specific story behind the painting. Because it was very freeform, I don’t want to create a narrative for the viewer. I like when the viewers of my art tell me their thoughts rather than me creating a storyline that will influence their perceptions.

WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS PIECE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ART FOR THE ANGELS BENEFIT?

I actually created this piece specifically for this event. For me, it has a whimsical, playful and peaceful feel about. I wanted to create something that when you look at it, it makes you feel good.

THERE ARE MANY ORGANIZATIONS IN REGION THAT SEEK OUT CREATIVES FOR CONTRIBUTIONS FOR AUCTIONS TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INVOLVED WITH DIVINEMOIRA STUDIO AND THE ANGEL BAND PROJECT?

I am the Angel Band Projects graphic designer for all their print work and this is my way of showing a different side of what I do and also giving back to an organization whose mission I support 100%. It’s the least I can do to give back to them in some way because they give so much to so many people.

THE MONTH OF APRIL IS DEDICATED TO SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS. THIS YEAR THE CAMPAIGN FOCUSES ON CONSENT. SPECIFICALLY “I ASK.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW ART CAN MAKE A POSITIVE  IMPACT ON THIS CAMPAIGN?

Expressing your feelings through art and music is a way to give a voice to something you otherwise may not have the words for. Sexual assault is definitely something that the victims really have a tough time talking about and especially when it comes to their emotions about what has happened to them. Visually or musically expressing your feelings is a way of sharing emotion in a different way. Creating is a way to let out those feelings, even those we bury deep inside ourselves.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST START CREATING ART?

As soon as I could pick up a pencil or crayon. I’ve always loved to create, draw and paint.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST KIND OF WORK YOU CREATED?

I did a mold of my face with hand made paper that was in a large shadow box with each ‘corner’ of my face tethered to the inside with a black background. I created it in college but it was one of my favorite pieces.

DO YOU THINK IT TAKES INNATE TALENT TO BE AN ARTIST IN TODAY’S CLIMATE? DO YOU THINK IT’S NECESSARY TO HAVE ACADEMIC TRAINING TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN TODAY’S ART MARKET?

I do believe you have to have some innate talent but I don’t necessarily think it takes a lot of academic training to get there, though it certainly doesn’t hurt. I’ve known a LOT of artist with little academic training who are absolutely amazing artists in their own right.

THERE HAVE BEEN CLAIMS WITHIN THE ART WORLD THAT ART HAS TO BE DISTURBING, ASK A QUESTION, OR PROJECT CONCEPTS OF THE FUTURE TO BE “GOOD” ART. DO YOU THINK THIS IS ACCURATE?

I think each piece of art has a voice and meaning of its own.

DO YOU FEEL THAT IT IS ENOUGH TO CREATE A SENSE OF POSITIVITY WITHIN THE VIEWER TO SUCCEED AS AN ARTIST?

I think the art needs to either inspire the viewer or make them curious about the meaning behind it. Some visuals can fall flat in that way.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FORMAL EDUCATION IN ART? HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IMPACTS YOUR WORK? HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IMPACTS YOUR CAREER?

I do think that having great instructors can definitely influence your art and make you a better artist but I think it’s up the artist to create the career.

DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF AND/OR YOUR WORK DRIVEN BY THE WORK OF YOUR CONTEMPORARIES?

Most definitely.

DO YOU FIND YOURSELF COMPARING YOUR WORK TO THE WORK OF OTHERS?

I think most artists do that. I think as long as you compare it coming from a place of being curious about what others are doing or by being inspired, I think it can be a great thing to help you grow your own artistry.

DO YOU THINK YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE PLAYS INTO YOUR WORK?

Definitely.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN ART?

Good question. I think if you are consistently creating work that inspires others and you somehow manage to make a living at it, you’re successful.

WHEN PEOPLE LOOK BACK AT THIS TIME IN ART, WHAT DO YOU HOPE THEY WILL SAY ABOUT YOU?

That I had my own visual voice that was uniquely mine.

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DO YOU FEEL YOU TRUST YOURSELF, YOUR INSTINCTS IN YOUR WORK, EVEN IF OTHERS DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS YOU ARE TRYING TO DO?

That is an evolving process. It’s hard when you get odd feedback but honestly, the best and most honest feedback I get is from young kids. They truly tell it like it is but in a really good and sort of raw way. I had a kid tell me that my feltie zombies I make are ‘just crazy’. I loved that because the little boy got it. He got my work.

MANY PEOPLE ARE DISCOURAGED FROM PURSUING A CAREER IN ART. WAS THERE A TIME WHEN YOU CONSIDERED  PATH THAT MIGHT BE EASIER?

I started with fine art and ended up pursuing graphic design because I knew it would be a better source of money. So I guess, I’d have to answer yes. I knew I could always do my own art on the side but had to have a way to make a living.

WAS IT WORTH PURSUING A CAREER IN VISUAL ART?

Yes.

DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY AS AN ARTIST?

Yes, though in some ways I’m still trying to figure out what that is.

THE JOURNEY OF EACH ARTIST IS DIFFERENT. SOME ARTISTS WANT TO MAKE A STATEMENT. SOME ARE IN A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY AND ENGAGEMENT. SOME ARE SIMPLY ENGAGED IN THEIR PROCESS. HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR JOURNEY?

I think I’m on a journey of discovery and engagement.

IS THERE A PARTICULAR WORK THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?  WHY?

I’ve really been loving creating shadow box art made with found pieces. I have one in particular that took 3+ years to finish. It just needed that one extra thing and my sister found it in her back yard. It was a porcelain doll head that is on the top of the box now and it will forever be one of my favorite pieces. I don’t think I could part with it.