Journal: Lisa Hunt: Thumbnail

Where are you from and where do you reside?

I was born in Rome, New York and grew up for the most part in Aurora, Colorado. I currently live in Maplewood, New Jersey.

What’s your favorite part of living in Maplewood?

Moving to Maplewood has been a welcome change for us, especially now that we are able to make work from our home studios. We have outdoor space and we often joke that we live in the country. We're looking forward to getting to know our neighbors better once the pandemic is under control.

Do you admire or draw inspiration from any of your peers who are also working now?

Yes very much so, there are a lot of amazing African American women who are making their mark in the art world right now and it’s inspiring to watch their work develop. I am completely open to collaborations. My process is very solitary right now which I’m comfortable with for the time being as I continue to develop new works.

When did you begin your current practice?

I left the world of publishing back in 2009 (I was the Creative Director at Essence magazine at the time) to pursue art and textiles. I started seriously developing a studio practice in 2014.

How has your background as a designer influenced your work?

I think my background as a graphic designer is now most evident in my art in my approach to creating through the use of the computer. I start everything in the computer and then print “sketches” in black and white and collage them to finalize the composition.

Did you go to art school?

I studied studied graphic design at Pratt Institute and was a semester short of graduating. For financial reasons I had to leave before completing my degree. It’s something that haunted me for many years, but I’m proud to say that it did not stop me from having a successful design career in publishing. And now I’m looking forward to what’s to come as I continue my practice as an artist.

Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?

I am obsessed with pattern and am constantly observing patterns in my everyday life that find their way into my work. Over time I build upon the patterns and then dissect, isolate, or enlarge certain elements. Working with positive and negative space, scale, I like to create dimension in each print.

I am obsessed with pattern and am constantly observing patterns in my everyday life that find their way into my work.

Lisa Hunt

Do you find that your location strongly influences the direction of your work?

As a young child I was very shy, which made me sit back and observe my surroundings. I realize now that at even an early age I would isolate shapes in my environment and reorder and repeat them in my mind. It was like a game, and I found it soothing and it’s something that I still do to this day.

What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?

There are shapes that recur in my workthe hourglass, coils, infinity. I started working with these shapes because I found myself drawn to them aesthetically and I didn’t attach any particular meaning to them.

Repetition and the passage of time has been very much on my mind in the last ten years and especially after the sudden death of my mother. With that perspective I can now see my need to make order through the repeat patterns of those shapes that represent time.

How do you choose your materials?

I’ve been working with inks and gold leaf since I first began my print series. Working with gold leaf came about after first trying to print with metallic gold inks. I wasn’t happy with the results, it didn’t match the vision I had in my mind. Once I decided to experiment with the gold leaf there was no turning back, the leaf has the exact glowing quality that I had been looking for.

Have you always worked with gold?

I am intuitively attracted to gold and its metallic properties. It’s figured prominently in my work since I began screen printing a few years ago. Working with gold leaf came from a process of discovery; how to apply it to my work with the precision that my compositions demand has led to much trial and error and, hopefully, to a mastery.

Illuminating the shapes in my work with the gold also creates a floating effect layered on top of the matte ink. That’s something I couldn’t achieve with a metallic gold ink.

Gold represents wealth, grandeur, prosperity, and illumination. These themes will continue to emerge within my work.

Working with gold leaf came from a process of discovery; how to apply it to my work with the precision that my compositions demand has led to much trial and error and, hopefully, to a mastery.

Lisa Hunt

What necessities do you require in the studio?

My laptop, inks, paper, gold leaf sizing, gold leaf, brushes, screens, emulsion, exposure table, and our vacuum table.

How do the different elements of shape and color come together in your works?

To date, I have predominantly been working from my personal catalog of vector-based shapes that I have gathered over the years. Working with positive and negative space, scale, a limited color palette, and gold leaf I like to create dimension in each print.

How did you choose the colors for your most recent series?

I love color and the fact that my work is so monochrome is a surprise to me sometimes. I have been wanting to expand my usual color palette of black, grey, indigo, and turquoise for over a year now. It wasn’t a straightforward process and I did hesitate several times because they didn’t feel “right” at first. I had to sit with them for a while in the studio until I was ready to commit to them. We had to date for a while I guess!

At Pratt we studied the works of Josef Albers and his theory of color. I keep the box of color aid in my studio that I used in school and use cut squares to make decisions on my palettes. The addition of the terra cotta and goldenrod fall in line with how the other colors in my work create a sense of a play between foreground and background set against the black shapes. The colors are harmonious with the gold leaf and I love how the new series plays with spatial relationships. For me, I like to get lost in that play.

Describe a typical day in the studio for you.

There is no typical day in the studio, which is what I enjoy most. I spend a lot of time on correspondence and administrative chores which include things like maintaining printing and shipping supplies. When I sell a print to a collector it can take several hours to properly package the print for shipping. I’m always nervous about shipping a print.

In the beginning of the day my mind isn’t settled and the administrative work is good to do during that time. My creativity really starts flowing later in the day and I’m most productive from late evening into the early morning. That’s usually when I can get into a creative zone.

What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?

Screen printing! It is not an exact science so I often get impatient when things don’t go according to plan. There are many, many steps and variables that have to be completed before I can begin screening a print and then applying the gold leaf. There is also a lot of finishing and detail work on the gold leaf that has to be done to complete each print.

Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?

In general, I would say not really, but there is a process of discovery in the new series of prints. In my studio I have previous work hanging.

How important is spontaneity in your art?

I create patterns in my mind, making order constantly, spontaneously cataloging shapes and from observations in my daily environment. Everything from the metal street gates, the buttons on the elevator or shapes I observe in architecture. It’s something I’ve always done since I was a child.

Do you keep a sketchbook with ideas and observations?

Yes, I keep my sketches, notes, color studies and color palettes in several notebooks and binders. I also keep a lot of images of works in progress and other found visual reference on my phone.

What’s one of your favorite objects you own? What’s the story?

I took a trip many years ago to visit a friend in Big Sur, California and I collected some drift wood on the beach. They are two pieces that are simple in their form and worn smooth in texture. They compliment each other beautifully. There is a symmetry that drew me to them.

How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?

My most recent series of prints (screen prints) are based off of my collection of previously used gold leaf sheets. I save everything! When I apply gold leaf to a print there is often remaining leaf on the paper sheet. I started pinning them to the wall in my studio and would often find myself drawn to the abstract shapes and echoes, if you will, from the finished prints. I have scanned each sheet and have used them to create new patterns and compositions. It’s opened up a whole new way of working with the materials and is a more expressive use of repeat patterns that is exciting to me.

Do you remember the first work of art that captured your attention?

No I don’t remember the first, but I do remember the difference between seeing famous artists’ work in textbooks and experiencing them in person. There are works of art that have stirred strong emotions in me and it’s what I love about art. Its ability to move, inspire, incite emotion and action.

Is there any artwork on display in your home or studio? Whose is it?

Yes, my husband who is also an artist and I both have our work displayed in our home. We also have prints by Milton Glaser and Robert Rauschenberg, and pieces by Adrian Piper, and Dread Scott.

What’s next for you?

Continuing to develop my voice as an artist and strengthening my studio practice. I’d also like to expand my art into other areas like site specific installations, textiles and even wallpaper!