Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alison Blickle in Unicorn Wonderland

by Radford

Hello Peoples,

When we here at Industrial Squid were looking for artists to participate in our all things happy, funstravaganza I Believe in Unicorns, the art of Alison Blickle caught our eye immediately. That was primarily due to that fact that it simply exudes awesomeness, but also because just by looking at her paintings we could tell that Alison had the kind of vivid imagination and yearning for adventure that we wanted the show to be about. So we asked her to join us in our quest for merriment and joy and she graciously provided us with the portrait below, which kicks all kinds of booty, and thus unicorn history was made. Anyways, I asked her a bunch of stuff and she told me a bunch of stuff and that is all neatly displayed below for your perusal. Enjoy bitches.

DR: So its Alison Blickle is it?

AB: Yep.

DR: Dude, Blickle is a stellar last name. What is its origin? Awesometownlandian?

AB: Thanks, man. "Awesometownlandian" is one word for it, another is "German".

DR: At what age did you first think “Hey, sure the art world is a harsh, unforgiving place that can be extremely fickle and turbulent, but I totes wanna be part of that.”

AB: I heard that.

I try to keep a positive attitude about art, and just enjoy working in the studio, make paintings that I like, and have amazing friends who support each other through the ups and downs. The rest is just the business side of things. You have to deal with it, but you can't let it get you down. Which is easier said than done sometimes.

DR: So… say I don’t really get art, which, I mean, isn’t true. Like, I totally get art, like a lot. You know? But for hypothetical’s sake let’s say I don’t, what would you say you are trying to convey through your work? And let me just say I totally already know, this is just for the readers…who….don’t.

AB: It's about wishing for unattainable experiences and connection.

DR: So, Unicorns, what say you?

AB: I'm strongly in favor of unicorns.

DR: What’s your favorite song….wait you didn’t let me finish….what is your favorite song…to plot revenge to? Did you really think I was just going to ask you what your favorite song is? Oh man, come on, what kind of lame, vanilla, mickey mouse interviewer do you think I am?

AB: I don't generally plot or plan my revenges, I like to take a more spontaneous approach. J/k, I'm not into revenge. Let it go and move on.

DR: You know, now after talking about it so much, I am kind of curious.. So what is your favorite song, you know, in general?

AB: It's Echoes by Pink Floyd.

DR: Could you take your whole general philosophy on life, encompassing the whole breadth of your experience thus far, and distill it into one single sentence. And if you could make it super inspiring to the people reading that would really help me out, cause then you know they’d probably talk about it with other people, and then those people become interested so they’d start reading the blog, and so on, and so on.

AB: It really depends on what kind of mood I'm in.

DR: Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune?

AB: I'll take Fortune, thank you.

DR: Price is Right it is. So you went to school in both SF and NY, so as far as East Coast/West coast, what it is lady? Whose side you on?

AB: Oh man, that is a tough call. As far a cities go, nothing beats New York. More art, more awesome. But nature-wise, I have to go with California. Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Big Sur, redwoods, I mean come on. It's almost too good to be true.

Also lower anxiety levels out west I have to say.

DR: So what are you up to? No not like with your career, like literally right now. What are you doing, besides filling this out, because I know you aren’t giving me your full attention…no one ever does. *sigh*

AB: I am giving you my full attention! Dang.

DR: Did you have a good time? (If you didn't could you just say you did? I'm dealing with some low self esteem issues right now, which you could probably guess from the last question.)

AB: I did.

DR: Oh, I almost forgot, one last thing, this is really important. So do you know how to plug the hole that is gushing tons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico because I don't know, it seems like a problem?

AB: I don't know but the oil covered animals are breaking my heart. Humans have got to stop being so rude.

Thanx so much to Alison for being Awesometownlandian. Check out her piece and the rest of the art for I Believe in Unicorns here. And to learn more about Alison and her work go here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Believe in Unicorns Because I Have Photographic Evidence

Question: Who wants to see photos from our Magical Unicorn Photo Wonderland?
Answer: Every-fricken-body!

Here are a few of our favorites and you can check out the rest here: Magical Unicorn Photo Wonderland

Unicorn (being a jerk like usual)

Unicorn creepily appearing in Jim and Tina Darling's Prom Photo.

Dan Barry is not amused. Or is he? No seriously could
somebody let me know because I can't figure it out.

Unicorn gave Jesse Hotchkiss a lift home.

Unicorn striking a pose for Ana Bagayan.

Dee Chavez and Jeni Yang and the Unicorn
discussing the possibility of Glee being canceled.

Max Kaufmann just wanted to get a photo with a couple of his friends
and Unicorn had to jump in the background. Stupid Jerk Unicorn.

Jessica Cooper and the softer side of Unicorn.

Emily Trent Dickens and Unicorn understand the definition of the word frolic.

Unicorn and his Gang of Merry Artists.
(Don't let the Merry part fool you, they will cut you.)

Dee Chavez and Unicorn begin an interpretive dance.

Tiffany Liu finds out if Unicorn hair is indeed made out of licorice.
(Warning: Do not try this at home. It is not made out of licorice
and Unicorns have a nasty habit of kicking)

Unicorn knows how to get down.

In the end, Unicorn is a lover at heart.

Now that you're done checking that out, check out the art from the show here:
I Believe in Unicorns

Monday, June 7, 2010

Storybook Magic

The Art of Tiffany Liu
by Stephanie Chefas

The Celebration of the Money Tree

Sugar and Spice and everything nice, that's what Tiffany Liu's art is made of. Or is it? As a self professed exemplar of the 'peter pan syndrome', Tiffany Liu instantly seduces with her vision of a lolipop world filled with candy colored hues, precocious nymphs, and enchanted forests. Look beyond the surface of her paintings and you'll soon realize there's deeper meaning delicately woven into the storybook magic. Tiffany weaves a fairytale tapestry where everything isn't quite as it seems and classic myths and fables are given a modern twist. Though child-like at first glance, her work is never childish, ensuring that there's a sense of balance and order in her worlds where the sweet wouldn't be as sweet without the sour.

As one of the participating artists in Industrial Squid's upcoming group show I Believe in Unicorns at WWA gallery, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about Tiffany and her artwork and what makes her 'tick'.

Stephanie Chefas (SC): When hearing about the theme for I Believe in Unicorns, what was your initial reaction?

Tiffany Liu (TL): My initial reaction was of great enthusiasm. Yes, a show about magic, right up my alley! At a time like this where the world is focused on so many unpleasant topics, its really refreshing to have the opportunity to escape reality for a little while.

SC: Do you believe in unicorns?

TL: I believe in what they stand for. I don't think I will see one walking down the street any time soon, but I see them when I dream.

The Taming of Genetically Altered Magic

SC: Your paintings project a storybook quality with precocious child nymphs and adorable little forest creatures. Were there any children's books you read as a young girl that influenced your style?

TL: I am greatly influenced by Alice in Wonderland. I think the core idea of the story, rather than any specific scene was my biggest influence. For me, the idea was just that there was this girl that had a second life and a second chance to interpret her reality for whatever rules or lack of them there were. I have always been a big dreamer. Even before I knew of Alice and Wonderland my head was in the clouds day dreaming and night dreaming of places, stories and creatures I'd meet and have adventures with. So meeting Alice for the first time in story books was like meeting another me. As I progressed as an artist, I tried many things, but the one thing that stuck out, that really felt like me, was being able to create with the freedom that I have through the voice of a child. Children are probably some of the most imaginative beings on earth. I would be honored to look through any child's eyes and see what they see. It must be an amazing experience to be able to be the first to define what a thing is before the thing is given a name or definition by another.

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

SC: Amidst the candy color palette and fairy tale landscapes danger is always near, whether it's an axe used to sever a head as with 'The Unicorn's New Head' or a ride with death as in 'You Can Take it with You'. Is this an homage to The Brother's Grimm- telling a moral that not everything is as it seems?

TL: I love Brother's Grimm stories and they probably have had an influence on me, but I don't think I'm necessarily trying to consciously pay homage to them in my work. Things aren't what they seem in my paintings not because I have a set of rules of what is right or wrong in the world, but more so that things just happen and sometimes they are "good" and sometimes they are "bad". I actually like the idea that there may not be a very good explanation for anything. Though childlike at times, my work is really a reflection of life and the questions and ideas that I have about it, which often draws parallels between the good and bad. I often use color to skew the viewers initial perception of the piece.

You Can Take It With You

SC: What's the moral for 'The Unicorn's New Head'? Is there a moral or message at play?

TL: The closest moral or message I have as an explanation is that no matter what happens to magic, it will always grow and flourish.

The Unicorn's New Head

SC: For 'A Song for the Siren' there's a bit of a role reversal at play. According to Legend, Sirens or Mermaids used their majestic voices to lure in sailors to their untimely dooms. However, in your painting it seems a human female is engaging the seduciton, to a Merman no less. Does this scenario entail any of your personal beliefs on modern day gender roles?

TL: Yes, I like the idea of switched gender roles. In many legends of the past, women were often the objects of great tales and mystical mysteries. My explanation on that account would be that in the old days men were often the ones that were adventurers and also the ones that told the stories. Especially now that gender roles have changed, I see it only fit that legends would also follow that trend.

A Song for the Siren

SC: In looking at your work, one can't help but notice the repeated use of ghosts or spirits that often emerge from or around trees. Chinese folklore call these supernatural beings Guǐ Shù and are believed to confuse travellers by appearing in random locations, especially in forests. Is this an homage to Chinese folklore or is this an invention unique to the world you've created?

TL: I actually didn't know that folklore! Thanks for letting me know! The ghosts in my paintings often don't know what they are doing in my paintings. They appear and reappear as an element that I feel is always around us as either a real ghost or just a memory of what once was.

SC: Was anyone else in your family an artist and did they encourage your artistic talent?

TL: My mom and dad are artists. My mom studied at a reputable art college in Taiwan and my dad was self taught. When they came to America they opened art galleries and art schools in which I spent most of my life in. So their was no question of what I would be when I grew up. It was just a natural thing that happened. They encouraged me to be an artist, but they were also very critical of what kind of artist I was.

Sewing Up My Little Pony

SC: Which contemporary artists do you most admire and/or are inspired by?

TL: I am inspired by many many artists more so in their passion as artists than anything. I love the Clayton Brothers, Todd Schorr, James Jean, etc.. I can't really pick a contemporary that I love the most. One of my greatest influences in art was actually Rene Magritte. When I saw his work it really hit me! At the time I was thinking, wow here is an artist that makes art work that not only makes me remember the asthetic, but also the idea.

SC: If I were to spend the day with Tiffany, what could I expect?

TL: Complete and utter randomness. You'd probably be confused a lot. I would probably talk your head off too.

SC: What's the one thing you can't live without?

TL: Well thats a hard one to answer cause I am greedy as sin! I would have to say I would have a really hard time living without being able to be creative. It makes me happy and without it I feel empty. If I could name another it would be sugar, but thats for another interview.

Drawing for 100 Artists See Satan Charity Auction

SC: The one thing you can't live with?

TL: I can't live in a world where I'm not allowed to think outloud.

SC: What are you creating at the moment?

TL: I have fallen in love again with drawing and sketching. I am currently working on a piece for an upcoming Group Show called Sweet Streets II.

SC: What's on the horizon for Tiffany?

TL: Well, I do have a show in London in 2012 and an avalanche of other group shows. Also, I am working on ideas for a children's book I want to make. Followed by toys that I'd love to produce from the story.

Together in Heaven

Thanks Tiffany!

To learn more about Tiffany and her art, visit

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fantasically Surreal

The Art of Tracy Tomko
by Stephanie Chefas

Triston and the Id

When I first laid eyes upon Tracy Tomko's artwork, I was immediately engaged by its homage to the surreal with her depiction of Daliesque backgrounds, the irradescent color palette, and how much her spare yet otherworldly approach reminded me of the animated sci-fi cult classic Fantastic Planet. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. After further exploration of her paintings I realized that beneath the radiant hues and minimal landscapes there was a deliciously twisted intellect at play uniquely her own. Take for instance Tracy's painting Jibbly Vink Lorp?: a translucent blue child sits atop a lavendar mountain goat while gripping her Rainbow Bright toy against a desolate blue background. At first one might describe the piece as innocent or even cute, but a closer look instilled me with a sense of mistrust and even fear. Something wasn't right. Then it hit me: it was a trap! These seemingly harmless objects were being used to bait mindless travellers into a world of sin and darkness--the devil at work.

Jibbly Vink Lorp?

As one of the participating artists in Industrial Squid's upcoming group show I Believe in Unicorns at WWA gallery, I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about Tracy and her artwork and what makes her 'tick'.

Stephanie Chefas (SC): When hearing about the theme for I Believe in Unicorns, what was your initial reaction?

Tracy Tomko (TT): Spontaneous happy-dancing.

SC: Do you believe in unicorns?

TT: Yes. My knowledge of unicorns before being invited to participate in this show was all silly, girly, sparkly stuff. When I started talking about the show, in Denver, I was invited to visit Dana Cain's unicorn tapestry library. It turns out that she is somewhat of an expert on the subject. I was indisputably convinced of their existence through reference materials passed on by her. They seem to have been carved into things and written about extensively since the beginning of time. Unicorns are even in the bible.

SC: Tell me about your childhood. Were you the kind of kid who created private little worlds? What made you happiest as a girl?

TT: I was the oldest of seven kids. I had imaginary friends, kept and still carry too many lucky, little things in my pockets, made a lot of forts, and would dig little ravines with cave dwellings in the walls for my friend and brothers to play with Star Wars figures in. The lucky, little things made me happiest. I loved little bottles. My aunt would save medicine bottles for me, and my Grandpa would bring home those little, plastic garbage cans, that had candy in them, from the factory he worked at. I would fill them with pretty colored paper that I ripped into confetti and keep some in my pockets. I hated pants without pockets.

SC: Was anyone else in your family an artist and did they encouraged your artistic talent?

TT: My mom painted while I was growing up and let me paint my first oil painting when I was very young. She sewed and crocheted, as well. My dad worked with wood a lot, can fix anything, and worked as a precision machinist professionally. He once built us a playhouse that was bigger than some apartments I've lived in. They were always making something. I have a lot of creative aunts and uncles, and my Grandma would work all year making gifts for her many grandchildren. Handmade by Grandma Kline was always special, and I admired her greatly.

I have always been a bit of a nerd, so I think the family may have hoped that I would pursue my academics more seriously to become a scientist or something, but they supported my art. They kept me in supplies and bought me comics and art books for inspiration.

Attack of the Innocents

SC: Your paintings often portray floating images with a Daliesque background, what do you think sparked your fascination with the surreal?

TT: I do a lot of research and love to read. I'm really interested in how things grow, stages of metamorphosis, and evolution. One of the most interesting things to me is the theory of the missing link suggesting that out of a need or desire for something, it just became that. A grand and magical manifestation happened. I like to think that the next wondrous evolution is in process and growing from the collective thoughts of our time. That my contribution to that will be the intention and concentration that happen while I'm creating. The paintings and sculptures are the physical sharing with the now, but that the greater manifestation is still to come in another form. The surreal feel to my work might be these thoughts. I paint things that exist in nature with a twist toward a new, beautiful place.

Hybrid Grow Land

SC: I love the use of color in your work. The luminous quality of greens, blues, and purples help translate the surreal fantasy world depicted in your paintings. How do you choose your color palette?

TT: I like to try to reflect the feeling of my subjects through color. I'm amazed at the colors that exist in nature and enjoy exploiting them on the canvas. For Unicorns, it was all about the pink.

Tracy working on 'Tickle My Fancy' for I Believe in Unicorns

SC: I see a lot of similarities with your art and the 1973 animated film, 'Fantastic Planet' based on the french novel LA Planete Sauvage by Stefan Wul: the color palette, minimal landscapes, and the symbolist artifice of the surrealists placed in two-dimensional space. I love this movie and I know you do as well. How much of it has influenced your work?

TT: I'm a big believer in synchronicity. Things seem to find me when I need them. Fantastic Planet "found me". The Cell is one of my favorite movies for concept and costume design. Jennifer Lopez's character is watching Fantastic Planet, in this film, as she relaxes after a long day. I thought it was interesting looking, but had no idea it was a feature length film or that it was the masterpiece that it is. I never even looked to the credits to find out its name. Then, later I was in a video store and just saw the spine of the DVD with the little, blue face on it. I knew it was J Lo's cartoon and made the purchase. It came into my life at a time when my fascination with plants was really developing and I"m super grateful for it. I'd love to do my own plant art film someday.

Fantastic Planet

SC: Are there any films that have inspired your work over the years?

TT: So many! To name a few: The Cell, The Dark Crystal, Aeon Flux (animated version), The Happening, Alien, Dark City, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride.

SC: I've read that you created a series of paintings based upon the book, 'The Secret Life of Plants' by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. This book examines the symbiotic relationship between plants and humans and suggests plants are sentient. Has living in Colorado, a state rife with lush foliage and natural beauty, inspired you to explore this idea through painting?

TT: My family is rich with gypsy blood and moved frequently. Colorado is just one of the many beautiful places that have inspired my love of nature. I think that with age I've started to notice the little things and marvel at them more. I took beauty for granted when I was younger.

Gunther's Dance

SC: What other themes would you like to explore through your artwork?

TT: I plan to continue to incorporate the plants into works with dream imagery and memories. Growth will be a strong element in my upcoming work. I'd like to explore the triumph of embracing ones uniqueness.

SC: Which contemporary artists do you most admire and/or are inspired by?

TT: Lori Earley, Jessica Joslin, Daniel Sprick, H.R. Giger, Greg Simkins, Scott Radke, Naoto Hatori, Lola Gil, Scott Musgrove...this list could go on forever. There is a ton of exciting work being done right now. My immediate art group is the most influential in my daily inspiration/admiration - Erin Asmussen, Stephanie Riekena, Anthony Clarkson. These guys are invaluable for feedback and support.

Stephanie Riekena, Anthony Clarkson, Erin Asmussen, and Tracy Tomko

SC: If I were to spend the day with Tracy, what could I expect?

TT: I'm pretty chill. Stimulating conversation, fresh air, and good food. I'm always up for music, art, or some kind of adventure.

SC: What's the one thing you can't live without?
TT: Good friends and my awesome daughter - we'll count that as one thing. :)

SC: The one thing you can't live with?
TT: Negativity.

SC: What are you creating at the moment?
TT: Paintings with iconic design elements of our time worked into scenery for childhood memories.

SC: What's on the horizon for Tracy?
TT: I plan to be a little hermit-like while I focus to create a kind of magic show effect for my new body of work. Then, I'll reappear with wand in hand. Destination unknown.

Thanks Tracy!

C.W. Moss - Interview with a Unicorn

-by Rob Faucette with CW Moss

Because Unicorns can't always speak, I thought it would be easier to ask questions to a Unicorn and have him answer with pictures. And that's what we did.

A Picture of youself please?

The oldest picture of a relative you have?

Your favorite thing to do?

Your least favorite?

Your favorite food?

What is something you would never eat, even if you were starving and it would save your life?

When you are sad, what cheers you up?

Upon winning the lottery, you would go out and buy…

The most beautiful thing you ever saw was…

The ugliest thing ever?

Unicorn, what's your most favorite movie?

Are you dating anyone?

What was the wish that was granted to you?

What was the wish that has been denied you Unicorn?

What's your favorite color?

What's your favorite vacation spot?

What is your greatest Desire?

Who is your Nemesis?

What's the coolest way to die?

What's the lamest way to die?

How would you kill someone, Unicorn?

I hope it never comes to that, Unicorn, I hope it never comes to that...
The End.