We met Indigo during a live painting event in Brooklyn, and later tracked her down to catch up and get a better idea where she’s going with her art, and where she’s been. She is a stencil artist living in Vancouver who has been traveling the world tirelessly pursuing collaborations with other artists. She is truly evolving stencil art and has earned broad respect seemingly overnight—but you’ll see in her words below that she has even bigger plans.
stated: Stenciling has not always enjoyed the respect it is getting right now. Am I right? You are taking a technique and evolving it and turning into something with nuance that can create beauty and not just an ironic flat image. It seems that is part of the challenge…to work within the confines of the technology…and it is part of the reason you are starting to get the attention you deserve. Does any of that make sense?
INDIGO: A big part of what draws me to working with stencils is the challenge involved in the work. I am a bit OCD and a huge perfectionist and stenciling brings out those qualities in me even more. It is a very task-based art form; draw, cut and paint. Repeat as necessary. Every millimetre counts and (for me personally) nothing is ever quite perfect enough. And yes, working within that to try and create something that has softness, depth and movement can be difficult. I have one way of doing so, which mainly includes doing all the design work—separating color and tonal gradient layers—by hand, as well as working with shading and intentional underspray when I paint to make the image more lifelike and less stylized.
I think that in terms of respect for this genre of work, the people who I find most interesting right now are—like with anything else—those pushing the medium to new places, making it their own, developing a strong individual style that is constantly growing and evolving. There are a lot of people painting stencils all over the world but relatively few of those artists are taking the risks that help them stand out from the crowd.
stated: You certainly are, and yet your primary creative background is fashion and dance. Do you know the moment that you committed to art full time? Was there something specific, a series of experiences, that brought you to that decision?
INDIGO: Well, the transition into visual art started about two years ago, after I finished up a show called *Pulse* with the collective 30Toes at The Dance Centre in Vancouver. The act of placing artwork in public spaces has always been of interest…in years previous, I was doing a lot of site-specific outdoor performances, both improvised and choreographed—so shifting my focus from street-based performance to street art was a pretty organic transition to make. I had started working with stencils a few months before the show, and started putting up some small stencils and posters in the street. I was really excited about the new medium and wanted to spend more time exploring what I could do with it, so I decided to take a break from dancing and spend some time experimenting with paint. For about a year after that I was juggling art, fashion (mostly event production and writing) and a completely unrelated day job.
I think the moment I reached the tipping point was in August 2009, when I was invited to travel to Moscow with a group of artists from Tacheles Berlin. I basically had to quit my job in order to go, one of the scariest and most liberating decisions I’ve ever made. I didn’t end up going to Moscow, but I did end up spending two months traveling through Europe painting. When i got back home, I had another choice—go back to my old job, find a new job, or try and make a go of it as a full-time artist. I chose the latter, and it kinda feels like my career has been on fast-forward ever since. I’ve been really lucky to be given so many amazing opportunities, and have had to learn some difficult lessons in the past year. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and have spent many hungry days and sleepless nights in pursuit of my goals and dreams…but it’s absolutely been worth it. I’ve never been happier, or more creatively fulfilled.
I think, however, that I am meant to be an interdisciplinary artist. My experiences in dance and fashion have been influencing my work quite a lot this year, and will continue to do so in the future. Especially dancing and writing—I am by no means done with that yet. I am working towards an integration of my disparate interests into one cohesive creative practice, doing larger, more time-intensive projects that draw on multiple disciplines, mediums and genres. Big things coming…
stated: Do you have any recent or forthcoming shows, events, goings-on, or artworks you would like to mention?
INDIGO: 2010 has been a busy year this far and shows no sign of slowing down leading up to 2011. In June I did a UK/Europe tour, visiting London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Berlin and Vitry. Since I’ve been home I’ve participated in five exhibits—Larger Than LIfe at Ayden Gallery, All Your Walls at W2 Storeyum, my first solo show—Towards the Light at Verve Hair Lounge, 10x10 at Gallery Atsui, and PRESENCE at Catalog Gallery. I have a few things in the works for next spring. First up, I’m curating a project in Vancouver in March, bringing together Scott Sueme, Remi/Rough, Augustine Kofie, and Jerry Inscoe for a group exhibit at Becker Galleries and two collaborative murals at Moda Hotel. After that, I’m heading to Capetown for a month and a half for a residency with A Word of Art. There are a few other things in the works too, hopefully I’ll have more details soon.
WILLIE ASKED INDIGO…
Willie Williams, a scenic designer for U2 and featured stated artist, asked Indigo about her work…
WILLIE WILLIAMS: Your gallery-based work is made for a viewer who has chosen to come into the space and will be expecting an ‘art encounter’ of some kind, whilst your street art is presented to the unknown passerby, who may be preoccupied with other tasks and thoughts. Do you consider these situations separately and tailor the work accordingly, or do you create in a consistent way regardless of how a piece of work will eventually meet the viewer?
INDIGO: I definitely take the setting into account when creating work. I think that for me, the big difference is that when you are making work for a gallery setting, each piece needs to contain its own world, which can then be amplified by the rest of the work in the series, explained by an artist statement—but should be able to stand on its own and still make sense. On the street, your frame of reference expands exponentially. You have to consider not only the piece itself but how it interacts with the environment around it. Placement is key in determining the overall impact of a work, and whether or not it will be noticed.
In terms of overall visibility, I’m not usually too concerned with how many people will actually see the work. I think of it more as a treasure hunt…placing posters in out of the way places, in forgotten or overlooked spaces…and increasingly, getting away from urban environments in favor of more natural settings. I am more interested in someone coming across artwork in a place that is unexpected. Everyone expects to see street art in alleys, on city walls. Coming across it in the middle of the forest is another thing entirely, and for that one person who might find it, it becomes a much more intriguing and personal experience.
INDIGO ASKED JOSEPH…
Each artist we feature on stated is asked to look at the work of another stated artist and think of one question to ask them about their work. We asked Indigo to ask Joseph Loughborough a question. This is what she asked:
INDIGO: When I look at your work, the pieces that draw me in most contain a delicate balance between chaos and calm, frenzy and control. The marks themselves, chaotic, but the figures often seem poised, even thoughtful. I noticed this dichotomy most in the work from your Vitry show—Claudia and The Road in particular. What inspires you to distort and obscure the human face/figure? Can you speak a bit about this process? How much of the finished work is planned and how much is based on intuition?