a)Melissa Kojima, Artist in LA LA Land
q) Where do you live and work?
a)Los Angeles, California
q)What is your creative process like?
a)I think about a character for days---the who, what, why and where. I give it a story and sketch it out, then I start painting.
q)What is your favorite medium?
a)Acrylic, ink, collage, ballpoint pen, papier-mache. There are too many for just one favorite
q)What is your current favorite subject?
a)I love to tell PECULIAR STORIES. So I create strange characters with strange lives and illustrate their stories.
q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?
a)So far I've been working rather small so each painting may take a few weeks. My papier-mache sculptures take about the same time.
q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
a)Aside from living as an artist and understanding the human figure----those are HUGE accomplishments----I keep improving my skills, so each new piece seems like the best thing I've ever created. I'm proud of my newest papier-mache piece: Panic & Petroglyphs. It's about robots being attacked. It's a very wild and chaotic piece that was complicated to create.
q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a) I am an illustrator and a fine artist, so many of the contemporary artists who I love are considered illustrators. To name a few, they are; Sam Weber, Jillian Tamaki, John Hendrix, Tomer Hanuka, James Jean. I'm also very influenced by Pop Surrealism and leading artists in the movement such as Mark Ryden, Gary Baseman, and Elizabeth McGrath.
q)Can we buy your art anywhere?
a)You can buy your art through me. Right now, I don't have a gallery or an agent.
q)Anything that people should know about that we don't??
a)It sounds like you want to know some secret life of mine. I'm pretty much an art hermit. I leave the house when the art supplies run low and if I can help it, I just order them online. It's a quiet art obsessed life. Ha, ha. Just the way I like it.
q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
a) Well, study, experiment, explore, research, go to galleries, peruse websites. Figure out your artistic style and voice, then master it by daily practice. It can be painful to go through the crucible's fire, but it will refine you and make you stronger, better, faster and all that great stuff.
q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
a)I'm too obsessed to give up anything. Instead, I take a break and walk away and forget about it for a while. This breather usually gives me new ideas and new life and I come back to a project refreshed, renewed and ready to begin again.
q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?
a)I tell them my work is quirky and strange, narrative and figurative in the Pop Surrealism Movement. It takes its queues from children's book stories, cartoons, vintage horror movies, vintage machinery, illustrated nature books and comic books.
q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
a)First, I studied figure drawing from many books for many years. Then, I went to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Now, I go to a regular figure drawing workshop which is only a few blocks from my house----so yes, I guess I do leave the house, at least once a week. Ha, ha. Finally, I sketch daily and try new ways of doing things. I read, read and read more about different techniques and styles and I'm always studying the new and trendy art styles and methods which influence and inform what I'm creating.
q)Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?
a) If I had to eliminate everything else, I would choose a ballpoint pen. I'm a genius with it---or at least we get along famously---like old war buddies. Ha, ha.
q)Who are your influences?
a) Well, I think I stated some of them above. Children's books, old illustrated posters, graffiti art, contemporary illustration, advertising, popular culture, cartoons, 1950's machinery and products.
q)What inspires you to create?
a)I don't know. I think it's just a disease I have. Ha, ha. I've tried to do other things: teach English, teach French---but nothing sticks, except creating art. It's my obsession. I love making things. Even when I'm not making art, I'm making food or I'm making plans or writing----you know.
a)You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.melissakojima.com. You can always find the latest news about me on my blog: www.melissakojima.blogspot.com. And if you forget any of that, just google, "Artist in LA LA Land" and you'll find the same info as above.