Columbus Makes Art Presents: Artist Lucie Shearer on Her Evolving Work and Appearing at the Columbus Arts Festival
Lucie Shearer first appeared at the 2016 Columbus Arts Festival as part of the Emerging Artist program. She tied for the award for Best Emerging Artist, and returns to the 2017 Festival, powered by American Electric Power, June 9-11 on the riverfront. We chatted with Lucie about her evolving artwork, what she’s learned about working festivals and stepping out into a full-time career as an artist.
Lacey: You’ve mentioned before that you started creating at a young age. What was the first medium that you remember loving to work with?
Lucie: I remember using pretty much everything I could get my hands on as a kid. Pens, pencils, markers, colored pencils, crayons, construction paper, glue, Legos, model clay… you name it! I was constantly making things. I remember unusual details, like how I loved crayons because they were clean, but crayons and pencils blended better. Is that weird for an eight year old to think about? I also remember using those little primary watercolor sets. I had no idea what I was doing but it was delightful to make things!
Lacey: How would you describe your artwork today?
Lucie: I have two, maybe three, different styles or “lines” of work. There is a collection of digital illustrations, an ongoing series of black and white line illustrations and a few fine art paintings. The illustration work is a bit more lighthearted and sweet, with a bit of an edge. My fine art work is definitely more surreal and relies heavily on symbolism and emotional interpretation.
I have difficulty describing my own work, but others have described it as feminine, luscious, voluptuous or striking, with an underlying theme of turmoil. I like to think of the work as telling stories of things known but left unsaid. My work focuses on portraiture, so it automatically appears to be expressing some sort of emotion or feeling. Each portrait is pretty and seductive (and it’s not always necessarily in a sexual way) but it’s also disconcerting. There are themes of self-reflection, insecurity, confidence, strength and intelligence or knowledge. It is beautiful with a darkness to it. There are multiple levels to each painting, and it’s up to the viewer to figure those levels out for themself.
Lacey: How has your work evolved over the years?
Lucie: With consistent practice, my work has gotten more skilled over the last 10-15 years. The general focus on female portraits has remained constant, while the media I’ve used might have changed based on my mood.
As a young teenager my drawings were highly influenced by manga and anime. When I got to high school and college, I focused on more traditional styles in my work to prove a point that I could be very technically “good” at drawing and painting.
With being so technical and realistic, I felt I lost a certain personal quality in my work. I have recently reconnected with my love for inked line work and painting in a less traditional manner. I’ve become much more interested in how symbolism, lighting and composition can create a feeling and impact and image.
Lacey: You involve yourself in a wide variety of arts events, from exhibitions to Columbus’ Urban Scrawl event to designing last year’s Independents Day poster — what drew you to the Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist program?
Lucie: As an artist I feel it is so incredibly important to be part of a bigger community. Artists create to express and communicate, and expression is its best when shared. I like to be involved to get to know other artists and connect with people.
It has always been a dream of mine to show work in my own booth at an art festival, so when I’d heard about the Emerging Artist program with the Columbus Arts Festival, I knew I’d found the key to something big in my life. It was the perfect opportunity to learn about doing festivals (and how to do them well!). Being involved in the CAF has helped me to develop into a reputable artist locally and build my business and entrepreneurial skills.
Lacey: Have you done other arts festivals in the last year?
Lucie: The last few years have been a sort of “test and learn” phase for me. The Columbus Arts Fest was inspiring and successful, so it inspired me to go after my dream of being a full time artist. This spring I took the leap into making my art career a full time job! I have been doing quite a few smaller shows and freelancing as an illustrator and designer. I haven’t done anything else on quite the grand scale of the CAF since last summer, but I definitely intend to next year.
Lacey: Do you create work specifically for the festival and if so, does it differ from the work that you submit for exhibitions or sell on your website?
Lucie: The CAF is a fine art festival, so I have been focusing my time in the studio on creating a series of original paintings that will debut specifically at this year’s festival. I want to provide something unique to the attendees of the festival that they would not find on my website or other art fairs. These paintings are all one-of-a-kind images that have not been reproduced as prints or merchandised as part of my illustration line.
Lacey: Describe a high point for you as an artist.
Lucie: The Columbus Arts Festival was a pretty big accomplishment for me last year. In a lot of ways it felt like a dream. I’d had a similar feeling when I set up a small booth in my high school senior year art show.
Lacey: Is there anything that you are doing differently for the Arts Festival this year, based on what you learned last year?
Lucie: I will be making a lot more art!
Lacey: What do you want people who visit you at the Arts Festival to know about you and your work?
Lucie: Come on by my booth and say hello! I will be in booth 364G, on Washington Boulevard. It’s very close to the Columbus Makes Art Activity Village and Big Local Arts Tent!
Lacey: You are also an anchor artist for the Sign Your Art project — what can you tell us about the tile that you created?
Lucie: This was a fun project and challenge. The panel has a hole in the center where it will be attached to a sign, which poses a problem for an artist who likes to do vertical portrait illustrations. The hole would be in the center of her face!
So I chose to incorporate the hole into the illustration. I decided to draw a girl in profile view, so it became a large gauge in the girl’s ear. I painted her with acrylics in some of my favorite colors. It is a very lighthearted piece and titled “Kiss!”
Lacey: If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Lucie: I would have one giant dinner party with the many of the artists I adore. I’d start by inviting some of my idols like JC Leyendecker, Gustav Klimt and John Singer Sargent. Then I’d invite the artists from the Turn the Page: The First Tens Years of Hi Fructose exhibition (which I recently viewed at the Akron Art Museum). Mark Ryden, James Jean, Tara McPherson, Audrey Kawasaki, Mark Witfooth, AJ Fosik, to name a few… I mean seriously, how amazing would that dinner party be?!
See Lucie Shearer and nearly 300 visual artists — including the new class of Emerging Artists — at the 2017 Columbus Arts Festival, powered by American Electric Power, June 9-11 at the riverfront.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.