Punching the clock
Artist lizzie gill combines craft with reflection on the not-so-distant past.
Hi Lizzie! Who are you and what do you do? Hi! I’m a full-time mixed-media artist living and working in New York. In my studio practice, I make large-scale mixed media paintings and collages, using found imagery. I also specialise in photo illustration, working on editorial commissions for publications. This year, after several years in Brooklyn, I decided to move upstate into a converted barn/studio, where I now create my work and am adjusting to more space!
Tell us about this collage series. What’s it about? When I started these works, I was single and dating at the beginning of the app craze. I went on some pretty awful dates, so I started creating artworks around these interactions, to find the humour in them – a coping mechanism, perhaps? They say art can be therapeutic! The series draws inspiration from the idle pursuits of romantic digital interactions such as texting and dating apps, when juxtaposed with images of marriage and love from the 1950s. Each work has a title that relates to an interaction – an image of a 1950s couple swooning over one another is titled Love At First Swipe, while a couple walking down the aisle, cut from a wedding dress ad, is called We Can Lie About How We Met. Conceptually, I’m exploring how the modern approach to romance has evolved along with technology into the current form of online courtship.
What materials do you use to make the pieces? Where do the different elements come from? I use found vintage magazines paired with a hole punch, X-ACTO knife and glue. The magazines are sourced from op shops and estate sales, which is part of the fun. My favourite place was a shop called Reruns, in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was in a basement in a brick building on the corner of the high street and I’d be in there every week, looking through the old magazines, which the owner always replenished regularly.
Do you plan your designs before you start making, or just play and see what happens? I plan what the central figure will be, but from there it’s all about playing and seeing what sticks (literally)! From the hole punches and scraps I create a pointillist painting surrounding the main image. It's supposed to read like a random burst of confetti, but each dot is placed carefully and exactly to create that feeling from the composition.
You must do a lot of sweeping with all those hole punches! Do you find them in funny places? Everywhere! In the laundry, in bags, but mostly on myself – which my friends might point out over dinner! I use the scraps from one piece in the next, so I’m always saving tiny dots of interesting patterns and colours, just in case I find them inspiring for another work.
How do you want people to feel when they look at these pieces?
I want them to respond however they like – it’s the act of the artwork to inspire a deeper contemplation from the viewer that I’m interested in. But, amidst the instant gratification, swipe-right world we all inhabit, I find inspiration from the stillness of the past. I believe my work has a sense of tranquillity that we often forget existed in the pre-smartphone era. I'd like to think people feel that simplicity for a moment when they view the works.
Are you a nostalgic person, generally? Yes, I can have a hard time letting go of sentimental things – which is why I have piles and piles of vintage magazines taking over my studio! I think shooting film photography from a young age made me more nostalgic. The click of the camera, waiting for the film to develop, the mistakes that can happen in between from what seemed like a perfect shot or moment. It taught me about sentiment, but also about letting go. I think that’s why I’m drawn to working from found images – whether it’s a discarded magazine or photograph, these things have a past life that I’m creating a new artwork with and dialogue around.
What is your artistic philosophy? Fake it until you make it. Whether that’s a mantra for self-actualisation, I’m not sure. But I do believe that visualising an artwork or your goals as an artist is very important to keep going and keep making, regardless of where you might be in your career.
Where can we see more of your stuff? Online at lizziegill.com or on Instagram at @lizzie.gill.art.