Spotlight on Artist Liz Flores
What sparked your interest in art?
I've always had a love for art. Ever since I was a kid I was drawing things. When I was younger I was all about cartoons and comic book characters. I was very interested in doing animation for Disney. But once I was getting ready to apply to college, being an "artist" seemed like a faraway dream that couldn't actually support me and I was encouraged to choose something a little safer. I studied business, graduated and started my first corporate job right out of college which is when I began to feel really confused. I just wasn't happy and couldn't imagine working in the corporate world for the rest of my life. I felt really stuck, especially since I had a plan of how things were supposed to turn out and all my plans didn't actually seem to be working. It was during this time, that I turned to art just for fun, which led me down a winding rabbit hole of finding myself again.
In your bio, you mention that you are a self-taught artist. Aside from you being self-taught, what do you think sets you apart from trained artists?
I’ve started to realize the hidden blessing that is not going to art school, which is simply not having any preconceived rules in my mind of how to create art, sell art or be an artist. Formalities like needing gallery representation to succeed simply don’t exist in my mind, and have helped me carve my own path.
Art school is right for some, and not for others. The best thing about living creative lives is making our own journey.
Are you a full-time artist? If so, how did you make the decision and just how difficult was it?
I split my time right now between my art and freelance work. I freelance for a company called Pursuit, which is a consultancy that has been a dream to work for. The core team is an all-women team that has been so supportive of my artwork and overall it's awesome to be surrounded by badass ladies all the time.
The decision to jump into art and freelance and work for myself wasn't hard. I stayed at my corporate job as long as I could. It got to the point where the yearning to build something new was more powerful than the fear of quitting. Now actually building a career/new life...well that's another level of difficulty :)
Do you have advice for women who want to take to risk and choose the creative route?
Start finding people you admire, and reach out. There's a great quote by Marian Wright Edelman that says "you can't be what you can't see". When I first realized I really wanted to make art more than a hobby, I started finding people that were living the life I wanted because I needed to see the possibility. I would reach out, try to meet them at their art studios, or buy them coffee and ask them questions about what life as an artist was like. It gave me a starting point and gave me ideas as to how I might be able to do this. It also helped me build a community of people that cheered me on when I felt like I wasn't good enough.
Don't think that there is only one way to pursue a creative route. Make this life work for YOU.
Who or what inspires you?
The human condition - what people are going through every day and capturing the feeling of that through shapes, lines, and color. The female form especially inspires me – many of the figures I draw are women. You’ll also notice all my figures lack things like clothes, hair, and sometimes even faces. I love taking a story and stripping it bare.
What is your artistic process?
I like taking stories and bringing them to life using lines and shapes, paring things down to the essentials. Not what transpired or who was there, but how it felt. I journal a lot and so often my process starts on paper not on canvas. I work through a story or a memory or an event and eventually I reach a point when I’m ready to share that feeling through color and figures.
Is there a theme to your work?
I'm fascinated with stories we are experiencing in the everyday world and the internal stories we tell ourselves and the emotions associated and translating that through paint.
Has your style evolved over time?
It's so funny to look at old work and see how far things have come. When I jumped back into art after college abstract work really caught my eye. I was drawing lots of shapes - triangles in particular. Then lots of faces, like my train conductor project. Then more abstract figures with a lot of black and white detail. My style made a big evolution after my last 100 day Project - 100 Days of Simple Lines. I took out all the black and white patterns because I wanted to focus on the lines and the motion of each line. That simplicity has carried through to what you see now and it feels really right for me.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
Asking for what you deserve. And also explaining what you do at dinner parties.
How do you stay motivated when you experience a creative rut?
I let myself be in a rut. It happens and it's ok. I also try to keep things moving. I find that a rut will get worse if I totally disregard my work. I also talk to other creative friends and that helps me so much!
What has been your favorite project or creation so far?
My project 100 Days of Simple Lines. It has been the DNA for all of my new work and I unveiled the project at ArtPrize 9 in Grand Rapids which was such a dream.
For your #100PortraitsofaTrainConductor project, did you end up informing the conductor, or will the answer remain a mystery?
LOL I didn't! I wish I had though! After I quit my corporate job, I stopped riding the metra and so I didn't see my train conductor friend again. A year later I rode that same metra train and was hoping I would run into him. I, unfortunately, haven't seen him since but often think about what he would say if he knew he was the inspiration for one of my art projects.
What is your ultimate goal with your artwork?
As weird as this might sound, I often think about death and what I will leave behind. I think about my artwork and while of course, I would love my artwork to transcend my being, I think I the ultimate goal is to feel something. Have you ever looked at a drawing or a painting and felt your heart start to beat faster and faster? Sometimes I come across artwork that mimics the feeling of being in love - nervous, excited, wanting to know more. I hope my work can make someone feel that way.
Any last words?
I wouldn’t be where I am without a lot of inspiring women believing in me and helping me along. In the creative space, there’s a serious problem with scarcity mindset or feeling like there isn’t enough to go around and I just don’t believe that’s true. I want to see more women in art history books. I want to see YOU in an art history book so let's make it happen.