For the next three weeks for our Friday Trending reports we've chosen three different Los Angeles artists to feature: an artist, a photographer and a ceramist. Our first Interview is artist Jillian Kogan of Los Angeles CA. Jillian's signature creations are her CA Flags, which have received major national attention, alongside the recognition she's been given for her citywide participation in being an ambassador for the arts through various city projects...
Here are some questions I asked Jillian about her work, process and how she came to become an artist...
Please tell us a little bit about yourself -where are you from, what kind of schooling/training did you receive, what type of art do you create?
I am from Maryland originally. I love the state flag, but i can't mess with it so much. I took classes at the Baltimore Museum of Art, earned a B.S. in Communications at Boston University and did a brief stint in grad school at Harvard. I create assemblage which is mixed media form of collage. I re-purpose objects and items and bits and bobs and transform them into something else all together.
Please explain the inspiration of the CA flag, where does that come from?
I moved west years ago and fell in love with that Bear Flag, but I hated that it was created at a time of war. I wanted to wrestle with that iconography and make the flag something more modern, more contemporary, and perhaps, more beautiful. My hero, Jasper Johns also took a flag and created art. He used an object that no one could judge because the viewer knows what it is...the only thing you can consider is what has been done to it, and why?
Do you think that being an artist is a talent you are born with or is it something that can be taught?
I don't really view myself as an artist so much as a conceptualizer. I have a concept that I'm mapping out and morphing into new visions. I was born with that skill, the rest I've learned along the way. And believe me, I've made lots of mistakes. Trial by error is a big teaching tool for me.
What materials have you NOT worked with and are looking forward to working with in the future or would like to try. Hmmm...well, I've never worked with feathers or butterfly wings and I would like to try. I've been buying up old books because I'm interesting in creating a piece about the written word. I just haven't gotten the chance to create it yet. I'd also like to work in light. I want to create an illuminated flag.
If you did not become an artist what do you think you would be doing now?
I'm not quite sure there is such a pure thing as an "artist" any longer. Today an artist is a brand name and a marketer. Artists are brand and trade representatives on a level that hasn't been seen in the past. To answer the question, as an artist, I wear many hats already so I'm in business for myself and my product. I open and close the shop. It is really a daily challenge.
What piece took you the most time to create and how long did it take you?
California Recovery was my first jump into using pills and I had no idea how long the process would take. What's more, I had to work with the glue for weeks to get the proper temperature as to not melt the pills. I burned my fingers ALOT. I also had to recreate much of it as I went along. The completed piece was made of 15K pills and it took me 3 weeks of straight nights to finish. I am very happy to say it has a lovely home in Santa Monica.
What is the best and worst advice someone gave you while working as an artist?
The best advice was "don't listen to the critics just create" and the worst advice was "don't listen to the critics just create"
What is your favorite color or color combinations you like working with?
Red, Brown, Green, White, and Blue
What artists and/or designers inspire you?
Sir Peter Blake, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and anyone in the new LACMA Broad
If you could hang your art anywhere in the world where would you love to have it shown? (A celebs home, an international place, a landmark etc)
Okay, in all honesty, I would love to have a piece, a series, or a wing at the Tate Modern. Mainly because I love it there and it would be a real feather in the cap. However, my work is in many celebrity homes and in the offices of CAA, MTV, Ron Meyer at Universal, The Pacific Design Center, etc. The thing that I really still love the most about art (making it and selling it) is when someone buys my art and it is the first major piece of art that they have purchased or commissioned. It really gives me a rush when I know that I have a first time collector so happy with my art that they make that leap.
Does your home (décor, furniture, colors, accessories) reflect who are as an artist?
Art is a reflection of passions and artists want to be surrounded by inspiration. I only have one piece of flag art in my house and it is hanging in my studio. It is an earlier work called CALIFORNIO with the colorful words "Find Yourself Here" printed on the fabric. That has been the state slogan for tourism for years and I love the message as a local and as an artist.
Here is Jilian in her home featured from the Los Angeles Times Kogan calls her decor sensibility "shabby chic French country with a pop-culture edge."
Kogan is currently working on a new series called AMERICAN ICONONICS (her portfolio is available online to view here. Jackie O, President Obama, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Guns & Roses, to name a few all play a part, with plans to open the show at Robert Berman's new gallery in San Francisco (the show will actually be an intimate dinner hosted by Robert and guests will dine while surrounded by the art!).
Jillian was also recently involved in DO SOMETHING at LA's Best Mural Downtown and the mayor and LAPD chief dedicated it to the city. She's also showed her work "BANNER TRADE" at The Otheroom last summer is working on a grant with LAXART gallery to create a California flag art program in schools. Additionally, Kogan is creating the promotional campaign for the California Arts Council. You can watch the PSA and "making of" on You Tube under "CALIFORNIA IMAGINATION". And lastly, she has a children's line called Rattle Republic, available at La La Ling in Los Feliz...
Hope you have enjoyed Jilian's interview and inspirations and influences in how she prepares her work. Please stay tuned for next weeks interview with Bueller Designs!
"Trending" is a weekly report from Vanessa De Vargas, owner of Turquoise, a Los Angeles furniture and interior decor business.