By Michelle Rick
Pardon the awful pun, it's just that it's not everyday we get to interview a clay artist on our blog!
TH: First, the obvious - why clay?
Lizzie: I've been experimenting with illustration all my life, and I made the decision to return to art school around 4 years ago to really apply myself as an artist. I tried various ways of working along the way, including cartooning and a bit of portraiture, but I was having trouble with really committing to a specific style of working or a deciding on a preferred creative medium. I came across clay really by accident at a crafting workshop - and I was immediately drawn to the potential of the material. I spent around a year or so working with air-drying clay, which was great to experiment with, but I still felt quite limited as the process of painting my clay models was a bit cumbersome, and I wasn’t quite getting the results I wanted. I discovered polymer clay quite a while later, and I really loved what I was able to achieve with it, once I was able to figure out how to use it properly! It feels like I've finally settled on the right medium for me - for now, anyway!
TH: How did you hear about our Creative Invite for the Filth poster design?
Lizzie: I first heard about it on Twitter. It's such an excellent platform for finding out about different opportunities for creatives, and I'm pretty sure Twitter is where I originally heard of Talenthouse. "I’m so glad I got involved!" There was a little bit of synchronicity involved on this occasion though, as I was already thinking of designing a ‘polymer poster’ for Filth before I spotted the Talenthouse/Lionsgate competition, so the opportunity really spurred me into action. I'm so glad I got involved!
TH: Were you an Irvine Welsh fan before this?
Lizzie: Yes! I've been a big fan of Irvine's novels ever since I made it through the opening pages of Trainspotting. My family hail from Glasgow so I've a real affection for Scottish culture – but I must admit it took me a while to tune into his phonetic dialect driven language. However, once I did, I was hooked! Irvine portrays a Scotland aimed to both charm and alarm the reader, and his narrative landscapes come with a rich variety of characters. It’s a nice touch to find his characters recurring in his other novels as it feels as if their world continues whether we read about them or not. This layering is really clever as I think it makes his stories all the more compelling.
TH: What was the process behind your submission like?
Lizzie: The creative process was quite complicated for my Filth poster. There were a lot of components to work with, which meant repeatedly baking my models to ensure parts would set correctly in place for the finished piece. I tend to work just with a character's head and shoulders for my alternative movie posters, mainly due to time constraints, so this was poster was a lot more involved. Once ‘Robbo and the pig’ were finished, I used some miniature props to create a filthy bed scene, and covered it in corn flour and miniature £20 notes - Scottish, of course! Then it was a case of photographing the scene, which took a good few hours as I tried out different positions and backgrounds before arriving at the image you see in the poster. Then it was a case of uploading the photograph to Photoshop and playing around with text and adding in a few adjustment layers to slightly tweak the colours and contrast, etc. I’m really pleased with how it came out as I think the poster works well – and it actually looks better in large scale. I've still got the bed set up as a mini-installation in my studio, much to the amusement of visitors as it’s just so wrong looking!
TH: What made you want to start Clay Disarray?
When did you launch it? Lizzie: Clay Disarray is a mere baby in terms of how long it's been operating. Although I’ve been experimenting with clay for a while now, I made the decision to work exclusively in polymer clay only around four months ago. I’m pretty confident that it was the right call to make though, as I’ve had so much great feedback already. I'm also happy with what I'm making which is more important.
"I’d implore any illustrator who’s feeling a bit lost or frustrated to try out a completely different medium for a while just to see what happens."
I’d implore any illustrator who's feeling a bit lost or frustrated to try out a completely different medium for a while just to see what happens. The change can be utterly liberating, and may even provide a whole new perspective and way of working.
TH: Something the average person may not know about clay?
Lizzie: What I will say is that it’s probably trickier to work with than you might expect. Conditioning clay takes a strong will and steely determination, as it comes in very hard blocks that need softening, ideally by hand. It's probably not the best medium if you have nice nails and want to keep them that way – or if you like working in a tidy studio. Hence, Clay Disarray! However, my studio has to be really clean when I'm moulding, as you’d be amazed at the amount of tiny airborne fibres that unbaked clay will attract. It's so annoying! As you may have already guessed, a lot of cursing goes on in my studio - along with a LOT of hand washing, as it’s really easy to cross contaminate polymer colours, which can be a real nightmare to sort out! Happily, it's all worth it in the end though.
TH: Which of your works are you most proud of, and why? Lizzie: I would definitely say my Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz, 1986) poster. It’s one of my favourite films, and I’ve always wanted my own little ‘Audrey II’ so I knew I’d have to make one. I put together a series of images showing how I made the model, should anyone in the Talenthouse community feel compelled to make their own version! Similarly to my Filth poster, Little Shop of Horrors took around a week to complete, as there were so many components to make and fit together. Typically of my working style I didn’t really plan the project and made it up as I went along, using a toilet roll as a makeshift armature for the plant pot and a rather crude foil structure for Audrey II's head. Needless to say I was both thrilled and relieved that it turned out so well!
TH: Can you let us in on your plans for upcoming projects, and for the future further out?
Lizzie: I’d say the future is pretty limitless for Clay Disarray as I’ve so many ideas, it’s more of a case of what shouldn’t I do? I really enjoy creating alternative movie posters and they have been great to bulk out my portfolio, but I’d like to work on some editorial pieces and book illustrations, and possibly a bit of animation too. It all depends on which projects I decide to push forward with – as there are sadly only so many hours in the creative working day! We’ll see what comes about.
One thing I’m pretty sure of is that I’ll be creating work that I personally enjoy
– which has been a long time coming!