Day 2 – Lili Arnold
Lili Arnold is an artist, graphic designer, printmaker and illustrator who resides in Santa Cruz, USA. Starling Tribe features Lili on Day 2 of the “30 artists in 30 days” series.
Are you a self taught artist, or what studies did you do to get where you are today?
I grew up in a family of artists, so the seed was planted very early on. My sister and I grew up without TV, so we ended up spending out free time as kids drawing, playing with clay, building things, and making fairy forts. I continued to pursue the arts through college, majoring in Studio Art with an emphasis in printmaking. I was exposed to many different printmaking methods such as intaglio, lithography, and block printing, and fell in love with the processes. I got to where I am at today because while working as a graphic designer, I was craving some hands-on creativity, so I began making block prints on the weekend to satisfy my creative desires. Block printing is so easy to do at home; you don’t need a press, you can work in a fairly small space, and you don’t need too many supplies. I became borderline obsessed with making prints at this point, so much that I ended up quitting my day job in order to pursue my printmaking further.
What tools, programs and apps do you love or cannot live without?
In terms of tools, I couldn’t live without Speedball; they make all my favorite printmaking supplies including linocut tools, soft rubber brayers, barens, inks, and my most useful materials of all: ink extender. When it comes to programs and apps, I use Pinterest a lot for finding inspiration and gathering visual assets before embarking on a project. I also use the Adobe Creative Suite almost daily, for tasks such as invoices, line sheets, editing images for my website, and so much more. I also rely on Wix for managing my website and online orders. It’s such a user friendly platform, and I wouldn’t have a business if it weren’t for this. Most of all, Instagram has allowed me to establish a following and grow my audience so that I can support myself through marketing my art. Because what I do is so visual, Instagram is the perfect platform for showcasing what I do in a cool and engaging way…and it’s free!
Your art provides inspirations to so many others. What or who inspires you?
Thank you! I am always inspired by fellow printmakers that I find out in the world. Whether it’s on Instagram, Pinterest, at a gallery, in a book, or in person, I always am encouraged and inspired seeing what other people are doing out there. The school I graduated from, University of California Santa Cruz, has a biannual print sale in which all the printmaking students sell their prints…this is an amazing place to see fresh and unique work, and you can take some home with you at a very fair price. There’s something so inspiring about a young mind with fresh ideas, and seeing the work of the next generations of printmakers is incredible.
Can you describe your process including how long a piece of art or photography takes you from concept to complete?
My process begins with inspiration. I have been drawn to plant life, especially cacti and other unusual plants from around the world. It is easy to find inspiration in nature because there is so much detail and beauty in it all. Once I have a solid idea, I will begin sketching different compositions so that I can plan out my block feeling confident about the chosen arrangement. I will then draw my image onto the block with pencil, and when that’s done, I start the carving process. Depending on the size of the piece, it can take anywhere from 1-8 hours. When the carving is done, it’s time for printing! I will roll ink onto the block with rollers, then press the paper on top, burnishing it, and then peeling off. I repeat this over and over again until the edition is complete.
What part of your process do you love the most?
I love it all to be honest. Each part of the process is so different, and so satisfying. Because printmaking is so tactile, physical, and representational, it’s always a thrill to begin a new piece, and print an edition. One of my favorite moments is gathering all my dried prints into a stack…it is such a feeling of achievement to see how much work one has produced, and remembering all the steps that went into it.
If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you would be doing for work?
If I wasn’t an artist, I think I would be working in nature. Whether a nursery, a state park, or a botanical garden, I would be so happy being surrounded by beautiful flora all day. It’s important to me to spend a fair amount of time outside to breathe fresh air, to feel the sun, to observe all the little details of every leaf, bug, cloud, or flower. It’s those things that make me appreciate this world even more, and make me feel like a harmonious part of it.
Who is the most fascinating or inspiring person you have met or worked with?
The most inspiring person I know is my dad. He’s been an artist since he was a child, and has worked incredibly hard to make it his lifelong career. Even though he wasn’t always financially successful, he was always so fulfilled and happy with his life because he did what he loved. To this day, he spends a majority of his days in his art studio, painting away, always having new & exciting ideas and staying true to his creative vision.
Name an underrated artist
So many artists are underrated because a majority of society doesn’t appreciate or understand art like they should. Art is so often not taken seriously, or valued as it should be. I hope that in the future, the importance of art in culture and in daily life is celebrated more, and encouraged in all people.
What artwork of yours are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my cactus series of block prints. I keep getting inspired to make more because the subject is so interesting visually, and creating representations of each cacti is so satisfying. The body of work feels like a whole, like one giant cactus garden, and I’m going to keep growing it until the inspiration ends…which I don’t imagine will be anytime soon 🙂
What’s next in the professional pipe works for you?
I’m continuing to focus on my art business, and hope to keep making new prints on a regular basis. I also have a few freelance projects that are ongoing. I’m about to start a mural in Santa Cruz, CA which will be a blast, and I’m also working on some textile designs for PACT apparel. I’ve also been designing gig posters for the iconic Fillmore music venue in San Francisco. I like having a few freelance projects going on to make my work life more exciting.
Bonus fun questions
What is your current favourite album?
Dave Rawlings – Poor David’s Almanac.
Apart from art, what is your favourite thing to do?
I love to rock climb, since, and go on adventures with my husband.
If you could tame any animal and have it as a pet, which one would it be and why?
A dog, because they are just so loving and sweet!
Website: Lili Arnold
Photographs courtesy of Lili Arnold © Sun and Light Photography and Studio XIII Photography