Interview with Liz Brizzi for “Tokyo”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Liz Brizzi’s solo exhibition, Tokyo. The exhibition features new mixed media pieces that explore the streets of Japan. Tokyo was well received during the opening, with only a few pieces from the exhibition still available. Our interview with Liz Brizzi discusses her decision to use Tokyo as her source of inspiration, the hunt for reference material, and a perfect day outside the studio.

SH: How long have you been working on this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
LB: It all started back in October with a 5 day trip to Tokyo. When Thinkspace contacted me about doing a show, I was in a bit of a rut as far as inspiration goes. I very quickly decided to go back to Japan where I had previously found what seemed like a bottomless pit of creative inspiration in the past. It was just me and my camera. 5 days aimlessly roaming Tokyo, shooting all its nooks and crannies. When I got home, I was ready and excited to get to work. My themes are always urban landscapes, cities, travel, architecture and ambient moods.

SH: When did you visit Japan? How long did you stay there? And what inspired you most about the country?
I first went to Japan back in 2013 for about two weeks. I fell in love. So this was a repeat trip. But this time I focused on Tokyo entirely. It was just 5 days. I wish I could have gone for more but you know… life. It was amazing to go by myself, with no precise plans. I walked miles and miles every day. Just wandering off alleys, getting off at random train stations, and exploring wherever my guts guided me to. I did run into a major Typhoon while there. So it rained quite a bit. But I loved it. It gave my photos such a great moody atmosphere; reflections in the water on the sidewalks and the sea of locals hidden under colorful umbrellas. I didn’t mind at all. I love how busy the streets are, all the shapes created by the architecture, it’s negative space, all the lines from the electrical poles, all the colors from the lanterns, the street lights and the sky peeking through between the buildings. I love the mix of old and new everywhere you go. I love how everything is thoughtfully designed. I love the people most I think. I have a huge admiration for their way of life, philosophy, and outlook on their environment.

SH: Do you go out actively searching for subjects of your composition, or are you always searching – ready to snap?
LB: Both. I often find myself screeching my car to a stop somewhere because I saw a sign, or an alley, or a building that is graphically interesting. I have a photo file called “Randoms”. Sometimes I go digging through that and will get inspired. But most often, I will take photo safaris to specific places. Mostly I get my best work from my travels. Every time I go somewhere new in the world, I’ll make sure I take some time to specifically go on one of those photo safaris, dedicated to finding all the “good stuff”.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process? How long does it take to complete a piece?
LB: Well, my least favorite part is staring at a blank canvas wondering what I’m going to do with it. It happens more than I care to admit. I get anxiety… Then in some cases, I’ll dig through my photographs forever before I actually start seeing imagery in my head that I think is worthwhile. But my favorite part is actually seeing that imagery comes to life when it finally happens. When I find all the right elements to bring it all together into one image. Finding the little details that will make an image otherwise boring, interesting. I also love playing around with color.

SH: Which piece in this show was the most challenging and why?
LB: I think maybe “Shibuya”. Night scenes are tough because of their high contrast.

SH: When not in the studio what does your ideal day look like?
LB: Well… in an ideal life, I would be traveling every day of my life. But in my current life, an ideal day involves quality time with my son, a good couple of hours reading a great book in total silence, three REALLY good meals, and finally getting out of the house for dinner and wine with my friends before ending it with some Netflix on the couch under a big blanket.

SH: If you were to have a dinner party, which 5 people would you invite (dead or alive)? What would be on the menu? And what is the one question you’d ask from everyone?
LB: Woah. That’s a hard one. Honestly, this is the type of question that will take me a week to answer because I’m going to think about it way too much. The menu would probably involve a lot of Japanese food though. That was easy.

SH: When you’re painting are you listening to music or podcasts? Can you share what you were listening to while developing this body of work?
LB: Mostly music. I’m big on Pandora because this day and age of digital everything has gotten me all lost as far as what to listen to. There’s too much in my iTunes library. I don’t even know where to start. And I can never remember who sings what. I’m kind of a weirdo when it comes to music. But on Pandora, I can just say “play stuff in that style that I feel like listening to right this moment”, and they do. So that’s good enough for me. And when I paint is actually when I listen to music. But on a regular day, I’ve become a huge fan of silence. It’s really underrated. I like podcasts when I’m driving. Takes my mind off LA Traffic.

SH: Who have been one the most influential people in your artistic development? Have they shared any advice with you other artists can apply to their work or journey?
LB: Honestly, I can’t really point to one person in particular. There are lots of artists I highly admire who have been very inspiring. Andrew Hem for his incredible colors. John Park and Ian McQue who are incredible environment concept artists with a very graphic and colorful style (concept art is a field I would have loved to get into). Brett Amory for his use of lights and darks. Robert Mars’ collage mixed media work. Ambroise Tezenas for his photography. Etam Cru for basically everything that they ever do. And if there’s one piece of advice I like to share, it’s to let yourself be inspired by other artists, maybe imitate at first but only to learn from them. Then take what you’ve learned and let it grow into your own unique style and imagery, put your own twist on it and let your creativity flow.

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