Lucky for us, Seoul, South Korea-born artist Stella Im Hultberg serendipitously fell into the art world. After studying Industrial Design at Cal State, she worked as a product designer but felt that the "computerization of everything and mass production made the process less hands on."
Always knowing that she wanted to do something creative, she turned to drawing, painting and sculpting. Crediting the internet for launching her art career, Stella says, "I was still a designer, drawing for myself as a relief, posting them onto my then Livejournal and fecalface.com user galleries. Project Gallery (now LeBasse Projects) which was a pretty new gallery then, contacted me through one of them for a group show, and that's how I started showing.
"I can't imagine not having any internet and being an artist. If Lowbrow/Pop-surrealism is artworks that is approachable by many, it definitely wouldn't have grown without the internet, the equalizer and propagator of everything we consume with our eyes and minds (and money) these days."
If you've followed the Met for the past few years, you'll know that we've been a huge fan of Stella's art for a very long time. It hadn't really occurred to us to contact the artist and ask her for an interview...till now. Of course, we were blown away by the fact that she even responded let alone answer our questions with such openness and vulnerability.
Read that interview below after enjoying her absolutely breathtaking work.
As an artist, how have you seen the field change over the years?
In terms of contemporary (or New Contemporary, as some people would say) art in general, I do love that with the internet and computer technologies, art is becoming more of a part of people's lives than, say, 20 years ago. I feel that it's becoming something that is a little more approachable and understandable, and that much more diverse. I do love that art is becoming less and less of an exclusive, culturally elite sort of thing.
Who do you think are the ones leading the way? Who do you most admire in the field?
I love some of the artists that I've shown with (and some I've become friends with), and how they've evolved over the years - like Audrey Kawasaki, Amy Sol, Mari Inukai, Travis Louie, Yoskay Yamamoto, to name a few.
I also admire the works of Kent Williams, Herbert Baglione, David Choe, Marlene Dumas, Jin Young Yu (sculptor) among many.
How has living and working in Brooklyn helped shape your work?
Compared to Manhattan, just having more space living in Brooklyn gives me a lot more options and expandability and ideas.
New York City is so charged with creative (and other) energy, compact with artistic people, constantly filled with new things to see and do within vicinity - so many people come here with a purpose, and despite (or because of) it's transient qualities, so it's hard to be the only one not inspired and sitting still. Just being surrounded by so much energy keeps me rolling.
You've said that you're inspired by music - who are you listening to right now and how has that music influenced your latest work?
I've actually been listening to more podcasts and radio shows recently, and hearing about people's lives and the world in general has been really inspiring. Kind of pops the question in your head, what really is reality, anyway?
Music wise, I've always been an oldies lover, very picky about new music. Still listening to similar things, always going back to the 60s rock.
What's the best part about your job?
I'd have to say pretty much all of the parts of doing what I do (which I love), but to be a little selfish, the mental/psychological purge is great. Pouring out what I feel and think (which are almost always non-verbal) out onto a surface in forms of drawing/painting/colors, it's very therapeutic.
The women you paint are absolutely gorgeous. Are they based upon real people or made up in your mind?
Thank you - Most of them are made up in my mind, as I don't have any models. I must see faces of real people (models or real life) and mix them up in my head to my liking. Sometimes, I do see faces I absolutely fall in love with, and I'd try to use that as a reference too.
Is there any advice you'd give to aspiring artists?
Unfortunately, I am not sure that I deserve to give any advice. I am always struggling myself to figure out where I am most of the time.
But for any artist in any genre, I think it's important to really put yourself in it and struggle and work hard, and keep drawing (or painting, sculpting, etc). And not do it for anything else but the love and joy of creating art itself in a manner you believe in - not for money, fame, or even honor. Otherwise it's going to be a tough road, I think! That's my 2¢.
Thank you for the interview, Stella. It was an honor.
Stella Im Hultberg
art : www.stellaimhultberg.com
shop : www.shop.stellaimhultberg.com
blog : www.stellaimhultberg.blogspot.com
tweets : www.twitter.com/stellaimhult