one of my favorite artists happens to have a livejournal. bluecalico makes pictures of girls surrounded by ghosts and sleeping elephant ornaments as well as a bunch of other things that i didn't know could be cute, beautiful and haunting until i saw them on my friends page. i asked her some questions and prevented myself from attempting to harass her into illustrating a comic for me.
The thing I like most about your art is that the
pictures seem to be scenes from a complete story that
is only being hinted at. As the viewer I end up
filling in the 'spaces' and making up (possibly
unintended) back-stories for your characters and
settings. Do you come up with a story before you
begin drawing or painting? Are some of the pictures
part of a bigger narrative?
sometimes I make up a story as I go along. I often
make references back to my dreams as I have very vivid
but there are things that I plan out ahead of time.
often triggered by memories or a certain phrase that I
can't shake away.
the paper dolls I've been working on lately have
highly melodramatic story bits written on the back of
them. they're extremely important to me.
this kind of comes from an idea I had a really long
time ago. I decided that I wanted to make a comic that
just showed rooms and arrangements and it would be a
book of environments.
and since then, I've been incorporating that idea into
everything I do.
when I write fictional pieces, they are usually very,
very short little descriptions of an environment or
feelings in an environment.
I really like the idea of people making up stories for
my images. I don't like to dictate what people read
A lot of the characters in your work seem to be of, or
at least modeled after, the victorian era. Am I
correct about this at all? If so, what attracts you
to this time period?
I wouldn't say that any of my characters are supposed
to actually be victorian but I do find myself
referencing that style often. I've always been
interested in historical costume. my favorite book
since age five is a book called The Gilded Age. It's
just a little time life kind of book that belonged to
my Mom and her siblings when they were kids. but it's
filled with excellent political cartoons and paintings
from, well... the Gilded Age. I remember having it in
the car once when I first became interested in it...
It was raining and I was imagining little women with
parasols and men in long coats walking across the
It seemed like an interesting period in history. The
odd humor in the political cartoons matched my
sensibilities even at 5. I related to the book
And I guess that style was in such contrast to the
long hair, bell bottom style of my infanthood that it
immediately intrigued me. because I really, really
hated bell bottoms.
Also, when I was twelve, my Father was given a big box
of family photographs. There were tons of photographs
from the tens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc.
they were just thrown in the box without any care. and
I took it upon myself to straighten them out as well
as I could. I was fascinated and couldn't get enough
of past eras or the bizarre & often disturbing family
history. this immediately influenced my drawings.
I checked out tons of books about movies and make up
from the silent movie era. I found the contrast of
light and dark in black and white photographs to be
the most appealing thing on earth. which impressed
upon me the urge to dress as though I was a black and
white photograph a couple of years later.
What are some other artistic influences?
How did you first begin painting and drawing?
I've never been much of a painter but I've been
drawing since it was possible. my Mom always drew
pictures with me and helped me get better when I was
ready to learn something new.
painting was my enemy until I discovered gouache
several years ago.
You seem to be able to create a variety of things that
all retain your personal style (ornaments, dolls,
magnets, cookies, ect.). What medium do you like
working in the most? Is there anything you haven't
tried to make that you will be attempting soon, such
as welding a suit of armor or something to do with the
does my personal style show in my cookies? that's
continuity! my favorite medium changes often but
really it's probably paper. I get excited about paper
and pens and gouache every time. those are my favorite
things. but I like everything. I like to sculpt in
clay too but I haven't had access to a kiln in many,
many years. and I kind of just hate polymer clay even
though I convince myself to try it again every once in
a while. I like papier mache as well. it is very
satisfying and calming work for me.
my favorite project right now are my paper dolls. they
are very thought consuming.
Have you ever actually met a ghost? If not, would you
like to? If so, what was the conversation like?
Yes, actually. the conversation was unsettling... it
was between myself and what appeared to be a white
pegasus that had appeared at my bedroom window when I
was around three. it was very real. It had very black
eyes and it conversed with me in my head. It was
trying to convince me to climb out of the window onto
it's back to go for a ride. I could sense there was
something very, very wrong with this thing. so I
peeked over the edge of my window and saw that even
though it was a pegasus, it wasn't flying, it was
standing on legs that were two stories long. I told it
that I didn't want to and it went away. that's the
there were other entities in that apartment and I
wasn't the only one who knew it. I could write a book
about that place... visiting family & friends wouldn't
stay over because of bad vibes and horrific nightmares
(which I didn't know until I was an adult) but I saw
I've come across many odd phenomena over time like
hearing my name from the attic door and phantom
perfume. but the visual aspects have faded over time.
Now I talk to ghosts in my dreams. this happens a lot
when we stay in hotels and it's always unnerving.
You don't present it on your livejournal very often
but you are also a great photographer. For a few
months, it seemed, photos of an assortment of moths
were appearing on your flickr page. Did these moths
mind having their pictures taken, as I hear it may be
against their religion? Do you approach photography
differently, at all, than you would a painting?
thanks. I think my photography skills are lacking
technically but I really love taking pictures. the
moths didn't seem to mind much. some are really quite
vain. some are just tacky... wanting a kind of
"glamour shot" and I just couldn't comply.
photography is much different for me than painting.
painting feels good physically. it requires different
parts of my mind. photography is such a rush because
it is instant.
Are there any obvious benefits to having a
tons! I've read so many complaints about it...
pertaining to the teenage girl quotient and the
hipster phenomena but I think it's the most stable,
well put together friend/networking tool... I've met
excellent & very talented people through my
livejournal that I never, ever would have met
I'm a very introverted person, I don't like talking to
people in real life much so this has been very good
for me. It's forced me to be more social (in some
ways) than I would normally care to be.
I would love to see your work in a book or in some
sort of comic. Do you see yourself creating something
like this at some point? Would you rather people view
your paintings as something that should be placed in a
show or a gallery?
I used to make zines and mini comics but I've deemed
them all terribly embarrassing and I don't want to
think about them anymore. even though, apparently, one
or more of them is on permanent display somewhere... I
think it's permanent. what a terrible thought.
comics may never happen again because I'm not patient
enough to make them.
I do have two pieces that will be appearing in an
upcoming book called Bamapana. It's being put together
by naomiii & susieoh.
I think it would be interesting, sometime, to put a
book together of my drawings, paintings, photographs &
the accompanying text that I never share. that might
be nice some day.
picture of bluecalico by me.