Interview: Elisa Vendramin

-Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.

My name is Elisa and I like to call what I do visual poetry.

I love abstraction and extremely detailed patterns; I try to discover new things every day and I’m very fond of Scandinavian designs and its approach to natural forms. I am also very fascinated by empty spaces as well as outer space. I think all of those interests are apparent in my work, which I regard as a way to sum up and capture my everyday experiences.

-Recent, current or future projects you are involved in that you would like to share with us?

I’ve just started a new collaborative project, called ‘Jungles’, in which I’m going to develop a series of jungle illustrations, working with one other artist at the time. The guidelines of the project are very basic: one jungle illustration/ two artists. The first jungle, ‘Jungle n.1’, was actually done for my solo show ‘Beyond Form’, currently exhibited at Atelier Olschinscky Art Store in Vienna, and is a collaboration with Lithuanian photographer Kristina Petrošiutė. The second jungle will be illustrated with Scottish illustrator Eleanor Meredith and the third one with German photographer Martina Lang.

-What kind of things do influence your work?

Short version: travel, people, food, paper.

Longer version: Certainly experiences are my main source of inspiration: people’s stories, places I’ve visited, flavors, scents, unexpected scenarios you come across while traveling. I tend to accumulate random but visually engaging materials from my surrounding, such as old postcards, envelopes, maps as well as tree leaves, hand-knit mittens and rocks. I often look through my collection to re-connect to a certain memory or trip: the story and the place behind each item is what fascinates me the most.

-How is your normal process of collaging? (idea or commission, where do you get your materials or find your images, which is your cutting technique, best way you have found to paste, where do you work and how, and very important: what do you do with your scraps)

My work is extremely detailed yet abstract: first I dissect what I see, to then reassemble it in an illustration. I always start with extended visual research, wherein I gather everything that comes to my mind when I first read the brief. Very often images are not related at all to the content I’m working on but there’s something about them, maybe the texture or the colors, that is somehow connected to it. Once the research is complete I start cutting out details from the images and combining them together on a white canvas. Then, after quite a lot of printing tests and cups of tea, something starts to take shape out of the white. Then I have to give myself enough time for the final stage, which is a sort of “keep looking, be patient” kind of thing. Scraps, well those are my favorite bits, and they all go into my precious sketchbook…or sometimes they end up on gift cards.

-Which is your latest discovery in the collage world? 

I am not necessarily searching inspiration in a particular field, so my latest discoveries are quite broad: Sequester (a photographic book by Awoiska van der Molen), Radio Swiss Jazz, Alp (a photographic book by Olaf Unverzart), artist Kustaa Saksi, Anatolian Kilim Carpets, and 110 mm cameras.

– What advice can you give to a collage beginner?

There are two things I’d say, actually.

My first piece of advice works a bit for everything you want to do in life: never take yourself too seriously. A bit of self-irony really helps with disappointments, making new friends and also with finalizing works, especially when they are abstract.

Then, always feed yourself with very broad sources of inspiration. You’ll most likely find a magical idea while looking at melting ice-cream or while a flock of sheep is crossing your path. Seriously, stop browsing “best collage artists ever” and have a walk or book a flight to somewhere far away.

-What do say your friends/family about your collage work? And, what do you do when you are not working on art?

Friends and family are generally fond of what I do and support me in every way they can, though I have the feeling the majority of them keep wondering what it is that I’m actually doing. When I’m not making art, I’m very often working on other graphic design projects that pay the bills, or traveling. Traveling is my main interest at the moment, as well as finding new exotic recipes to mix with my italian culinary heritage.

-Would you like to ask anything to John Baldessari? Shoot.

Don’t you think the majority of those who can actually afford to buy, for example, a Damien Hirst, are generally fairly boring people?