On a typical Hamburg fall afternoon (gray, gray, gray!), I sat down at my laptop with a piping hot cup of fennel tea to conduct an interview with artist, Isabella Krzyscik, the first Hamburg-based artist to join the Artisster. Somewhat reluctant to go before a live camera feed, IZAIZA quickly settles into an easy-going, humorous conversation via video conference about her work, upcoming projects and how her art intersects with pop culture.
Some might describe her as a “goal-oriented spinning top”, but IZAIZA is a focused and modern artist, who uses digital tools to create unique portraits and images. So it’s no wonder that she’s an avid social media user, who constantly uses her iPhone to capture sketches and upload finished images onto her Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Ericka: What convinced you to join the Artisster platform?
Isabella: Well when I first met you and Sandy at my exhibit at Kunstvoll’s pop-up gallery, I liked what Sandy [Artisster founder] said and how she, as an individual, came across. I had pretty much decided to give Artisster a try after that introduction. I had not even seen the site. That’s how I usually make decisions, well mostly but, not always. From a gut feeling. It’s not only the product, it’s also the person.
Ericka: So how did you select the pieces to put up to sell?
Isabella: Normally, I do very limited print runs with 11 editions. Here, since the focus is original, one of a kind, signed work, I’ve done single prints. I’m starting with 4. We’re doing a test with my work. And actually, I’ve done something here with Artisster that I hadn’t planned to do. These pieces are unique ones from my personal collection, ones that I might have actually kept for myself. There are 2 original paintings, and 2 prints which are not available as editions. They have only been printed once and I will not print them again. I’m excited and curious to see what happens!
Ericka: I imagine it was hard to attach a price to these personal pieces then?
Isabella: That was difficult to some degree. And this platform is a selling point that I hadn’t considered when I created the work. As a working artist, I am familiar with the parameters by which pricing is determined. So, I thought about a price which would realistically reflect what I personally would like to have as compensation for good work. The originals, especially the portrait of Amanda Lepore, are my very favorite pieces. If I approach it romantically, I probably would have preferred to keep them for myself, but it’s a good idea to part with some things to make room to create new [ones]. It frees up head space — and studio space!
Ericka: So how do you work? Do you have someone sit for you or do you dream up these faces?
Isabella: Usually I use my imagination for my images. But sometimes I work from submissions, say when I’ve been commissioned to do a specific piece. But I’m working all the time, either in my head or on paper. I’m always busy with draft sketches or full compositions. Even the smallest notepaper is a great place for me to jot down my initial concepts. I also make notes in my iPhone when I have a good visual idea.
Ericka: Something caught my eye in your video. Tell me about that portrait you’re working on there.
Isabella: That’s one I decided to do on my own from another image I’d seen somewhere. It’s my interpretation of the performer, FKA Twigs. It’s from a fairly known album cover. I’ve been commissioned to do covers for other musicians. Maybe that’s where I got the idea. Ericka: So your work has been placed on album covers? Where can we find those?
Isabella: I’ve had the privilege of doing more than 3 album covers so far for Wordandsound, one of the leading distributors & exporters of quality house, techno, electronic and all other sorts of dance music. For John Tejada and Arian Leviste, La Fleur and Magit Cacoon. I’ve also done work with a magazine from London: Noctis for the print edition. That led to other work with some performance artists in London, known by their stage names Victoria Sin and Eppie — women who dress up like drag queens. Really out there stuff. Something at least I’d never heard of. I have to say though, I really love working with other artists in the music and fashion industries for example, but it’s not always easy when you put several creative minds together — but always fascinating.
Ericka: But what’s come of it is really amazing. So, changing gears a bit. What 3 words best describe you?
Isabella: Oh, I can’t do that in 3 words. Empathetic. Ambitious. Spirited. My friend calls me a “zielstreberisch Chaotin”, which is something like at goal-oriented spinning top. When I find something I like, food, music, whatever, I try to find out as much as possible about it. Maybe a bit obsessive, but I get a kick out of diving into a topic and read and do and create. And I learn something in the process. In fact, I just finished my beef and salmon tartar phase. I’m just waiting to see what’s coming next.
Ericka: Can you sum up your artistic style in 3 words?
Isabella: That’s somewhat easier for me: Fundamental. Minimalistic. Emotional.
Ericka: You bill yourself as an illustrator and graphic designer. What tools do you use to create your images?
Isabella: I’m an Apple user primarily. But my drawing tablet is a Wacom Intuos Pro Pen. It’s a bit older model, but with my stylus and printer, I get the results I’m after. That said, I only have an A4 printer, so for my exhibitions and commissions, I go to specialists who use Hahnemühle fine art paper for my final prints. I really love how printing like this produces an especially intensive black color.
Ericka: You have a live/work space here in Hamburg. But what would your ideal studio look like?
Isabella: I’m lucky to have a flat with enough space that I can have 2 rooms dedicated as my studio. In one room, I have my computer and in another I have a large table, where I can lay out all my colors, my tablet and everything I use on a daily basis. But I have to be mindful of the floor. My dream would be to have a large space where I wouldn’t have to worry about [ruining] the floor. Not necessarily connected, but nearby.
Ericka: What else do you have to have nearby when you work?
Isabella: I always have some kind of background music going. I don’t know, it’s like I need it to put me in the right frame of mind. Something like a creative trance. When I’m working, I can listen to the same play list for hours and hours. I never get enough of it. I used to purely listen to electronic, but now I’ve branched out and mix with classical too. And of course, my tablet and pen. I take them everywhere.
Ericka: What’s the most valuable advice you’ve gotten?
Isabella: Someone once told me to not be afraid to admit that I’ve got talent. Many artists avoid saying that they feel they’ve got talent, especially women. But why not? It’s important to be able to claim it. But, I have to admit, it’s been a learning process for me too. I’d say more relevant and interesting for me are the thoughtful exchanges with my professional peers. That’s when you really learn something about yourself and artistic life. I really appreciate exchanges with other artists about everyday life, how they cope with those little low points that every artist has to deal with at some time or another, particularly following intensive periods of work. I find exchange more valuable than advice. Exchange is more on an equal level.