Artist Interview-Sea Monster

Artist Interview-Sea Monster

Sea Monster 


January 3-February 2nd | 2020

Interview conducted by Katherine Whitlock

Sea Monster gently reveals break from female innocence through her soft watercolor painting techniques. At second glance, the imagery begins to develop a suggestive and empowering female narrative favoring sexuality and the promotion of an open dialogue. I had a chance to talk with her about her influences, her style, her studio, and hotdogs. 

Katherine Whitlock– You have a very distinct style that reflects itself in your illustrations. Where do you get all that swagger from? What person/people/movement has influenced you?

Sea Monster – Haha! My style sometimes surprises me, but it’s basically grandma yardsale glam. I’m definitely inspired by old things, used things, handmade things, and all things charming. My policy is to adore everything I own, and I assume my figures are all in love with their objects and costumes, too.  I spent most of my teen years working at the family pawnshop so I have a tendency to find value in old washed up shit. I enjoy hearing, or imagining, the story and circumstances behind it, like tin lunch boxes– some precious Lil kid carried their roast beef and mustard sandwich around in that, and now it’s my purse that sometimes can perfectly hold a six-pack, and I’m extremely pleased about it. I only wear vintage, I thrift for cheap because I require a good sexy deal, and I try to problem solve like Lucille Ball. My favorite things to find are old hand-colored photograph portraits of someone’s long gone family member. I’m glad to have them but sad to think about why I ended up with them. Sometimes I replicate them in miniature for my paintings! Maybe I want to give them another chance to be remembered…

KW–  Haha! I think you pretty much nailed it! What are your top three favorite things about the 80s? I see recurring themes of tin lunch boxes, Jem and the Misfits inspired hair color, etc. 

SM– Well, I was a Lil squirt in the ‘80s, soooo…Walking slowly home from school every day collecting treasures, watching things print line by line on perforated continuous printer paper, the super tall ridiculous hair sprayed stiff-ass bangs from the girls working at McDonalds, and my favorite is the Pantene Pro V commercial when the model flips her soft fuzzy hair and says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!” It came on like clockwork during mom’s Young and the Restless soap opera which I secretly watched while waiting for the Price is Right with Bob Barker.  Very inspiring.

KW– Have you ever seen a unicorn before? 

SM– I had a black velvet purple unicorn painting in my bedroom growing up that was special and perfect! It got unceremoniously tossed out when I moved away and I’ve never encountered the likes of it since–still searching to replace it. 

KW– Can you talk about the faces you put on knee caps? That might be the most brilliant use of a kneecap I’ve ever seen! 

SM– Baby face knees! Knees and elbows have always been a bit odd and weirdly wrinkled to me. I used to hate putting on my gym shorts in junior-high because I knew my caps and knee-back dimples would be exposed. Then one lovely day I noticed a set of baby faced knees on a lady out walking around in nylons and a fancy dress, and was intrigued!  And the internet confirmed this was a real phenomenon. I had already been sneaking mini faces into my work, so it felt soo right to paint my first pair on a figure. I loved them way more than expected and now they’re included as much as possible. I see them as extra bonus facets to the mood or personality of the figures. They make me laugh, especially when they look spooky or confused. Sometimes I think they are the absolute cutest part of a painting. 

KW– What are three favorite things about working in your studio?

SM– I’ve always liked working at home, but my current setup is my biggest, so my favorite aspect is having the excess room to keep all my projects out and current vs packing away one for another based on space restrictions. It’s important for me to work on things besides paintings. My previous work/live place was a 5th wheel trailer for almost 5 years and I was forced to work small more often than not. A decent-sized space has allowed me to conjure up and actualize things I felt like I couldn’t before. 

I keep some of my favorite art pieces from my collection in my studio so I can admire them while I work.

I listen to audiobooks– lately, they have been very dorky fantasy sci-fi stories that I get way invested in, and I’m happy that there is no one around to hear me holler shit at the characters during the exciting parts. Such drama! I love it, and I have two really large windows in my studio that look out on my quiet Lil mountain ridge and they shake and rattle when it’s particularly stormy outside making me feel like I’m right where I want to be.

KW– If you could be in any 80s movie what would it be?

SM– The Last Unicorn

KW– Do you prefer ketchup, mustard, or relish on hotdogs?

SM– I enjoy most anything on my hotdog, as long as no onions are involved. But my true concern involves the bun/dog ratio:I prefer my weener significantly protruding from both ends with a fluffy bold yet subservient bun to cradle desired condiments without stealing the show. I have included photo reference.

Contact Gallery Director Matthew Gardocki for purchase info:  (323)666-7667