December 15, 2007

Theresa LaValle

What are the biggest turn-on’s for our industry’s leading designers? Inquiring minds want to know. For Lost Girl’s Theresa LaVelle, nothing gets this O’Side homegirl going like a little death, idol worship, and rock-n-roll. Although considered by many as the prettiest girl in any room, her inspirations are far from sugar and spice. But even a passing glance will tell you her beauty is much more than skin deep. The following series features the images that adorn her work space, some of her latest t-shirt designs, and most impressive, a sneak peek at her upcoming spread in Surfing Magazine.

Why do these images inspire you:
Just about every day I come across things that influence the artwork I create. Each of these images either has a color combination, line work, painting technique, or compositional layout that stood out to me and immediately caught my eye. I am constantly tearing pages out of magazines or hanging new things on my wall that spark an idea, and I will use them to inspire me down the line. I have a ton of inspirations that I study, compare, contrast and combine.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist/designer:
I don’t ever recall NOT knowing I was going to be an artist/designer. I have been drawing and painting as far back as I can remember. I just knew it was something that I was born to do, and no other job would even come close to fulfilling that desire to create.

What colleges did you attend:
I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a B.A. In Art Studio.

Your first jobs:
Oh wow… You name it and I’ve done it! I was a bartender, a flight attendant, I worked for the court, the casino, and I definitely did my share of restaurant work. I did whatever I could to support my art habit because supplies can be very expensive. No matter where I was working, creating art and traveling to see art around the world were my passions. The jobs I had were just the means to support that. I am an extremely fast learner and I get bored when I am not challenged, so I was constantly job hopping throughout school to stay motivated.

The first person to take you seriously:
Michael Goldberg hired me to work at SWELL and graciously allowed me to get an initial foot in the door to the whole industry. It is extremely hard to get anyone to give you the opportunity to prove yourself and show that you are a capable artist unless you know someone. I think he saw that I had a lot of talent and drive, but hadn’t yet received the chance to really do something with it career-wise. Michael took me on to his team and really encouraged and supported my growth as a professional. I can’t thank him enough for that opportunity.

Your favorite medium:
I absolutely love working with charcoal. It’s amazing how something so messy can still create something so clean looking, and it allows for a lot of constant manipulation. A close second would have to be a tie between graphite and acrylic paint.

Your favorite artists / designers:
My taste and style is constantly evolving, however right now I am heavily influenced by Mike Giant, Usugrow, and Shepard Fairey. I also have a particular fondness for WK and his ability to capture the illusion of movement in a 2D still image.

Worst advice anyone has given you:
I can’t tell you how many times I have been told to avoid a career as an artist. A large majority of people seem to think that the only way to be an artist is to be a “starving artist,” barely making ends meet and barely surviving. Even if that is the case, at least you are doing something you love to do. At the end of the day you have created something amazing and you have somewhat dulled that hunger to visually express your innermost thoughts and ideas. A lot of people don’t see that as an accomplishment and only base your success off of the paycheck you bring home.

If you weren’t an artist, you would be:
That’s a good question… I think I would be a psychologist. I love studying human behavior and learning about people’s past experiences to figure out why they behave the way that they do.

Best party you’ve attended:
Last year I participated in Fruit of the Soul, an annual fundraiser to support the preservation of music, art and sustainable education in San Diego. The cause, the art, the music, the people, the food and drinks were all amazing and it was such a great time!

Favorite cocktail:
I think I am one of the few girls in this world that would prefer to have an ice cold beer in her hand more than anything else.

Favorite tattoo shop:
At the top of my list is About Face Tattoo in Oceanside, CA. I’ve logged in many hours with Anton, an amazing tattoo artist and an exceptional painter.

Reasons why you’d make a horrible girlfriend / wife:
I have spent an enormous amount of time traveling on my own and have become accustomed to not having any sort of ties or responsibilities to keep me anchored down in one spot. As a result I have become extremely independent and it is rare to find someone who can keep up with me and my need for spontaneity.

Reasons why you’re an amazing friend:
True friends are very rare and extremely hard to come by. I have learned this the hard way. However if you are a true friend in my book, I will do anything for you. I will listen endlessly, I will support you, I will give my honest opinion when asked for it, and I will encourage you to be the best person you can possibly be.

Check out more photos from Theresa LaVelle