Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Artist Interview with Maia

"Fox" Illustration by Maia Chavez Larkin

Pve Design -Interview with Maia Chavez Larkin;
pve; Do you create daily?

Maia; Only during periods when I am working on a large or ongoing job.
I’m the mother of a two-year-old with medical needs adopted from China just over a year ago, and I have chosen not to put her in daycare. She is my only child and it is very important to me to spend as much time with her as possible during these formative years. I know that when she is in school I’ll have more time for work. Right now time is a balancing act, and that’s fine with me. As much as she takes time away from my studio days, she also inspires me in equal measure.

Illustration by Maia Chavez Larkin
pve; When did you realize that you had the gift to design, to illustrate?

Maia;I was raised by artists and among artists, and I always sketched, but honestly in my youth the idea of being an artist did not appeal to me in the least. Even now, I have an aversion to using the word “artist” in relation to myself, and much prefer the word “illustrator”. It sounds like a craft, something practical and rigorous, and that appeals to me. I actually started out as an architectural illustrator after attending the New York School of Interior Design in the mid-’90s. I loved the precision of hand drafting (now a lost art, since AutoCAD!), and the perspective, craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into architectural illustration. From there, I started doing commercial illustration on a freelance basis, and taking the odd request for a commissioned piece of art. I still work freelance, though I take fewer commissions now that my daughter is home. My mother (oil painter Eva Van Rijn) and I occasionally collaborate on a show together. Our traveling show Red Canyons/Blue Space (images of the Grand Canyon and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison) has shown at the Fletcher Gallery in Woodstock New York and the Kiesedahl + Calhoun Gallery in Beacon, NY to critical success. My mother's a terrific artist who paints birds and landscapes, and it's always an honor and a pleasure to work with her.

pve; What is your favorite art supply shop and what supply would you suggest to other artists that they might like?

Maia; I love Pearl Paint in NYC and am still faithful to it, even now that I live halfway across the country. But here in Denver I sometimes go to Meininger’s. I work in a fairly limited number of materials: I use drafting leads instead of artist’s pencils for sketching, a throwback to design school. (I also still use white Mars plastic erasers, and a drafting brush so that I don't get the oil from my hands on the cotton paper!) I use India ink and Pigma Micron pens in 01 and 005. I use Arches hot press paper (I think hot press is a bit unusual for a watercolor artist, but I work in a very tight and highly-detailed style - I find the thick, smooth heavyweight paper - like bristol vellum but much finer and more absorbent - perfect for this kind of illustration) I use primarily Holbein watercolors, though I have had to pay much more attention to the toxicity of various pigments since having a toddler around my feet!

pve; Where do you look for inspiration?

Maia; I look everywhere for inspiration. I am very inspired by fairytales at the moment - their darkness and complexity. Also classical children’s books. I am constantly inspired by the drawing style of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. I love classical etchings and keep books of them around my studio. I am inspired by fashion photography. I’m inspired by literature (I listen to audiobooks constantly while I’m working - at the moment Joanne Harris’ books are in heavy rotation in my studio) I am inspired by theater and film. I am inspired by the taxidermy at Deyrolle in Paris, by Natural History museums and by fine architecture. I also photograph children everywhere I go, because so often a specific child inspires me to a certain kind of image.

pve; How has having a child influenced your work?

Maia; Ah - you anticipated that part of the equation! I started doing children’s illustration and portraiture about four years before adopting my daughter. I think the inspiration to do children’s work and the desire for motherhood coincided in me. I think all children are probably a bit magical each in their own way, but my daughter is most definitely a creature who lives between worlds. She is transcendent. She sets a magic wand to the world as she walks through it. She is a tomboy, not a princess, but snap photos of her and in each frame there is a different character. She wears a thousand robes. I have always loved tough, dauntless characters like Pippi Longstocking, so my fearless tomboy daughter is the perfect muse for me.

pve; Who is your favorite artist? (past or present?)

Maia; Oooooooooooh............Oh. That’s a tough one. Actually, that is an impossible one for me. I am a great fan of French artist Mathurin Méheut, particularly his animal studies. Swedish painter Carl Larsson is also one of my ongoing inspirations. I am a great fan of John Singer Sargent. My life would not be complete without Sandro Boticelli, or the sketchbooks of Michelangelo. Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen (East of the Sun and West of the Moon). Modern-day French/Italian illustrator Yan Nascimbene. The TinTin comic books by Hergé that I grew up with during my time in France... Oh, I could go on. Sorry - there’s no choosing just one. Oh, and my dad (WPA artist and National Academy of Design member Edward Chavez) was pretty great.

pve; thanks for your time, your work is absolutely wonderful.

Maia; Thanks for the opportunity! I’ve really enjoyed getting to “know” you during the interview here, and I so enjoy your blog and your work!

pve; I love to inspire others to create an artful life!
Thanks for inspiring me as well as others Maia. Maia has a wonderful site, and not one but two blogs. here and here
Thank-you Maia for posting a little "good thing" for me too.


Mindy Lockard Etiquette said...

Inspiring interview and illustrations! Thank you for sharing.

Prairie Girl Studio said...

what an interesting interview! i was so impressed with maia's detailed answers and her how her art and illustration evolved for her ... sounds like her daughter is a sweetie ... just imagine following maia's work as her daughter grows ...
thanks again ~
prairiegirl xo

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

Again, Patricia, thanks so much for the pleasure of doing this interview, and for your sensitive and thoughtful questions.

All the best!

- Maia

Simply Mel said...

Great interview! Thank you for this introduction.

Frau said...

Great interview I really enjoyed it. You are both so talented.

pve design said...

I knew that you would find Maia to be an inspiration.
It was a pleasure to share her with you.

Prairie Girl-
As a mother, our hearts are always striving for the balance for mothering and working as an artist - illustrator. Time goes so fast that we need to pay close attention to all the many details.
I love Maia's work for the detail, and the close attention she is now devoting to her daughter is a tribute to her shows in her work.

You are so welcome. I thank you and look forward to meeting you one day. I am going to add the link to your Mother's work.
Please enjoy every minute of your daughter and know that your work will only be enhanced by your devotion to a living person with very special needs.

Debra said...

This was fabulous Patricia. I visited Maia's site yesterday and am very taken with her work. I could so relate to what she said about having a hard time with the title "artist', and prefers illustrator. Thank you once again for sharing with us. Just a lovely interview.

pve design said...

I knew that you would love her work and her words.
You must see her parents work, not a wonder that the apple did not fall far from the tree!
Enjoy this day.

Web development said...
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Kwana said...

Wonderful interview. Maia really is and inspiration and I totally get the artist vs. illustrator thing. Thanks so much to you both.

pve design said...

Thanks as always for taking time away from writing and editing. Maia's work is so dreamy.

kayce hughes said...

A wonderful treat. Thanks.

Greet said...

Nice interview! And oh my God I love the drawings of her!!!


Ina in Alaska said...

Hello PVE! I just spotted your comment on my 22nd wedding anniversary, you little scamp! Happy 22nd to you too dear!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

what a talent!

Vitania said...

Wow - this was such a fanttastic interview .. what lovely illustrations - Maia is definitely someone living an artful life, and I sense a very serene and composed person - much like her art.

Many thanks for an ispiring start to the day..

~Valentina~ said...

Really inspiring interview! Maia's work in really beautiful. Thanks for sharing :)

Yoli said...

I am so happy you featured Maia, she is an inspiration as a mother and a very talented artist (illustrator sorry Maia). I have two commission pieces of hers and they are breath taking.

Karena said...

Lovely and poignant interview!


Great interview...
Architecture sure is a great inspiration~

Emily said...

These are fabulous illustrations. I wish I had the talent you artists have. My uncle is an illustrator and I could watch him work for hours. Great interview!

Urban Flea said...

Great interview! Thanks so much for the comment!

xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)

joanne said...

What a treat! Thanks for sharing, Patricia. =)

Purple Flowers said...

Maia's illustrations take me to another place that involves fairy tales and moon beams. I love it!

MODsquad said...

I love that you featured Maia! She is so, so talented! Especially love the illustrations you chose to show!

Love you blog! I've been here a few times and it's so inspiring! Thank you!

Happy Day!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

Gorgeous! I love all of her work.

annechovie said...

Great interview...thank you both!

A Day That is Dessert said...

It sounds as if anniversary congratulations are in order? - if so, happy anniversary my friend. And thank you for this inspiring interview. xo

VictoriaArt said...

This was as interesting and charming as her artwork!
I felt like secretly sitting and listening in on a private conversation among illustrators...
So open and detailed.
Thank you for bringing her to my attention!

Liz said...

Nice Interview sis! I am a lover and frquent visitor to the Black canyon of Gunnison. It is an inspirational place and I like Maia's Mom's painting of it.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

These illustrations are fantastic. I feel like I am in a fairytale!