We had the good fortune of connecting with Lydia Chase and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lydia, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
Artists get into blocks because of self-doubt. ‘First-page fear’ or ‘blank canvas bafflement’ is rooted in having “no inspiration” which is really the fear of our ideas not being good enough. Time and time again, artists have claimed that the a-ha moments don’t exist, which is true and not true. Ideas for art don’t pop up out of anywhere but sprout from the soil of the mind and we must tend to it as artists. Keep the soil free of weeds and stones (distractions and blockages/hangups/fears), and must fertilize it with other art that fills us with bubbly ideas, feelings, and moods. Depending on how deep you dig, and how deep the roots of an idea go, the bigger and more magnificent of an idea comes to fruition. One of my favorite quotes I turn to when I feel out of ideas is by David Lynch, who says… “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” That being said, those ideas have nowhere to go unless you sit down and do the work, which is the easiest part, the hardest part, and the only way to get better; this leads me to another favorite quote of mine, “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close. These may seem like opposing viewpoints on inspiration but they work in tandem through a third and most important quote. “Practice makes better.” This turned into a motto of mine, born from a nonchalant but often repeated phrase coined by my college printmaking professor, David Williams. Practice makes better. Practicing creative thinking makes better ideas, and practicing technique makes better artwork. Dig deeper and practice more and your art will flourish in ways you never imagined!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. Growing up in Phoenix, summers were spent hiding from the sun and drawing day and night. Art was always my passion and my favorite thing to do. I became the art kid in grade school and art club president in high school. When it came time to choose a degree path, the obvious choice was a fine art degree. I know many young artists are put down by the concern of not pursuing a “real job” or someone telling them they’ll be a starving artist. I feel very fortunate that my parents always encouraged me to make art and to pursue my dream career. I graduated from NAU in the winter of 2019, where I started to develop my first themes within my work. For my graduating show, I created works surrounding the theme of human responses to death. I’m an avid horror movie fan and wanted horror to be an element of my artwork, so I composed a show that depicted different elements of an autopsy, presenting a realistically gory look at what happens to our bodies after we die. I definitely shocked some people, but I was more so seeking contemplation from my viewers. A look within, at their own mortality, to deeply consider their limited time in this place in history. My current work is trying to conjure that same contemplation, but with more emphasis on storytelling and aesthetic elements that make me happy. I’m really into retro sci-fi and horror and I feel like the stories told then are mirrored in our weird, virtual, plagued, dystopian society we live in today. We’re on the cusp between the world people wrote sci-fi in and the world people wrote sci-fi about. My work exists within the fantasies of the future and the horrors of reality. How did you get to where you are today professionally? Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? Being an artist is a unique profession because ideally, you shouldn’t compare yourself with other artists. What we create is so personal to our story, there shouldn’t be any artwork even close to the realm that yours exists in. One of the downsides of the connected nature of social media is that as an artist, you’re forced to face the truth that there are a million artists who are technically superior and seem to have the best ideas that are way better than anything I can think up, right? Wrong. Historically, people who had careers in the fine arts would usually see the artwork of their peers, mentors, fellow exhibitors, but would have never had a pool of work as large as the entire internet to compare themselves against. Holding your artwork up to such expectations would be like putting down a grade-schooler for not being able to solve complex equations. That being said, how do you define a profession at all without a certain amount of standards for success. Can I pay my bills with my artwork? No. Is that the reason why I paint? Also no! What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? Painting has been my greatest mentor when it comes to lessons learned. Some days you leave your studio feeling more well-honed technically, and other days you leave feeling like you’ve grown as a person in a matter of hours. A workday should be transformative. The greatest lessons I’ve learned so far are… ~Measure twice, cut once. (We’ve all been there…) ~Finish every single painting, even the ones you hate. You practice starting a painting every time, but you only practice finishing a painting with each one you decide to complete. You’ll get better at pushing past those tricky roadblocks will learn a lot from the late stages. ~Creativity is an endless well. You don’t have it, you don’t lack it, you are a conduit for it. ~Your sketchbook is your best friend and one true confidant. Don’t make rules for it and if you find trouble starting, flip to any page and start. First-page anxiety is very real. ~Be kind to yourself and have fun. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story? The one thing I would want people to know about me and my artwork is that I don’t support the idea of “talent”. I don’t think I am a talented person and in no way do you need talent to do what I do. It comes down to time and effort. I feel like calling artists or anyone who is good at what they do “talented”, is actually robbing them of the recognition they deserve for the years of attention they have put into their craft. Also, if you rewrite your idea that you need talent to be good, then you have one less doubt about pursuing your creative dreams!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite place in Flagstaff is Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. Their store has been such a safe space for me over the years and I’m sure many Flagstaff locals feel the same way. They’ve got something for everyone there and a cafe with the best coffee and local pastries in town. After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping you can go next door to Oscar’s Burritos Fiesta, it’s the only place I go for Mexican food. For pizza, it’s Fratelli’s. A fun, but adventurous night downtown would include a flight of fun flavored beers from Dark Sky Brewery, and a late-night trip to Aloha Hawaiian BBQ. I think the spot that has truly captured my heart is Miz Zip’s diner on route 66. When I was watching Twin Peaks, I would go there for pie and coffee. They’ve got damn fine coffee and it must be where pies go to die.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be half the artist I am today if it weren’t for the support, critique, collaboration, and friendship of all the amazing creatives that I’ve come to know in Flagstaff. I’ll try not to go on for too long about all of them, even though they each deserve novels worth of recognition. My earliest influences were my professors at Northern Arizona University, specifically Julie Comnick, Debra Edgerton, and Barbara Ryan-Gartin. All of them are hardworking, considerate, and are all the kind of professors who will tell you honestly what you can do better. I had several creative peers from college that deserve praise too. Ben Craigie, Emily Halber, Claire Herron, Dana Kamberg, and Hailee Sattley are all former NAU students who are all doing cool things in the real world now. Other Flagstaff artists who need a shoutout are noise/free-improv/experimental musicians Owen Davis, Rob Wallace, and Eugene Brosseau. All three of them are Flagstaff Educators, host the Interference Series events which feature other experimental artists, are the proprietors of their own record label; Nonessential Records, have multiple bands together and separately, and all have families that they are each great fathers to. I also have some wonderful friends in the Flagstaff hip-hop scene who I’ve made several album covers for, including An Illustrated Mess, CoCec, and Whatever Cecil, as well as several projects for label Zilla Ent. All of these artists have been amazing resources to me in the five years I’ve lived in Flagstaff. Their styles all reflect Flagstaff from a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and have influenced my work in many ways.