Lang Leav – Artist

Lang Leav, Contemporary Artist from Sydney, Australia, provides us with an insight into her fascinating world, you can check out her website here… 


Are you currently represented by a gallery?
I am represented by StupidKrap, a collective of some of the best underground artists in Australia. They run some very cool projects to promote underground art in our industry. Check it out!
How long have you been making art?
I can’t remember a definite point where I began making art. It has always been an extension of myself. 


What are the main medium/s you work in?
I mainly work with ink and pastels but lately I have been working with charcoal. My hands are constantly blackened and I have this habit of pushing my hair from my face, so by the end of the day I look like I’ve been sweeping chimneys.
How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
My work has a very strong narrative quality. I frequently use fairytale, folk and nursery rhyme references in my work. Storytelling is an intrinsic part of everything I do. My newer pieces (which I am yet to release) carry a much more mature tone. It isn’t something I planned but the characters in my artworks seem to be ‘growing up’ as I do. 


What are you currently working on?
My main project is a collaboration with music composer Cyrus Meurant. We met through the Churchill Fellowship Award and immediately had a mutual respect for each other’s work. It is uncanny how much the music he has written for the project encapsulates the feeling, which has inspired my artworks. We are hosting a concert event that will be a cross pollination of art, music and theatre. I think it will be quite magical.  
What fascinates you?
Love, romance, adventure, destruction and creation. I think all these things are created by words. My head is often filled with snippets from books, movies, song lyrics and those conversations I’ve had that were the defining moments of my life.  


How important is art for you?
Art is a compulsion. It feeds my soul. Most things for me require effort. But art is effortless. That’s the best way I know how to describe it. 
Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
I grew up in an area where art was discouraged. My parents are very traditional and insisted I study law or medicine. To convince them otherwise I said, ‘Mum and Dad, I promise you, if I can’t make a living as an artist, I will marry a lawyer or a doctor’. So now I am free to marry whomever I please!


Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?
My biggest break was winning the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award. I won the Fashion prize and was a runner up in the pictures category. This brought me to the attention of industry heavyweights such as Peter Morrissey and Elizabeth Ann Mcgregor (Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art). The following year, I was awarded a $25,000 Churchill Fellowship to study the underground subcultures in Tokyo. This was such an incredible opportunity and I got to meet some very influential people in the Japanese creative industry. You can read all about my adventures here:
Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I have always created art from a need to express myself rather than to cater to a particular audience. My artworks are my love letters. Even if I were to explain them, there is only one person in the world who is able to truly know the depth of what each line, each stroke represents. 


Has being involved in the arts proven to be a millstone or a point of elation?
I really can’t convey what an amazing thing it is to be able to do what I love and to have the recognition and means to keep doing it. I know I am incredibly lucky and remind myself of this constantly. 
Is art about entertainment, experimentation, inventiveness or shock for you?
I appreciate all forms of art and I think anyone’s motive for creating art is noble. Personally I want to create work that has real substance and depth. I don’t want to rely on ‘tactics’ in order to draw attention to my work. 


The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
For most artists, the idea of business and marketing can be quite daunting. As a result, so many talented artists lack the know how to promote themselves or to make their passion viable. I’ve been working with David Soul who is prolific in the technology industry to find solutions on how to bridge the gap between art and business in order to encourage more collaborative work between both parties. The potential there is absolutely mind-boggling!     

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”
I try to create art that has integrity but am also conscious that I do need to make a living. I create a balance by designing my own unique products to feature my artworks. The most popular have been my limited edition hand made books. Recently I sold ninety-nine books through my online fan-base. Creating them is such a joy and I pinch myself that people part with their hard earned money for them! 


Do the seasons affect your work or work habits?
Actually yes. I usually spend most of winter creating. It is my hibernation period. I block out the rest of the world and have this really intensive period where I just draw and write. In the warmer months, I will do my shows and go out exploring. 
Are you the sort of artist that seeks out promotional opportunities or one that shuns the limelight?
I am very grateful for any exposure because it helps to make what I do viable. I am able to play the P.R. role because it is one I was thrown into very early on in my career and something I have learnt to manage. However, the limelight is not something I actively seek and is just a means to an end. 
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Never compromise who you are. If you create from within, your work will always find an audience to connect with. 
Logic and clarity or creative and messy?
I have absolutely no sense of logic, time, history, geography or direction. I do however, have a great sense of humour. 

Small and intimate or large and bold?
This reminds me of a line from The Great Gatsby: ‘I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy’. 
Security or insecurity?
Perhaps it is something to do with getting older but in my career and as a person I have never felt more sure of myself and of my place in this world. 


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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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