Member Spotlight: Lisa Cyr


Member Spotlight - Lisa Cyr

[ August 25, 2009 ]   For artist and author Lisa L. Cyr, books create a unique platform from which to communicate with the world. They provide her with a voice that is not only distinctive but also far reaching, as many of Cyr's books have been translated and printed in several different languages with global distribution. "Through my books, I share my insight, experiences and knowledge with a subject and by doing so I am able to connect with others that partake in my way of thinking. My unique combination of word and image are at the heart and soul of the ongoing dialogue that I have with the culture," says the artist. "Over the years, my work has created an extensive artistic community that I continue to connect, correspond and collaborate with. They work in a diverse array of artistic disciplines and come from all over the world." Cyr's journalistic works have graced the covers and interiors of many of the industry's leading art publications, including Communication Arts, Step inside Design, HOW, ID, Applied Arts, Creativity's Spark, Alt Pick and many others. She has also authored six books, dealing with innovation in both commercial and fine art. As a recognized artist, Cyr's highly tactile, mixed media work has been featured in numerous books, magazines and online and is included in the permanent collection of the Museum of American Illustration as well as in private collections. "I am very much aware that I have an opportunity to say something meaningful through my work," she adds. "It is my hope that through my efforts I am able to somehow make a difference."

Your highly poetic, imaginative compositions are conceptual in nature, often utilizing the figure as a point of departure. Can you share some insight about your unique approach?
In my work, I use layers of symbolism, metaphor and allegory as a way to stimulate curiosity, provoke thought and encourage the viewer to look deeper into the work. I am interested in emotionally and intellectually engaging the viewer, creating a multi-sensual pictorial experience. For instance, my dimensional mixed media painting entitled Meditative Pathways is a conceptual portrait about man's struggle to find purpose in a world that is often filled with distractions, doubt and uncertainty. In the piece, a contemplative figure sits in the midst of a highly chaotic environment, symbolic of the outside forces that constantly try to push us off track from our true purpose and path. These distractions are often presented to us in pretty packages and we can easily be deceived. But, if we look deep inside ourselves, we are able to see the truth. A doorway is presented and all we have to do is choose to walk through. In the painting, there is a door-a rectangular shape with a large handle-that is connected to the area of enlightenment around the figure's face. The eyes, which are said to be the windows of the soul, are surrounded by a maze of potential paths in which to take in life. The large use of type employed at the top of the piece is a scrambled parable from The Bible (Matthew 25: 23 - 45), serving as insight from above. The parable talks about making the right choices in life and the importance of once we truly find ourselves and learn our purpose, we are to use those gifts to serve others.

Your process is quite layered and innovative in terms of its use of materials and techniques. Can you talk about your process?
For me, the creative process always begins with an inspired idea. From there, the subject is well researched and explored. By amassing myself in a topic, I am able to make a connection that is personal and passionate. Once I have a direction, I begin to focus on how to communicate and bring my concept to life. I love to work in layers in both the physical grounds that I build and the materials I apply on top. To push the picture plane into the third dimension, I will often insert boxes, apply imaginary windows and add assemblage accents. I love the way a dimensional ground can alter the reading of a piece. When it comes to materials, I am drawn to the way a layered aesthetic can create a visually dynamic, tactile environment. I will add elements of collage, from handmade and commercially available papers in an array of finishes and textures to typographic elements and ephemera that are ripped, cut and punched. To further enliven the pictorial topography, I will apply acrylic gel medium, modeling paste or gesso mixed with sand to the working surface using a palette knife, trowel or comb. I work in a push-pull process, where I put things onto the surface only to later scrape, scratch and peel back into it, arriving at an environment that ignites my imagination.

To keep my process fresh, I experiment every day, exploring new materials and processes. There are happy accidents that happen when I begin to play. Things that I could not have predicted occur and I love to use what I have discovered in more formal works.

What inspires you?
Whether I am perusing the museums in New York City or taking a walk around my home on the East coast, I always come across something inspirational, encouraging me to somehow use what I have experienced in my work. Outside the confines of the studio, intriguing textures, shapes and color palettes can be found almost anywhere. I walk everyday and there is always something that catches my eye. In my painting entitled The Courageous, I was very much inspired by the beautiful patterns in the falling leaves of the autumn season. I especially loved the burst of colors that ran through their ever-changing palette, using them as inspiration for the explosion of color alongside the lion's face in my painting. In addition, several sprigs from a bush that was being pruned in my yard were employed in a monoprinting technique to create a unique and very organic pattern. (See the process here: here)

What do you love most about what you do?
I actually love the entire process from that first spark of inspiration to the marketing and launch of the work into the culture. I am very involved in all aspects of my projects. In addition, I actively speak across the country at art organizations, industry conferences and universities doing lectures, workshops, events and exhibits. I also teach in several MFA in illustration and design programs during the summer as well as online throughout the year for The Art Institute. Go to for a list of lectures and workshops. I meet so many people from a plethora of creative disciplines. I find that I am rejuvenated by their energy as much as they are inspired by the ideas and the work that I present. Lecturing and teaching also allows me to share my content with a targeted audience, garnering feedback that energizes me for the next project.

From the reviews, Art Revolution has really made an impact in the art and illustration world. Can you talk about the project?
Art Revolution just hit the stores and online this July (2009). It is at the forefront in exploring alternative, innovative ways of conceptualizing and creating art that is on the cutting-edge. Throughout the highly visual book, insightful and thought-provoking profiles of leading artists and illustrators accompany stellar, multi-media work. The book also provides insight into the historical influences behind contemporary thinking and approaches, investigating the origins of alternative, unconventional picture making throughout the decades. In addition, exciting splash spreads, featuring demonstrations and behind-the-scene looks at groundbreaking artists at work, shed light on signature processes and techniques.

There is a rich amalgam of media available to creatives today, offering a wide range of possibilities for exploration and experimentation. Art Revolution is on the cutting-edge, revealing how alternative, mixed media aesthetics is uniting the disciplines of two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital and new media art in inventive combinations. For those wanting to venture outside the norm, a complete directory of the manufacturers and suppliers used by the artists featured is listed in the back of the book so that sourcing materials, gaining access to health and safety procedures and obtaining additional information on unconventional techniques and approaches are easily accessible.

The demands, distractions and challenges present in today's fast-paced, chaotic world make it ever more difficult to break through the sea of mediocrity to make a memorable, lasting connection with an audience. For artists that are looking for an edge, wanting to push their work further, this book is a valuable asset and ongoing source for inspiration.

The artists featured in the book include Marshall Arisman, Brad Holland, Dave Mckean, Barron Storey, David Mack, Fred Otnes, Kazuhiko Sano, Lisa L. Cyr, Cynthia von Buhler, Rudy Gutierrez, Michael Mew, Lynne Foster, Kathleen Conover, Robert Maloney, Susan Leopold, A.E. Ryan, Stephanie Dalton Cowan, Matt Manley, Richard Tuschman, Dorothy Simpson Krause and Camille Utterback.

In addition, Reinterpret, Reinvent and Redefine is an insightful lecture and highly visual presentation that I created and it is based upon the book. Interested organizations, universities and the media can visit for more details on the lecture and the book.

Reviews can be seen here. An online interview by The Artists Network News can be seen on YouTube. In the July issue of The Artist's Magazine, a 4-page spread featured an excerpt from Art Revolution. You can check out the lead spread here.

In addition, Art Revolution was featured at the 2009 Learning and Product Expo and sold out on the first day! It was also at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 23-26, 2009 and did extremely well.

What are you currently working on?
I am working on a series of paintings for a new book project as well as for galleries. I am also working on some licensing endeavors. The new work will be primarily figurative set in imaginative environments. I have been getting more and more involved with fantasy art and I want to gear the new body of work around that genre. My work will be featured in an upcoming fantasy art book: SPECTRUM 16: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art. I also have several works featured in SPECTRUM 15 which is already available in bookstores and online.

What advice can you share with young artists who will soon be going out into the world, trying to make their mark?
In the beginning, learn as much as you can about picture making, from classical to more abstract approaches. Don't limit yourself. Open up your mind to the myriad of possibilities that exist across ideologies and disciplines. You will have so much more to draw from when it comes to embarking on your own creative path.

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