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Art & Life with Auberi Zwickel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Auberi Zwickel.

Auberi, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life. I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, went to college on the Westside and am now living in the valley again, and I work as an urban beekeeper in the city.

I grew up fascinated by art, and my earliest influences were the cartoons I watched as a kid, and later post-WW1 art, punk, outsider art, desert art, and comics. I got my BA in studio art in 2014 at Loyola Marymount University. I experimented with a bunch of different mediums in school, but ultimately fell in love with drawing and I started developing my work in earnest right at the end of college.

Since finishing school, I’ve spent the past few years developing my art practice, getting to know lots of awesome people in LA, working a lot of different jobs, reading lots of books and escaping the city as often as possible!

Recently, I’ve become really interested in ecology and regenerative design. About a year ago I started taking classes with the Permaculture Academy in LA. And, this Spring, I began apprenticing with an urban beekeeper. I now work for the LA branch of the Best Bees company (my mentor is @willybeekeeper on Instagram–go follow him for his educational posts about bees!). I love what I do, and I would love to become a master beekeeper one day! These experiences are currently informing and transforming my work as an artist.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create large drawings with micron pens. I also screen print, and occasionally make hand-printed artist books and zines of my work. I also, occasionally, dabble in collage and xerography, and I sometimes do collaborative projects with my friends!

My process is really intuitive, and the content of my work is always in flux! Over the past few years, I’ve made a lot of work about myself–my emotional highs and lows, my sexuality, my anxieties and insecurities, the weird dreams I have at night. I once read an interview with Joe Coleman where he described his creative process as a kind of “psychic self-exploration,” and I really connect with that and often use that phrase to describe my own process. Drawing for me has always been a form of meditation, a way to curb my anxiety and quiet my mind, a quiet form of magic.

Recently, my work has been less about me and more about the world around me. Studying permaculture, working with bees and spending more and more time reading about nature and environmental issues has gotten me obsessed with ecosystems and how they function. I’ve always drawn a lot of clowny, masked characters and lately these characters have morphed into imaginary plants, insects and anthropomorphic creatures that interact with their environment and have symbiotic relationships with each other. I love to draw images of life cycles and transformation–birth, death, metamorphosis, mating, feeding, playing, digesting, excreting, etc. I’m currently exploring these themes in a new body of work called Insect Carnival, and I hope to eventually collect the drawings into a book!

I’m also currently working on a collaborative project with Jacque Beas (@90percent.silk on Instagram), an illustrator from Cleveland, OH. I am screen printing a book called “Grief,” a collection of Jacque’s drawings depicting the five stages of grief along with some of their other drawings of queer, kinky clowns. I’ve always wanted to print/publish the work of another artist, and I’m really excited to finally do it! We hope to debut the book at the LA Art Book Fair in April 2019.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
Honestly, this is a problem that I struggle with constantly. I live in a really isolated place about a 45-minute drive (without traffic!) from most of my friends and the communities I’m part of. Even though I try to get out as much as I can, I feel like I miss out on a lot of fun things and potential friendships because getting out takes so much time and effort for me!

Instagram has by far been the best way to connect with other artists. Through Instagram, I’ve been able to connect with some really awesome people from all over the world who are reclusive illustrator nerds just like me! If you follow someone who’s work excites you, message them and let them know you’re a fan. It’s also really fun to do art trades with people!

I’ve also met a lot of artists in LA by going to shows and parties that my friends host. I have to be really selective about what I leave the house to do every week, so I try to maximize my time by going to things where I know I’ll be around the best people. If you discover a venue, event producer or community that you really like, try to become a regular at their events! If you meet someone who’s doing a project you find interesting, offer to help them out!

I also love getting together with artist friends and just sharing space together and working side by side. I don’t get to do it very often because I live so far away from my artist friends, but I do think it’s a great way to be social while also getting work done.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have a few tentative shows coming up next year but nothing is confirmed yet. For now, the best way to view my work is on my website auberizwickel.com and on my Instagram @auberizwickel. You can support my work by buying my prints and zines from my online shop, buying an original work or commissioning a piece from me!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Auberi Zwickel (art images), Alex Kropf (artist photo)

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