Today we’d like to introduce you to Memento Mori Los Angeles.
Memento Mori, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
We are Brad and Deirdre Hartman and we met here in Los Angeles in the early 2000s. We were both heavily influenced by our grandparents’ homes and natural history museums, full of wonder and things that have stood the test of time. These pieces were familiar, sometimes whimsical and sometimes grotesque. So, when we moved in together, we got to work creating our own unique space. We believe the décor of a room should create a mood. Décor is something very personal and the right pieces should fit like a puzzle invoking memories and feelings. We both have a love of classic horror and the macabre, so adding entomology shadow boxes, skulls, taxidermy and other curiosities came naturally to us. Every birthday and anniversary had (and still has) us trying to find the most obscure treasure for each other (typically from the one and ONLY original oddities and natural history shop, Necromance on Melrose).
After over a decade of collecting, we realized how much we enjoyed curating our home and took a look at where we were in life. Brad was running the marketing department for a commercial real estate company in downtown LA, and I was overseeing operations of a small jewelry company in Burbank. We enjoyed our work but felt like we could do more, express ourselves artistically and build something special together that we truly believed in. With Brad’s marketing and design background, and my experience working in small business we set out to open our brick and mortar shop in 2014. Fueled on dreams, determination and our boundless curiosity for the world around us we brought Memento Mori Los Angeles to life! Memento Mori is a Latin term meaning ’Remember you will die’. Death surrounds us all, as does life. One can’t exist without the other, and we believe that keeping this in mind helps us celebrate the short time we all have on this earth. Newly relocated to the heart of Hollywood, we have worked hard to create a sanctuary from the disposable and ordinary, a place where your imagination can run free. A place where death and the macabre can be appreciated.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Over the years of collecting for our home, we began to wonder about how taxidermy is made, how insects are preserved, and how exactly does one articulate a skeleton? We wanted to learn more about the process of these art forms. At that time there wasn’t a place to go to learn about such things, so a lot of our early work was self-taught from museum study, books and online research. It’s taken a lot of time to work on our craft to get it to the point it is today. Countless mangled butterfly wings and broken bones…
Our art is very delicate to work with but with attention to detail, patience and a lot of practice it’s something we enjoy and love to see people’s reactions too! We’re inspired by the Victorian era, music, film, the occult, religious iconography and the world around us. All the specimen we work with are sourced ethically, meaning nothing was killed for the purpose of our art, but rather died naturally. We use found objects, medical study antique human bones, animal remains, crystals and butterflies to create various pieces of art and décor. We create museum-quality cloche and wall displays and do our best to price them reasonably. From a young age, we both have had a fascination and natural curiosity about the balance of life and death. There’s beauty in the fragility of life, and it’s our hope that by reminding people of that via our art, it allows people to enjoy the precious time they have.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
Taking the leap to pursue art (or small business) isn’t something for anyone. But if you follow your passion and put in the time and effort, you CAN make it work. These days, the internet is such a game-changer, you can literally find almost anything online. That’s both good and bad for an artist because you need to make yourself stand out from the rest so you can reach that target audience. One of the most important things we’ve done to progress our reach is vending at festivals and cons to allow people to see our work in person, and make that human connection. That’s something the internet just can’t do. It’s showing people that you are the artist, the human behind that social media mask, that helps solidify that connection, and ultimately can translate into success. The BEST way to support an artist or small business in this day and age is to purchase their work, frequent their events and share their art with others. Community support allows any artist to continue to progress their art and create bigger and better masterpieces. It’s as simple as that if you like what an artist is doing show your support any way that you can.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
For the most part, people can see our work 6 days a week in our brick and mortar shop located right in the heart of Hollywood! Memento Mori is open Tuesday through Sunday 11 am – 7 pm. Some of our work can also be seen in the lobby restaurant of The Nomad Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the recent Oddities Flea Market Los Angeles, and at the upcoming holiday market Bitchcraft in December!
We take custom commissions as well as teach entomology preservation/display classes, and offer taxidermy classes from outside teachers. Be sure to check out our website for class listings!
- Address: Memento Mori
Los Angeles, CA 90028
- Website: www.mementomori-la.com
- Phone: (323) 962-7834
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: memento_mori_la
- Facebook: mementomoriLA
Photo of us is by Thomas G. Ganderson