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Meet Liesel Plambeck

Today we’d like to introduce you to Liesel Plambeck.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
At age ten, I started spending summers with my grandma doing intensive sewing lessons. She was sort of my first “serious” art teacher, a professional tailor. We’d spend weeks sewing and tailoring a trench coat or making blue jeans. It was magic. I loved altering and drafting patterns and how sculptural it was. I started to buy vintage clothes and would disassemble them, just to learn how they were made. That was definitely the seed of my obsession with fabric and design.

And then there were all sorts of creative outlets like building rockets and homemade fireworks with my dad until the police came knocking on the door from all the explosions. I had all these private worlds that didn’t cost money, where imagination was everything.

As high school and college loomed, I remember it being drilled into my head that “art” was not a viable career. My family was very middle-class Taiwanese American. But I gravitated toward it anyway. Putting my foot down and going to art school was this very personal commitment – like if I’m going to take this step, it’s forever going to be on me to always be working and challenging myself and getting better.

I studied printmaking and illustration at Otis College of Art and Design and worked as a production painter for a few notable artists including John Baldessari, Meg Cranston, and Alex Israel.

That led me to work for Kelly Wearstler in textile and product design. I designed home accessories, furniture, lighting, graphics, jewelry – anything under the sun. It was great how much cross-over there was in disciplines. I got to play around and stretch concepts across all different applications and possibilities.

After that, I worked as a textile designer in-house for some fashion brands and then just recently went out on my own, starting a print studio showcasing new as well as vintage prints from my collection. It’s been the biggest challenge yet – figuring out how to continue growing as an artist when you’re always working, designing and creating other peoples’ visions.

But work is work. And if you’re really working, you’re always getting a little better.

Please tell us about your art.
Growing up in California, with all its multiculturalism and aesthetics crushed together, combined with my mixed background, has made this eclectic, beachy, Pacific Rim diversity a fundamental part of who I am.

We’re at this point in time where there is such an oversaturation of design, product, and art – all instantly at our fingertips – most of it very mediocre. It’s challenging to navigate life as an “artist,” trying to maintain any sort of design or art integrity in what’s basically a fully corporatized world obsessed with micro trends.

But these are the parameters of my world. And when I create, I pull inspiration from all of it, translating the mess of culture and art into something that interests me.

I’m always taking notes, pictures, sketching, writing down dreams, watching movies, seeing shows, listening, scanning books, getting lost in LA’s libraries which are particularly amazing and of course Google Google Google!

I’m a practiced painter and sketcher, but lately, I’ve been working with airbrushing, screen printing, wood cuts, and collage as well. I’ve worked in and studied so many different categories of art and design – print, interiors, painting, furniture. That diversity has made me love experimenting with different materials and mediums. Experimenting also helps me loosen up my creative process.

For example, I’m in the middle of designing a capsule collection of rugs this past month. I’ve been studying the Light and Space artists, most notably Robert Irwin and Mary Corse, as well as some American modernists. I’m really interested in breaking into this new territory of work that is like mixing together the process of collaging paintings, repainting them and layering them over and over. It’s like studying light and fragmenting that translation until you come up with something interesting.

I have some exciting projects and collaborations in the works including my first rug collection debuting next Spring. I’m also working on a collection of blankets, screen prints, and tapestries. Beyond that, I’d love to start developing this sketchbook full of designs for lighting and furniture ideas I’m sitting on.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I do believe art and design is a powerful and essential communication tool. But given the direction we’re headed in ecologically, politically, and otherwise, it’s hard to reconcile doing work in what can seem like completely superfluous mediums and industries. It’s something I struggle with constantly. How do I make a difference using the talents, connections, and opportunities I’ve cultivated in my life so far? Exactly how hypocritical is it to sell work to fast fashion brands when it flies in the face of all of my personal values?

I think the best answer I’ve found, personally, is to always be moving my professional life towards communities and opportunities that value and promote sustainability and progressivism. It can be hard given the very real pressures of having to make a living, and it hasn’t been something that’s happened overnight, but it is progress I can measure tangibly.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website is lieselplambeck.com. You can also see more of my work and process by following me on Instagram @lieselplambeck.

I’m always looking to collaborate. If you ever have artwork needs or would like to take a look at my print collection, just e-mail me!

Contact Info:

  • Website: lieselplambeck.com
  • Phone: 805-651-9075
  • Email: lieselplambeck@gmail.com
  • Instagram: lieselplambeck

Image Credit:
Tim Nguyen
Mehraban Rugs

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