Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First ARTIST INTERVIEW with GEORGETTE PRESSLER by Karen McGovern

Welcome to our new monthly blog installment! Every month I will be interviewing a new artist for you all.  Some will be jewelry related, some not.  We are welcoming all artists in all media for this series, which is super cool if you ask me.  If you follow my blog posts, you know I am drawn to unique art, so some of the artists I will be introducing you to may be "off the beaten path" so to speak, but all are RIDICULOUSLY TALENTED.  For our first interview I wanted you to meet a very special and gifted friend of mine.  Her work is spectacular, unusual and sometimes controversial.  I give you...Georgette Pressler.
 
In the first 10 minutes of meeting Georgette, two things jump out at you.  She is absolutely beautiful, and she is a genuinely NICE PERSON.  Damn.  Photo courtesy of Tara Hauck.

I met Georgette several years ago when I was looking for a live art performer for an art show I was hosting.  I got her name from the local arts community, and am so glad I contacted her.  Georgette is a fantastic artist, costume designer, body painter and owner/founder of Devious Body Art.  In the years since then we have become friends, and I am so pleased to introduce her here in our first monthly artist interview.  I am constantly amazed by her work and I know you will be too.  So, let’s get on with it!

KM: Tell us a little bit about you.
GP: My name is Georgette Pressler, I am a south Florida native, born and raised in Loxahatchee till I was 10 years old. I have been an artist all my life, even as a child, it was the constant in my world. I moved all over the country and eventually ended up back in West Palm Beach in 2002. I attended FAU, receiving a BFA in Conceptual Sculpture and Certificate in Secondary Art Education. I decided not to teach in the public school system and instead followed my love of art down the road of body painting. I would say that I’m very happy with that decision.

KM:  First, for those that are unfamiliar with body painting, why don’t you explain what that is and what exactly you do?

GP:  Body painting is one of the oldest forms of art, practiced by ancient civilizations.  To this day, it is an integral part of important in rites of passage, and ingrained in many cultures. The human body has always been the most readily available canvas. It's a shame that it's looked on with such disdain and perversity here in the West. Body art is the act of adorning the human form in color, symbol and meaning. It is not, by it's nature, a sexual or lewd act, though many see it that way. We, in the US especially, have connected such a stigma to the naked body that we've completely altered it's perception with the public and society. It's not all Sports Illustrated and PlayBoy parties! Though, I admit that I have painted for Playboy on more than a couple occasions.
 
What I do as a professional Body Painter is bring the human form into the view of the public in a discreet, artistic and understandable way. I acknowledge the curves and nature of the body, while also presenting an image or idea that works in unison. I'm not a big fan of hiding the form or blending it into a background to disguise the body. The body is the most important part, it's God-given!

Much of what I do are client commissions, promotions and photo shoots, many of which request something sexy. I go out of my way to insure that "sexy" does not contradict my beliefs; that a woman, or man, in paint is not a sexual object just because they're nude. I have the utmost respect for my models and my audience. I would never insult them with trashiness and perversion of the art form. I like to think that I create a respectful conversation between art and viewer, sometimes even an uncomfortable one. It is why I am often requested at black tie events, galleries, museums and charity fundraisers. Body paint creates a unique opportunity for a spectator to talk with the art, ask questions and express opinions, even if they are differing. To me, body painting is more engaging than painting a flat canvas alone and then sending it away to be viewed. So, that is what I do as a body painter... I put it right in your face and make you think about it.

KM:  I love that attitude.  Art in your face, creating something thought provoking....kudos.  So, what’s up with the name "Devious Body Art"?
 
GP: Years ago, in the lost time of Myspace, my nickname was DeviousG. I was a little sultry a little sinister and rather mischievous. So was my art. I used another name for my emerging company at the time, but kept getting asked if it was a tattoo company. so when I redeveloped the brand some years ago and got rid of Myspace, I created Devious Body Art. I think it describes my style well, a little dark and not completely fit for the mainstream or faint of heart.

Georgette, in costume.  Imagine being able to play dress up
whenever you want and doing THIS!
KM: When did you know you wanted to be an "artist"
 

GP:  Art is one of my first memories! My mother encouraged me so much; she gave me all the humble tools that we could afford. She let me draw on everything! she treasured every scrap of paper I touched. Art was my therapy, my best friend, my consolation, my communication. Art helped me through some very rough times. How could I not, in turn, devote myself to it? Honestly... I don't know what else I’d be very good at. Everything I do involves art in some way.

KM:  That is true for so many of us.  I'd like to think we are all born artists!  Your work is often very public...I've seen you perform and paint models live at various events.  What is that like for you as an artist?

GP:I truly enjoy painting for a live audience! Not so much in a nightclub with blaring music, but in galleries and at art events or events that collect a wide variety of people. I love the questions and intrigue that overtakes them when seeing body paint for the first time. The funny thing is, people usually speak to my model and ask them questions, often congratulating them on the beautiful work and completely ignoring me! Most can only associate body paint with Fantasy Fest in the Keys or Halloween, and they're surprised to see that it can be real, intricate, and beautiful art. I feel like I've made it my mission to dispel the gross misrepresentation of the art form! No, I don't paint at Fantasy fest... I'm sure I never will based on principle alone.
 
Georgette, with three models she painted into a raven triptych in honor of Edgar Allan Poe.
KM: What inspires you? 
 
GP: I am most inspired by the everyday things around me—by nature and the green of the Earth, but also by the beauty in man-made architecture and repetitive lines. I love repetitive lines, mad made or nature made. I adore the elegant and intricate flourishes of the Baroque and Rocco eras. The over-embellishment of things. I buy fabric just to have because of the texture, color, or pattern. I LOVE fabric! The vintage or antique draws me in more than the modern or futuristic. Decaying old buildings covered in vines, lost forgotten objects, handmade wood work items, things that were once loved, lace, exotic flowers, the occult, Gypsies, Arabian horse show bridles, costume jewelry.... my brain is like a thrift store of images!

A beautiful example of Georgette's amazing eye for detail and use of color.
KM: What is your favorite medium and why? 

GP: You would think that for a body painter my favorite medium would be water-based skin safe paint and flesh... it's not. In my heart, I’m a sculptor. I like to work with my hands. I like to build and create tangible objects. My true love is in fabric and textiles, with hand sculpted adornments. Full elaborate costume design and creation! That is where my path will lead me, eventually.

KMWho are your favorite artists and how do they inspire you? 

GP: I have so many favorite artists! It’s hard to select a few. The ones that stand out most for me though are Beth Cavener Stichter (my favorite sculptor), Echo Chernik, Glenn Arthur, and 80% of all comic book artists.  I also love Olivia De Baradinis, Crayola, Salvador Dali, Gustav Klimt, hr giger, Jim Henson, George Lucas, Michael Parks, Wild Child and Nelly Recchia.  There are so many more!  I am also a huge fan of (and influenced by) fashion designers like Eiko Ishioka, Jean Paul Gautier, Dior and Alexander McQueen.

KM: I definitely see how the fashion industry influences you--your work in costume design is fantastic.  Here's a deep question....What does the term ART mean to you? 

GP: Art, to me, is creating something where there was once nothing. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean creating something beautiful, because art doesn't have to be beautiful. Nor does it mean creating something tangible. Art can be a thought, an idea that grows and flourishes. Art is existence—to exist in a way that is unlike the norm or conventional. To change a thing into what you want, not necessarily what you need. Creating art is creating want, desire, longing. You do not need art to survive, but how can you live without it?

KM: Good answer.  Art is such a vital part of life.  What are you working on right now?

GP: After Halloween, my busiest work month of the year, I have more free time to work on projects and create pieces for myself rather than for clients. I have a handful of projects on my board, such as finishing a custom painted guitar, creating a 2 person performance costume for a gallery show in January and working on collaborating with other local artists at the forgotten and beautiful historic Palm Beach Hotel. Some of these projects are for publications that I’d like to be involved with; some are just for the sake of art. Once January comes around, my year of travelling and working around the country will pick up, leaving less time to attend to my personal projects.

KM:  Give us a glimpse into your working art world...What is your studio/workspace like? Neat or controlled chaos?
 
GP:  I have two work spaces, both are kinda crazy! My home has a small 10x12 room that I use as a base of operations. I draw, sketch, sew, sculpt small things and paint here. The room is lined with shelves, most full of bins with colored coded fabric selections and lots of small containers with odds and ends. I have two closest of costumes and accessory pieces, two large bins of wigs, and then there is a dresser shoved in there with most of my clothes for “real life”. There was a point in time where I wore more costumes in a week than "real" clothes. It's a small space, so when I start a new project, travel, or have multiple projects at one time, I have to tear the whole place apart... rarely does it all get put back together properly. I have to designate a weekend that I don't have events just to reorganize, reliable and put it all away. The second space is a large shop in an industrial bay. There’s no a/c but lots of room for sawing, cutting, sanding, spraying paint etc.... and of course costume storage!

KM: What is your favorite studio tool/gadget/gizmo?

GP: My fave gadget would have to be my hot glue gun or sewing machine! Not sure i could live without either. My airbrush would be a very close runner up. once I build a vacuform table... that will probably be my new fave.

KM:  Let’s toot your horn a bit here…you’ve competed nationally and internationally in body art contests, been featured in local and national newspapers and magazines, and have had the rare opportunity to expand your work as an artist.  What is your most treasured accomplishment to date?
 
GP:  It's really hard to say what my most treasured accomplishment is! I just recently competed with my best friend Lawren Alice in the Face And Body Art International Convention's "Body Paint" category. We won first place this past June! It was 6 long hours of stress and the finished product was better than we imagined! Our gorgeous model Yezenia really brought the piece to life! But I wouldn't say that was my greatest accomplishment.
 
It's kids seeing body paint for the first time with their parents. Often, it'll be in public where the model is wearing a thong or costume bottom and pasties. the kids come right up and just stare! they don't stare at "boobs" or "nakedness".... they're staring at the art and colors. they're in awe. The some overprotective parent comes running up to snatch them away and these kids just standfast... "But mommy, look how beautiful she is!". They are so innocent and it takes adults to ruin that. So, my greatest accomplishment has been reaching and teaching children about art and acceptance and that the human body is beautiful.


CLICK HERE for a lovely short video about Georgette and her work.
One of Georgette's award winning creations.  AMAZING!
KM: Finally, what advice/encouragement can you give to struggling artists in the world?
 
GP: I'm not sure if I’m one to take advice from, as I myself am still a struggling artist. But, after all I’ve been through and all the hard lessons I learned on my own, I would say this... take a business course!! Learn how to read and write your own contracts! Learn how to stand up for yourself and your work and not get bullied by the legal jargon of businessmen. And above all else, VALUE YOUR WORK! I've spent years feeling bad about charging what I felt was too much for what I do. It has taken this long to figure out that I'm the only one that feels bad! The people that hire me, that value what I do, will hire me regardless. And what I do isn't for everyone, not everyone CAN afford it. I do a great deal of charity work each year, giving my time and services to reasonable and fitting charities.  The rest of the time I need to conduct myself as a legitimate business, and that means valuing what I do and pricing it accordingly. Most artists fall into this pit of not knowing or understanding their own worth. So, be a lighthearted and fluttery artist if you wish, but be a smart one! Value your work and your time as much as those around you do!
 
Well said, Georgette!  Words we can all learn from.  My thanks to Georgette for her time and talent.  If you want to know more about body painting and Devious Body Art, please visit Georgette's website and Facebook page.  I love exploring unusual art forms, and what Georgette does is so amazing.  Just so you know, Georgette has been a wonderful supporter of my annual wildlife art show supporting the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation.  She has painted live at the show, creating amazing works of living art.  I'm so grateful for her contribution and generous spirit.  Thanks for sharing with us, Georgette!

Stay tuned...next month's artist interview is with the spectacular mixed media jewelry designer Keith Lo Bue.  I can't wait!!

3 comments:

Sharon Driscoll said...

Excellent article - I loved it!

Keith@Vintage Crab Jewelry said...

That is amazingly cool!

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks for sharing so much about yourself. I not only enjoyed it, but learned so much about something I really knew nothing about :o)

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