“Creating art started from such pure, happy beginnings in my childhood, it always seems like the easiest form of self-care, for me.”
– Allison Bamcat
Not every creative person out there has been through the wringer and back, but many have. It’s our way of dealing and Allison Bamcat is no different. She says the vibrant whirlwind designs she’s created over the years have been cathartic in dealing with a number of things in her life. From her parents’ separation to an eating disorder, she’s overcome them all with art by her side.
With art her guiding light and LA her backdrop, we talked about how she’s done everything from murals in her hometown to working for one of the leading shoe brands. We even talked a bit about one of the most coveted toys from our childhoods. Man, oh man. Can we get some Doodle Bears, please?
Kendra: It’s fitting that you say your art reflects LA in the ’90s because that’s how I came to find you, an art show about the ’90s in LA. That Daria piece for Gallery 1988’s ’90s show is stellar. With all of that, how would you compare LA’s aesthetic back then to now in 2019 – from an artist’s perspective?
Allison Bamcat: Living through the ‘90s and being able to reflect back on them is interesting. I was just a kid growing up in LA, so my scope of entertainment and aesthetics was limited. I didn’t have any income and the Internet wasn’t really a thing yet, so I have to rely on memories to form those nostalgic scenes, where everything is recorded instantaneously nowadays. Everything seems more softly-focused, more pastel, in my childhood memories. Where my current reality is in the big, bold colors of present-day Los Angeles. I like to find a mix between the two in my work.
Kendra: Sticking with the ’90s for a second. Your work is like if Lisa Frank and Dali had a baby and gave it not only the best art supplies but a Doodle Bear. Thinking back, was there a toy, TV show, or movie that first sparked your interest in art?
Allison Bamcat: Oh man, I really wanted a Doodle Bear!! Comparing my work to Lisa Frank is something I get often and take as a huge compliment. Anything and everything I owned as a child was covered in her stickers. I also had an extensive Beanie Baby collection, and I’d pick one to bring around with me each day, keeping me company on the playground and at art class.
Kendra: Let’s talk about your murals. You just did one at a gallery in LA and one down in Long Beach, right? Do clients tend to just give you the power of creativity to just do what you do or are there concept meetings to be had before each piece?
Allison Bamcat: Making murals is a newer experience for me! I’ve done almost twenty large-scale paintings since the beginning of 2018. More often than not, I’m not getting paid/reimbursed to create on the walls donated to me by kind souls around LA and LBC, but I go all out for client-requested murals so they know exactly what to expect from me. I treat paid and unpaid mural projects the same and create color mockups beforehand to reference while I paint.
Kendra: Your work features a lot of animals, which I get but what’s the story behind your infatuation and appreciation for the traffic cone?
Allison Bamcat: Ha, I’ve been delving in deep to figure out why I love traffic cones so much, and I think the simplest reasons are that A) I love the look of sun-bleached neon, and they have such a pleasing, timeless shape to them. Plus, they come in EVERY color, and I’m always excited to find a new hue in my travels.
Kendra: Working as a footwear designer for Converse must be ideal for someone with your artistic eye? I can’t imagine you’d be okay doing 9-5 as say an accountant?
Allison Bamcat: Working at Converse was an incredibly important part of my growth as an artist. Having work that you personally loved making chopped up, revised 16 times over, or ultimately dropped was an emotional roller coaster for me, but I think it made me more resilient and taught me to look at my art more objectively. It also taught me the importance of continuing my personal art practice outside of the office to let off steam.
Kendra: You just had some murals go up in Southern California, but what’s next for you and your art skills? Tell the people what you have going on.
Allison Bamcat: There are so many projects coming down the pipeline for me this year! I recently just showed in my first group exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery in LA, a major career goal for me. On top of that, I’m participating in Pow Wow! Long Beach and Worcester this year, more life goals! I’ll also be painting murals in Chula Vista, CA, and Kansas City, MO. I’d love to paint again during Art Basel in Miami in December, too.