“I really started drawing thanks Math class. My class notebook was filled with comic books I was writing and illustrating. The inspiration was school and my friends. Needless to say…I failed math class; a few times.” – Liz Brizzi
From her travels around the world to looking outside her apartment window, Liz Brizzi has always found herself inspired by the world around her. Utilizing photography and paint, she’s made a name for herself in a multitude of art scenes with her mixed media creations that showcase places around our everyday lives that are often passed by. We talked about those places and where she’s going next with her always evolving work.
Kendra: You had the chance to travel a lot as a kid and get inspiration from all around the world. Did your family often encourage your creative side by taking you to museums and such or were you just sort of taking the sights and different cultures in as they came and storing them in the back of your mind?
Liz Brizzi: My family has always been supportive, simply because both of my parents were artists as well. My mother is a musician and my father is a painter and animation artist. But traveling as a kid mostly opened my mind to a whole world of inspiration. Today, I can’t stay in one place too long and need to travel yearly (at least).
Kendra: There are some artists who just go at it with just what they have in their head and others who head to school to learn even more. For you, it was the latter. What do you feel you took away from art school that you wouldn’t have learned had you never attended?
Liz Brizzi: Art school opened some doors I didn’t know existed. I went in to study illustration and wanted to make children’s books and graphic novels. But school showed me there were lots of other ways to express myself and make a living as an artist. Painting, building, design, architecture, collage…Things I’d never tried before. It gave me the tools and basic skills that allowed me to experiment and broaden my horizons.
In the end, I became a mixed media painter, which was not the plan at all. But I was also able to make a living doing things I never would have thought. I did textile graphics and surface design for a while, designed book covers, curated underground art shows. I also discovered digital media in school, which I use every day now. So, it opened doors for me. The funny thing is that now, I am driven to follow my original dreams and I’ve been working on picture books for kids. But I have so much inspiration and tools to work with from all the experience I got thanks to art school.
Kendra: Your work is a mix of media; photography, paint, wood. How did you land on this particular style?
Liz Brizzi: I was having a hard time painting realistic subject matters. I loved pushing paint around but would get frustrated with details and realism. So I started playing with imagery cut out of magazines and collaging them into the painting. Mind you, this was just something I did for fun. But things started taking shape and people were responding to the mix of media and my experiments.
Then I felt guilty using other people’s photographs I found. Especially when I started showing my work. So I set out to take my own pictures. I lived downtown LA at the time and was enthralled by the decrepit beauty I found everywhere. I took thousands of pictures and started cutting and collaging them onto my paintings. Then I realized canvas was too porous for my newfound technique and I started building wood panels. Finally, inspiration really came from my travels around the world. And just like that, I had a technique, a subject matter, and a bottomless source of inspiration.
Kendra: When looking at your work we see these various parts of cities that aren’t always showcased in art. You’ve said they’re like the forgotten segments of town. They remind me of neighborhoods before gentrification. Which in LA, continues to be an issue for many because it often leads to higher rent and whatnot. Another problem with that is that it takes away the beauty and originality of a neighborhood. An old building is torn down and replaced with yet another cookie-cutter apartment building with retail underneath. With that, do you feel like cities lose personality when gentrification takes place?
Liz Brizzi: Yes. They do. And that’s too bad. But I can’t complain too much because, in all honesty, I am definitely part of the gentrification “problem.” And it’s just how things go…especially here in the USA. Coming from Europe, it is much less the case, as everything is preserved to its historic beauty. I think that’s why I loved downtown so much when I first moved there. It felt like it was the only neighborhood in LA with untouched historical buildings. It used to be a ghost town. Abandoned buildings everywhere and empty streets at night. I have so many pictures of places that no longer exist. It’s unfortunate really…LA is very quick at destroying anything old.
Kendra: Can you tell the people what you have going on right now? Will you be doing any shows?
Liz Brizzi: I just wrapped a show based on Mexico City. I’m taking a bit of a break and focusing on some other projects dear to my heart. I illustrated a children’s book that is currently being shown to publishers. It was so much fun. I would love to do another one. But painting wise, I am open to commissions right now and I’d love to paint for fun again. Experiment with my technique and push it further.