dani vinokurov

May 15, 2012

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dani Vinokurov this past weekend, a fellow LA collage artist whose work I really love. Her collages are quite complex and multi-layered, utilizing fabric pieces, stitching, cut paper, ink drawings and watercolor washes. They are very intricate and full of amazing detail! You can find more of her art and stay up to date with her latest work via her Facebook page.

Here are some shots of her creative space (which is super clean and organized - I'm impressed!), followed by my questions:

1.) When did you first start creating? Have you always been interested in art?

I think creating and making are a part of my being. We are all born with an inherent passion...we just need to have the courage to see it, the patience to nurture it, and the resolve to believe in it. Luckily, I’ve been surrounded by creative individuals my entire life. Both my parents are incredibly talented people and I have fond childhood memories of being surrounded by their unique genius. My father is a gifted painter and drawer. When my siblings and I were little, Dad would set up still life settings on the kitchen table and we’d all draw after dinner. My mother is an amazing seamstress. I have beautiful memories of hanging out with her while she’d sew. She always listened to classical music—and to this day, the sound of the sewing machine, the smell of an iron, and light chamber music bring me so much comfort. Thanks to my parents, I am who I am. They challenged me and supported me and fostered my creativity. I don’t think I would have become an artist if it weren’t for them.

2.) When did you decide to become a working artist?

I didn’t think about becoming an artist until I went to grad school. In fact, I never thought of myself in those terms until I participated in my first group show. I guess you could say I got a taste of what being an artist could be like and I’ve never looked back. I originally attended grad school to get my MFA in Graphic Design. To say it politely, the program wasn’t what I had anticipated. I had a profound desire to work in analog and traditional mediums, but my needs weren’t being satisfied. On a whim, I took a class in the Fiber Arts department and fell completely in love. I learned weaving, dyeing, embroidery and repeat-pattern design and incorporate these techniques into my collages.

3.) Where do you get the materials for your art? How did you become interested in your subject matter?

My current work grew out of a much larger series. I had been working on large textile paintings that combined Shibori (a traditional Japanese tie dye method) and layers upon layers of natural dyes and silk organza. My paintings would take months to complete. While I loved the process, I found it exhausting to stitch for weeks on end before ever getting to the dyeing stage. In the tedium and frustration of seeing my portfolio grow so slowly, I started incorporating fabric and embroidery techniques onto little paper studies I was working on. I loved how quickly I could work in comparison to the silk paintings. I was able to include some of the same mediums and techniques, just on a much smaller scale. Eventually, I ended up incorporating tiny ink drawings, miniscule paper-cuts, and watercolor washes. While I would no longer consider my work fiber art, I love that I get to still include fabric, textiles and embroidery into every piece.

4.) What do you like best about the creative process?

For me, I love the act of letting go—intuition is a huge aspect of my work. My process is very much about trusting my instincts and allowing for those creative aha moments. The first marks of each new piece begin with knowing that the work will guide me to where it’s supposed to go, like the needle of a compass…I just have to follow the path.

5.) What do you like least?

There never seems to be enough time in the day to realize all of my ideas or goals. Time management might be an issue, but I don’t think anyone would argue if the gods decided to add a few more hours to the day.

6.) What motivates you to keep creating?

When you are truly passionate about something, motivation is easy to come by. I am a dreamer by nature. My dreams and desires for the future and knowing the possibilities of where my art may take me are extremely inspiring. I can’t stop, otherwise I’ll never actualize my potential.

7.) Art can sometimes be an isolating profession. Has art connected you to other people or impacted others in interesting ways?

Community is such an important part of being an artist. I learned this while taking classes in the Fiber Arts department. I’d never been a part of a group of people motivated by the act of sharing (and caring). It might have had something to do with the fact that 99.99% of the department was women, or the fact that we were in engaged in mediums that traditionally lent themselves to female forums like knitting or sewing circles. I will admit that I’ve had a difficult time replicating this same sense of community in Los Angeles. I have a tendency to be very introverted and seeking out like-minded female artists has been a challenge. However, I’ve been tremendously lucky in the last year to have met some extremely talented and generous artists.

8.) If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?

A chef. I love to cook…especially when I have an excuse to cook for someone else. To me cooking is like making art, just with a different (tastier) medium.

9.) What are your creative dreams? (if anything is possible, what would you want to have happen?)

Right now, my most important creative dream is to make being an artist my full-time career. Every year, I take one step closer to achieving this goal. I can’t wait for that first Monday I can wake up, make a cup of coffee, and go to work…in my studio! I think that would be a watershed day.

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