By Britt Appleton
HOUSE/guest is our monthly interview series where we showcase an artist who has impressed us in the digital world. They might not be local, but their effects are felt here in Portland.
This month's HOUSE/guest is Maryanna Hoggatt, a painter/sculptor/illustrator. You might know her series Animal Battle, or her 2 part comic book Adult Babysitting. She may have even been your bartender.
L/h: What does being a full-time artist look like? MH: About eighty percent of the time: sweatpants or pajamas, unkempt hair, no makeup, headphones. It’s not very glamorous. I manage to put on real pants whenever I leave my house/studio. And I try to make up for the slobbery when I attend actual social events.
L/h: What kind of stuff did you draw as a kid? MH: I think my first drawings were Disney characters. Actually, the first thing I remember drawing on my own was Mickey Mouse, when I was about five. Later, Looney Tunes characters. I kept spiral notebooks as sketchbooks, and drew the beginnings of various storybooks, like a family of dinosaurs living in caves. If I made a mistake, I’d draw over boulder it. I also started painting fairly young.
L/h: When did you feel like your skill level had caught up to your taste level? MH: Not for a looooong time. I could always somewhat draw what I wanted, but with a lot of struggle and frustration. It took a long time before I felt I was really rendering images the way I pictured them in my head, and even longer before I felt I was doing that with ease. I don't think my skills really started to develop until my late 20s, when I finally decided to stop screwing around and get serious about making art for a living. That's when I moved to Portland to attend art school.
L/h: What do you do that is unique? MH: I seem to cross mediums pretty easily. Some people were surprised that these were my first clay sculptures, but I found the transition very natural. I think of myself as a storyteller. All art mediums are another extension of storytelling, and in that regard I try to never place any limits on myself.
L/h: What advice would you give a less experienced artist? MH: You will probably suck for a really, really long time. Even when you think you're pretty good, you actually suck. Talent counts for very little. Hard work makes up the rest. When you see an artist that is successful and creates amazing art, you're looking at thousands and thousands of hours of hard work. Never, ever give up.
L/h: Who inspires you? MH: Anyone that hustles for a good dream. It takes guts.
L/h: What art is on your walls? MH: Too much of my own. I am the proud owner of very few original pieces of art, which I plan to remedy. I want to become more of a collector. My husband is a designer, so between the two of us we have illustrative work of designers, like Milton Glazer. And I have a couple of comic's prints, like a Paul Pope piece.
L/h: What blogs do you read? MH: When I'm working in my studio I try really hard to stay off any useless websites, but usually end up failing. Especially if I post any promotional stuff, then I end up wading around the black vortex of social media. But with intention, I'll read the news each day at NPR, or check Twitter for the latest happenings. Thankfully when I'm sculpting I'm away from my computer.
L/h: Who do you follow on Instagram? MH: On Instagram I follow some of my favorite artists, like Esao Andrews (@esao), Souther Salazar (@southersalazar), local galleries like Pony Club (@ponyclubpdx), Hellion Gallery (@helliongallery), Antler Gallery (@antlergallery), and some peeps like my adventurer/illustrator pal Brooke Weeber (@littlecanoe), and this guy John Stortz who takes amazing pictures of his pure white wolf-like dog in beautiful landscapes (@johnstortz). And so, so many artists! The extraordinary ability to glimpse the process that is behind the work of so many people I admire is one of the best parts of social media.
L/h: What is your dream project? MH: When I started sculpting in January, I was referring to the first sculpt as a maquette. My initial research was for armatures, puppet fabrication, and animation. I read articles on stop-motion sites, watched a lot of youtube videos, and of course, studied the work of Kent Melton. Halfway through my first paintings of Animal Battle (begun early 2013), I knew that I wanted to make these characters move. I didn't see them as just drawings. Each animal I create has a personality, and lives within the narrative behind the whole series.
I became really interested in the maquette stage of animation, and since it seemed like a good place to start making these characters a reality, I started sculpting. After I finished the first one, I was obsessed. I could not believe how ridiculously fun it was to sculpt!
Eventually I will get to the rest of that dream. There's still a lot of exploring to do.
L/h: What is your favorite animal? MH: Boy, that's difficult. I find so many animals charming, or majestic, or wonderfully weird. There's a very long list of creatures I still want to draw for Animal Battle. One I know personally that's pretty cool is my cat, Theodore. He's my favorite feline dude, even if he is kind of a jerk.
Okay, let's be real: sloths. Sloths! And raccoons. And foxes. Wolves. etc..
L/h: What is your favorite cocktail to make? To drink? MH: After so many years tending bar, my home drinks require nearly zero effort. Like wine. Or a greyhound. I much prefer someone else to make my drink now. When I go out, I'll drink 400-ingredient cocktails from fancy menus. Negronis and Manhattans are also delicious. And any bar that stocks Fernet Branca is a good one in my book.
L/h: If you were an animated character, who would you be? MH: One I have yet to create.
You can keep up with Maryanna on her blog, on twitter, and through her Instagram. Her solo show featuring the Animal Battle maquettes opens on August 7th (First Thursday) at Hellion Gallery in Portland and will be up the rest of August.
All photos from Maryanna Hoggatt