From the studio of a former creative director who set out to make her own tactile fine art, Lisa Hunt dreams up patterns that are at once bold and soothing, with mesmerizing repetitive forms in bright finishes that catch the eye. She collects clusters of daily inspiration in her head from her own Brooklyn surrounds, as well as anywhere and everywhere else. For someone who rapidly consumes visual information and then projects it back out through her own artistic lens, she can find herself with an abundance of directions in which to explore, but as Lisa says, “Always like I could dream a world.” Paying attention to her own creative voice (and taking notes on what it tells her) allows Lisa to rein it all back in and set a focused mission for each day. The result is her hand-gold-leafed Alchmey collection of screenprints bearing a one-of-a-kind touch, and big plans for bringing her unique surface patterns to additional home decor items. —Annie
Photography by Lisa Hunt
What’s in your toolbox?
Gold leaf, paper, screens, squeegees, watercolor brushes, ink, powder pigments, pens, pencils, scissors, Dux gilding size, and my laptop.
Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”
Golden. Also happy, anxious, sometimes exhausted and overwhelmed with possibility, but always like I could dream a world.
What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?
There is this great book I discovered in a great bookstore in Socrates, New York. No. 1: First Works By 362 Artists, edited by Francesca Richer and Matthew Rosenzweig, is a book of essays and images of well-known artists and the pairing that they feel made them artists. As someone who just started identifying themselves as an artist, this book is a powerful example of how we all start at the beginning.
How do you keep yourself organized?
I used to be a Type A organized person; my handwritten lists used to have lists! Now I’m more of a Type B or C+. I drive myself crazy by not decidedly either writing things down or typing them into my laptop, so I have a constant running to-do list in my head. It seems to work for the most part. For the past year I have been trying to make a habit of writing notes and to-do lists on my phone in the “Notes” app while I’m on the subway. I’ve done some really powerful writing on my way to the studio that has helped me clear my mind and be thoughtful about my work and process. I will say, I am a good planner: I know the importance of thinking things out in detail and staying a few steps ahead to stay on track.
If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?
I would magically have the skills of a master printer, weaver, ceramicist, block printer, and watercolor artist.
What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my mother, who told me to be true to myself. It’s taken me a while to listen and trust my true creative voice as a designer and an artist, but I feel like now that I have, it’s all coming together. When I don’t listen to her advice and second guess myself, I always regret it. It’s the same advice I would give to a young artist, maker, or designer.
How do you combat creative blocks?
Creative block hasn’t been an issue for a while. Usually I have so many ideas, daydreams, and sketches in my mind or laying around [that] it doesn’t take much to get me down a new path. I find it harder to focus sometimes because of all of the ideas I have dancing in my head. When that happens, I take a power nap on the old denim-covered couch in the studio. Does the trick every time.
I started my career in publishing as a designer, and eventually became a creative director. I had to produce creative ideas on tight deadlines and with many, many revisions. That experience has also trained me to work through any creative blocks.
Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?
Inspiration is all around me; New York is the best muse. On the streets and the subway I observe so many colorful patterns, textures, shapes, and graphic lines in the fashion and the architecture. I’m like Rain Man the way I consume visual information. It all comes in at lightning speed and I file and process, file and process. When I sit down to work, it all comes into play, but through my particular visual filter.
Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr are also great visual resources, but I have to give myself breaks from those a few times a week. Visual overload tends to make me lose focus on my own work.
If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?
Kara Walker — she is fascinating to me as an artist, and I dream of one day owning one of her pieces. Her imagination and craft are bewitching to me, and I am curious to know more about her visual references, process, and materials.
What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?
Santa Monica’s NPR radio station KCRW has a show called “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” hosted by Jason Bentley, that is the best and my studio go-to. It’s a well curated mix of moody, vibey jams with more than a few R&B and soul surprises to keep me smiling. Many times I’ve never heard of the artist or group, but Jason plays everything from José James, Kendrick Lamar, Disclosure, St Germain, Giorgio Moroder, Robert Glasper Experiment, TV On The Radio, Hozier, Avi Buffalo, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Frazey Ford, to Delta Spirit.
The Weeknd’s new album Beauty Behind the Madness — especially the single “Can’t Feel My Face” — is currently on heavy rotation. Red Hot + Rio 2 is also an easy studio favorite. Beachy, dreamy, and romantic.