Interview with the FourCulture Crew

My friend D runs a online magazine called FourCulture, and I’m in Issue 2.  It’s an honor, because they have some seriously talented people in there, and I am amazed/pleased to be part of it.

This is awesome.  AWESOME.  I will be getting a PDF (and editing this post when I do) so I can hook up anyone who wants a printed version, but here is the direct link to my interview: Adventures In Bunderland: An Interview With Larissa Horvath.  There are photos and everything!  I feel all fuzzy inside.

There were some edits to my answers for format constraints, so below are the responses I originally sent to them.  This means if you’re reading my blog then you get Special Edition, or something.  Woohoo!

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Adventures in Bunderland

Interview with Larissa Horvath, creator of Drunk Bunny

By The Artist D – August 2012

Your art has a very Alice in Wonderland sort of vision pulled uniquely from your brain. How do you fall down the rabbit hole to create the things that you do? In other words, where does this stuff come from!?

Hah, I do love Alice in Wonderland.  The Disney version is my favorite.  Most Disney cartoons from the 50’s up through the early 80’s are where a lot of my inspiration comes from.  The lines are clean, the colors are great, and Walt’s vision changed the face of cartooning forever.  Anything Alice-related has always resonated with me; I don’t know if it’s the surrealism that appeals to me, but something in the story is a total sweet spot.  Chuck Jones cartoons are also forever favorites – I appreciate it from a technical, artistic, and inner-child perspective.  The good ol’ “Saturday Morning Cartoons”… Garfield & Friends, Looney Tunes, all of that stuff – it’s the best.

In response to “where”, my art comes from everything and nothing.  The most common process is when an image will pop into my mind, a complete piece, and then I have to put it down as it appears in the vision.  It feels very disappointing not to translate it properly from mental state to paper, and it’s most frustrating when the line work is just slightly “off” and I can’t grasp why.  It could be the angle, but something won’t make sense, and then the whole piece feels trashed.  Most of my work doesn’t happen by force, meaning it won’t work if I sit down with a blank piece of paper and the intent to create something.  Instead, after a stressful or upsetting incident, images will just occur to me.  My manic phases are both tormenting and exhilarating – there was a period of four paintings in one week, seven to nine hours a stretch.  It was exhausting and satisfying all at once.  These things have to be created, or they don’t allow me to focus on what’s going on in the real world… kind of like when you’re getting hungrier and hungrier and you keep putting it off, but all you want is a sandwich.  Stop playing Angry Birds and go get yourself a sandwich, you know?  Messing up a painting and not getting it to come out the way it looks in my mind is similar to going to the kitchen to fix the sandwich, burning your toast and running out of mustard for the egg salad, and the whole thing is just ruined. So much for your great sandwich idea.  Now you’re still hungry, but cranky on top of it, and then you notice the bread is moldy anyway.

Much like myself you escaped the east coast and moved to California. From what I have learned you flourished once you hit the west coast. What happened that sparked you onward?

Freedom.  The first six months in San Diego were a vacation from reality, a big jumble of weirdness. You go from being a kid living at home with protective parents/grandparents to being a legal adult that lives with the guy you always dreamed of getting, on the beach in California.  Add that up over the span of just a few weeks,and things become very surreal.  I was finished with schooling and had left an insurance processing job, so I had no ties.  California was (and is) its own world.  Once I stabilized, it dawned on me that I had the artistic freedom to do almost anything. The best part was (and is) not caring if anyone was judging me.  During my times of unemployment I would craft things up and not sleep for two days at a stretch.  I’d live on sugary drinks and microwavable chimichangas, play the Sims/Diablo/World of Warcraft, and talk to my cat.  It didn’t occur to me that things would need to change, but they eventually did, so I started meeting people from the Internet and hanging out at coffeehouses.  I was working at dive bars and terrible jobs, any shift available.  There is something about the night shift that is great and awful at the same time.  Your circadian rhythms are all off kilter but you live in this whole other existence, and it’s very freeing.  The stability wasn’t there, and I couch surfed off and on, but I regret nothing because it was fun.

It was a huge wakeup call to meet all these people – some genuinely crazy, some appalling, some wonderful – and my 20’s were the best whirlwind ever.  I’ve had fantastic experiences, and want to keep having them.  That’s why I’ll talk to nearly anyone and go to almost any event, because it seems wrong to miss out.  I don’t want to miss any opportunities, and I love just going to observe the situation.  It’s either that, or be bored and alone with my thoughts.

What is the artistic difference between the east and west coasts of the United States? 

Oh man, where to start?  As an avid Juxtapoz reader, there are stacks of issues that showcase various answers to that very question, and honestly I hope not to piss anyone off with this.  But it feels like the West Coast is where it stems from – it’s the birthplace of inspiration and insanity.  All that Vitamin D gets into your brain.  You spend a day (or even a few hours) out in the sun or by the water, and you get this manic heady feeling of being invincible, being able to create almost anything.  So much of what’s hot – even the underground stuff – seems to stem from the skateboard scene, back when you made art but didn’t talk about it. Mostly you ran from the cops (or so I’ve heard).  There are some major players on both coasts though… you look at artists like Shepard Fairey and Mike Giant, and then look over at other artists like Craola and Mark Ryden.  All those guys are at a level that seems nearly unattainable, but their works gel and complement each other nicely.  One of the major differences I’ve noticed is that East Coast art seems to be harder and more precise, while West Coast art seems to be dreamy and ethereal.  Maybe it’s got something to do with East Coast having a more industrial feel in general, or maybe that’s just my Pittsburgh roots talking.  There are a lot of talented hippies out here – some faking it and calling everything “groovy” to get the attention, and some are just wacked out of their mind.  You have stuff like Burning Man out here, people that just go crazy in the desert, and that scene is almost the epitome of the West Coast.  I think the closer you get to California, the more you get that Dark Tower mentality… you’re always searching.  Chasing.  Reliving.

Who is Drunk Bunny and where did he come from? Do we even know Drunk Bunnies gender?

The Bunny is the shape of my thoughts.  In hopes of not sounding like there’s too much peyote in my system, I think he might be some kind of spirit guide.  He’s around during the bad times, and creating him in different adventures seems to help me vent when I feel too full mentally.  His origins stem back to mid-2007; I was in a cubicle, loathing the auto-dialer and the people who my boss forced me to call.  I started sketching to keep the boredom at bay.  The first ‘drunkbunny’ drawing was a guy in a bunny suit, sitting at a bar.  Maybe Donnie Darko was in my brain, who knows.  Then a quick sketch of an actual bunny at a bar came up, and I lettered ‘drunkbunny’ below it.  It was the title of that particular sketch, but a few days later all these bunnies started cropping up, in various costumes.  It dawned on me that drunkbunny wasn’t a title, it was a thing… and slowly felt like something that was my alias.  There are a lot of magazines out there where artists give their art-sonalities (yes, I just made that word up, oh man) separate names, and that stems from the graffiti movement.  But one thing that feels natural is referring to my artsy side as ‘drunkbunny’.  In the past I’ve done – and still do – graphic design work, and my goal was to call the company ‘db inc.’, for ‘drunkbunny incorporated’.  There was a good solid two or three years of skateboard deck designs, and it felt right to title the pieces ‘…by drunkbunny’.  Then my computer crashed and killed off all my work and software, so I dropped the digital stuff for an extended period of time.  After getting my domestic life situated, there was a lot more space to work on paintings and sketches, so I snagged new tools and went from there.  In 2009 my then-fiancé and I bought a house, in 2011 we got married, and most of that summer was spent dealing with my labyrinthitis, so art was pretty much on hold until early 2012.  Life has been going pretty much the direction I’ve planned since the beginning of the year, so I’m happy to say that things are on the upswing.

Since you ask about gender, the Bunny is definitely a male persona, a male feeling.  One funny situation that happened just before my art reception back in June: I was working on “Adventures in Bunderland”, and struggling a bit with the final touches of the sketch before throwing the paint on.  My husband was watching me paint, so I asked him what he thought of it so far, and he said it seemed fine but he wasn’t sure why it seemed wrong to me.  I said “Because the Bunny’s in a dress, and he’s not a girl”.  He just started laughing and said “It’s a painting. It’s your creation, there is no right or wrong.”  He might have thought I was a little crazy, but it’s all good.  What I meant (and couldn’t find the words for at the time), was despite the fact that the Bunny needed to be in a dress – because it’s part of an Alice in Wonderland series I’m attempting – it wasn’t right.  I didn’t want it to give off any feminine feeling, and was trying to maybe go for Bunny in Drag at the very most… because here’s the thing, the Bunnerpillar on the mushroom and the Bunny in the dress – they’re the same.  It’s the same Bunny, it always is and it always will be.  Those are the adventures.  He’s looking at himself having the adventures, and the adventures can’t happen without him.  It’s like you’re standing between two mirrors, and dealing with the infinite reflection.  If you can’t see your reflection, does that mean it doesn’t exist?  If you step away from the mirror, that particular adventure ceases to be… and that’s how my work started to have more meaning than I ever intended.  The Bunny is dark, and masculine, because that’s how it feels inside my brain.
From Adventures in Bunderland to Octobunny and other random themes… why the focus on bunnies?

There are two reasons.

First, during the original planning, I revisited the sketches from 2007 and there was enough material there to just run with.  The inventory allowed for a pretty wide range of stuff, and I think there may have been about 20 first drafts.  Part of the first reason is also that the original Bunny was a comfortable shape to sketch, then paint.  I can draw him in his standard pose, but am finding it easier to pose him in other ways, so my technique is getting a little better with each new thing.  He’s like my Happy Little Tree, if I were Bob Ross.  That guy probably painted….what, seven bajillion trees?  I hear that everyone knows there are five hundred branches on an evergreen tree, and that means good ol’ Bob could paint them in his sleep.

These days (for the second reason), I find the Bunny is turning into something much bigger than I originally planned.  There are scrap papers on my corkboard at home with ideas for new paintings, but those are almost last resort – something when the well has run dry.  For example, “Waiting” was born after a weekend’s re-read of Dracula and The Secret Garden.  As I painted, three new canvas ideas popped up in my mind.  What bothers me is that the paintings in my head are out of my technical realm, but the Bunny keeps pushing me.  I have to get the images out, and his story has to be told.  I don’t think words will do it justice, so paintings will have to suffice.  Even now, I couldn’t tell you what the whole story is because I don’t know.  It just keeps happening.  What worries me is that I won’t be able to get the pictures out the way they look in my head.  It’s interesting in that my own creation is kind of my mentor and also tormentor, and makes me wonder if any other artists have dealt with this before.  It’s just not anything I ever expected to be doing or dealing with.

 My personal favorite series of yours thus far was Cupcakes dressed as characters like the devil and a pirate. What do the cupcakes symbolize for you?

In all honesty, I can’t recall how the first cupcake got started.  “Zombiecake”, that was the name of the painting.  At the time we lived on the boardwalk down in Mission Beach, and it seemed fun to just sit up on the rooftop patio and paint this big crazy thing, where all the neighbors and beach-goers would see it.  While I was painting it, I started writing up other cake ideas, and since it was a nice easy thing to work on (the shape), I tried to work on leveling up in acrylics.  Yes, that reference just happened.

“Cuppycakes” felt kind of out of my realm, like the painting was happening but didn’t have a purpose other than to just make something.  That was during my phase of putting as much paint on the canvas as possible and making it look somewhat three dimensional.  It worked, but sat there unfinished for months.  I got to a point where it was just done.  A few other people said that they liked the cupcake series as well, so I kept going with that, but then ran out of ideas.  It felt nice though, something fun to paint and something that allows me to do a theme without too much effort or mental strain.  Then the Bunny happened.  Never fear – more cupcakes will come out of the creative oven in the future.

If you could have a sit down with any artist dead or alive and learn from them, who would that be and what would you ask?

There are hundreds of artists whose work was so much the embodiment of their lives, that art for them really was what they had to do to stay alive.  They breathed, slept, and thought art.  I have so much respect for those people, the true artists, and feel like such a humble novice merely by looking at their work – it’s enough to make you insane.  Then you have the people who maybe you only know one of their pieces, the people whose name you didn’t know but you recognized that one sketch or canvas that looked so intense.  For example, Henry Fuseli painted “The Nightmare”, which is incredible, and I never knew his name before seeing that painting.  Could I name for you any other work by Leonardo da Vinci besides “Mona Lisa”?  No, not without Google’s help, but I’d love to talk with him and just hear him ramble.  Imagine THAT lunch date!  Dali would be a great one to sit with, Picasso another.  Looking at the work of the old masters, the sheer magnitude of their technical genius, I would be hard pressed to pick one for a workshop lesson.  You can learn so much just by studying one single small painting.  The Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh has long been one of my favorite places to visit, and the Getty in Los Angeles is also amazing.

There is one artist, thankfully currently alive, who inspires and terrifies me with each new piece.  It terrifies me because it pushes that realization of just how amateur my skill is, but inspires me to keep trying.  That artist is Greg “Craola” Simkins (https://www.facebook.com/craola), and his work is stellar. Are there other words for fantastic that will do this guy justice?  He’s insane, he’s epic.  Everything piece of art I do, I look at it and think, “Would Craola think this is cool?”  Not that I make art specifically hoping this person will like it, but in my head, he’s kind of my judging scale.  I heard he lives up in L.A., and works with the occasional art showing down here in SD, so I continually cross my fingers that I will run into him and some day collaborate with him on something.  I am a total Craola fangirl.

As a child you were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Artists often live up to their expectations, did you?

A lifetime ago, in a timezone far, far away, a little girl was drawing a helicopter scene on the side of a paper bag. Later that year, she was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was “An artist, a teacher, a dentist, or a garbage truck driver.”

I’ve always liked multiple choice answers.  :)

My goal is always not to exceed my expectations, but to make new ones for myself.  So at this point… uh, one outta four?  Haha.  My life is consistent in one thing, and that is being inconsistent.  I will, however, knock on wood and say that I am happy with the direction my life as an artist is taking.  Even calling myself an artist, a creative… it feels like it’s jinxing something.  It feels like a label, and labels are not my favorite thing to give myself, but per Merriam-Webster’s definition, an artist/creative is definitely something you could call me.  I have set my bar very high, so while I appreciate any compliments, I don’t know if I’ll ever truly feel like an artist.  At dinner the other night, a friend was joking with me when she said “You might be happy after you open your fifth gallery”.  Eh, maybe – we’ll see how it goes.  ;)

We all want to make some kind of impact with what we do, even if it’s a fleeting thought. With that in mind what would you most wish your art could accomplish on the planet?

I am still trying to think of a decent answer that doesn’t sound completely selfish, but I will tell you that one of my main life goals is to make some sort of impact in the best sense.  Maybe making a huge piece of art that inspires someone to be happy.  If someone was driving down the 5 or the 101, and saw a drunkbunny mural on the side of a hotel, I’d want that person to feel good by looking at it – maybe it makes them laugh (in a good way), maybe it reminds them of why living here is so awesome, maybe it makes them appreciate how much I truly love art.  I want people to see my work, and think “Wow – she’s really content with life, she’s really happy… what can I do to be that happy?”  I don’t want them to ignore my work, or think “Ugh, that looks ridiculous”, or something like that.  I want to inspire people to inspire others, to find whatever makes them feel like they’re accomplishing something… to not be afraid to pursue their creative habits.  I want that person who always said they never had a creative bone in their body to see my stuff and go “Hey! That’s awesome… I wonder if I could make something like that?”

How much liquor does the bunny consume and what is its favorite mixed drink?

The Bunny is on a strict diet of glitter and souls… topped with at least two olives.

You have designed merchandise with your art. As the Drunk Bunny Empire grows is there any specific market you want to infiltrate most?

Various forms of that question have been coming up lately, and I won’t say it is my favorite question.  Do I want art to be my full-time job?  Not particularly.  I don’t want it to be a clock punching thing, and I don’t – most specifically – want to have to rely on others for a paycheck.  Once it’s your job, some of the magic is gone.

That said, I appreciate being able to pay my bills, and I appreciate even more the fact that people would actually part with their hard-earned money to maybe possibly buy what my dreams drag up onto canvas (or paper, or fabric).  I mentioned before my forays into graphic design; I’ve created websites, logos, invitations, flyers, t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, boxers, signage.  Do I want to walk into Hot Topic or Spencer’s and see the Bunny glaring at me?  Not particularly.  Do I want to see Devilcake on a diaper bag or a coffee mug?  Mmm, not really feeling that either.  For the record: the things that I’ve already created or will create are not being made solely for merchandising.  That is not my game plan.  HOWEVER – I can appreciate people enjoying my work, much like I could appreciate more money in my bank account.  If something I create ends up generating more income, I am not at a point where that income wouldn’t be welcomed.

Almost every person that’s spoken with me about my art has pointed out at least one thing and said “That would sell really well” or “That would do so great at [store name]”.  It’s a nice thing to hear.

I feel as though my art is not created specifically for commercial use, in the sense of walking into Hot Topic or WalMart and seeing it on a shirt.  There are designs from my past inventory that were for commercial use, but those things were created specifically for a product line.  For example, someone wanted a Looney Tunes metal sign made, so I made it.  We made some signs, they sold, and that was that.  The image I created got used for that item and then it was over.  With the Bunny, and with any art piece, those things are being done for artistic purposes only, not with the mindset of how well they’ll fit onto a tote bag or a hat.

My preference is to make singular pieces – limited edition, if you will.  It is most gratifying to make art for gifting, but the best type of sale (to me) is when a person asks for a custom piece.  They want that piece for their office, the wall mural in the garden, the filler for the kitchen wall, the album cover, et cetera.  Those things are special requests and I am happy to do them.  I suppose one market that would interest me is illustration in books: someone wants to do a children’s book, someone else wants to collaborate on a piece.  Books and prints reproduce the art, but it doesn’t feel like you’re turning it into something completely commercial, because books and prints are still primarily in that Creative Realm.

Something that has interested me for over a decade is the 3-d element of things.  I majored in Multimedia, was heavily involved in 3-d modeling and animation, and enjoyed it immensely.  A large 3-d Bunny is a goal of mine, although it wouldn’t be a Dunny.  Dunnys are a different thing (but fun to customize).  I’d be open to a sculpted 3-d Bunny large installation (at least 6’ tall), OR small versions of a poseable Bunny.  That way people could have a Bunny in their home, and he becomes part of their lives – his story would grow, affected by their stories.  It just seems fun, and also seems like a way to make my art live on.  This one idea, this one creation from my imagination… now it lives with someone.  Creepy, yet entertaining.

I don’t make my art with the pretense of turning it into a meme, is probably another way to put it.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.  I appreciate it, and all of you.

People can find me at:

https://www.facebook.com/drnkbnny
http://pantherqueen.wordpress.com/
https://plus.google.com/111328017072190053878/about
http://drnkbnny.deviantart.com
http://society6.com/drunkbunny
https://www.etsy.com/people/drunkbunny
http://www.zazzle.com/mbr/23846712679292…
http://drunkbunny.spreadshirt.com

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