This past fall, we rolled out LA native Lindsey Warren’s debut edition, and we’ve basically been gazing into it like we’re trying to read its tea leaves ever since. Have you seen it? Doing what iPhones everywhere only wish they could do, Warren painted a SoCal sunset in all its supernatural glory. The crepuscular glow casts a hauntingly beautiful haze over the hillside and houses, dousing everything in faded stone fruit hues. Northeast LA is more magical than an Angeleno’s collection of healing crystals and more mystifying than the perfect taco truck (though granted, not quite as delicious-adjacent). Beyond the bewitching landscape she captured, we’re won over by the details—for instance, the buildings have a have a flat, digital feel, sort of like an old school arcade game. The effect is totally one-of-a-kind yet strangely familiar, ergo extremely irresistible. Bonus: you don’t have to hop on the 405 to bask in Warren’s vibe-soaked scenery. Just collect a limited-edition print!
Are you as wild about Lindsey Warren’s work as we are? We’ve got something new in the pipeline for next week, so keep your eyes on your inbox. You'll also wanna catch her upcoming solo show, Native, at LA's Keystone Art Space April 13th through the 21st. In the meantime, Warren invited us into her Lincoln Heights studio space for a tour and cool Q+A. If, like us, you’re dying to know more about her home city’s special artistic sway, and how true crime podcasts power her process, we suggest you read more below. – Team 20x200
Where's your studio?
My studio is in Keystone Art Space, a building containing 50 artist studios in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.
What's your favorite tool in the studio?
I have been using a rectangular palette knife for many years and since I spend a lot of time mixing paint each day it is very important to my process. I typically use 3 of them at a time!
What do you wear when working in the studio?
The most important article of clothing in my studio is my Dansko clogs since I spend all day on my feet. LA is fairly warm year-round but we don’t have heat or A/C in the studio and our former carpet factory gets quite hot and cold in the corresponding seasons so I am often caught looking like I am either headed to the beach or the arctic.
What's on your in-studio playlist?
Although I love music (attending live music events is one of my primary pastimes), I mostly listen to podcasts or audiobooks in the studio. The narratives help me concentrate since my process is very time-consuming. I am a sucker for investigative journalism and true crime podcasts (I’m currently listening to “Slow Burn” and “Last Seen”) as well as fiction and best seller audiobooks (I recently finished “Educated”, and “An American Marriage”).
What's the first thing you do when you arrive at your studio?
When I arrive, I do a bit of tidying, and schedule my time for the day. Because I paint a lot of flat shapes that need to be completed in one sitting (per coat), I have to schedule the work in blocks. I always underestimate how long things take.
What's your work style? Late nights? Intense creative bursts? Slow and steady wins the race?
I am definitely in the slow and steady camp. I work on 4-5 paintings at once so I can keep working while paint is drying. I used to love working late nights but I have learned recently that I am better at focusing in the morning when the studio is quiet and I know I have the day ahead of me. Short deadlines sometimes cripple rather than motivate me because I get increasingly nervous about the results of my work as deadlines approach.
You're LA born and bred, and a lot of your recent work is focussed on LA's urban landscape. How does your home city inform your work, and how has its influence evolved over the years?
I get inspired to make paintings by finding the subjects accidentally, usually during my daily routines, which is why the subjects shift based on where I am living. I am fortunate to have lived in three amazing cities (Boston, NYC & LA) that have all influenced the aesthetics and subjects of my work. I started making some paintings about LA when I was in graduate school in Boston and had spent enough time away from the city to have a bit of perspective on what makes its landscape unique. The magical light and range of visual elements including beach and mountains, tropical and desert plants, and urban and suburban architecture are as diverse as the people who live in it. I never run out of ideas or subjects and after being back in LA for three years now, I feel a freedom to embrace the LA that I know as home and that continues to evolve.
You've done a bunch of awesome murals around NYC—at several of our city's public schools, at Douglass-Degraw Pool in Brooklyn, and most recently at Bronx Terminal Market, in collab with The Bronx Museum of the Arts. What are the unique challenges and joys of these sorts of projects, and how do they differ from your studio practice?
The mural projects provide a beneficial break from my daily studio practice. My goal with each public art project is to consider all audiences without sacrificing my own voice. I enjoy these interactive and collaborative experiences which are the complete opposite of my daily solitary and methodical studio practice. The murals I created with New York Cares involved working with public schools and parks and it was exciting to create art pieces that were atypical for those locations. Completing a large mural in one or two days that transformed a park or school while also exposing volunteers without art training to the process was exhilarating and felt more impactful than my independent studio work. The mural in the Bronx was a unique opportunity to make a monumental visual impact in an unusual location. While my work is representational and pictorial, it is somewhat unexpected in a commercial space and was designed to draw attention to the many beautiful locations in the Bronx. This juxtaposition fits well with my body of work as I often pair man-made objects with natural beauty. That project was extra challenging because of the scale and the fact that I painted it in sections. I had to trust myself that the final product would come together which required me to give up some of the control that I relish in my studio.
What's your favorite way to procrastinate in the studio?
Though I keep my head down and work most of the time I am in the studio, I enjoy being in a building with many other artists who I can chat with when I need a break or want to procrastinate for a few minutes.
Whens, Hows & Whys
When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist and how’d you get there?
I always made art as a child and adolescent and never thought about it as a career until high school when I participated in a program called Ryman Arts in LA that provided college-level art instruction for high school students at no cost. The program presented art-making as a plausible, exciting career and I never wanted to stop. The path was not an easy one to get to a place where art-making is my primary focus however. After graduate school I worked many service, adjunct teaching and other random jobs (many simultaneously) to make ends meet. Somehow I endured and made it to the balance I have because I work hard seven days a week. I now teach one class each semester because it offers some stability and I love how it gives me purpose beyond my own work.
How do you get over creative blocks?
I look through my photos, put them into albums, make lots of small sketches and gouache drawings. If I am in a real rut I will go to a museum or plan an activity in the city that could provide inspiration.
What do you like best about 20x200?
The support for artists and genuine excitement about the work is evident on every page of the website, which makes it even more exciting to collect the work.
Which artists' 20x200 collections do you most covet (and why)?
I love maps, and Aaron Straup Cope’s prettymaps appeal to my color sense. I also discovered Amy Casey’s work on 20x200 and am attracted to her urban/suburban subjects and level of detail. I have always loved Helena Wurzel’s work, the confidence and playfulness are attributes I admire, and the personal anecdotes are made even more appealing to me due the fact that we know each other.
Why do you think it's important to have a dedicated work space for your art? What advice would you give to artists looking to build a creative work space?
Everyone is different, but I personally need a dedicated space where I can make a private mess and feel like I am going to work every day even when I don’t have any impending deadlines. I think that even if your workspace starts out as a corner in your kitchen, having a place that doesn’t have to be cleaned up every day removes an impediment to getting started and maximizes available time. I try to keep things minimal in my creative space with no soft seating and plenty of places to put things away/out of sight to minimize distraction.
The 411 on Lindsey Warren
Lindsey Warren is an American artist, born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated from Boston University, earning a BFA in 2004 and MFA in 2008. Lindsey’s paintings have been exhibited throughout the United States with recent shows in Los Angeles, New York City, and Laguna Beach. Lindsey has been a studio artist in Chashama’s Workspace Program in NYC and a participant in the Bronx Museum’s AIM program. Her public works and murals have been installed in Boston and New York City. Since returning to LA in 2015, Lindsey's paintings have focused on its urban landscape, using systematic processes, perception and memory to translate specific moments in time.