Evan Leggoe-First off, where do you get your reference photos, are they from a specific period in your life?
Elizabeth Alley- Some of the photos are from my life, some are of family members, and some are found photos. But they all have sort of the same feeling, even the found photos. I think most of the ones from my own life are from childhood.
EL- And have you ever made multiple works from the same picture to see if comes out differently?
EA- Yes, I often use the same photo again and again.
EL- I work with a similar concept, actually, and I find it rather exciting to see how I can adjust the same image multiple ways. How do you decide which details to omit, or where to crop?
EA- Deciding how to crop an image really depends on the picture and the painting. Sometimes I might want to include certain body language, and sometimes I might want to crop out interaction and just focus on an individual. I started working that way because I wanted to work from photographs but I take terrible photos, so I would crop them down to a good composition, and it evolved from there.
EL- I also have some questions more related to the business or career side of art. Do you support yourself by selling your art or do you have a "day job"?
EA- I have a day job. (I'm answering your email from there now! Don't tell!) I always have had one.
EL- Either way, do you set aside specific time to work on your art, or do you work when the mood strikes?
EA- I set aside specific time to work on my art. When I first got out of school, I pretty much worked in my studio most nights and most weekends. I now dedicate specific nights and weekend time. Every Tuesday night is Studio Night - I go straight to my studio (it's in my house) and work til I go to bed without stopping to do laundry or to watch TV, etc, and my husband usually fixes my dinner. If I have a big project coming up, I'll work other weeknights as well, but I find that having a big chunk of uninterrupted time works best for me. I also work in the studio a lot on weekends, for at least a few hours on one or both days.
EA- I also tend to make deadlines for myself by scheduling shows, and that helps me to stay focused in the studio. I'm just the kind of person who needs a deadline. My work and focus seem to intensify as the deadline approaches.
EL- How do you think you kind of broke in to the art world? By applying to exhibitions, or good connections?
EA- Yes to both of those - applying to exhibits and good connections - but additionally, I feel like I made my own opportunites. I actively looked for places to show my art, including alternative spaces, such as a short-lived studio/gallery that I can't even remember the name of, Theater Memphis, the Jewish Community Center, etc. I made good connections through my job at UrbanArt, and basically made a point of meeting anybody who might have a connection to a space where I could show my work.
EL- How did you gain gallery representation? Did you submit to them, or were you approached?
EA- I originally gained gallery representation at Perry Nicole Fine Art (which no longer exists) through connections I had made through other artists. I had started a critique group in 1999 or 2000 - 5 or so artists who were out of school and wanting some feedback on our art. One of them had a connection with Perry Nicole and got us a show there (we also had a show together at Marshall Arts). After that show at Perry Nicole, I went to the owners and told them I wanted them to represent me and I wanted to have a show there, and they said okay! (Not every one of that type of ask has ended successfully, though.)
EA- Since Perry Nicole closed, I'm now showing some work at Harrington Brown Gallery. I was approached by them. I'm not fully committed to that gallery, as I've found I really prefer to make my own opportunities for showing my work, such as showing at places like Flicker Street Studio.
EL- How do you feel about the art world and art market in Memphis?
EA- I love the art community in Memphis. We're really supportive of each other - artists from other communities comment on the uniqueness of that. We're also fun - Friday night openings are like weekly built-in parties.
EA- The art market in Memphis has been a little bad for the past few years. I hope it picks up. I've used the opportunity to explore what kind of work I want to make for myself, without worrying about the saleability of it. I really like working that way, and have spent the last year making drawings, tiny paintings, and an illustrated story in addition to the types of paintings I usually make.
EL- Feel free to answer whatever you like and add anything extra if you want.
EA- I'm also teaching classes and workshops at Flicker Street Studio, and I started a group called Memphis Urban Sketchers - we go to places around town and sketch for a few hours once a month.