Thursday, July 17, 2008

Art Space Talk: Andrea Heimer

Andrea Heimer is an artist and designer living in the Pacific Northwest. Andrea's series of Pop Portraits caught my eye. In these works she utilizes repetition and color to produce what has been described as “bombastic“-- and sometimes “psychedelic“-- portraits. However, her color use is deceptive when one considers the themes conveyed within the context of her work.

The style of Pop Portraits, which has been described as neo-pop, depicts mainly women and focuses on subjects such as wealth and addiction. In these works Andrea has created a world where debutantes reveal they are secretly cutters, society girls lead double lives, and money is no object.

Along with her husband, she is one half of the band No-Fi Soul Rebellion.

Stiff Upper Lip, pen/ink on paper, from the Coveted series

Brian Sherwin: Andrea, you originally wanted to be a reporter... but you discovered that you desired to create art instead of writing about it. Can you recall when you made that decision? Was it something that you struggled with for a length of time or did it come to you suddenly?

Andrea Heimer: In 2006 I was working as a freelance arts and music reporter and writing for several publications. I started to feel myself become increasingly stressed with each new assignment I took on and found that writing was no longer fun for me. After a few months of mulling things over I figured out I wasn’t happy because I simply didn’t want to be writing about art, I wanted to be making it. I’d always been artsy as a kid, but never figured it into my adult life until that moment.
I started to learn everything I could about the creative process and almost felt like I was making up for lost time; all the years I spent not making things. I started off with some pen and ink drawings, then on to acrylic painting, silk screening, printing making, and photography. I started my first series, the somewhat psychedelic Pop Portraits (which I’m still adding to). I also learned about how to approach galleries and talk with curators. I had my first show within 2 months and was thrilled when most of the paintings sold.

Bottled Coke, pen/ink on paper, from the Coveted series
BS: Andrea, as far as your art is concerned you are self-taught, correct?... Have you had any formal training in art? Have you considered art school?

AH: I am self taught and have never attended art school. I don’t see it in my future at all at this point since I’m happy learning on my own about most things, including art. I tend to look at my lack of technique as something of a technique in and of itself. My work is visually exuberant across the board and I credit that artistic excitement to my lack of training. Everything is new for me and I’ll try just about anything. I’m essentially void of aesthetic morals aside from what I’ve made up along the way.
St. Amelia, silk screen/acrylic/pen/ink/pencil on canvas, from the Icon series

BS: So would you say that you are still searching for a medium that you feel a strong connection with? Or do you strive to express yourself in as many ways as possible?

AH: Yes and yes! I’m definitely up for trying all types of mediums and have tried a surprising (to me) number of them in a short few years. Perhaps I’ll settle down when I find the right medium, but at the moment I’m enjoying “playing the field” so to speak.

BS: You seem to enjoy creating series of work. For example, you created a series of paintings that involved female saints and you are currently working on a series of pen and ink drawings called "Coveted". What attracts you to creating a series of work?

AH: The truth is I like to work in a series because I’m incredibly anal. I like things to be neatly organized from my jewelry to my tax records, and my art is no exception. I’ve usually got a lot of thoughts and ideas swirling around up top, and the only real way to keep everything organized is to neatly separate it out into a series here and there. I also think it’s easier for the viewer to relate to a series with a tangible idea attached to it.

St. Odilia, silk screen/acrylic/pen/ink/pencil on canvas, from the Icon series

BS: Do you place all of your focus on one image at a time... or do you work on several?

AH: When I work with silk screening I have several paintings going at one time since the ink takes a little while to dry, but drawings I tend to do one at a time. Both are good ways to go, though the multi-tasker in me sees the silk screening as excellent use of time. Although going that route you can either end up with five great paintings if you’re having a good day; or five canvases of complete hideousness on a bad one.
I did spend one entire 24 hours without sleep, desperately trying to get work done for a show I was asked to participate in the day before, which also happened to be my first ever exhibit of my paintings. I seem to remember working on six or so at once like a crazy person, in my pajamas and wild-haired. The paintings turned out great, but I turned into a zombie for a few days.
Yes, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Encouraging Words series

BS: Can you give our readers some details about the different series that you have worked on... for example, tells us more about Coveted... what about the inspiration behind the female saint series?

AH: Absolutely. The Pop Portraits series was the first thing I started on and am still adding to. These pieces contain everything “me”, bright colors, bold imagery, and repetition. They’ve been an excellent forum to learn about color, pattern, and placement. Most of the images are dramatic faces inspired from romance comics whose clean lines really appeal to me.

The Encouraging Word is a series on positive reinforcement. Silk screened words such as “Yes” and “Oh Yeah” are repeated on colored canvases. The idea of art actually speaking to people (and saying encouraging things no less) tickles me, and I even keep a few of these on my own walls. Oddly, Mastercard put these on their Priceless Picks website not long ago, which was in turn a positive outcome of the series.

Icon was a series of female saints painted for a solo show in May 08 at Bluebottle Gallery in Seattle . I wanted to do something dramatic and reading about the lives of saints has always fascinated me. I chose 12 of my favorites and used every technique I’d learned so far on the portraits. The photos were partially screened in pale ink and filled in with marker, pencil, and ink. They turned out gaudy and tragic, exactly how I thought they should look.

Coveted is a bit of a palette cleanser from the last show. It is a series of minimal pen and ink drawings on the subject of wishful thinking. Each drawing is named after something I’m coveting at the time it was drawn. They are simple drawings with little color and I’m really enjoying them. They are also the first series I’ve offered as a print.

Sharp, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Pop Portraits series

BS: You have stated that you want your work to have a "look at me" aesthetic. Can you go into further detail about the thoughts behind your art?

AH: I’ve always thought art should demand attention. I think the same way about books, movies, and people too. I’m not interested in meek things, so I try to make art that really calls attention to itself if only for a moment or two. Like writing, art is perhaps a thrill seeking device for me. The same way it was exciting to see my name and words in print and know that someone across the United States could be reading them, it’s exciting to think of my artwork as part of someone’s life in their home in some other place.

BS: Is there a specific message that you hope to convey with your art?

AH: The message changes with each series but one of the feelings I hope to convey with all of them is affordability. Making affordable art is important to me because I know what it’s like to start an art collection on a budget. The internet is a fantastic way to purchase and find art you’d miss otherwise, but all the convenience in the world doesn’t matter if the prices are over your head. Making art is wonderful but once something is done I’d rather have it be enjoyed by someone rather than sitting in my studio.
Girl No. 2, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Pop Portraits series

BS: What can you tell us about your influences? Are you influenced by any specific artist?

AH: The self made man has always been an inspiring figure to me. Andy Warhol falls into this category of course and he’s definitely an influence. My husband, Mark Heimer, is a self made man and truly a creative force. He is a huge inspiration and I have watched him do show after show and put out album after album as the fantastic No-Fi Soul Rebellion, with no help from anyone. He makes me want to be better at what I do.
Also Henry Darger, the man who spent all those years alone and drawing his own epic stories, will always inspire and haunt me. His story touched me so much when his artwork came to Seattle I could only spend a few minutes at the show. I couldn’t breathe in the presence of his drawings. They were too sad and too great.

BS: What about exhibits... will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

AH: For the first time in awhile I don’t have any shows booked, but I continuously make new work and offer it for sale on my online shop ( I also have artwork for sale at Bluebottle Art in Seattle ( and Vitamin Design (

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art... your goals?

AH: I hope I’m around for a good long time. Haha, is that a goal?
Thanks Brian!!

You can learn more about Andrea Heimer by visiting her website and blog--, You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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