November 9, 2017

Spotlight: A.J. Parry

Welcome to the fantasy world of A.J. Parry's doodles.

Doodling is an integral part of many peoples’ lives if the going gets boring, whether it be stars, swirling lines, hearts, faces, etc. And A.J. Parry’s doodles, while they’re also being drawn for therapeutic reasons, turn into so much more than a doodle. They become beautifully idiosyncratic, full-fledged characters and new worlds. Parry creates work that is highly defined and strikingly colorful. Her fantasy imagery contains eclectic characters that yield a curiosity driven to build stories surrounding them. The mystery present in her works is visible and palpable, such as her depiction of an outlandish, alien-like female figure with long, swirly arms supporting teacups and plates as a kitchen table would. She also creates art with the type of love a mother has when cooking a meal for her children. And that’s what makes her work so compelling, executed with impressive technique and infinite passion.

The Le Sigh: Your figures are highly stylized, whether it be sharp contours or blue skin. Did this distinct way of creating subjects come naturally, or was it a very deliberate process?

AJ Parry: It’s always a deliberate decision, but I might not have an answer as to why I chose a blue or green skin tone or a particularly angular bone structure until I’ve finished drawing. I’m drawn to fleshiness and exaggeration.

Self-Portrait (2017)

TLS: It’s so impressive how all of your subjects look like characters in a story, is that what you are intending? Have you been creating stories around the subjects?

AJP: Some of my work is based on stories I’ve written outside of the image itself--I love putting together comic books and illustrating. I was a newsprint cartoonist and illustrator for 7 years, which gave me the opportunity to practice delivering messages based on another journalist’s written content. Because of this background, and because I like to explore narrative and perspective through my work in general, I often find that stories present themselves in my drawings even if I’m not necessarily conscious of it. A lot of the time, I’m focusing on making some scene or interaction feel real within the space that I’ve drawn.  I try to add as much detail as I can to flesh out the scenes I draw and make people feel like there is a whole world behind the piece, as though they could leave that one depicted frame and keep going.

An Offering to the Sea (Comic panel, 2017)

TLS: Your piece entitled, “Peeling,” is a gooey conglomeration of little blue bodies surrounding a purple telephone. It’s so cool! What is the concept behind this?

AJP: “Peeling,” was one of those drawings that started from an impatient doodle and just kept growing. I was working on a short comic at the time about a girl who falls down the drain in her kitchen sink and rows around the pipes in her building using a spoon and bowl of cereal. I was thinking a lot about dealing and living with depression and coping with loneliness. I had just moved into a new apartment and was beginning to study at a new school, so those feelings were creeping up on me. “Peeling,” was originally going to be a panel in this comic, the girl was going to climb up the phone’s cord to reach some voice/person on the other side. Also, not only are oranges are really beautiful and dynamic fruit but their skin and the act of opening and exposing that comes with tearing into one is very gratifying.

Peeling (2016)

TLS: How long have you been creating art? Has it been hard to balance school with your artistic endeavors?

AJP: I’ve been drawing, painting, sculpting, fort-building (in my opinion, tiny installation making), since I was a child. Making art was, and still is, the most fluid method of expression I could access because I can use it both meditatively and conceptually; I can just sit down and let myself draw, sinking into it for hours without palpable thought, or I can deliberately plan out every step. My favorite work falls somewhere between the two.

Initially, I had a very difficult time balancing my academic life with art projects I was working on. I started working for school newspapers to keep myself drawing, but, eventually, I just started to be more comfortable with taking up time and space with my artwork. I’m really lucky to have had professors who’ve encouraged me to integrate art projects into coursework. Now that I’ve finally settled down at a college I’ve had the time to apply to the art practice program, so I can dedicate more of my time to making things.

TLS: If you were to create anything in the world, without financial or resource limitations, what would it be?

AJP: This is such a wonderful and terrible question at the same time because it won’t let me settle on any one idea! Honestly, I would probably want to create an artist collective/studio space where people could come in and work on projects with me, have gallery showings, and talk about art. I love hearing what other people are passionate about and to have a space like that outside of an academic setting would be absolutely wonderful. Also I would probably want to live in this space. It would be very hip.

Toaster Bondage (2016)

TLS: Anything else you would like to add for our readers?

AJP: Yes! For people working on their own art, I want to say: don’t be afraid to just let yourself play in your work. Also, I’ve been expanding a lot of my work into sculpture, installation, and performance over the past year. If you’re interested, please check it out!

You can find more of her work here: & @a.joan.parry