Trie Blasingame made this adorable mermaid/unicorn that I love. Apparently, we also have the same glasses. And the same sweater. And the same sense of humor. We’re almost the same person except that one of us is a talented artist and the other is not.
Keep reading to find out more about Trie, who is the talented artist.
What was the first thing that you were proud of drawing?
The first thing I was really just pleased with as a semi-finished piece was this unicorn-mermaid chimera creature I drew in 2015 because drawing is really a new-ish thing for me because I work primarily sculpturally, but I found in the last couple of years that I really wanted my work to be more illustrative.
The unicorn-mermaid was also the point at which the aesthetic for my illustration work solidified.
What are you working on now?
I always have a bunch of different projects going on—some large, some small—and right now isn’t any different. I have three Thing-A-Day projects going on—Selfie-A-Day, Photo-A-Day, and Sketch-A-Day—as well as an opera series that I’m kinda working my way slowly through. I’m also playing with encaustic and cold wax, which are both totally fun. But, really, it’s a lot of little things currently rather than a huge series, sprawling series.
Who has influenced you the most as an artist?
This is always such a difficult question to answer, ya know? But, I honestly have to say that the person that influenced me most as an artist was Ed McCullough, my 3-D art professor in art school, and not because he was my professor or because he was a sculptor (he’s an excellent large-scale metal sculptor, by-the-by)—I mean, those were probably in there somewhere—but because Ed was the first art instructor that I had ever had that was openly interdisciplinary in how they approached their work and how they expected us to approach our work.
Ed shared what he was reading with us (Dante’s Inferno at the time) and shared movies that influenced him (anything Fellini) and people he had found inspiring (he adored Mother Teresa) and wanted to know about what we liked and were inspired by in-turn.
Somehow, all of these disparate parts came together in his work.
He shared his process with us—like, his actual process not just here’s the technical “how to do the thing” walk-through that most of my art instructors were presenting—and had us complete a project in that way so that we could feel how another artist might work, which is the kind of headspace emersion that we all want as artists, that HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS kind of delving, and he shared it with us intentionally and with no hesitation.
He was also just the most amazing, hands-off instructor who would suddenly APPEAR at the exact moment when you needed a hand or another set of eyes while still encouraging us all to get feedback from the people we worked around—something we all started to call “crit-on-the-fly”—because the person sitting across from us had been looking at our work for as long as we had been, so they were likely going to have some thoughts and opinions. It was just the best way to learn and work as a young artist.
Ed gave me process-art as a legitimate exploration of my own art practice; gave me the realization that art really isn’t ever done, it’s just abandoned; and gave me the example of someone else with a million-and-one interests who still managed to make them all relevant to their work. And, he shared it all freely.
Who is your favorite female superhero/villain/comic book character?
Do I have to pick just one? Because I have a lot a lot.
Okay, top *cough*fourteen*cough* in no particular order: Laura, The Wicked + The Divine; Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl; Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel; America Chavez, The Young Avengers; Peggy Carter; Spider-Gwen; Deathface Ginny, Pretty Deadly; Haruhara Haruko, FLCL; Mad Hatter, Angel Sanctuary; Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel; Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; Kate Bishop/Hawkeye; Harley Quinn; and Penny Rolle, Bitch Planet.
(I could really keep going here, and I’m totally behind on my comic reading.)
Do you think people expect a certain type of art from you since you are female?
Ya know, I’m not sure—especially since I’m genderqueer—and also because my work always has a tendency to walk the creepy-cute-abject line, but people do seem surprised with the depth and breathe of subject matter that comes into my work and how I negotiate it.
Like, my primary impetus, as an artist, is fairytales but not just in a Brothers Grimm, Happily-Ever-After sense—though, to be honest, I prefer the earlier iterations of fairytales where everything has a bit of the blood and death more prominently displayed in them—because visual/popular culture(s) are our contemporary fairytales, so there’s a lot a lot of superheroes and villains, monsters and mythology that filter into my work—big concepts like the failure and uselessness of princes in fairytales—and they’re dealt with in a myriad of ways from wearable, hand-spun sculptures that definitely get the label of “Women’s Work” to anime/manga inspired illustrations that are more directly Participatory Culture works.
How often do you go to comic book conventions? Do you enjoy conventions?
I like the idea of cons—that there are all these people together that are excited about the same sorts of things and are in a space where they won’t be shamed for being excited—but I’m not sure that I enjoy attending cons? Lots of people make me claustrophobic because I’m literally 4’11”, so everyone towers over me. But, that may also be because I haven’t been able to attend cons as often as I’d like in a recreational way. I’ve enjoyed the ones that I have attended, and I’m beginning to attend them in a professional way, so that’s amazing.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I’m actually an ambivert, so the answer is yes.
Where do you find your inspiration?
A lot of different places. Because I have backgrounds in Classics (meaning Greek, Roman, Sumerian, Egyptian, et al. cultures and mythology and language), History, and Literature, I have a vast knowledge-base to work from, but I’m also a voracious consumer of visual/popular culture(s), so I have all of those places to be inspired from also.
And, really, as an artist, there’s nothing like the work of other artists to really get you excited and inspired and cause you to think in new directions. One of the joys of the Social Media Age: artists’ work is more accessible than it has ever been before.
What do you do if you have writer’s block?
I actually keep running lists of ideas and projects that I can work on when I get stuck on something else, so basically, I treat writer’s/artist’s block like an incubation stage and let the ideas I’m stuck on percolate until they work themselves out, and then, I come back to them.
Have you had any interesting or awkward experiences since you’ve been an artist/writer?
There’s kind of this perpetual awkward thing that happens when I demo my work where I live: I get older people saying that my work is “interesting” but in this disparaging way that means that they’re confused by what I create. A lot of this is because I live in an area where the local art scene hasn’t quite evolved beyond Realism yet. It’s changing, but there’s still a lot of ein plein aire going on here, and neither my aesthetic nor my subject matter matches with their expectations.
So—awkward. Perpetually awkward.
Beverage of choice?
Chai. I love chai. It’s like liquid gingerbread. But, I also love coffee. Omg, coffee. I also don’t turn my nose up to a nice pop: Coke, Sundrop, or Cherry Ski. *JOY*
When was the last time that you dressed up for Halloween?
I try to dress up every year for when I pass out candy/toys to trick-or-treaters, so last Halloween was the last time that I dressed up for Halloween. (It totally wasn’t elaborate or anything.)
What do you want people to know about you?
I’m not sure that there’s much to know about me? I have an affection for cephalopods of all sorts. Cecaelia, which are cephalopod-based mermaids, are just about my favorite mythological creature. I think Pop Surrealism is brilliant—especially Camilla d’Errico and Chiara Bautista. I have an extensive collection of Funkos, Monster High creatures, and comic book action figures as well as plush toys.
I may or may not sleep with plush crocodile.
Creatively, I’m having a love affair with Copic Markers. They’re just brilliant. I have a very complicated relationship with a button-maker because who doesn’t want to be able to make anything they want into a button, yeah? And, I’m reconciling with my spinning wheel after a lengthy separation because art yarn is just the most fun thing to make.
‘trie (sounds like “tree”) blasingame is a conceptual mixed-media artist working in the wilds of North-central Wisconsin with a BA in Classics and History and a MA in Literature from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, PhD work in Art Education from Northern Illinois University at DeKalb, and post-baccalaureate work in Sculpture from Columbia College Chicago.
where to find tentacle-made studios–