OWEN SCHMIT interview

dark paint and californian sun

Dark landscapes, colors bleeding into each other and electroluminescent wire sculptures. A California laid-back cool girl, named Owen Schmit, is responsible. Α 26 year old blonde girl is the artist who created some of the most intense art seen around lately. Also the daughter of The Eagles’ bassist, Schmit is drawing attention with her collaborations with LA bands as Green & Wood and fashion labels like Ai. Schmit, named as one of the 47 coolest girls on the planet in the October 2010 issue of the Nylon magazine is certainly one to watch.

-You grew up in an artists’ family, your father as well as your half sister are singers. Also when you were younger you took part with your sister Jeddrah in your father’s song ‘For the Children’, an almost gospel sounding song, featuring in the children’s choir that was accompanying
your dad’s band. Do you think that you could escape your artistic heritage? How much all of these led you to the person and the artist you
are today?

Although it helps to have a family that values creativity as much as I do, I honestly don’t think that my upbringing necessarily lead me to pursue art. It’s just what I like to do, and I think that anyone who wants to do it bad enough with eventually find their way to it. Anyone can be an artist. I don’t really believe in the myth of ‘artist’s lineage’.

-There is darkness in your work, as if disaster awaits for every single one of us in the next corner that creates almost a revelation feeling to the viewers. Do you think that in darkness comes beauty and hope?

I don’t think about my work as being about disaster and darkness, although many people have described it that way. For me it’s much more about experimentation with materials that produce the intensity of fantasy and desire,
which can sometimes be very dark.

-In some of your art, we see surfers emergingthrough the waves of darkness and ugliness. You grew up and currently live in LA; how much
ugliness is there in a city that everyone is or tries to be beautiful? Do you take inspiration from real life, everything and everyone around
you, or your work is the result of dreams’ confusion of reality and the subconscious?

To me LA is entirely beautiful, even it’s ugly/ creepy aspects. I am obsessed with it. I take inspiration from the real as much as from things buried under the surface.

-In the words of Iggy Pop’s song that inspired the issue, ‘raw power got a healing hand’. In your opinion more refined and mass pleasing art can have the same effect as well; could you produce art that is simply beautiful just to sell paintings?

I agree! In art, I’m not really sure what the difference between beauty and ugliness is, because the two have been conflated for so long. What I want to see when I go look at art in a museum or gallery is something that totally fucking blows my mind, no matter what it physically looks like.

-You have said in an interview that you prefer having your studio 20 minutes away from home because otherwise you would end up watching
TV. Do you have to push yourself to produce some work?

The TV thing was really just a joke, I work constantly. I just like having my studio separate from my home life because I don’t think it’s good to be staring at my work all the time. It’s important for me to get away and think about it,
and then return with fresh eyes for what needs to be done. There is no right or wrong way to get oneself to make stuff, and it’s totally different for every artist I know. I like to try to get myself to work at least a little every day, and sometimes that can be as little as just sitting and looking at work in progress or doing some research. A lot can happen.

-Do you listen to music when you’re working and if yes what kind?

It depends, sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I listen to audiobooks. I’m in the middle of listening to Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. It’s fucking awesome. But often times when I am trying to start a project I don’t listen to anything because I’m trying to work out ideas and music can be distracting, but once it gets going I usually start listening to something. Lately I have been listening to a lot of Joy Division, Sisters Of Mercy and the album ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ by Judas Priest.

-Although you’re re still at a very young age you have taken part in a lot of shows, group ones or solos. What are your plans for the future? Which is your biggest, and fairly unrealistic artistic desire that you would like to realize at some point in your life?

I’m currently working on a large-scale painting of a giant wave as well as some latex and beaded sculptures for an upcoming show. My immediate plans are to make it through graduate school (I’m graduating this year) and to apply for grants and residencies to be able to continue making work. But a fantasy of mine is to one day have high fashion editorial shoot with my work as the backdrop, like the Cecil Beaton photos with Pollock paintings done for Vogue in 1951.

Text: Maria Laina | owenschmit.com