We were introduced to the amazing work of Liam Alexander on a Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. His series "My Muse Holds the Jaw Of A Lion" is a collection of mesmerizing collages that will have you longing to know the story behind each piece of art. We had the chance to speak with this internationally exhibited artist and photographer to hear about his journey, the importance of femininity in his work and his advice for other creatives.
What has your journey been like as a photographer and artist?
Its been sort of a circular path actually, I started out as a painter then I went to Parsons and realized that I hated painting. I became frustrated attempting to create these really photo realistic paintings but found inspiration in photography. After working as a photographer for a number of years I really needed to return to a more tactile medium, so I began making collages using my own images, paint and found objects. This is when I discovered that I didn’t hate painting after all. The medium was cool but the style I was working in was not a good fit for me. With photography, I found I was able to create the missing elements in my work that I wanted to be photo realistic and I found freedom in abstracting the other elements and that’s sort of how my whole style came about and that’s where my work is at now.
What was the inspiration behind your “My Muse Holds The Jaw Of A Lion’s” series?
This group of work is actually representative of about three or four years of my practice. I am continuously making these small works, every time I photograph someone new. I began by making these small collages that are inspired from tarot readings, ideas, dreams, and impressions I get from having these people in my life. The Works at Owl Juice are a collection of some of my favorite ones!
What is the creative process like when putting together your collages?
Well, my whole life is basically one big collage. If you come to my studio, you'll see basically that everything is everywhere. I’m working on like four or five projects simultaneously, all the time; large, small, different subject matter, mediums, platforms, etc.
I work on all of it at the same time, at different “stations” along this long table in my studio and on the walls. I get bursts of inspiration or ideas and I have to put them down but then I might have to think about my next move for a while, so I constantly have a number of pieces going at once. That’s the way that all of my life is... I work on everything all at once. I feel like it's important because I find inspiration in one area and then it bleeds over and inspires ideas in another. Whatever I’m working on is informing whatever else I’m working on, some ideas might not be right for one thing but it might be perfect for another. It’s a very fluid creative process that flows across many pieces, but most importantly it allows me to keep moving and creating.
In three words, how would you define your work?
My mom doesn’t let me use words like that…
Many of these collages have females as the main focus. Can you share your thoughts on the importance of femininity in these creations?
Femininity is extremely important! It’s basically at the core of all of my work. I love the strength, beauty and fragility that women pose. I love the female form and female energy. I guess I feel most comfortable with women. I am attracted to and have a tremendous amount of respect for strong women and I think most of my work reflects that. I also want to add that I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to have each of these women that I’ve photographed as a part of my life in some way. They all radiate such beautiful energy and I just try to capture that.
You absolutely did, the energy shines through. Living in New York as an artist can sometimes be difficult. What advice would you give to those who are just starting out?
Living in New York is extremely difficult for everyone, artist or not. I don’t have enough space here to give all the advice I would love to give to young artists, but I welcome anyone to reach out to me, I love to chat about this topic. The most important thing is don’t believe the hype and make sure to develop your practice as an artist. The faster you can get away from being result oriented and become practice oriented in regards to your craft, the faster you will find success. You are not one piece away from being in the MOMA, so get that out of your head right now. The reality is that real galleries, collectors and buyers need to see your growth over time to give them faith that if they build a relationship with you, it will be fruitful and long lived. Most “artists” are just on a 4 year vacation in NY on their parents dime, hanging out in their studio space, drinking wine and nailing beer caps to the wall talking about how they are going to be the next Nate Lowman, and real galleries, real collectors, they know this. They are going to wait out those 4 years and see if you move back to Nebraska or begin to take your work seriously. So, take your work seriously, don’t waste your money on dumb things like cute hats and a pitbull or a studio space you don’t need, just create a daily practice of making work.
Where do you normally find your inspiration?
My life experiences, found objects, traveling, and hearing people’s stories. I’ve recently become obsessed with tarot card readings and I’ve been reading all of my subjects. It gives me a really unique insight into who they are as people and I use those insights a lot in my work.
Work/life balance can somewhat be hard to attain at times. Any thoughts or tips on how to master both?
Yes! It’s really easy! Just eliminate one, haha. I don’t really know much about “work/life balance”. I’m the worst… ask anyone I’ve ever dated or my family. I’m on a mission right now and my happiness is directly tied to making my dreams come true, so every day I wake up and I grind out. My work is my life and my life is my work so when I’m not working, I’m working on something else.
What does wild mean to you?
Having the best time of your life, all the time, in any situation, no matter what.