Brittany Loar @britt_loar keeps her hands full: The 31-year-old New Mexico native is a senior designer at Genuine, an art director at Ethical Style Journal, and a freelance designer and illustrator. Recently in her freelancing, she completed a collaborative public installation in New York City for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” bringing awareness to the disparity in female representation. But when it comes to her fine art, some people have called her work “beautifully uncomfortable,” she says.
Q. What’s your process?
A. When I’m in the middle of a piece, it’s similar to a dance. My work is really cathartic. If I start getting breathless or if I have a lot of thoughts, I come home and create. I’ll start something and it’s very natural, intuitive, and visceral. It’s difficult to put into words. Even the choice of medium is related to the particular type of subject matter. I’ll have something in mind, and I’ll just know that it’s going to translate better in watercolor because it’s a more fluid thought. Another passion of mine is traveling. I’ll usually go to Europe once or twice a year and take a lot of photos. And I’ll life draw, if I’m at a cafe somewhere and I find someone fascinating. I’m also part of Hear Me Roar in Boston, which is a community for women artists supporting female entrepreneurs. We recently began having live model sessions.
Q. How has your work changed over the years?
A. I’m not as shy. I don’t mind when people look over my shoulder. Being true to myself has been the biggest factor in my growth — personally, professionally, and creatively.
Q. What do you hope people get out of your design? And your art?
A. Its different for each. I was drawn to design as a career because it’s creative. But it’s also manipulation in a sense. You use visuals to communicate an idea to an audience, usually for capital. With my fine art, I just want people to have a dialogue. I don’t have a specific goal, but I would hope to stop someone with my work and to have them question it or themselves or feel something from it. I love to play on tension. A lot of my work people have called beautifully uncomfortable. My subject matter can get a little dark but they’re like, “is it pretty?”
Q. Is it challenging to balance work and creative life?
A. It was at first, because I wanted to put everything into my professional life. I wanted to come across as really dedicated, which I am. But I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was sacrificing that to other passion work. But throughout my time, I’ve been promoted from intermediate designer up to senior designer. Because of all the gained knowledge and experience throughout my years, I’ve become really confident in my position as a designer. At Genuine they really respect work-life balance, which is rare in advertising agencies. I’m really lucky. The best thing to do if you want to be an artist is to find something that doesn’t suck you from the creative thoughts in your brain. But creating is as much of a release for me as watching TV.
Q. What else?
A. I’ve had people ask me why I go from doing these very realistic portraits, to all of a sudden doing these one contour, sketchy ink drawings. My subject matter determines what kind of medium or method I select. Then based on the range of visual tensions within that subject, such as abnormal physical positioning or facial expression or high levels of contrasting light, I can capitalize on these tensions and use them as variables for expression. This winter was the first time I began to really pull myself into my work. I attended an artist residency in the south of France at Studio Faire and it changed my life. The experience was an incredible solo journey. The majority of work I created there was done using my own figure as a reference from a photo shoot I took of myself. These mixed media pieces combined elements from my surroundings, patterns from the walls of the building, and colors from the flora and illustrated the tensions in curiosity and discovery of my time there.Interview was edited and condensed. Martha Merrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @martha_merrow