One of our Artists to be featured in February's Group Art Show "Surface" at Standard Goods for Capitol Hill Art Walk is Signe Quitslund a Seattle-based artist. Interestingly, while pursuing a nursing degree in college she began doing anatomical illustrations during anatomy & physiology labs. This 'study technique' blossomed into a new artistic passion, and is frequently integrated into her work today. Her work is primarily pen and ink, with some watercolor multimedia additions. We had the pleasure to learn more about her vision as an artist in this interview. Join us from 7 pm – 10pm at Standard Good Thursday February 9th to see more from Signe!
Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?
I grew up on Bainbridge Island, in a tiny fisherman’s cabin tucked away in the woods, with my parents and a golden retriever. I was really fortunate to have access to both the water and the woods throughout my youth, and definitely feel that had a hand in getting my creative juices flowing. I spent a lot of time outdoors and didn’t watch a screen much, and I think that influenced the direction I took my art – nature can often be seen in my work and I have a lot of fun criticizing the role media and stereotypes play in our lives today (but don’t get me wrong, I’m just as likely as anyone else to be found dozing off while scrolling through Instagram!). Fast forward to today… I live on the Hill, get to educate kids about food for work, try to get outside and move my body as much as possible, and can often be found concocting something in my kitchen.
Do you come from a creative family?
My parents both have creativity intricately woven into their work, and I think of them as creative individuals in general. They’re self-employed – mum is a landscape designer and contractor, and dad is a wood worker. However, according to my mum, they thought the ‘art gene’ skipped a generation based on my early incoherent doodles. Thankfully I was still encouraged to explore my creativity and they’ve supported me every step of the way as my art has evolved. I also found some amazing mentors in the art teachers I had growing up, and attribute so much of who I am as an artist today to their encouragement and persistence in pushing me beyond my comfort zone.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely had to do?
I took art classes throughout school which kept me creating consistently, so it wasn’t until college that I encountered a time where art was something I had to consciously make a priority in my life. I was in nursing school for three years (before deciding that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life), and in that time I really put my art – and creativity in general – on the backburner. I got really into cooking in those years though, which I now realize was filling in as my creative outlet. When I finally made time for drawing again, I watched my happiness skyrocket and felt like the vacancy in life I’d been feeling was filled. That was the moment I realized how vital it was to my soul to put pen on paper.
What about faces or the human form do you try to capture in your work?
I work a lot with skeletal forms, and I’ve also done anatomical illustration. I think I’m attracted to the rawness of bones and the fact that underneath all our unique elements, there’s this intricate physical attribute that we all share. I did a series of social commentary pieces (some of which are featured in ‘Surface’) where faces were a focus. I enjoy incorporating faces because they often serve as the primary vehicle of emotional expression in everyday life. By incorporating them into art, it becomes easier to convey specific emotions and trigger them in the viewer as well.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created?
Yikes…that’s like asking me to choose a favorite child! As my style really evolved and came to where it is today, I explored a lot of things and probably have favorites from each of those periods. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Alphabet Sketchbook I made a couple years ago. It started out as a baby moleskine notebook with a small illustration for each letter, which I gave to a close friend as a gift. A lot of people saw it while in production and wanted copies, so about a year ago I turned the tiny notebook into a larger book and got it published. The whole project was so much fun and creatively stimulating that I’ve been thinking about doing another one… Stay tuned.
Describe your style as an artist in 3 words.
Intricate, realistic, reflective.
What do you find to be the hardest part about the work you do?
I see my attention to detail as both a blessing and a curse. Without it my art wouldn’t be what it is, but sometimes I’m envious of people who can do amazing drawings in relatively little time and without much planning.
Are there any mediums you’d love to work with but haven’t tried yet?
I love oil and acrylic paintings, but that medium has always been daunting to me. Maybe it’s the apparent carefree attitude of painters or the flexibility you need when working with paint that intimidates me since I’m so precise and controlled with my art, but I’ve never strayed in that direction. For now, I’ll stick with watercolor to meet my painting needs.
I adore the work of MARYNN and Anait Semirdzhyan, and get inspiration from minimalistic fine-line tattoo artists like Tea Leigh. Probably goes without saying, but DaVinci’s anatomical drawings are #lifegoals… He’ll always be number one. And finally, as unoriginal as it sounds, nature is a huge inspiration source for me. I also seem to find creative stimuli in strange places pretty frequently, so I’m sure a lot of favorites are going unmentioned here!
What are you most excited about for this art show, “Surface?” And anything else you’d love to share? (website, Instagram… interesting link?)
One of my favorite things about shows is getting the opportunity to meet other artists and see their styles. Since ‘Surface’ has the uniting theme of faces, I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone incorporates that into their work in their own way. We all see so many faces in the day, but viewing them through unique visual representations takes something somewhat common and adds a new dimension, forcing you to take another look from a different perspective. I’m really excited to be a part of the Art Walk this month and look forward to meeting new people in our community as well. Feel free to check out my work and reach out!