Flamingo-bears, Cara Cara Oranges, and Lap Cats: Interview with Susanne Lamb
Susanne Lamb is a recent grad from the Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in Brooklyn and is working on several children's books. Sandwiches are her favorite.
What's your favorite thing to draw right now?
I've been fairly goat-focused recently. I tend to be really interested in the facts surrounding whatever it is I am drawing, though ultimately, that's not necessarily visible in the work I produce. It feels important to me to know why I am drawing goats in a tree, to be able to say, "This is real, goats eat the fruit of the Argan tree." Not that I'm producing these very-accurate images—it's more a matter of being true to the spirit of a subject. The research also often leads me to new topics to get excited about.
What's your sketchbook philosophy? Can you talk a little bit about your notebooks?
It's an all-inclusive philosophy. The sketchbooks end up being more of a diary and series of to-do lists filled with drawings that are tangentially related. I find that doodling in between writing items on a packing list, for example, helps me think of more things to add to the list, and adding things helps me think of things that I want to draw. I also just love having context for my dumb little throw-away sketches, to remember that I drew this flamingo-bear when I was worried that I was not getting enough potassium.
What do you think about discipline? How do you make yourself approach projects that perhaps have gone a little stale?
Revisiting things that are old is a huge struggle for me. I tend to lose all interest as soon as I step away from something. That's also how all these notes come in handy—if something I jotted down next to concept sketch can make me laugh, or can remind of something I initially found exciting, that's a great way to feel invested again.
What are your obsessions?
Do we mean art-related obsessions? Not wearing socks is my prime motivation at this point. Of course, like a good cat-mom, I am very obsessed with Olive. Food-wise I just discovered Cara Cara oranges through a coworker and am now on the lookout for those. Art-wise I've been experimenting with ink, digital collage, and making little stamps.
Do you have any pictures taped up in your room that are particularly special? I still have that tiger you gave me taped to my door. The goats are there, too.
I like to have a healthy amount of stuff on my wall. Directly above my desk is a vintage tablecloth map of Europe. There's a lot going on with it, but in a very cohesive and realized way. I connected with it immediately as an object; the colors toe the line between hideous and beautiful somehow. For pictures and postcards, we've been hanging those on the front door since our fridge is not magnetic. I find those sorts of things somewhat difficult to have by my work space, as they can prompt friend-guilt and I start to feel like I need to check in with a lot of people, but I like seeing them when I'm having breakfast and heading off to work.
This is maybe a little gross, but I have a few small things I've made framed and nearby. It's never the most finished pieces. Having the sketches up is more inspiring to me.
How has having a cat changed your creative process? Having another little being in the house? A new family member?
As much as I love having a cat, she definitely hasn't helped the creative process! All of a sudden she became a total lap cat and I am not good at removing her. In my home life, with David and Olive, I am the most comfortable I've ever been, which is great, but can be a bit of a problem. I find external motivation more important than ever to help prioritize and stay motivated. I like a little bit of pressure.
What have you been reading lately? Writing?
I just finished reading Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and really liked that. I was really into Number One Party Anthem by the Arctic Monkeys, which sounds like an LMFAO chart-topper but is actually a slow, sad, pretty little song. Currently seeking my summer jam.