The world is a weird and wonderful place. It can give you twists and turns, and at the same time lead you to places and people you could only dream of. For our sixth instalment of the Étiquette Collective we would like to introduce someone that has reached an unexpected point in her life. Meet Loretta Lizzio. Hailing from North Queensland, this artist is flat out amazing. The line-work, intricacy and depth in her art will stop you in your tracks and the heart and soul in her pieces is one of a kind. She lives and breathes her passion for art.
After an almost fatal accident last year Loretta has gone on a journey within her own art and what has come out of it is a body of work that will blow you away. Leading up to her show ‘Dearly Beloved’ next month at the Outré Gallery in Melbourne, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Loretta on a rainy Sunday morning for a coffee to chat all things life, art, music and what’s next. This unique talent has an energy and presence that is hard to forget. Enjoy the story behind this very cool individual and very promising artist.
Photography by Will Hartl
Tell us a little about your background. What do you do?
I am an artist currently living in Melbourne.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up on a sugar cane and banana farm in far North Queensland, about two hours south of Cairns. I had the most amazing childhood – always outdoors and in the bush. I grew up in nature, it is such an amazing place.
How did you get into art?
Nobody in my family is artistic or creative, so from a very young age my creative focus and passion for art was extremely strong. My parents would come into my room in the morning and I would have been up all night drawing and building things haha. I didn’t just like art, I was obsessed with it.
What was the journey like from your hometown down to Melbourne?
When I was 18 I wanted to stay at home and take over the family farm. I never thought I could make a living out of my art so I was focused on staying in my home town and working on the farm. My mom however was not interested in this and signed me up for university to be an art teacher when I finished high school. This forced me to leave home and go into the wild unknown. I went to University in Toowoomba outside of Brisbane, but after the first year I didn’t feel like this was for me and was drawn back to the farm again.
After some time I ended up on the Gold Coast working odd jobs and doing art on the side. I was so fortunate to cross paths with the amazing Claudio Kirac who took me under his wings. I evolved so much because of him, he showed me the way forward and what I needed to do to make it as an artist. I had the drive, but not the confidence. I never thought a girl from far North Queensland could make a living as an artist – I just couldn’t see how it all joined up. He believed in me and pushed me to eventually believe that I could do it.
I studied Graphic Design on the Gold Coast and after graduating with honours (I’m so glad the hard work paid off) and making my way through a few less passionate jobs, a friend of mine told me about a 4 months art residency in Melbourne. I applied and was fortunately selected. Two weeks into it I decided to pull out. It wasn’t how it was originally pitched and my motivation wasn’t there. This was early in my career and I was basically an up-and-comer. I had one day to decide whether to stay in Melbourne or to leave. Within a week I found a job and the rest is history.
Art is my life and controls all of my time. I prefer to stay in all night drawing than to go out for drinks. I live for my art and would sacrifice anything for it and the culture and artist community in this city is so amazing. That’s why I made the decision to stay in Melbourne.
When did you realise that your passion could turn into a career?
I organised my first solo exhibition on my own. I had secretly been working on this body of work. I saved up the money to rent a venue, arrange framing, alcohol and I did everything to make it happen. The full exhibition consisted of 17 pieces and at the end of the night there was only 2 left. This was the point when I realised people liked my stuff and that this could actually turn into something more.
From this show I was commissioned to do a wall for the DJ group ‘Short Cut Kids’. A piece they wanted had sold at the show, so they asked me to do a similar version for their studio. From this the ball started rolling into connecting with Element to become an advocate for the Element Eden women’s collection. I have since been an advocate for more than 3 years, which has been an amazing experience.
How would you describe your work?
Intricate, surreal and very emotional. Rich but not too much colour, the colours I use focus on bringing depth into my art. I’ve been using a lot of deep masala lately, almost like a dirty pink. I draw a lot about what’s happening in my life. The feelings I’m having, interaction with people, nature or even food. I feel like I have a deeper connection to certain things and it’s not just about the object but how it makes me feel. I take this emotion and translate it into my art.
Can you give us a little insight into your creative process?
I never plan anything. So it usually starts with music. Music plays a huge part in my process. It could be a verse or even a word in a song that stands out and from that I can do a whole body of work. At the moment I’m loving Duke Ellington, but in general Jazz is my biggest influence. Because I don’t plan anything the pieces I never expect to go somewhere end up being my favourites. No expectations. I spill tea on every piece of art. That’s my style. I love imperfections so my work isn’t clean and pristine. Most pieces that have ended up in shows have been artworks that I never expected to do anything with.
My thought process is never too complicated and most times it’s whatever I’ve done that day that influences the piece of art I’m working on. Whatever moment or interaction I have can inspire my artwork. A specific emotion or feeling is what I will try and translate into my work. It can extend from anything.
Where do you find inspiration?
Outdoors and the environment I grew up in has definitely had a huge influence on my art. I grew up exploring nature, so this has always been a source of inspiration. Especially animals and creatures – I couldn’t kill an ant. Animal scenarios and their actions is sometimes a reflection of what I’m feeling at that time.
Tell us a little about your upcoming exhibition?
I had been looking to do a show prior to my accident. However, once that happened everything was essentially put on hold. During my rehab I was working on a lot of different pieces. It was evident that through this experience all the pieces started to connect and I had started to build something special. I could feel it was different – it was telling a story and there was more to the body of work. There was real feeling and emotion going into it. The Outre Gallery approached me and said they would like to do a show and since January I’ve been working towards getting everything finished. It starts June 3rd so I’m really excited and nervous.
What would be your dream creative project?
My dream would be to paint a four-story building. Also to be given the adequate time to do it perfectly. I would love to do something inspired from a renaissance painting, but more modernised with my line work. I’m trying to figure out how I can actually make this happen. I would also love to do it overseas. Either Berlin or somewhere in France would be amazing.
What defines Loretta Lizzio’s style in a few words?
I’m the least stylish person ever! If I have to say one thing it needs to be comfortable. Comfort is key :)
What’s your relationship to jewellery?
I am extremely sentimental. Once I decide to start wearing something I never take it off. I have a very strong connection to all my pieces that I wear. I really love special items that have a story. Almost like love at first sight. I have to wear my rings everyday. Its almost part of my uniform. I like simple jewellery that I never have to take off.
What’s three wardrobe essentials you can’t live without right now?
My leather jacket. A navy blue silk dress from Gorman – Navy is my favorite colour – and probably my old school Vans.
You’ve been commissioned for a variety of projects and different brands. What gets you excited to collaborate?
I love commissions. I like the challenge of taking something from somebody else’s mind and making it a reality and hopefully making it better than what they imagined. I love the planning element of commissions. Planning a piece with another person, it’s a collaboration that I thrive on. I also love that it’s the exact opposite of how I approach my own body of work, which has zero planning and almost no expectations. I really enjoy it. Plus I really want to make the person happy – whoever I am doing the art for.
Talent(s) you would love to have?
Skateboarding. I would love to be really good at skateboarding or piano. It would be amazing to be a master at piano.
What word/phrase do you think is overused?
LOVE! I use it so much. I love everything haha.
What does a typical day involve for you?
Wake up, coffee and turn the music on. Jazz is always good in the morning. I then sit down at my desk and start working straight away. For lunch I’ll head into the city for coffee number two and something sweet. I have a crazy sweet tooth. Then ill go to the state library to continue working. This is my most favorite place in the world. If I want to take a break ill go play a game of chess in a different section of the library. I always loose haha. I’ll then go to the gym for some exercise and finish with a sauna to relax. Then home for dinner. I love cooking so this is one of the best parts of the day. Then I’ll go back to my desk and draw until about 2am.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you want to be extraordinary don’t take advice from ordinary people.
Which Étiquette piece is your favourite?
What’s next for Loretta Lizzio?
A lot of aspirations and plans were put on hold because of my accident. I’ve come out the other end in a better place and I really want to take it as it comes. I usually have plans but I’ve purposely taken some time to re-think what I want to do next. So we’ll have to wait and see. Potentially moving overseas. Either way I’m so excited to see where I go.