Zoetica Ebb won the Auxiliary Award for Best Artist of 2016 and we talked with her about the past, 2016, and the future.
How do you see the development of your artistic career from its start through now?
I’ve got such a diverse hat collection at this point that resolving which aspects are “art” is … complicated. I spent a decade saying “yes” to almost every opportunity that came my way, be it jungle adventures, publishing, makeup, photography, dance, journalism, graphic design, blogging, modeling, illustration, writing. I’m not certain I ever said “no” to a project during this time! It felt extremely necessary to do everything at all times, whether it was a good fit or not, which is a fantastic way to learn about yourself, too. I kept coming back to the same nagging sense of frustration: my drawing wasn’t progressing much. At some point the nagging escalated to a pitch I couldn’t ignore and I changed my life completely. Now, I say “no” almost all the time. I’m only interested in projects directly related to my current personal work and I guide my creative energy into this exclusively. It took me ten years to return to what I’ve always wanted to do and now, a few years into it, I don’t feel like a prodigal daughter anymore.
What do you think was your greatest achievement of 2016?
Professionally? That would be the Alien Botany dresses, although taking part in The Art of a Political Revolution exhibition with my portrait of senator Bernie Sanders is a close second, bittersweet as it is now. Seeing my dresses encasing bodies all over the world takes the crown because it’s such a direct way of connecting. Having my work become part of someone’s personal armor arsenal is very different than their interaction with a piece of art on a wall, the latter being rather less tangible. To me, both are of equal value.
What was the greatest obstacle of 2016?
My immediate environment was my worst enemy over the past two years. Living in the dullest town of my life and not having a studio was a more severe hindrance than I had anticipated. Fortunately, since I found drawing challenging during this period, I rerouted my focus into fashion design, which ultimately benefited the Alien Botany fashion collection.
To what do you feel you owe your success?
Success is so personal, isn’t it? A couple of years ago, I got a surprise email from an old acquaintance. Amidst “long time no see” sentiments, he wanted to know why I stopped blogging and “developing my personal brand”. It was apparent that he defined success in social media follower counts and brand sponsorships, so I had no intention of responding, but his email did make me smile because it reminded me of why I put the brakes on almost all my former projects. I had found what was of true value to me and devoted myself to it; and I owe my success to that single decision.
What’s one big goal do you still hope to achieve?
I’ve never set a goal in my life, but if someone out there has the means to send me on an outer space escapade, do get in touch.
What are your plans for 2017?
I just got settled in my London apartment where I finally have a studio again for the first time in over two years. Having a private creative space is beyond divine: supplies liberated from their storage prison, favorite books and other talismans displayed and accessible, a plant sunning at a window facing south on a tree-lined street. It’s small, but right now it’s all I need, and so I’ve started shifting my focus back to drawing; though exploring this new continent is a close contender.
Though I’ve been busy moving, I’m proud to be part of The Thing Artbook; a gorgeous hardcover celebrating the 35th anniversary of John Carpenter’s eponymous sci-fi horror film. My contribution is an anatomical Kennel-Thing, and it’s also part of an anniversary art exhibition at Creature Features in Los Angeles.
In my upcoming work, I want to delve deeper into the Alien Botany concept, and explore the spectrum of interactions between alien symbiotes and parasites, along with the ecosystem of my imaginary world. Expect new specimens, their new hosts and new adventures, too.