Interview: Lucy Schmidt – Pencil Artist

How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve loved drawing for as long as I can remember, throughout school I was always conscious that my hands and arms were covered in pen and paint whilst other girls had nice nails and pretty hands. Naturally art was my favourite school subject and in my later years of high school I got into painting the set for the school productions. This lead on to me attending the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, studying Scenic Art ( painting for the stage and screen.)
It was a super intense three year training and at times I really want to chuck it all in. Looking back I am so glad I stuck with it, for me a fine art course wouldn’t have been a good fit and my training in the theatre gave me such a strong backbone of skills over a broad spectrum of creative practices. Not only this, it also developed my work ethic, understanding of how to structure my own time and how to work under pressure, in challenging team and working environments. After graduating I went on to start my own furniture painting business, taking old unwanted furniture and painting them into functional pieces of art. This did pretty well with multiple magazine features and approaches from big reputable companies, but it was too much too young and after a couple years I wanted to get out of my small hometown in Devon, so I made my move to BERLIN, Germany. Having met my German boyfriend two years previously I was excited to move to a new city and learn a new language whilst embarking on a new creative journey. I’ve been living here for the last two years and returned to my love of pencil drawing again.

How would you describe your creative style?
I think it’s incredibly hard to describe your own style. I think it’s like many aspects of yourself, people always see you differently to how you see yourself. I never intentionally try to stick to a particular style or artistic movement, I’m always experimenting with new ideas and endeavor to continually push and develop my style in which every direction it goes.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

What’s your inspiration?
I’m inspired by a lot of things, travel, people watching, delicious food, great weather, talking with people, photography, the Internet, funny cat videos, great artists, wine!? I’d say seeing people with a strong work ethic is really what pushes me to work harder than I am.

What does your typical day look like?
I usually get up pretty early and spend the first hour drinking tea and faffing around on social media. After a conversation with the cat on the neighbours balcony ( I’m a not so secret crazy cat lady with no cat of my own in Berlin to love, they’re all the way back in England ) I get on with drawing whatever piece I’m working on.
I currently work from home and spend my day and most of the evening drawing. I have to go outside every day otherwise I go stir crazy, so sometimes a little walk around the block ogling at the fancy houses or meeting up with my fellow artist and friend Winston Torr who shares my passion for coffee and a good chat is on the agenda.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I get asked this question A LOT and I never really know how to answer it. Honestly, It varies so greatly from piece to piece. Determining factors of how long a piece takes can be down to how complexed it is, what else I have going on in my schedule, how good my concentration is. I tend to work well under pressure and deadlines. I had an exhibition going up this week and I was able to churn out 10 drawings in 2 weeks. Other times it takes me more than 2 weeks to finish just one.

How do you keep motivated?
Firstly I need good food to keep me motivated. Without a nice lunch I get pretty sad and it effects my mood greatly. As I said previously, I need to go outside every day and find even a 20 minute walk refreshes you, gives you new ideas or just allows you to think about something else and not get too wrapped up in your work. I’m fortunate to have great friends and family both near and far and their encouragement and involvement in talking through my ideas and projects with me inspires me enormously. Finally since gaining a nice little following on social media I’m motivated to keep creating in order to keep posting daily and provide the people that support my work and invest into what I do with new material.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
I think living in Berlin, which is a fusion of cultures from around the world, definitely influences my creativity. There’s always something going on or a cool cafe or bar to meet friends in.It is a city full of creatives who are open to exchanging contacts and inviting you to come along to their events and connect you with all of their connections. Countless times, things have come from me being overheard talking with a friend in a cafe and the next week I’m showing something at someone’s gallery. I love it.

What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
ultimately my goal is to make a decent living from my work. I think any artist would be lying if they don’t say this is the dream. Selling my work means I can keep doing what I love for a bit longer. I also like the thought that when your are gone you’ve left something behind.

How have others reacted to your work?
I found people to be really supportive about my work and always react in a great way. Some people don’t believe it’s just pencil or that it looks like a photograph, although I personally don’t believe I’ve reached photorealistic level. It’s really encouraging to have people be so positive about my work and makes me feel like I’m on the right track.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

What do you want others to take away from your work?
What ever they want to take from it. I don’t like to really say too much alongside my drawings, I want the drawing to talk for itself and I want the viewer to make their own connection with it and find what it means to them. At times I’ve felt this is frowned upon in the art world and that I should be more conceptual and deliver a message with my work but I just want to create something that I was inspired to create and let people make their own mind up about it.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Oh gosh, I don’t know. Probably to be more confident, it’s okay to say no sometimes and don’t waste your time on people who treat you like shit.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I had been following the great artist Peter Terrin, and one day he wrote a post about how he started out, it was really inspiring and rang home with some of my own experiences. It was out of character for me to write to him but I did, and I was pleasantly surprised when he wrote back to me with great advice, which he totally didn’t have to. I was so touched that he’d taken the time to write back to me and I think of that message often on days where I need a little boost. The advice I liked most is to ‘keep putting in the hard work, be friendly and stay humble and write back to everybody who comments on your work or writes to you.’ This is something I always make sure I do, knowing the feeling I felt receiving his reply I hope I can give that feeling to an aspiring artist some day too.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Be prepared to work really really hard and be open minded about having a part time job to support yourself alongside the art. Find people who support your venture. It’s very difficult to have self belief every day and I can’t say how lucky I am to have such supportive people around me egging me on on those days where I wish I’d just chosen a conventional career path. Keep creating and putting your work out there! Social media platforms are a great way to get started. And finally be patient. That’s still something I’m working on, after almost a year of pursuing it full time, there are days where I’m incredibly impatient and wonder if I’m on the right track, is it worth it, will I make a career out of this. But I’m a great believer in hard work paying off and if it’s something your passionate about you’ll make it happen.

What are your thoughts on art school?
I think if you go to art school, cool, and simultaneously if you find the path into the art world from another avenue that’s cool too. I think there shouldn’t be any prejudice about what your educational background is, it’s all about where you are now.

Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
Just to keep up the lifestyle of doing something I really love doing, living in a city I really love and having great people around me.

Interview with Artist, Lucy Schmidt on Jung Katz

What’s your dream project?
My dream project would have to be something that allowed me to travel around the world. I love interactive projects, so something where I got to meet new people, drawing them and sharing some of my techniques with them. I think that would be really rewarding.

What art supplies do you use?
I predominately use good old fashioned pencil and paper. I’m really into using a mechanic pencil recently as it’s great to get in the finer details and awesome for drawing hair. I’ve also started using a tombow mini zero eraser which I saw people raving about on Instagram, it’s in the same format as a mechanical pencil just in eraser form… It’s potentially my new best friend!

What’s your process like?
I always use a grid and scale format. It was a technique I learnt during my theatre training. When I was first introduced to this method I was really daunted by it as maths and numbers have always intimidated me, but after years of practicing this process and it always having an accurate outcome I can’t not use it. It’s the basis to all my drawings. I find the scale by measuring my paper I’ll be working on and the photo reference. I then draw up the grid… Usually working in 5cm squares and then I plot the most important measurements. After the measurements have been plotted onto the paper it’s just a game of joining up the dots to make the outline of the drawing, once I’m happy with the drawing up I will work with the photo reference from my iPad as it gives me the ability to zoom in on areas to get the finer details.

Follow Lucy Schmidt on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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