Destined to be an artist from birth, free-spirited Raven Roxanne lets organic inspiration guide her every brush stroke into the constant creative collaboration in her studio and onto the canvas of many a life she touches.
interview / ciara bird photographs / paige french
Do you remember your first encounter with art? What was it like? My life has been surrounded by art since before I was born. My mom is a talented artist and my parents own an art gallery, The Zoo Gallery. I remember seeing Robert Rosenberg’s show in NYC when I was in college – that really spoke to me. Seeing his work in person, it becomes a part of you. He talks a lot about art and life and combining the two. This is something I can really relate to.
Are you self-taught or did you study to become an artist? Growing up my mom never wanted me or my brother to be “too trained”. We never really took any art class until I went to college. I received my BFA from Auburn University where I am a double alumni.
Tell us about your family and your upbringing; your bio says you were raised in a zoo. Describe my upbringing … I don’t think you can really describe it. You just had to live it. My parents are southern hippies. They own an art gallery and have for the last 35 years. They have youthful spirits. They taught us to be good humans with a creative edge. I am who I am because I have parents who love and support me.
How did you end up in Charleston? My fiancé and I were living in Atlanta and were ready to move. Growing up next to the gulf, I never feel quite right inland. We wanted a coastal town, close to family and a little bit of the city. Charleston was really the only choice if you put it like that.
What are some of the difficulties in choosing a career as an artist? Well, after getting over feeling like your heart is exposed, it is the same struggle that any small business owner faces – time management, making smart decisions for the future, and balancing everything.
How long did it take before you began to find your own style? If you don’t consider the 25 years I was creating before I started trying to make a business off of my art, about six months and I am still developing it. I think my Instagram is a great tool in seeing how my art is developing.
Your work explores a lot of organic shapes; can you talk a little about your creative process? My work is a conversation with canvas. I make a mark and respond. It has lot to do with feel. What colors I am drawn to at the movement. My process is not calculated. I rarely consciously do the same thing twice. If you can’t tell through my work, I am extremely A.D.D. I think getting into a painting is the only thing that focuses my mind. Even then, I am probably doing three paintings at once.
What do you want to communicate with your work? Love and life. This might sound cheesy and ironic, but I am okay with cheesy. Overall, I am a happy person. I love life. I love people. A quote that resonates with me about the subject is, ”There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” -Vincent van Gogh
What was the last experience that totally blew your mind? My show at Billy Reid here in Charleston. This show marked a year living in Charleston, and I was blown away by how supportive the community is.
Do you ever experience artist block? How do you get that spark back? When I feel blocked, I walk away and do some yoga, go on a walk, sit next to the water, or snuggle my puppy dog.
Do you collaborate with other artists? I work in a place called Redux, which is a community of 15 working artists. I feel like I collaborate every day with my artist friends. I don’t think there is a painting that I complete without Teil Duncan and Lulie Wallace giving me some kind of feedback on it.
What are your current adventures? A coloration with a fold-up kayak company called Folbot. They are using my art for the skin of their kayaks. I am starting a few works on paper.
What other art forms do you have a high appreciation for? Printmaking, textiles, and ceramics. I am fascinated by the process of making.
Are you listening to music while creating a piece and does it have any influence on your work or is it simply background noise? I like music. Soft and relaxing with a good beat to move to. You can often catch me in my studio mid-dance.
What’s the best thing about your studio at Redux? The creative people who I am surrounded by.
ravenroxanne.com / @rain_bird
This interview was conducted fall 2014.