Maritsa Patrinos (left) and Melissa Ling (right)
Last week, we introduced you to Erica Levine, one of the local artists participating in the Brooklyn Museum‘s GO project. This week, you actually get two artists for the price of one. Granted, that price is $0, but you get the idea. If you visit Melissa and Maritsa over the open studios weekend of September 8-9, you can do two artist check-ins by visiting just one location. Remember, you need five check-ins to be eligible to nominate artists for inclusion in the Brooklyn Museum group exhibition on December 1.
For more check-in opportunities, be sure to visit the GO site to find out more about all the artists that are participating in our area. And visit the blog every Friday in August for more interviews with more GO artists.
Now, on to the dastardly duo…
Album cover for the Down Beat Keys album, “Summer on Saturn,” by Maritsa Patrinos
By Melissa Ling
Unlike some of the other artists participating in GO, as roommates you’re a two-for-one deal. People can visit two artists at once. How did you meet and decide to live/work together?
MP: Melissa and I were in the same program in school together (we both went to Pratt). Both of our leases were up around the same time we stopped having a desire to continue living in Bed-Stuy.
ML: It really worked out fantastically. We had a lot of mutual friends in school but we were never close friends. So I’m glad I’ve gotten to know Maritsa a lot more these last 2 years. I couldn’t ask for a better living/working situation.
Was there a particular reason you were drawn to this part of Brooklyn?
MP: We must’ve looked at at least 20 places before we lucked out on this one. We liked being near an express train (B/Q), being right next to the park, and feeling safe walking around at all hours. We got a great price for an apartment that Renaissance Realty obviously put a lot of time and love into fixing up for us. We also love living in a building with lots of other young people like us.
ML: I’m surprised this was the only apartment we looked at in this neighborhood actually. It would’ve been very expensive to find this amount of space in other neighborhoods.
Neither of your work seems particularly large scale (but, then again, I’m looking at it online). Is space ever an issue between you? Do you get in each other’s way?
MP: I would say my work is definitely significantly smaller than Melissa’s. My process really involves doing more small-scale drawings, compiling them into a finished product; Melissa has been indulging herself in working on very large pieces of paper lately. I don’t think we really get in each other’s way; we can stay pretty contained in our rooms. But I will say that Melissa owns the scanner, and since almost all of my work gets hit with digital color, I find myself in her room a lot. She’s very accommodating, though, and I think we both enjoy the opportunity to sit in her room and see what the other is working on (…I hope). We also enjoy getting out of our rooms and working together in the common area to enjoy some quality Telemundo. It’s good background noise (and it’s also really the only channel we get).
ML: I’m glad Maritsa comes into my room sometimes when she scans. I think when I am really into something I’m working on, I have a tendency to become a hermit and stay in that spot for hours and forget to do normal human things. So when Maritsa comes in, it reminds me to take a break and eat and use the bathroom. It’s also nice to get feedback on whatever I’m working on. I keep a wall in my room empty to work on my pieces and so I can see them all the time, when I wake up and when I sleep. I like to be completely absorbed in what I am working on. I guess it’s hard to tell online and because I don’t always specify the size I work on, but I prefer to work large.
I’d like to try something. I imagine you’ve had conversations about this, but your work (happily) seems very different from each other. Can you each describe the other’s work–what you see in it, what you think the other is trying to communicate, etc.?
MP: I love Melissa’s work; it accomplishes capturing a single feeling through space and subtlety. She uses simple, flat colors and large empty areas to create depth, but she also highly renders certain definite areas to keep you grounded. Both of us are ballpoint pen addicts–and she has a real feel for how to use it to explain a form. Her work often leaves you feeling something very quiet and personal, the kind of reflective, reserved feeling you don’t really share with anyone.
ML: Maritsa does a very good job of communicating a story to her audience. I really love the way she uses a lot of unexpected textures and multiple layers to create depth in her work. Because of her choice of colors and the way she renders in ballpoint pen, her work has a very retro feel that’s not gimmicky but sincere and familiar. It’s also fun to see her process of creating many of these separate elements and to see how she composes them all into one piece.
Reading what the other wrote, were you surprised at all?
ML: Aw, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talk about my work like that. I’m very touched.
MP: Me too! I struggle to describe my own work; it actually makes a lot more sense when I hear someone else’s thoughts on it.
Ok, now answer for yourselves. What inspires you to create what you create? Do you ever find yourself inspired by something the other is working on?
MP: I’m not sure if it is a good or a bad thing, but I am completely affected by the work ethic of the people I share a space with. I stay motivated by being around other motivated people–I am around other people who work hard, and it makes me want to work hard, too. I’m really blessed to be living with Melissa; we both have days when we make each other feel inclined to stay in and work. It is so much more satisfying to do when there’s someone in it with you, someone who you can run over and say, “Does this look stupid to you?” anytime you want. I might say it’s competitive, but it’s honestly more encouraging than anything else.
ML: My work is always related to my stream of consciousness. It is difficult for me to divert from what is going on in my head at the moment. So a lot of my work involves my dreams, thoughts, and photographs. I think environment definitely plays a vital part in the creative process and, like Maritsa, it motivates me to know that someone close by is also working. “Does this look stupid to you?” is definitely a very important question in our apartment!
How do you feel about opening up your home/studios to strangers? Have you done this sort of thing before?
MP: I can’t say I’ve really done anything like this before! I am nervous, but also excited. Like lots of other artists, I find myself a little socially awkward, so I hope to make a good impression. And hopefully meet a lot of interesting people! But ever since I’ve graduated school, I‘ve kind of missed having the environment of getting blunt, honest feedback from people other than those you are close to. I think even if everyone walks in and says they hate the work, it will still be a beneficial experience.
ML: I have never done this before. I was hesitant to do this at first because my work space is very intimate to me. Plus it’s also my living space! But at the same time I think it would be worthwhile to receive outside criticism and feedback on my work. That’s the biggest thing I miss about art school as well.
Describe your studios a little. What should people expect when they walk in the door?
MP: We mostly work in our rooms, but we have a big living area so I think we will probably display a lot of our work out there. In my space, I have a desk with my computers and tablets for the digital stage of my work and, next to it, a drafting table for traditional drawing. I would say, at least in my case, I would expect to see lots and lots of small ink drawings. I use these as pieces to create a completed composition; I will also have the finishes there so I can show you the process I use to get to the finish line. I’ll also have little booklets and zines and things for any interested parties.
ML: I am usually working on three simultaneous 22×30 pieces, so they are hung on the widest wall in my room. Below those big pieces are scraps of paper, sketches, and smaller pieces of wood that I’m working on. I love making things, so when I’m not painting or drawing, I’m usually working on some side craft project so there will probably be bits and pieces of projects everywhere. I will also have postcards for visitors when they come.
If people can’t make it that weekend in September, is there somewhere else people can check out your work in person? Are you showing anywhere else in the near future?
MP: We both were actually in a show that just closed in Chelsea, I’m not sure what’s going to be lined up next. But if anyone finds themselves in Portland, Oregon anytime soon, I have a piece up in Floating World Comics as part of a sci-fi show, and I’ll have another piece featured in a show they’re doing next month too.
ML: I’m not really sure either. But if you are in Minneapolis, I have a piece in a show with Light Grey Art Lab in October.
I was born just outside of Washington, D.C., and I had many hobbies growing up but I always found myself drawing, making dinky comics, and keeping sketchbooks. I left home for Brooklyn to attend Pratt Institute and study illustration. I graduated in 2010 and have been living here since. I work 5 days a week at an animation studio in DUMBO making the animated segments for the MTV shows 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom, but when work is done, I always go home to indulge myself in making my own art, either for freelance or for myself (and always continuing to draw dinky comics).
I was born in NYC and attended LaGuardia High School of Music and Art before earning my BFA from Pratt Institute.
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