Brittany Powell

VRAG: What does ‘reproduction’ mean to you?

Brittany: My favourite version of reproduction is editions. I love art that is almost one-of-a-kind–it rides the line between a precious artwork and a product. That’s probably because I was originally trained as a printmaker.

What is your definition of a ‘low-commitment project’? How did the idea come about really?

For me, a low-commitment project is one that doesn’t require too much time, money, energy, or thought. Also, an important factor is that it doesn’t have to relate to a larger body of work. Some commenters have mentioned that my project, ‘House Paint’, wasn’t very low-commitment, but it only took a couple of days and isn’t permanent. That’s good enough for me.

Tae Kitakata (my Low-Commitment Projects collaborator) and I knew we wanted to start a project-based website for 2012, but we couldn’t come up with a catchy title. Over the phone, we kept trying to think of something clever that conjured up the idea of low-commitment projects. When we came up empty-handed, we decided to stick with that as a moniker.

The plan to start a website began last summer when Tae visited me in Portland for a day. We hadn’t collaborated in years and really missed the co-generation of ideas.

What do you think it means to be an artist?

I only get to define that for myself, and not for anyone else. For me, it means that I actively work on creative projects as part of my profession.

Do you think you have a style of art? If so, how would you describe it?

I don’t know if I have a style because my work changes so much from piece to piece, but I think I’d describe it as very earnest, sometimes funny, Oregon-inspired, food-driven art, based on things I see around me every day.

Do you think being an artist or having a specific occupation requires a lot of commitment?

Definitely. I still work part-time as a receptionist to support my art career and that’s not unusual for anyone trying to make it in a competitive occupation.

Do you think all humans are artists in a way? What about animals? Can they be artists?

I don’t feel qualified in any way to decide whether another person is an artist. Anyone could be, I suppose, and that doesn’t mean they’re automatically a good or well-received artist. Animals? I’m not sure they’re self-aware enough to consciously be artists, even if they perform artistic acts. Our dog, Gretta, does crazy, entertaining things on a daily basis, but I think they’re probably only artistic because we perceive them that way.

Whose work do you admire or aspire to?

I don’t keep up with too much current artwork, but I admire Jon Rubin, my former teacher from California College of the Arts, very much. I do sometimes wish I could be as brave as he is, but I think I’m too shy. I also love Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings and Martin Parr’s photographs.

So you’re in Bulgaria now, travelling. What inspires you about Bulgaria?

So far, my favourite thing about Bulgaria is that every town has a fresh produce market. There are rows upon rows of beautiful vegetables right now and they’re accessible to all income levels.

What’s on your bucket list?

Is a bucket list stuff you want to do or see?


Just like most people, my list is huge. A few top items are:

Visit many national parks in the US

Talk to Terry Gross on NPR

Travel to many places I haven’t been

Get better at making pie crusts

Be able to support myself with my artwork and quit my day job

More of the same–more cooking good food, spending time with my husband and dog, seeing friends, hiking, jazzercising, etc.

What’s jazzercising?
Do you remember Jazzercise from the 70s and 80s? Back then, everyone dressed up in leotards to work out together in set routines to music. Now we wear what we want. I have a weakness for kitschy exercise because it distracts me from the actual work of it.

Finally, do you think the world is going to end soon if not one day?

I think we humans are digging ourselves into a hole that will be hard to climb out of. Who knows–maybe the world will go on without us.

See Brittany Powell’s website here: http://www.brittanypowell.com/

Words: Li Yin Soh

Interview with Alice Goddard