Happy D. Artist is a Conceptual Magazine art throb! The power, beauty, concepts, and techniques in her work make it so. And when we recommend that you read and learn about an artist, you can be sure it is an artist that the world deserves to know! So, why don't you go ahead and read on. You'll be happy that you did!
CONCEPTUAL MAGAZINE: Happy, we are so ecstatic to have had your work in Issue 6 of our magazine and now to be able to ask you a few questions! You are one of those artists whose work we truly admire and we want to know more about you! Tell us about yourself. What is your name? Where are you from? Where do you live? How old are you? What do you do exactly? How did you get started? Did you go to art school?
HAPPY D. ARTIST: Hi! I’m a self-taught pop surrealist painter from Oakland, CA specializing in romantic portraits of emotive females with a psychedelic touch. I’ve been doing art all my life, but I’ve only been a full-time artist for about 1.5 years. I used to work 9-5 at an office job, but now I paint all day in my home studio that I share with four furry companions. Also, I am insanely fast at cracking sunflower seeds.
CM: Haha, that's awesome! We'd love to see that! So, what inspired your style and how did you develop it? Tell us more about this style of yours. Also, how do you describe it? What messages are you trying to convey? What do you want the viewer to see?
HDA: I think I am constantly developing my style and it will always be metamorphosing with a mind of its own. In the beginning, I was frustrated with not having a distinct style because I played it safe. I was just focusing on subjects that made the painting process enjoyable, subjects that were widely accepted and embraced by all demographics -- beautiful women in beautiful settings. Later, as I began to evolve, I grew bored of only portraying “beauty” as a broad generality, and started testing my limits by adding elements of darkness and intrigue. My girls grew in congruence with my confidence, and eventually became highly spiritual, enigmatic beings. I’m not sure what messages I want to convey - I just want to immerse the viewer in a world of my own, and want them to experience all the senses of this imaginary realm.
CM: What inspires each painting? What gets you started? How often do you paint? What’s your creative process like?
HDA: My creative process starts with an art journal where I quickly sketch down (and I mean REALLY quickly - sometimes 30 seconds) concepts that randomly pop up in my head throughout the day. I also write down phrases, song lyrics, quotes from podcasts, or just pretty word combinations that I magically happen to think up that can help me describe the mood for a possible painting. Then, I look through my art journal, find a messy sketch or sentence, and develop the idea more fully in a larger sketch. Sometimes, if I’m feeling confident, I’ll skip this middle stage and go directly from messy sketch to painting. The painting stage is where both the magic and tragedy happen. Monochromatic pencil sketches can give the illusion that an idea is fully fleshed out, but when it’s time to hit the easel, I become faced with the challenge of thoroughly rendering something I had previously depicted with a simple scribble or dot in the sketch. Add in colors, values, and a 500% larger canvas, and there is now a whole other dimension of unfinished details left to conquer. It can be daunting, but that’s part of the exhilaration of creating your own universe with a paint brush.
CM: Wow, that is beautiful to hear. It is quite enjoyable knowing what goes through your mind as you are in this process. Tell us about other artists that you are influenced by and why, if any? Any other artists that you love?
HDA: I’m insanely inspired by artists who have propelled the pop surrealist movement - James Jean, Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki, etc. I love the dark, meticulously rendered, and almost uncomfortably beautiful worlds they create, and I have similar aspirations for my own work. I almost want every character I have ever painted to be able to fit into one overarching and never ending dark fairy tale.
CM: Do you have an ideal viewer of your work? Is it important to you that people understand your work?
HDA: I’ve been fortunate enough to find an audience who understands and connects with my art, and knowing that I can supplement their lives in some way motivates me so much. But, obviously, not everyone understands my work, and I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are offended by my subjects (weird mystical feminine aliens who are sometimes nude GASP!). In any case, I enjoy listening to everyone’s reaction, good or bad. Of course, we would all favor the more positive encouraging comments, but I think good art invokes a dialogue... and great art evokes strong and sometimes polarizing debates.
CM: What is a day in the life of Happy D. like?
HDA: Haha, my day is extremely boring! I wake up late (not a morning person at all), make myself some coffee, and check my emails, social media accounts, and other managerial tasks. Then, I usually work on a painting or illustration for a few hours, followed by making myself a very simple/pathetic lunch (aka heat something up in the microwave). After lunch, I’ll usually take a break, watch a sitcom, walk my dogs, and then it’s back to work until dinner time with my boyfriend. Lastly, I try to squeeze in an hour or two of work before bedtime, which usually is around 2am because I’m nocturnal. Most days go by peacefully like this, and I enjoy every second of it. :) (Some days, I set aside for printing and shipping orders, which are basically 16 hour packaging marathons!)
CM: That's wonderful! Your days sound like those of a true artist! What’s the most fun part about making art? What’s the hardest part about making art?
HDA: I can’t really explain what is the most fun part of making art, because for some reason I find it all insanely fun. Just pushing paint around on my palette, or doodling in my sketchbook, or even going shopping for art supplies… The entire process and lifestyle of being an artist is extremely thrilling to me. I think, perhaps, I was just born this way, born to enjoy this type of stimulation. The hardest part about making art is when paintings go wrong and I have to spend hours to undo a mistake, and arrive at the same place I started. Even though I know it’s never wasted time because our mistakes help sharpen our instincts for the future, it’s still frustrating to have to repaint something because I messed up.
CM: Is there anything else that you would like your fans and our viewers to know?
HDA: Just that I love you all, and wish I could personally hug each and every one of you! :)
CM: You are so sweet! I'm sure they would love to hug you back! So, to finish off, what’s your biggest piece of advice to artists who are just starting out their journey?
HDA: My biggest piece of advice is to be faithful to your vision, don’t let anyone else tell you what type of art you should be making and don’t focus too much on following trends. Listen to your innate quirkiness and make art that truly reflects your individuality. Also don’t be lazy! Put in the hours, work hard, and make a shit ton of art.
CM: Happy, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions! Your work is intriguing and genuinely beautiful. We are excited to see what else you are creating!