Laura Bifano was grew up in a little island fishing town on the rainy northwest coast of Canada, where she spent the better park of her childhood exploring her surroundings and making drawings. She is perhaps best known for her “Menagerie” series of pixel animal paintings, although she has illustrated for clients like The Village Voice, Cricket Magazine and Parks Canada. Her paintings have been shown at Thinkspace Gallery, Gallery 1988, and Iam8Bit Productions in Los Angeles. She is currently based out of Victoria, British Columbia. Here for her debut RUN, Laura Bifano brings us the savory Morsel, read on as we talk with Laura about her debut RUN, her past influences and more in the latest 1xRUN Thru Interview below…
1xRun Thru Interview
Morsel by Laura Bifano
1xRUN: Tell us about the original, what materials did you use and when was it created?
Laura Bifano: The original is painted in Acrylic Ink and Gouache on Arches 300 weight Hot Press Watercolor Paper. I used a technique called “glazing”- the layering of thin washes of pigment- to slowly build up values. From there I rendered in the wolves’ fur using a small liner brush and added foreground details using gouache. The painting was then scanned in and further details and adjustments were added in photoshop. I’d say that my process is about 95% Traditional and 5% digital. This piece was created in January 2012. The original work is still available through Thinkspace Gallery.
1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
Laura Bifano: The painting was originally done for a show at Thinkspace Gallery called “Picks of the Harvest.” I had played around with a few ideas initially, but nothing seemed to take shape until I took a road trip up Vancouver Island to visit family. The scenery was stunning emerald green farmland dotted with grazing sheep, so I used that as a jumping off point for the painting. I’ve always loved English Pastoral paintings and knew right away that I wanted to do something in a similar vein. I decided to introduce a predatory element to this otherwise idyllic scene, and a family of Wolves seemed appropriate. At the time I was also watching a steady stream of BBC nature documentaries and it got me in a contemplative mood, thinking about the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. I think that introducing the element of these artificial pixel sheep adds a touch of whimsy and levity to an otherwise morbid image.
1xRun: How long did this piece take to complete?
Laura Bifano: This piece took about a month to complete from sketch phase to final. I spent a lot of time fleshing out the position and body language of the wolf family and tweaking the values to make sure the background elements weren’t competing with the foreground narrative. From there it was just a matter of applying the paint in thin glazes and building up volumes.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece? Why should people buy this print?
Laura Bifano: I wanted to approach the harsh reality of nature in a playful way, so the end result ended up being whimsical and just a touch morbid.
It’s a totally unique piece that’s only going to be available for a short amount of time. What better reason?
1xRun: Describe the piece in one gut reaction word.
Laura Bifano: Morsel.
1xRun: When did you first start making art? What was your first piece?
Laura Bifano: I started making art when I was about four years old. I’ve always used picture-making as a way of understanding the big scary world around me. My early kid drawings were pretty standard fare: mermaids, princesses, candy people. That love of picture making is still with me today, and I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it for a living. My brother and I were gifted this art easel when we were small. I remember us just going to town on this thing. We must have covered every square inch of it in marker, chalk, and pastel. I remember he drew a T-shirt and my parents were super proud. I got so jealous, I didn’t stop drawing until I mastered the T-shirt for myself.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on? What artists inspire you now?
Laura Bifano: Who was the dude who illustrated for Candyland? Because He/she should get major credit for 90% of my childhood drawings. Later on I got into Disney. Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid were huge inspirations. Currently artists like Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, Martin Wittfooth, Bernie Fuchs, N.C Wyeth, and John Cuneo to name a few.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Laura Bifano: I don’t really listen to music when I work. When I’m in the initial phase of fleshing out an idea, I love to sit down at a cafe and let the buzz of conversations wash over me. When I’m into the painting stage I like to listen to nature and science documentaries. Its fun to learn and work!
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?
Laura Bifano: Probably Dave Cooper. That man’s work is so delightfully warped and happy. His technical ability and use of color and light rivals 90% of illustrators working today, so I know I would learn a ton. Plus, he just seems like he’d be a fun guy to have a pint and paint some pictures with.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any deceased artist, who would it be and why?
Laura Bifano: I’m not sure if “collaborate” would be the right word, but I would love to sit down and watch Bernie Fuch’s at work.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?
Laura Bifano: I bought a Craig Elliott print when he was in town for a convention. It’s of two naked ladies standing butt to butt. I love the image, but my significant other isn’t too crazy about it so I keep it tucked away in a flat file.
1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
Laura Bifano: An ink drawing from a local artist, Morgana Wallace.
1xRun: What else do you have in the works? What have you been up to lately?
Laura Bifano: I’m participating in an Apocalypse-themed group show at the Ayden Gallery in Vancouver, BC on August 10th.