Multi-faceted artist Leif Larson’s paintings, drawings, murals, and live performances continually surprise and delight with their fresh wit and keen observation about humanity. His engaging creativity is saturated with color and warmth. While Leif's art can be serious and often surreal, there is a sense of joie d'vivre that is undeniable about his work.
A kind and compassionate soul, Leif freely shares his vulnerability and diverse talents with authenticity, generosity, and approachability. As he opens up his own book of life, his intuitive art flourishes in the wake. The ripples are felt by all who come in contact with this extraordinary artist and person.
Our Interview with Leif
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Living my life and caring about looking, caring about communication, and caring about the process of creation as a way to grow and find purpose as a human, and to give optimism and joy to the world. The objects I make are products of this way of living, looking and sharing ideas with others.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you absolutely wanted to do?
When I was in Third grade, I saw a friend making a drawing of a ninja turtle. It looked fun to do and people were mesmerized by what he was doing....I thought, “ I want to do that!” So I went home and began drawing and I have never stopped since. I’ll be turning 38 soon.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
They have changed over the years and change comes from growth and new awareness of myself and my needs and desires as a creative. For example, Two years ago I began wearing a jump suit to work in because I didn’t want to ruin my cloths (that I was finally caring for), and so I wanted something that was practical and easy to get into, hence the jump suit. I listen all the time. Listening is the key to being alert to all that is around us, and listening is something that can happen in the mind too. I realize patterns in my work or habits do emerge, but knowing they exist starts with listening to them over the course of time. I find that some patterns are healthy and others are not, and so I adjust accordingly. Over the years I’ve become ritualistic about spending at least 30 minutes each morning thinking and planning for the future, as well as organizing my day, week, and monthly schedule (which is always shifting and changing. I’ve learned the value of asking myself, “what do I want to accomplish, and what steps are necessary to get to that goal.” It’s the heart of everything I do with art business, studio planning and management, short term goals, and long term goals. Artists who are busy are often (at least) 3-6 months ahead in their heads and work schedules. It’s a juggling act, and that makes organizing sooo important!
What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever created and why?
I don’t have favorite. I have a principle that thinking about things I make as better or worse is a limiting perspective, because all the work teaches me something. The value of each experience comes from listening to them, and learning from them.
What are you trying to communicate or express with your art?
In the end, when I die, I would like people to remember that I was always interested in living life, looking at life, and communicating life. I tend to tell stories that are equal parts joyful and serious. At the same time, I rest my loins on knowing that art and life are one in the same. As long as I’m breathing, I’ll be creating something. That to me is easy to understand, and forever universal.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Making a children’s book. I have a desire, but the time has not yet come. I will keep listening to the world and it will let me know when it’s time.
What’s the best advice you have ever received in relation to your art?
It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Keep going. Be open to new things, and surround yourself with the people that reflect the person and artist you want to be. Failure is just as important as success, in becoming the artist you want to be.
What advice would you give a young or new artist who is just starting out?
Everything I just said in the last question.
What’s the best thing about being an artist in Northeast Wisconsin?
There are positives and negatives wherever one lives on earth. Wisconsin is a great place to live. It’s affordable to live here( which is one key to survival as an artist). I do a lot of traveling around the country with my art endeavors and I see many art communities across the country. No matter where you are, finding humans who care about art in their communities is very important to finding a healthy incubator for creating. Artists need support, and when we can share and embrace what makes us tick in an inclusive way, the results are a healthy community. The Northeastern Wisconsin art communities are embracing this more than ever, and that is awesome!!