I got to speak with Ursula Young, a San Francisco based artist and asked her a few questions about her work, how San Francisco plays its role in her work, and how electronic music plays a role in her artistic style...
I was looking at many of the artists your style really stood out to me because of its edginess, and the feel of the work itself. While visually it doesn't have that realistic feel, the subject matter and your use of mixing black and white with color gives the work a very real feeling and emotion. Have you always had an ability to see the beauty and wonder in everything that's around you?
Well first, thank you!...I guess growing up in a national park helped. There is so much beauty in the old 15th century villages and the early evening light over the moors and dales of North Yorkshire. I also traveled from a young age, and that really made me see and learn so much so quickly, you can't help but take it all in.
Does it ever feel overwhelming the amount of beauty that you see? Out of all the places you have been, where has been the most moving?
I guess I get overwhelmed sometimes - but to me that's such a magical feeling, and it makes me want to take as much time as possible when I get somewhere amazing just to take it all in. I often look at things whilst sub-consciously trying to imagine how I would convey them on paper or in paint strokes. I think this is why I travel so much, and love to visit the hard-to-reach places on the planet, just to have those moments...be it a storm rolling in over the Karst cliffs of a tiny stilted village in northern Laos, or the dripping sounds and lush dense greens of a Costa Rican jungle, or the color of setting sun on the red rocks of New Mexico. its all in the details. I don't think I could pick a 'most moving' but I think that usually those moments have been inspired mainly by nature.
A lot of our readers are fans of electronic music. I noticed that you have some involvement with the electronic music scene - what is it about the scene inspires you?
I got into dance music as a teenager in northern England - my home town was very close to Manchester and the electronic music scene was exploding at that time - and from there jumped full force into new york city's rave/club life of the early 90's while I was attending Parsons. When I moved to San Francisco after I graduated, I started organizing DJ events and club nights, and then created club fliers, record covers, and backdrops at events. There's just something about house music, and the underground culture that surrounds it - and of course the people - that inspires me. I think its just that total feeling of joy and freedom that I felt dancing with a million people to the same beats, and now (even though I'm much less involved) I still get inspiration from that feeling and the music, and my art definitely expresses that I think.
What other artists influence you? Do you have a particular piece that is especially moving?
While there are lots of interesting contemporary and modern artists that I follow and love, and get inspired by, I think the art that I get most moved by is the magical fairytale works of the pre-raphaelites: especially rosetti & burne-jones. I also love Arthur Rackham and some of the other illustrators of that era...and the Vienna secessionists: Egon Sheile and Gustav Klimt, and I am highly influenced by art nouveau: Alphonse Mucha especially. My dad also really loves art and he used to take me to galleries all over Europe when I was a kid, so its amazing that I've actually got to see most of my favorite works of art in person. we went back to Paris earlier this year to do a whirlwind tour of all the galleries there - such an inspiration.
As for mediums, I also noticed that you noted you love to paint on wood. How did you discover this love?
I think I discovered it when I was doing a show on found objects, I just found the surface of wood so smooth to work on, and the colors seemed brighter too. I still mainly work on wood, but I'll do the odd canvas as well. I just enjoy the feel of wood more.
You use lily's and roses a lot in your work, is there a meaning of the flower that makes you love them so much?
Well, not all of them - though I know full well that certain colors and flowers portray different feelings. I like it that the onlooker can get those feelings from certain flowers. The star gazer lily is the only one that has a more specific meaning: it was the favorite flower of a friend who is no longer with us, she's appeared in many of my works (sometimes subconsciously) and almost always with a stargazer.