Yarning with an Artist: Christina Di Bona

by Anna Blanch on April 13, 2012

She is young. But, don’t let age fool you, this woman is extremely talented. This week I’m yarning with contemporary portrait and abstraction artist, Christina Di Bona. Christina was featured in her first exhibition at the ripe old age of ourteen.Fast forward six years and her works are held in collections around the world; including Scotland, Spain and the USA. Christina lives in Sydney, Australia. I came across Christina through Twitter, and i’m glad I did. She pushed the boundaries of pop culture, with texture, use of colour and a more finely tuned aesthetic sensibility. If I get a chance I’d love to do a photoshoot with her one day – her vibrant personality seems to shine through in her work. You can see more of her work at her website (or connect with her through the links following the interview)

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When did you realise you were artistic?

My earliest memory of being identified as such was when I was taken out of my second grade class fortnightly for a drawing workshop.

My great grandfather was an oil painter and model builder, and my father was an interior decorator. Hence, paint and colour had been second nature to me. It was only at this age that I realised other kids must be different to me. It then took me until the age of 14 to truly accept this, when I featured in my first exhibition.

Could you tell me more about your work? What are you working on at the moment?

From the age of 14, my initial paintings reflected my upbringing around colour, creating vibrant abstract works. Over the past seven years, my abstract work has progressed to more textual elements and focuses on the interplay between acrylic and enamel relationships.

The past year has been a challenge in merging my abstract interests whilst simultaneously exploring my fascination with Pop Culture Figures. I’ve found myself creating portraits influence heavily by the stylistic attributes of Andy Warhol. I love that he was such a quirky, and straight out weird personality. Only those who are mildly bonkers can break moulds and create truly honest works.

I’m in the process of discovering the invisible line between balancing traditional ‘fine’ art and that of more commercial pieces. Although my colour infused abstracts will remain at the core of my practice, I’m really revelling in the fact that I am able to introduce conventional fans of sports (such as boxing and MMA), as well as those who relate to urban music, to the world of Art with my Contemporary Portraits of people like George St Pierre, Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga.

Recently, sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have really helped me connect with a vast amount of people from various backgrounds, and in turn, connect with my artwork. Whether it’s watching the videos I record while painting, to posting progress shots and status updates, all of this interaction is very fulfilling to me, when someone from the other side of the world sees something in my work that connects with them. To create a reaction is very rewarding, because it shows me I must be on the right path.

Describe yourself as a sandwich/lunch?

Never really thought of this to be honest. Probably a Taco! ..I tend to initially (and unintentionally!) portray a hard exterior, but inside I’m filled with a weird combination of soft traits. I generally don’t trust many people, but once you earn it, I’m fiercely loyal to you. I’m also very precious about the notion of family, being raised within an Italian and Spanish household (although I do admit that my own family is far too large to be able to spend time with them all as often as I may like!)

What inspires you to create a piece on a particular subject?

Often it is either one of two things that inspire me.. When I was younger, I was very aware of the colours in everyday life the pink hues of a sunset, the vivid green in the grass. It often takes one day at the beach, or driving during a sunset that will inspire me to document the relationships of the colours I have witnessed. Although that is my innocent intention, I’ve learnt to accept that abstract pieces really are predetermined to create themelseves as such. Your intentions for colour and medium choices merely construct the parameters of the artwork.

As I’ve matured in my personal life, (there is an imperative difference between the influences of a 14 year old when they first embark on exploring themselves artistically, and that of a 20 year old), various genres and lyrics within music now dictate the initiation of new works. With my Contemporary portraits, it’s generally finding lyrics from one particular artist that I find relate-able; and then develops into a minor periodic obsession with their entire back catalogue, and subsequent biographic documentation I can get my hands on. Books, Articles, Interviews, YouTube clips, Personal Websites such as Twitter; I’m determined to understand and connect with their story. The same goes for film celebrities and sport stars.. although the influence of music is a major factor in my artistic practice presently, I’, infinitely determined to learn about and respect the subject’s history. I believe everyone has a story, and I find it fascinating that although certain people have fame placed upon them, they can categorically still draw upon their history to relate to millions.

I don’t view these people purely as idolised individuals, more as a documentation of a contextualised society; an unbiased portrait of the audience of the time. There are plenty of people in this world that are talented. Yet talent alone doesn’t make you famous. Who you know, gets you into the business. Relateability to the contextual masses, is what keeps you there.

I love that one of my portraits of a talented individual in the limelight, can subliminally be a generic portrait of not only a subculture, but millions of individuals.

What Famous Artist have influenced you, and how?

Definitely Andy Warhol, the past five or so years. Learning to accept yourself with all of your idiosyncrasies and portray this honestly to the world, alongside your Art, is a talent within itself. To come to a point in your life where you basically not give a crap about what certain people think of you..that’s extremely brave. While researching his personality and traits..learning and respecting his story..taught me the lesson that being your true self in public is Art. The eccentricities we all possess just make it all the more entertaining.

Jackson Pollock definitely provided methodical inspiration for my abstract pieces. His ability to conceive pieces that essentially are given their own life; create themselves with Pollock merely as the administrator..creating works in this way invigorates me. I like the surprises that come up on the canvas, because i’m traditionally a major control freak. Creating abstract works influenced through his methodology is refreshing.

I find it humorous now to watch the paint land and think “F*ck! I don’t think I wanted it to go there.” The universe will take you somewhere whether you are a consensual traveller or not.

What about a creative/artist person I may not have came across but that you think the world needs to know about?

I learnt to accept what the universes throws at you and to leave the “Control Freak Ego” at the door , through a short course with Australian Artist David Fairbairn at The National Art School. I rocked up as a very controlling 16 year old, pedantic and determined to control every line, stroke and droplet of material. My extreme stubbornness and aggressiveness was on show. I walked out of that course not giving a damn if that charcoal line decided to be 2 metres and not the 20cm I wanted. David’s work is extremely figurative and loose, yet has an extremely strong presence about it. To learn that purity is uncontrollable and essence is not tactile. But a supreme skill to emulate figuratively..God I owe a lot to that short time with David and my highschool teachers who put me there.

It changed everything.

My defiant personality is still present though..sometimes I even work in the rain, just to prove it can’t dictate when I can or can’t paint outside.

What do you do for fun/other interests besides make art?

My partner has got me interested in watching MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), hence my obsession and paintings of fighters such as George St Pierre. It’s not as uneducated or a demonstration of brutality as people first assume. There’s years of intense training of various martial art styles, techniques, athletic conditioning and intense dedication..it’s definitely a lifestyle and I truly respect them for that.

I also love photography; simple monochromatic documentations from everything in my life. Anything from taking the dog for a walk, to my partner sleeping. Yeah I’m weird like that. I think the most bizarre, simple things in life are genuinely beautiful.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

I seem to be artistically bipolar when it comes to the consistency of my creativity…I go through two alternate yet corresponding phases. I’ll often be inspired by hearing some new music, discovering the personal history of a celebrity or becoming enthralled by colours in nature I view on a day out. From that moment of inspiration, I steam roll through the creative process, working up to 12 hours at one time, almost trancelike.. once in one day, I created four artworks.

However, this period generally only lasts two months or so. Then I consequently crash spectacularly. It’s almost as if my brain just shuts itself off for another month or so to recover, because it’s such a physically and emotionally exhausting process for me. I’m learning to take small break the hard way..muscle spasms, and falling asleep as the easel are generally an apparent sign to most to take it easy. When I get to that stage now, I just move my easel next to my bed.

I’m at the point where I’ve accepted that I’m not conventionally “normal” in that sense.

How have you handled the business side of being an Artist?

I think everything in life is a learning curve. Initially you have all these questions that it seems no one can have the right answer for; how much do you price your work at? What Gallery should you approach first? What if everyone thinks its crap?

With experience comes wisdom however. I think the biggest misconception about the Art business is that if you think your work has some sort of aesthetic or intellectual merit, then it will sell. Often the most absurd pieces generate the most business. You have to learn the difference between creating goof art and constructing “good” business. These notions represent two completely different ideologies.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully in a point in my life where I am still happy with the continuous development of my art and surrounded by those closest to me. To be able to support yourself financially purely due to your passion, is a nice goal, though whether it comes to fruition or not, I just hope I still enjoy creating my work for all the right reasons.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

First thing is no matter who promises you what, get yourself contracts! Everything should be in writing, because the hardest lesson to overcome when you are first starting out is how to recover financially when someone screws you over. You should only ever trust what is written in writing, people will understand, it’s just good business. If they object, then there’s your sign that they won’t be giving you ‘good’ business. Just remember, before he fell from grace, even the Devil was an Angel.

The most ultimate piece of advice is the most cliche’. Truly believe in your work and never give up on it. If you think it’s important, than it is. If galleries sand potential buyers don’t agree with you, then you just haven’t met the right people yet. Pace yourself and keep plotting along, because Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And finally, Network, Network, NETWORK! As much as it irritates me, knowing the right people provides you with endless opportunities (even if you think some artists don’t deserve them!)

What/Where is the most inspiring place in the world for you?

I think as an Artist, you are able to find inspiration anywhere around you, regardless of where you are in the world, However, I find watching YouTube clips of my current musical obsession while working in my studio, generally is my failsafe option for inspiration. There’s a sense of infinite possibilities when art and music meet in the same environment, reinforcing the passion to instigate a painting.

Thanks so much Christina. I’m really glad to have a chance to chat with you a bit more about your work and to share your work with the blogosphere!

All image are used with Christina M Di Bona’s permission.Take a look at her website for more: http://www.cmdartistry.com, connect with her on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/cmdartistry, on twitter through @CMDArtistry or on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/CMDArtistry
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This artist spotlight interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with emerging artists. It is about celebrating artists and the work they are creating and sharing. If you have a suggestion for an artist to be featured in this series, send an email to enquiries@goannatree.com

Connect with Anna on Academia.edu, Linked In, facebook page, & Twitter.

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