The Los Angeles based artist Xany Rudoff has been part of the PopGrotto community for quite some time. In this interview, she gives us some insight of her creative process, the “lost art” of gilding, and much more!
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be an artist?
A: Being an artist is something that I feel I never deliberately chose (believe me, being a lawyer would have been a much easier path than the one I took and much more financially stable I might add!), but painting was always a talent that came naturally to me- living in such a breathtaking and never ending landscape of horizons in the desert HUGELY influenced me as an artist. Growing up in that type of landscape, there are NO boundaries – to some it may seem like a barren landscape, void of life, but to me, It was like being a tiny fish being placed into a huge ocean where there were no limits to your imagination – with no limits, your creativity grows exponentially-your mind knows no boundaries, no limitations, and and the magic of the desert sunsets with their vivid colors and the dramatics of the summer thunderstorms all served to inspire and shape both my artistic talents and my outlook on life.
My love for music comes from my brother, John, who from an early age, exposed me to EVERYTHING- Bowie, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Dylan, The Velvet Underground, he was a major record collector and I remember his collection of albums (he had nearly 2,000 records all perfectly organized and protected) and seeing how passionate he was about his vinyl, that had a HUGE influence on me that led to the work I am doing today.
Q: What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own?
A: The interesting thing about the creative process, be it art, music, writing, film, etc. is that no matter what your own unique “voice” comes through in everything you do. Throughout the years I’ve seen my art evolve and have created many different series of work – different styles, techniques, materials- and yet, even though the art itself is very different from the previous series/ artwork, you still can tell it was done by the same artist. My current series of work, where I take vintage album covers and “iconicize” them by applying 24 carat gold leaf (or silver), watercolor, ink, and Swarovski Crystals (depending on the piece) is a modern twist using one of the oldest art techniques, gilding (gilding is the process of applying gold leaf to objects), and considered to be a “lost art” that the Old Masters of the Renaissance and Byzantine artists used to create religious “icon” paintings commissioned by either the church or royalty. It’s a very exacting and time consuming process, but the result is spectacular: Gleaming, lustrous paintings rich in both color and gold. Nothing else comes close to or compares to give it that look.
Q: What is your creative process like?
A: Surprisingly, very traditional and methodical due to the materials and techniques I use to create each work. What I love about it is taking say an “ordinary” object (in my case a specific album cover) and making it extraordinary by turning it into a precious piece of art using 24 carat gold, watercolor, paint, ink and Swarovski Crystals. I spare no expense on making each piece as I truly want to honor the album and the music that inspired it- no two pieces are ever the same but that’s what makes it so interesting and fun to do! Nothing feels better than being given a commission and seeing the joy on the client’s face when they receive the final painting! That’s what makes it all worthwhile!
Q: What inspires your artwork?
A: Definitely the obvious influence is music-especially with this series of work that “iconicizes” the album/band. The music that inspired me, along with many fans and music enthusiasts of that particular artist or album is inseparable from the work I am creating. I am a self-admitted “perfectionist” and I will keep working and re-working on a piece for countless hours until I feel it is just right- I want to honor both the music, the artist’s vision creating the album, and of course, the fans who love it, so I try to push myself as hard as possible to create a object of beauty that will bring as much joy hanging on a collector’s wall as the music does listening to it.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, friends, a photograph, a song’s lyric, the music itself, even when I’m not actively working on a painting, I am constantly taking in everything around me- I could go for years without picking up a brush, and yet, my work still has evolved as it’s a combination of picking up so many things that inspire you on a daily basis that you store up and it just all comes out when you pick up that brush and begin a painting. My favorite is finding something extraordinary in the ordinary – magic is all around each and every one of us everyday, you just have to open up your eyes, your senses, and your mind to see the unique treasures that surround us everyday.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
A: World Domination! Immortality! Isn’t that the driving force behind every artist at the end of the day? But in all seriousness, I have some very special projects that are happening soon!
In fact, this is a POPGROTTO EXCLUSIVE (no one knows about this until now!) I just found out about a few weeks ago that a painting I had done of Billie Holiday back in 2010, is going to be used as the official album cover for a special box set of unreleased recordings of Billie Holiday that is being put out by ESP Disks this spring! This is a very special collaboration, as the owner of ESP Disks, Mr. Bernard Stollman, is a legend himself- he started his label in 1964- worked closely with Billie back in the day and has had a huge influence in the jazz and blues world. He discovered Sun Ra and has worked with many of the most influential and incredible musicians of our times including jazz legend, Albert Ayers.
To be attached with such an amazing historical label as ESP Disks, being represented in New York City by Spencer and Judith, and to have my artwork be the image for this very special box set, I am incredibly honored and grateful to have this opportunity and hope that I have done Billie Holiday’s legacy proud!
Q: Who are some of the people that you’d put in the street art Hall of Fame?
A: Jean-Michael Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Futura 2000, and on a local level, Robbie Conal. I’m a child of the 70’s/80’s and having spent half of my time in Los Angeles and in the desert, the one memory I have of Los Angeles back in the glory days of Melrose in the early 80’s, was seeing Robbie Conal’s political drawings posted EVERYWHERE on the streets. He still works today and I admire his work immensely. There would be no Shepard Faireys, Bankseys, etc, if it were not for the groundwork that all the above artists (and many more that would take too long to list) did to pave the way for the current “street artist” rage that is happening right now.
Jean-Micheal Basquiat was a street artist going by “SAMO” writing political and often humorous sayings everywhere in NYC on the subways, walls, anywhere he could express himself, which deeply influenced his later work of paintings. He, along with Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf broke through the “street art” barrier and soon took over the fine art galleries that forever changed the history of art. All of them were also a huge part of the NYC 80’s scene, Haring did live painting at the MUDD Club, Scharf’s paintings were used on the album covers of the B-52’s- Jean-Michael Basquiat was a dj and a musician, their cultural impact was enormous and if it were not for them, I would never have been introduced to the art world and see it as a viable career to pursue.
Kenny Scharf still does AMAZING murals and paintings today, and I had the pleasure of meeting him through my friend Bryan Rabin- I was so excited to meet one of my childhood heroes, it’s funny because, I’ve been fortunate to have met many celebrities and rock stars throughout the years, but when it comes to meeting true artists such as Scharf or Francesco Clemente, I become speechless and shy as they are my true icons who inspired me to always stay true to my vision and have the courage and passion to be an artist myself. I wish I could have met Jean-Micheal Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring, but sadly, they have all passed away, much too young, especially in Keith and Jean-Michael’s case, it’s so tragic yet thankfully, they have all left a legacy of art behind that will inspire many more generations to come.
Q: Which piece or project have you enjoyed working on the most to date?
A: So many! Each piece is like a visual diary of where I am at that moment- I can remember exactly where I was, what music I was listening to, what events were going on in my life with each painting I’ve created- they all represent different times and changes in my life, so with that in mind, they are ALL very special and unique to me. There are some moments that have been extra special, for instance, back in 2008, I got a call from the musician David J (of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets ) to have my painting of Edie Sedgwick be a part of his musical he had written about her life called, “Silver For Gold”. It was shown at the RedCat Theater at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2011 and to work with David who I greatly admire, was a huge honor! Especially to see my painting be a part of this incredible production he created, that was a very special moment and further encouraged me to keep on my path and keep painting.
Q: What are you passionate about besides your work?
A: I have so many loves- of art, music, design, decorating, fashion, films and literature- any way I can express myself or see how others express their creativity I love! I’m super excited to have this amazing loft and storefront that we are currently in the process of remodeling, on Melrose avenue. It’s all come full circle since I was a young teenager walking down Melrose and seeing so much art, music and rock and roll, to now have a space that allows me so many opportunities- it’s a very exciting chapter of my life! My fiance, Stephane, and our two kitties, Keef and Calcifer, make each day fun and there’s not a day that goes by where we aren’t laughing and having fun here! It’s my own “Xanadu” so to speak (pun intended) and I love that I have this space to create and share with other artists too! We’ve created a gallery space , called “Revolution X” where we had an awesome debut show featuring the work of UK artist, Wild Cat Will, called, “Never Give Up” that was a great success! We also have a lifestyle accessories line called “Moroccan Roll” which has been my little baby for the past 8 years that we are getting ready to launch as well- I need a few assistants over here as there is SO much to do!!
Q: What’s your personal motto?
A: “Never look back, Walk tall, Act fine”- that’s a lyric by David Bowie in “Golden Years” and that says it all for me.
Q: How do you like PopGrotto?
A: I LOVE POPGROTTO! It’s an amazing website that allows you to share your work, your passions, your collections, your love of music, art, everything! You can personalize your collections, attach videos to it, follow and be inspired by fellow passionate collectors- it’s got it all! I’m so happy to be a part of this from the beginning, and to be given the opportunity to truly express myself- to not only showcase my work, but also my life- what I love, special moments that I can share with others, its very personal and fun to be a part of! I love watching it grow and there are no limits to what you can do on it ! POPGROTTO for the win!
You can find Xany’s collections at the following link: https://www.popgrotto.com/Xany