Quirky, colorful, and downright FABULOUS is hitting the blog this week! That's right, Leah Nadeau is making an appearance and I couldn't be more psyched about it. I was first drawn to her work because she does abstract like no one else, little did I know when I started following her that I'd get a glimpse of how she sees things and the chance to join in her fun world of creative names and dance parties.
For those who don't know you who you are, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Pleased to meet you! I’m Leah. I feel my purpose in life is to bring joy to the world whether it be through my colorful artwork, or my non stop mission to make others laugh. I believe that being different, or unique is beautiful, and being normal is boring. Painting and laughing are my two favorite things in the world. When I’m not doing those things I’m either spending time with my family, consuming media of sorts (movies, tv, music), or reading a book. I’m known for being unapologetically me all the time and it’s hard to embarrass me. I love to entertain my Instagram followers and my family and friends because it brings me joy to make others laugh and smile. Oh and I'm kind of obsessed with Instagram. I did my undergraduate in media studies and I'm a bit of a social media guru.
Your squiggly squares and abstracts are pretty unique, how did you find this style?
I get asked how my style came to be all the time, and it's simply what I see in my brushstrokes. I make these pieces and they don't look finished until I've shown the viewer exactly what I want them to see, and I achieve that by adding linework around the geometric shapes I see in my brushstrokes. Originally, my artwork was inspired by geometric masters such as Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko, but then it kind of evolved naturally on its own as a combination of things I do while I paint. Movement, squares, and texture all come together like a dance to make my style. It's an ever-changing process that never ceases to surprise me. I see my style as a mixture of concepts that my brain has picked up over time.
Can you tell us a little more about your creative process?
I'm usually in my studio for about 20 minutes at a time. I'm ADD and have a short attention span. I paint a layer, wander off and do something else like eat breakfast or watch a quick episode of a TV show and then head back in at my leisure. At times I'll have multiple pieces going at once and can stay in my studio for an hour or two, but typically I break up my time. I paint a layer, let it dry, add linework and then add another layer of paint. The linework is what brings my work together and makes it easier for my brain to process where I need to add and subtract certain brushstrokes to have the piece come together. I don't consider my art finished until it speaks to me in a way that words cannot.
What are some of your biggest art inspirations?
Love is the biggest thing that inspires me. I get a ton of inspiration from the love and joy I get from spending time with my family, more specifically my nieces and my sisters. I have two baby nieces that fill my heart with love and that translates into my work. When I get to see my nieces I always come back into the studio filled to the brim with inspiration. I grew up with a very close-knit family and for the most part that's how it's always been. I'm very fortunate to have such a supportive family and it definitely translates into who I am as a person and into my work. The love I feel from my partner and my friends are also huge inspiration fuelers for me as well. I call my partner my muse, and I truly feel I make the best work when he's around.
In addition to love, I'm a bit of a history nerd, especially American history and culture. The culture of the 60's and 70's are huge influence to me. The world was just a different place in terms of style and design back then and it fascinates me. You can feel the retro inspiration in my work when I use the geometric shapes that come together in pieces, and sometimes I use retro color schemes I find from old magazines, posters, or movie posters.
Have you always known you wanted to be a contemporary artist? What were you pursuing before you became a full-time artist?
No, in fact I didn't even pick up a paintbrush until 2015. I didn't go all in on art until late 2016, and even then I didn't realize I was doing it until I paid someone to build me a website. Then I was like "oh right I guess I really am becoming a professional artist!" Before I became a full-time artist in September 2018 I worked for a marketing startup in San Francisco for almost 3 years. I never really saw myself as having a set goal in terms of a career until about 2017 and then I realized I was good enough to do art full time. But the goal before art was to do social media marketing full time, which is what I had done in the past after I did my master's.
So many emerging artists think full-time artist as a job, is unattainable. Do you have any encouragement you'd like to share with them?
I think that if you want something enough, you'll make it happen. Becoming a full-time artist is NOT unattainable in the modern day. There are so many tools that can be utilized by artists that help us market and sell our work. Instagram, for example, is the perfect tool for artists to enable them to go full time. The entire platform is imagery based and therefore a goldmine for us. Yes, there will be slow months where you don't know if you're going to make the rent, but nobody says that you can't do art full time and something part-time on the side for rent and bills. Millennials are changing the career game, they make their passion their full-time jobs, and they do a side job for rent money. We do things a little different. And, as I believe, different is beautiful.
You often talk about how important knowing your self-worth and being confident in who you are is. Has painting helped your journey of self-love in any way?
Oh definitely. Painting made me realize that being weird or different is ideal, and beautiful. I think everyone is special and has something to offer, and although hardships along the way can make us think otherwise, we must always remember each and every one of us is worthy of love and happiness. I talk about self-worth a lot because loving myself took a lot of time and patience and still does today. It's easy to fall into the comparison game and begin to compare yourself to others in this digital world, but we should really only be comparing ourselves to ourselves! Think about where you were a year ago, 2 years ago and see how far you've come.
How do you think your personality plays into your art?
I think you can definitely feel my personality in my artwork when you look at my pieces. My friends say I have a big heart and I'm full of positive energy and I love making others smile or laugh, and I think you could say the same about my artwork. It's vibrant, uplifting and is full of heart.
Are there are big obstacles or struggles in your artist journey you overcame that you'd like to share with us?
In early 2017 I didn't really have a definite style and I felt very discouraged. I felt like my voice was weak and I wasn't saying what I needed to say to voice who I was. I think that's the hardest part about being an artist starting out, you feel like you have something to say, but you aren't saying it clearly. The key is to keep on painting no matter what. You may feel like you don't have a voice, but you do.
Where can we learn more about you and your art?
Over on the 'gram (@leahnadeau.art) and on my website!