My artistic journey has taken me from performing artist to visual artist in the most unlikely ways. I originally moved to New Orleans to get a degree in music. Unexpected circumstances led me in quite a different direction. After changing my major to graphic design, I signed up for an intro class in printmaking. It was a hands-on version of what I planned to do on a computer. As the art department put my chosen major on a short hiatus, I kept with printmaking and continued to learn new techniques. When the graphic design program returned, I had already gained such an appreciation and love for the hands on creative process and a certain affinity for the smell of an old-fashioned print shop, that I decided to complete my degree in printmaking. Graduation is a faint memory now, but I continue learning new things about my medium each day.
Creating art provides therapy for the one who is trying to comprehend the world around them. I liken it to meditation, a time for self-examination into my own thoughts and "mind traffic". The subject matter is secondary. The process, or meditation, becomes the true art form. Printmaking is very process-oriented and the need for this type of movement is the only way I can create.
Tish Douzart is a New Orleans artist living and working in the Historic Algiers Point neighborhood.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Experimental. Process-Oriented. Evolving.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
I lived in the Bywater for 5 years (2009-2014) and being surrounded by other creative people and art lovers made a huge impact on my work. That neighborhood gives birth to wacky artist group therapy sessions, a place to vent artistic frustrations. I've relocated to Historic Algiers Point, where the inspiration is still nothing short of amazing.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I have several thought processes, depending on what I'm about to create. Any etchings or reliefs involve hours of sketch work and planning out. There are several steps before arriving at pulling an image off of a press. I have to be organized. I think about how many steps I need to take in order to complete a piece...I think about them over and over, making sure I don't miss one. Printing my monotypes require a different mindset. The action of letting go can be quite challenging, especially for someone who gets a little obsessive about their lines (cough ME). Before I begin creating monotypes, I sit for a minute and focus on entering a state of calm, making sure to accept my capability of exercising patience. Most of the time, this mindset comes out directly into what ends up printed on the paper and I'm OK with that!
If I'm going through an artist block, I typically do not create anything. This is probably because I'm stressed out, busy, or mentally preoccupied otherwise. Meditation helps tremendously, as well as writing, clearing away any clutter in my home, or even engaging in some meditative drawing. This could take days....or months. On the flip side of the coin, when my creativity is in overdrive I tend to think of nothing else. I once worked on a painting for 3 days with almost no sleep, but I'm definitely not the first, second, or hundredth artist to experience creative insomnia.
Where do you draw inspiration?
It comes from everywhere! Mainly, I am obsessed with numbers, nature, language, organic matter, and world cultures. I also have a fondness for spiritual ritual, and that occasionally comes out in my work.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
Inspirations and influences tend to be mutual. Jasper Johns’ repetitive use of numbers and letters caught my attention in college. As I learned & familiarized myself with different methods of printmaking, I became a BIG fan of printmaker, Frederick Mershimer. His mezzotints are beautiful, and I always try to wrap my head around the time it takes for him to finish a piece. You have to know what mezzotint is to know what I'm talking about; Google it, seriously! One of my print teachers in college left a huge impression on me, and I still check up on his artistic progress to this day. Alex Grey blows my mind too.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
I think my work can be likened to experimental music, mainly because it is unpredictable, specifically my monotypes and mixed media encaustics. My passion for traditional printmaking is always conflicted with my interest in unconventional artistic processes. It also characterizes how I create. I'm all over the place.
Where can we find you when you are not creating art ?
If I'm not creating art, you can usually find me helping other artists build their empires. I take a unique sense of pride in being able to utilize my arts administration skills to further the agenda of a fellow artist. I know how hard it is to wear a thousand hats as a creative entrepreneur! Otherwise, I'm tending to my plants and creating herbal remedies at home. Either way, you can ALWAYS find me creating something.
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I love dawn, right before, during, and immediately after sunrise. That is when most of the magic happens. It’s the feeling of something new and fresh that makes it exciting.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I used to be a casino dice (Craps) dealer. I'm also into physics, but I'm not too sure how fun of a fact that is.