The mind of an artist is a work of art in and of itself. Creativity touches us all differently, and the method to an artist’s madness is a life-long journey and self-discovery project. What inspires one artist is white noise for another. That’s the beauty in art – our unique experiences shape our perceptions of it; it transcends any concrete notion, a malleable interpretive canvass brought brilliantly to life through the creative lens of an artist that ends up speaking as much, if not more, of the one who’s admiring. An artist’s true intentions for a piece may go completely over a spectator’s head, or morph into something completely different. That’s why it’s important to stay true to oneself and make art for the love of art; at least, that’s the philosophy San Francisco-based artist Mallory Lucille Rose lives by.
As a newbie looking in, Rose’s art might seem hodgepodge upon first glance, with individual themes to each of her pieces. But remember, we’re looking into the mind and world of Rose as she sees it, and to her, her art is cohesive: “In all honesty, they’re all the same to me. They’re all baby steps in the right direction, and all in progress together.”
Studying drawing and painting at Laguna College of Art & Design for four years brought Rose to San Francisco, where she currently runs a children’s art studio in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, a family-oriented, upper middle class slice of urban suburbia nestled in one of the city’s sweet spots with eye candy views of the skyline and bay. In the 1960s, Potrero Hill boomed into a creative hub, attracting artists with its enviable location and more affordable rents. Littering the hilly streets were artist studios, schools and showrooms, so much so that a special district was designated around them and dubbed Showplace Square. In essence, an artist’s nirvana, and the perfect environment for Rose to truly express her creativity.
“My work is something I create effortlessly; it’s never been a job or task I’ve felt I had to accomplish. I find myself continuously in the middle of a lot of projects, mostly because I’m spoiled and find the work I’m making is for me. I think the most important reality is finding a space in which you want to create for yourself, not for anyone else. There’s no true explanation to what drives us to be creative but listening to yourself.”
To hear an artist describe their inspirations and creative process never ceases to be a fascinating look into their work and personality, and the same holds true for Rose, who exudes and embodies warmth and appreciation, simply creating for the love of creation.
“I write a lot of ideas down, hold onto images, or collect “trash” for inspiration. [Creativity] comes out of nowhere, like a rogue wave, and any bit of inspiration I find, I try to keep it, or more specifically, turn it into something I can keep. My Post-It’s series speaks a lot to this process.”
Rose’s Post-It series is exactly as it sounds – post-it notes, or canvasses painted to resemble them, adorned with everything from hand drawn classic Victorian-style San Francisco houses to snappy, quasi-mottos, ranging in emotion from sweet, inspirational and hilarious. Reminders to call mom, motivational sayings that empower and showcase a brighter side of life, real-talk about the irrelevance of decaf and existential questions about whose left Beyoncé was referring to in “Irreplaceable” make Rose’s Post-It series a representation of art at its most accessible: small, physical nuggets that speak to the many while remaining true to the artist herself.
“I focus on clean, bright and sharp imagery. I’ve always admired work that felt like it was created with purpose, and the combination of those three really adhere to pieces I’ve enjoyed or created.” Those features also stand-out in Rose’s Notebook series, where drawings and sketches made from graphite and ink-based utensils adorn crisp notebook pages, with bold, eye-popping splashes of color that make them complete works of art while retaining a rough, incomplete aura.
“Graphite and ink pens tend to be my weapon of choice, solely because they’re so delicate and precise. I’ve recently acquired an unhealthy addiction to ink pens, brush pens and markers of any sort. I have this idea that there’s this perfect color combo, and if maybe I can find it, all the stars will align. My energy and focus thrives off of turning what inspires me into something of my own.”
It’s that striving for self-satisfaction, not critical or commercial acclaim, that makes Rose such a genuine and awe-inspiring artist. Hearing her speak about what art means to her comes off like an unofficial how-to guide for beginning artists on what truly matters when they set out to start creating.
“It’s important that your work is something you’re proud of and feel you’ve done for yourself before you set an expectation of someone enjoying it. I’ve learned that no one will ever enjoy your art as much as you do, thus it’s so important that what you create is for you. [It’s a challenge] letting go of the expectation that people may or may not like what you make.”
Still, that refreshingly humble mentality aside, art has to resonate in some manner beyond the joy of creating it for an artist to meet end’s meet. Sharing one’s creation with the world might arguably be the most difficult aspect of an artist’s career, and whether it’s beloved or maligned, it should still make an impact. Art at its best stands out, even only if it’s in the eyes of one, and that raw vulnerability it takes to send it out into the world leaves many artists at a crossroads between boldness for the sake of sheer spectacle and openness for the sake of honesty, questioning how exposed they should be. Not Rose, though.
“It’s human nature to seek love and affection, but also feel vulnerable and scared. What’s important is truly understanding and appreciating that everyone feels that way with you. Be honest. The power of relating to someone through creativity is extraordinary.”
Rose the person is essential to understanding Rose the artist. Her ultimate goal is to exist in the present. Her wildest dream is to detach from the reality of our fast-paced, technologically inundated world and fall off the grid, taking shelter in the mountains, any mountains, far away from the hustle and grind. She believes that to make a difference, all one needs to do is try – with honesty, kindness and respect. And most illuminating, she professes that she has no secrets: “Each and every person in my life holds a little bit of me.” Rework that, and it’s a quintessential mantra for every artist who has pieces floating about in the world.
Recently inspired by a quote she read from Paul Arden, author and the creative director of American global communications and advertising agency network Saatchi and Saatchi at the height of its influence, Rose, the person and the artist, continues to grow and evolve as each. Arden’s quote actually perfectly encapsulates the drive behind Rose and her creative process: “What is a good idea? One that happens is. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.”
What’s striking is that, when talking to Rose, it’s easy to wonder if her legacy will go beyond her art and become a source of aspiration, much like Arden’s musing is for herself, for future artists, creators and human beings. “Everything is important and nothing’s very important at all; it seems to me importance is relevant based on your personal desires. I believe it’s important to be honest with yourself over anything else, to give effort, and of course, to be kind. Every time I get those right, things seem to fall into place.”