Markers Make Mountains in the Work of This Midwestern Artist

With staccato strokes of a fat acrylic marker, Gilmore creates a finely articulated mountain silhouette.

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26 October 2015, 7:30pm

All images courtesy the artist

Think your doodles are kickass? Well, meet Katy Ann Gilmore. She draws faceted, monumental mountains on walls with markers. A Midwesterner transplanted to Los Angeles, Gilmore operates in meticulous expanses: her works run the gamut from pen and ink on paper to thread sculptures and even a piece of a hardware cloth fabricated in the shape of a tree limb.

Recently, Gilmore has been working in pen and ink on paper and large scale murals, alike, creating twisted, digital landscapes made up of tiny black lines. Her recent work, State of Dissolve, and its twin, Elevated Landscape, at 15' x 10', and 30' x 9.5' respectively, are monuments to nature as much as they are testaments to Gilmore’s steely work ethic. Requiring hundreds of thousands of staccato strokes of a fat acrylic marker, Gilmore creates a finely articulated mountain silhouette that would make 19th century landscape artist Thomas Cole salivate.

Gilmore keeps a steady social media presence on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Some of her smaller-scale works are features for sale on her website. We caught up with Gilmore as she was finishing up her latest project to talk about her obsession with lines and how LA inspires her.  

The Creators Project: Your work is very broad in scope, but a common thread I see is that there is an obsession with line. What caused you to focus your art on this form of representation?

Katy Ann Gilmore: I definitely have an obsession with line and repetition! I’ve noticed that I tend to be more concerned about concept, and then explore various materials as I work through those ideas. I have a background in mathematics as well as art, and working in this way has been a natural expression of those interests. I’m not content to solely work in 2D as I love examining space, structure, and form using the physical limitations and opportunities with light that 3D work allows.

You have been chronicling a new mural on your Instagram account, State of Dissolve: What's it like to stand at a wall for 16 hours a day and draw? What's on your iPod?

I loved working on a larger scale. This was really my first foray into drawing directly onto the wall, so I really had no idea what to expect. With the timeframe I had, I initially planned on one mural. However, it went up much quicker than anticipated so I was able to do a second. It was much more physical than drawing on a small sheet of paper, and I learned so much about my drawing tendencies and process. It was an incredible experience that I hope to repeat many times over! I listened to a lot of Banks, James Blake, How to Dress Well, Purity Ring, Shy Girls, and CHVRCHES... and the occasional Radiolab or 99% Invisible podcast.

How do social media and online commerce impact your artistic process?

I think social media is such a great tool for artists, regardless of what area of the art world they’d like to impact. I quit a 9-to-5 last fall, and I didn’t expect to jump right into art full-time. I tend to be pretty practical, realistic, and calculated (which I think is reflected in my work).

In February, I decided to focus on Instagram as a platform for exposure, and it’s been working well as a tool to eventually direct traffic to my website for purchases. I really love the community of other artists that I might never have encountered, and other opportunities and commissions have also presented themselves, essentially because of Instagram.

There’s also a strange accountability factor to social media. I usually post at least once a day, and it keeps me on my toes as I create work. I’ve always been pretty self-directed and determined, and an artist, in a way, is an entrepreneur. I think it’s good to put in those accountability factors if someone isn’t creating them for you.

How does LA's art scene and physical landscape inspire your work?

I’m originally from the Midwest (Indiana/Illinois) where the landscape is particularly flat. I’ve been pretty interested in the relationship between flat 2D planes and 3D forms for awhile, and LA’s landscape really emphasizes that. And it’s great to be in LA where the art scene is engaging. Being in this environment for the past four years has made a deep influence on my work.

Views of Katy Ann Gilmore’s “State of Dissolve” in progress

Views of Katy Ann Gilmore’s “Elevated Landscape” in progress

To see more of Gilmore’s work, see her website and Instagram, @katyanngilmore. Both murals are currently on view at Rowland Gallery on the campus of Greenville College in Greenville, IL.

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