Lilly Panholzer Artist Interview

Lilly Panholzer

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an artist?  What were your earliest impressions?
I was an adult when I realized I was going to be an artist. My father was an architect. He exposed me to architecture, art, and design at a young age. Our home was filled with antiques and avant-guard Italian furniture. I was lucky to have parents who loved to surround themselves with quintessential design. That, in turn, impacted my choices in life and my career goals.   
Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
My parents’ books, paintings, music and record jackets that were around the home when I was growing up had an influence. At five years old, I would play the music of Johann Strauss on a phonograph and dance along. I completely immersed myself in melody and dance. This freedom to express myself helped to develop my artistic side. I was free to follow creative intuition.  
Do you remember what your first artwork looked like?  Do you still have it?
Countless drawings of princesses. Most of my early artwork no longer exists. My mother still has one early drawing. She framed a colored pencil drawing I’d done of a princess. 
Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I studied product design, and eventually worked as a graphic designer. I wasn’t aware, at the time, that it was possible to make a living as an illustrator. In the last eight years, more illustration commissions have come in. Happily, I found my way back to my true passion. 
Did you study art in school?
I studied art in high school and in university. Art and design have always interested me. I would read about these subjects during my free time. 

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art?  Do you have a source for your ideas?
My greatest inspiration comes from nature. The harmony, patterns, and proportions found in nature inspire me. Taking the time to observe details in nature, and spending time observing and drawing from life–whether a human being or a building–is meditative and calming.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
There are different stages. It begins by being inspired by nature or by a conversation, or a piece of art; even a dream can be a source of inspiration. Anything really. From there, developing a sketch or doodle; playing around and having fun. Once I’m comfortable with a sketch, I’ll elaborate with detail and eventually make it digital. 
Do you have a favorite artist?  What is it about that artist’s work you like?
My uncle, Manfred Stein, was an architect and painter. He’s one of my favorite artists. His powerful, surreal, and colorful paintings are both inspirational and mesmerizing. Franz Kupka, Paul Gauguin, and Marc Chagall have also inspired me.  
If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I always wanted to have a talent for singing. I’ve not been blessed with a singing voice. I don’t dare sing alone in the shower. The water would run cold. 
Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
My parents would buy my brother and I colored pencil sets. One set could contain 40 or 50 colors. It was the coolest thing in the world. We would spend hours drawing; trying to use every single color.
Do you have a favorite artist supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
My favorite art supply is whatever pen, pencil, or marker I have in my hand. I like to experiment with different media and methods. I don’t have a favorite method at the moment. As for location, it’s wherever I find myself.
If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
Contemporary, and at the same time, retro-inspired illustrations, with a strong focus on color, texture, and pattern to create fun, friendly, and entertaining images.
Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think public awareness could be improved. A lot of people still don’t understand what I do when I tell them I work as an illustrator. 

Why does art matter to you? Why might it matter to the world?
Art offers free exchange; a place where creativity is possible, where people come together to find a way to express their ideas about the future of society. Art helps us identify with one another. 
If you could look back or forward a hundred years, do you think the life of an artist was or will be better than today?
Robots will take over a large number of jobs ranging from middle management to medicine. I believe while robots can draw original paintings, people will prefer to buy or support artforms created by human beings. I don’t know if the life of an artist will be better, however I do believe that as we move toward a more machine-driven society, the need for people to express themselves through art will increase.