From her pop art snapshots and impressionist oils to her figure sketches and portraits, Houston-based artist, painter and illustrator-for-hire Olga Nydia Galindo wants her canvases to bleed beauty. More Stella than Frida, but more Lichtenstein than Klein, Galindo makes no bones about straddling the line between art and fashion by fusing her passion for both into her work; however, becoming an artist was never her intention.
Although her love of painting can be traced back to her childhood in Mexico, Galindo originally set out to realize the other half of the equation by working to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. In fact it wasn’t until 2000, while studying fashion design at Arte A.C. in her hometown of Monterrey that she stumbled onto the idea of becoming an artist through her drawing and color courses. It was one of those happy accidents that Galindo says she recognized as a way to continue pursuing her love of fashion, “without going through the hassle of sewing.” And it is certainly one that directly influences her work today. “It’s the shapes, asymmetric lines, and more specifically, how a garment looks on the body that catches my eye,” says Galindo of the presence of fashion in her work. “I always think about how it could translate into a painting.”
After relocating to Texas in 2004, and spending a brief period in Austin, Galindo set up shop in Houston, where she resides today, continuing to carve out her niche. The prolificacy of her creativity coupled with her sense of color and style that balances both feminine and rock ‘n’ roll aesthetics has landed her no shortage of commissions and gallery work that include showings this month at ZERO HOUR Apocalypse Art and as a guest artist at the Montrose Art Society.
With the Body of Work opening reception at the KAXM gallery on August 7th fast approaching,Galindo was kind enough to take some time out of her preparation to talk to EG15M about her ever-present sense of fashion, her current watercolor “phase”, and why when it comes to inspiration, the band MUSE is her biggest, well…muse.
What does being an “artist” mean to you?
For me art is a way of expressing myself. My art is so personal. For example in my oil pieces you can say a lot with the brush strokes. It shows the mood you are in and what you want other people to know. It’s letting other people get to know you through your pieces.
What is your definition of “bad art”?
Oscar Wilde said, “Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all”, and I agree. Art is an outlet to show yourself and your thoughts. Not everyone will appreciate it, but it’s still someone’s thoughts. Just like you can’t tell someone they can’t think, you can’t tell someone they can’t create. Even if something were considered “bad”, at least somebody would be talking about it!
Why do you create?
I love it. It’s my passion. I love making something that will inspire other people.
What inspires you?
Usually looking at other artists’ work. It makes me challenge myself into trying new techniques or mediums, and even though I‘m not pursuing my fashion designer career, clothes inspire a lot of my paintings and drawings. If I can’t make them, at least I can draw them!
Do you ever regret not pursuing fashion design further?
Not at all. Even though fashion and style are a part of me, I can’t imagine myself doing that right now. I can still show my ideas and designs in my artwork without going through the hassle of sewing.
Does painting run in the family?
Well, my mom used to take oil painting classes with a painter in Monterrey when I was little. She and my older brother would go once a week for years, and I used to go with them and just watch. They were the ‘artistic’ ones in the family and I always wanted to be like my brother. He has so much talent, but ironically they stopped, and that’s when I started doing it more. Now I’m the only one doing it professionally. I also have a little brother who just started college in graphic design.
How does Monterrey play a part in your work?
Mostly in my modern pieces. The urban living and fashion scene in Monterrey is very avant-garde and chic. It inspires me to see things differently…to put a “wow” factor in my pieces.
What is your favorite medium with which to work?
Recently it’s been watercolors. I’ve been trying drawings with pencil and ink and accenting it with watercolor and coffee and tea stains. It’s just so delicate and I think it gives a different feeling to the illustration. I started doing the ‘girl series’ collection with ink and watercolor, and I just fell in love with it. It looks simple, delicate, and unexpected. Sometimes you don’t know if the watercolors are going to drip the way you want them to. They have a mind of their own and they even have the power to ruin the piece if they want to, but that’s part of why it’s so interesting to me…an unexpected drip can make the piece.
Who are some of your influences?
David Downton and Erin Petson are great watercolor illustrators. A long time ago when I wasn’t familiar with this medium I would look at their work and think, “I want to do that”, or “I wish I had come up with that.” Looking at their pieces makes me push myself harder to somehow try to be a better artist.
Van Gogh…but who can’t be inspired by Van Gogh? His brushstrokes are what I love the most. They are so powerful and heavy with paint. I think they give so much feeling to the painting and you find yourself wondering what he was thinking when he did it. The combination of colors and that post-impressionism style inspires me when I paint with oils.
Last but not least, Music. MUSE is one of my favorite bands. Music is what brings the passion in my paintings. Every time I paint, listening to them, it makes me show much more of myself in my art. I guess it pumps me up and puts me in this creative mode that I just can’t stop. Matt Bellamy’s voice and guitar solos can inspire anyone.
Which of your pieces says the most about you as an artist? Why?
This is a hard question. I think I have phases that I go through, and sometimes a piece describes and showcases how I was feeling in that period of my life, so it keeps changing. For now, I love my piece ‘gone with the wind’. I think it transmits calm but with an edge. I like my pieces having an element to them that keeps you wondering. In that piece the hummingbird is drinking syrup, but to some people it may look like blood. I want to keep them wondering.
Even when the subject matter seems to be suggestive of something slightly harsher, your work still maintains a subtle, almost soft sensuality. What turns you on?
The human body. I find myself drawing figures of women all the time. In most of my paintings I always try to bring out a feminine touch, even though the painting might be considered dark and “angsty”.
There’s an undeniable photographic feel to most of your work. What role does photography play in your creative process? How do you use it?
It’s a big part of it. I have tons of catalogues of clothing stores that I like and use them as inspiration. Since they are selling the clothes, I can see the full body and poses. I always try to imagine the final product before doing the painting. Some artists usually start painting and just go with it until “voila!” they have a final product. For me, I like to know exactly what I want and usually have this picture of it in my head of what I want it to look like. Of course most times it turns out different, but in my mind it always starts with a picture.
Would you ever consider pursuing photography as a career?
I would love to. I can appreciate a good photo, but unfortunately I don’t think I have the passion or talent for it as much as I have for my art.
What do you hope to accomplish with your pieces?
For me, satisfaction as an artist is to have somebody absolutely love my work and want to buy it. Just the idea of anyone having one of my pieces in their daily life gives me that sense of completion. I don’t like selling just to sell. I want them to feel like they need to have it.
I have a couple of shows coming up in here in Houston. One is called Zero Hour –Apocalypse Art, so I’m doing a piece inspired by that. I’m also doing a piece about body movement, using wood instead of canvas, and trying to work more on some pieces mixing my watercolor illustrations with acrylic…the best of both worlds.
What’s your advice for artists just starting out?
Do a lot of pieces. Do a portfolio. Do a website. Send it to galleries! Get out there with your work! Send it! Send it! Send it!
Olga Nydia Galindo lives, paints and rocks out to MUSE with her husband Alfonso and her Pomeranian, Camila in the Houston area. You can see her work on display throughout the month of August at The KAXM Gallery in the Heights (Opening reception August 7th from 6-9pm.), The Zero Hour-Apocalypse Art Show on August 14th, and the Montrose Art Society August 19-21st.