Seven Questions for Natalie Purschwitz

Greetings Thrivesters!

I've been invited to share an interview series that I completed on the Thrive Blog.  Recently, I asked 7 artists 7 questions about their careers.  It was a great way to compare and contrast the variety of creative approaches to an art practice.  Below you'll find the fourth artist that was interviewed for this series: Natalie Purschwitz. Natalie's work is genius, she is an expert collaborator and a brilliant idea generator! I am a big fan! I know you'll be as well. Enjoy! - Sunshine Frère

Natalie Purschwitz is an artist and designer based in Vancouver, Canada. Her work seeks out spaces between art and design, performance and daily life. Her visual art practice is materially motivated and driven by curiosities in anthropology, archaeology, human/nature relationships, morphology and formal arrangement. Clothing is sometimes a starting point for her work. She is interested in how clothing functions as a language and a form of cultural production. Her work incorporates a range of media including sculptural installation, video, performance, photography and works on paper. She has a parallel practice designing costumes and sets for contemporary dance and theatre. Natalie grew up in a small town in the Canadian Rockies.

 Aqua, 2014 - Natalie Purschwitz & Stephen Thompson

Aqua, 2014 - Natalie Purschwitz & Stephen Thompson

What social media platforms to you use and why do you use them?

I pretty much avoid social media, mostly because my brain is already cluttered enough and I feel like I don’t need extra stimulation from using social media. I do have a website that I use as a portfolio. I do use social media if it’s project related.

How do you brainstorm and work out new ideas for projects?

I guess for fashion or costume and for visual art, they both start out the same way. I go for a walk or I go for a run. It took me a long time to figure out that this was the best way to get things going. But for some reason, just having a peripheral distraction around me allows my mind to wander and work through ideas.

For costume design, one of the reasons it’s different is because I am working with another person or a group of people. I’ll often start working with the choreographer and hear about the main ideas and concept for the show and that is my starting point. Then I do a lot of visual research on the internet or in the library, I collect images, from there the images trigger ideas. Then from there, I start making sketches and illustrations.

In visual art, I do a lot more reading, and a lot more thinking and a lot more material exploration.  

 Thing to Thing, 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery, Natalie Purschwitz

Thing to Thing, 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery, Natalie Purschwitz

When you have a big project, how do you manage your time to make sure to complete it by the deadline?

I like to work backwards, if I know what the deadline is, I can come up with sub-deadlines of things that need to happen in advance. I’ll make a list of all of the things that I need to do and break them down into time chunks and then try to guess how long the task will take and sort of slot it into my schedule. I need to that because I am often working on a lot of different projects at the same time. Then I can visually see where I am at with different projects and how it is all going to happen. I also always try to give myself more time than I need for a task, even though it usually ends up taking longer. ha ha ha.

Can you think of something that you wished you had learned earlier in your career which would have saved you a lot of time and effort?

By having a system, by being more organised it frees up the space that you need to be inspired or be creative. Remember, if something works for you remember what is working for you and do it again the next time.

 We Vancouver, Makeshift, 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery, Natalie Purschwitz

We Vancouver, Makeshift, 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery, Natalie Purschwitz

What is the least favourite part about what you do?

I think that would be time management. Because I am my own boss, no one is telling me what to do or when to do it, so I’m constantly having to figure how to squeeze everything in. That can be really stressful. That is my least favourite part for sure, being on top of all of that.

What is the most favourite part about what you do?

Weirdly it’s kind of the same thing, it’s the fact that I can make up my own schedule. Even though I work really long hours, I get to figure out what those hours are, and I can take afternoons to do specific things. There is a certain amount of freedom in being able to make up your own schedule.

Any advice for someone interested in pursuing a career in fashion design or visual art?

I think my advice would be that there is no right way to do something. Even though there are certain protocols there are good to know and there are “proper” ways to do a lot of things, you don’t have to do them that way, it is really important to figure out the right way to do them for yourself.