1 IHLET: I’m excited to be speaking with you, today, The H Lazarus. I’m looking through your portfolio right now, and I’m blown away. Let’s go ahead and get this interview started. Could you tell me the style in which you create your pieces?
The H Lazarus: As banal as it can sound, I try to work following my own style, but you can easily see that I’m influenced by neo-pop surrealism. It has a lexicon in which I find myself “at home”, so to say. It’s familiar to me and my paintings seem to organize [themselves] spontaneously in that direction. Style of course, it’s a difficult matter because it’s the modality in which you synthesize information in your work. It’s both made by an element that is [sic] within you, but also how you choose to [sic] express it. You could say that style is a symbolic vocabulary. And it can change in time. I always had a surreal component in me, but I started with a more ‘cyberpunky’ taste, and right now I’m not using this style anymore (or at least more rarely, now) because I don’t feel that I’m able to express the things that I really want to convey with it; I naturally flowed into a more surrealistic dimension.
2 IHLET: That is deep. You’ve already answered my second question, to a degree. I was going to ask where you find your inspiration. It seems like you’re inspired from within; inspired naturally. Would you say that’s correct?
The H Lazarus: Well yes, it’s a major source. Movies are a good source, especially the ones with good photography. It’s a nice study in composition. Inspiration comes from work – the more you work, the more you can enjoy the exploration of the craft and find new problems to solve. No, not problems…enigmas. I also find inspiration from dreams. I have a very intense oneiric life. What I love about dreams is that they are very complex. They can be absolutely unreal and, yet, totally credible. When you are dreaming, you are the most excellent observer. The [schema] of dreams is common to every human being because it comes from shared life experiences as much as it does subconscious thoughts everyone has within. The matter of dreams is raw, unfiltered, sincere; unbound by rationality. They can tell us more about ourselves than we care to admit.
3IHLET: I know you’re based in Bologna. Are you a native? I find that roots, childhood, and upbringing can really impact an artist’s perspective and inspirations.
The H Lazarus: I was born and raised in Venice. I moved to Bologna when I was 19 – to attend the Academy of Fine Art. I lived there for 9 years, but now I’m living in Bergamo with my boyfriend. I’m sure upbringing has an impact on my work, but I wouldn’t be able to trace it to any of them. Maybe [my inspiration] can be found in the lights or my fascination with water. I love the sea. It’s one of the things I really miss about Venice.
4IHLET: Would you say your style of art could be a metaphor of the ocean? As in, it’s fluid, and it changes dynamically and naturally?
The H Lazarus: It’s a beautiful metaphor, but I don’t know. It would be very poetic but I can’t really see it right now. Sure, I tend to work in many different declinations (and my portfolio is a bit schizophrenic, I know) but I do so because I’m curious…maybe you did catch a thing about me that I wasn’t able to.
5IHLET: So now that we have upbringing and inspiration covered, let’s talk about your work. I see you’re both an illustrator and a painter. What mediums do you use to create your pieces?
The H Lazarus: It depends. I love acrylics. I started with tempera, but I find myself much more comfortable with acrylics. I usually do work with oils, and also digital work.
6IHLET: How do you choose which medium is correct for a specific piece? Is it arbitrary, or is there a method based on what you intend on painting or digitally creating?
The H Lazarus: I tend to go by the feel that I have from the “vision” of work that I want to convey. If it’s “atmospheric”, it’s better in oils, for me. If it’s more “crispy” or “graphic”, I’d choose acrylics. I noticed I tend to work in digital mediums when I need to relax or explore. But most times, it’s just what I feel in that moment and I just go.
7IHLET: That sounds very liberating — being able to execute your work however you choose. The life of artists is so inspiring to me. Are you working as a freelancer, or for a particular company?
The H Lazarus: It is. That’s why I try to study as many mediums as I can and [remind myself] to practice every once in a while with all of them. It’s liberating when you have an idea that you know would be perfect for a medium and then [apply your knowledge]. I’m working as a freelancer. I have my commissions and clients. I would like to work for a company though, if my kind of work would be needed.
8IHLET: How do you find your clients?
The H Lazarus: Word of mouth mostly. They are people who have seen my work elsewhere, got curious, and contacted me. Maybe [they saw it in a friends house], and so on.
9IHLET: Let’s talk about your art. I’m still looking at your portfolio and I am mesmerized. I see that a majority of your pieces incorporate some sort of living being — a human or an animal. Is that symbolic of something?
The H Lazarus: I thought a lot about that, but I think it’s [more about poetic license]. What interests me is all the wondrous, inexplicable things that occur in life [sic] both internally and externally, and how we relate to them. The drama (and I mean it [both] as a “struggle” but also as “drama by its Greek etymology “what is in motion”) of living beings…it’s a difficult thing to narrate, and I find it fascinating. I try to explore it not only in existential terms, but in essence; like an allegory, maybe. This is when I think surrealism comes into the picture. You can, for example, narrate this kind of thinking and feeling with inanimate objects but then you [shift] towards metaphysics…more cerebral; less emotional. I want my work to have a primitive, raw [facet] that allows not only for an emotional hook, but also as a raw substance in which every observer can find something to complete the artistic action by looking at it. I think that in this case, living beings are perfect for this. You have a direct empathetic response to what’s happening to them in the painting and their personal drama and mystery.
10IHLET: I totally get it. Of all your pieces, which would you say is your favorite?
The H Lazarus: I have two. One is Dawn, Shore. This is a framed moment from a dream I had. I like it because I got very close, I think, to convey the [thoughts, feelings, and emotions] of that dream. The other is Vocalize HE. [I like this one] because I did it in a moment in which I wasn’t feeling good about my current situation. I was searching for some inner freedom. I think it symbolizes my feelings perfectly, and I think people feel the same way when looking at it.
11IHLET: How do you name your pieces? Could you walk me through that process?
The H Lazarus: Naming is a delicate matter. In naming, you risk changing the perception of the viewer to your personal point of view on the piece itself. So I try to outline some words that can be evocative or coherent in respect to the essence of the painting. But I try not to be too precise…too exact. I believe that a work of art has to be sufficiently open to the [sic] viewer’s perspective. It’s in the act of observation – simply looking at it – that completes the piece and makes the work come alive. I think that a good piece of art stops time. [Artists] welcome the viewer during the process while slowing time.
12IHLET: Emotion seems to be a key component of all art. If I were to ask you three emotions to summarize your work, what would they be?
The H Lazarus: I’d say…sense of wonder. Then, the feeling of a long journey. Then, a bit of ambiguity.
13IHLET: I dig it. I see that you follow and appreciate many other artists on Behance. Are there any in particular you follow closely?
The H Lazarus: That’s difficult. Let’s see. Zdizlaw Beksinski. James Jean. Jeremy Enecio. just to say three, but there are many more. Jeff Simpson is another. Mark Ryden, Jeff Soto, Etam Cru, Odd Nerdrum, Nick Alm, and so many more.