California-based artist Bunnie Reiss joins us for 1xRUN’s 2020 International Women’s Day Print Suite, featuring her first ever letterpress edition Nature’s Cosmic Force. A lifelong rebel, Reiss first joined us back in 2015’s wildly diverse Alchemy, curated by Monica Canilao. For these unique prints Reiss created this design specifically for International Women’s Day to pay homage to “strong, smart, beautiful women who have worked hard for us and given us the power to continue building.” These vibrant hand-stamped letterpress editions also mark 1xRUN’s first split fountain letterpress editions, available in two ombré color variants. Read on as Reiss tells us more about the story behind her debut RUN, her earliest influences and advice for aspiring artists.
1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this image?
Bunnie Reiss: I created this piece specifically for International Women’s Day to honor not only myself, but all of the strong, smart, beautiful women who have worked hard for us and given us the power to continue building. This image falls within my larger body of work, where I continuously explore the cosmic world, nature, historical representation of women, symbology, animals, and mythology.
1x: Can you tell us more about that body of work?
Reiss: My current series is titled Cosmic Vacation, and discusses other dimensions and what they will look like, how we will exist, how nature will play a role, etc. It’s an exploration of the inner workings of my brain and the cosmos, but also of my imagination. The character I drew for my print release lives in this other world, and represents a type of femme mythological creature that communes with nature and the elements. I often rely on my imagination. I feel that it’s the key component to building not only things you want, but things you hope for. Without hope, you have nothing, so I often try to express that type of hopefulness across all of my work.
1x: Tell us about your execution of this image. What materials were used and how long did it take to create?
Reiss: This was a large ink drawing (24″ x 36″) on archival paper. I was really interested in doing a letterpress and figuring out a way to add color. I loved the idea of an ombré affect behind a simple line drawing.
1x: What were your earliest interactions with art growing up?
Reiss: I was a super wild child, so art was an outlet to keep me occupied ;)
1x: Who or what was a prominent figure that played a role in your formation as an artist?
Reiss: I grew up in a family without other artists. I often felt like I lived on an island surrounded by lots of people. My imagination was my inspiration, and it wasn’t until I was old enough to remember the things I saw in museums for that to have any kind of influence. When I say I grew up as an artist under a rock, I’m not kidding. I still feel slightly blind to contemporary art, and I don’t always know what people are talking about. I just paint what I see in my funny brain.
1x: What are some of the biggest challenges to being a working artist?
Reiss: I’d like to say that my life is hard, but it’s honestly not. I do what I love, and that’s all I can really ask for. But I do think you have to really fight against the fear that you might starve. I work constantly, for the pure love of creating, but also because I have to pay my bills. I work with the deep gratitude that I get enough support to do what I love.
And despite what our current internet world tells you, none of this came overnight. I have been working for 20 years on my career, and to be honest, I feel like it only just started 5 – 7 years ago. You must fight for what you want in this world, even if you’re tired. And the fighting needs to be with every ounce of your compassion and understanding. You have to work the hardest you’ve ever worked, and then work even harder. But that’s the fun it all, right?!!
1x: In what ways is the art industry becoming more (or less) accepting and equitable for women?
Reiss: Is this a trick question?
1x: What are changes that you would like to see?
Reiss: I would like to see free healthcare and education for everyone. Imagine a world where you could be healthy and smart for FREE!!!!!
1x: What does a balanced art industry look like to you?
Reiss: Until we abolish the 1%, we will never have a ‘balanced’ art industry.
1x: What artists inspired you in the past? Who are some artists that inspire you today?
Reiss: Louise Bourgeois, Remedios Varo, Margaret Atwood.
1x: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Reiss: Work hard, slow down, be nice.
Follow Bunnie Reiss on Instagram – @bunnieluvrocks