An Interview with Lisa Norris

MilspoFAN: Tell us a little about yourself.

Lisa: Well, I’m not the most exciting person in the world. I’ve been an Army wife for over 13 years now, and even though we’ve had our ups and downs like any couple, I still love my life as an Army wife. We’ve been fortunate in the sense that we’ve been stationed in some of the most beautiful bases. My favorite will always be JBLM (Joint Base Lewis-McChord). It is both our first and latest military installation. Although I will say Fort Wainwright Alaska does come in a close second, especially in the fall and winter with all the birch trees and snow. Fort Hood Texas was nice; a lot more rain and thunderstorms than expected, but I love storms, so it was a bonus.

However, I will say being back in JBLM has been a blessing to our family. The majority of my relatives live within an hour’s drive North (depending on I-5 and I-405 traffic). Many of my husband’s relatives on his dad’s side reside south of JBLM, so reconnecting with them has been such a gem. We have 2 kids, and seeing them interact with extended family has been the best feeling ever.

MilspoFAN: How did you become a Digital Artist?

Lisa: Funny story; I started doing Digital Art because I was bored. We were stationed in Fort Wainwright, and it was our first winter. As some people may know, it gets extremely cold in Alaska during the winter months, and there isn’t always a lot you can do outside when it’s -60 degrees. I had no idea what to do with myself, so I picked up my tablet and just started browsing through my app recommendations. I found a few free art apps and decided, having nothing better to do, to give them a try. Granted, I didn’t own a stylus or had any experience in Digital Art. At the time, I only did some sketching very rarely. But as soon as I saw all the tools available in the apps, and a few free tutorials on YouTube, I started getting into it as just a fun side thing when the kids were down for naps.

Now, at the time, I was really getting into indie gaming. I was always amazed at the leaps and bounds Triple A gaming was making with its technology in design of characters, world-building, and story plot. But indie gaming was catching up fast, and in some ways had started to expand in ways Triple A never would (to this day I still believe this wholeheartedly). I was amazed at all the creativity and artistic talent coming out of the indie pc gaming community. The one game that really influenced me was Microcomum Survival of Cells. From the design of the cells to the color pallet of the game as a whole, it truly hit me in a way I wasn’t expecting. It’s not even a high graphic nor overly complex game; it’s the design and calming feeling it gave me that created this love for it. Ever since then, I’ve been creating this fluid-esk symmetry-based art with contrasting colors. Only recently have I stepped out of that 7-year art style bubble to expand my creativity into realism and whimsy.

MilspoFAN: Describe your creative work and aesthetic.

Lisa: So, I technically have 2 types of creative works. My first is my original style using symmetry. For some reason, it was where my brain defaulted to when I started working on my tablet. I just had this compulsion to create perfectly symmetrical art pieces with intense contrasting colors to really make it pop. I think it’s because no one was doing that in Digital Art, and I felt this medium was perfect for symmetry art. I had seen people do it with car paint at custom body shops, but not how I wanted to do it. After several years, I realized that the contrasting colors could create a 3D effect that wasn’t easy to achieve in other mediums without some kind of computer/digital enhancement and rendering. If you use Chromadepth 3D glasses, it allows the colors to pop even more.

My second style is something I started exploring around the middle of last year. The idea of trying to escape the black hole of symmetry and contrast color combo was becoming more appealing to me as Covid continued to micromanage our lives. I had hit a wall in my creativity and needed to find something completely different from my original designs. I took to Deviant Art and allowed myself to fall into the well of artistic creativity to find inspiration. Through all the incredible art styles and unique pieces, I realized I could create something in the realism realm, while still maintaining an aesthetic that I had cultivated. It did take me almost a year to truly find the right balance between the new and my comfort spot, but I feel like it has greatly opened my creative imagination.

MilspoFAN: How do you meet other artists or plug into local art scenes when you PCS?

Lisa: Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Digital Art as a medium is still underappreciated in many circles of the art world. There are Traditional Artists – whether it be painting, photography, sketch, or sculpting – that still believe any form of Digital Art isn’t worthy of being considered Fine Art unless you start with a physical piece and add digital enhancements later on. We’re still mocked, called frauds and cheaters, looked down upon, and excluded from many art museums, exhibits, and competitions. We tend to connect mainly online because that’s the only place we can be taken seriously as artists. Facebook, Instagram, Deviant Art, Amino, etc. are places we can get together, share art pieces, give critiques, and build friendships. All this means that I haven’t been able to really be a part of a physical art community. So PCSing really hasn’t changed my ability to meet other artists or get involved in local art scenes, mainly because the local scenes I lived near didn’t really have a desire to invite Digital Artists.

MilspoFAN: What is your most practical piece of advice for other artists?

Lisa: There is no one way to do something, and there isn’t a box each medium needs to fit in. Art is completely abstract regardless of the medium and intention of the artist. In the end, it’s always up to the audience to make their own conclusions on what an art piece makes them see and feel individually. Art is true raw freedom of expression and understanding of whatever era it was created in. Allow your raw/unedited feelings and emotions to permeate on whatever you are working on. It doesn’t matter the medium, the style, the colors, the composition, any of it. What matters is to just make whatever makes you happy, the story you want to tell the world. That’s all that matters.

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