Just above Building Block‘s flagship in Chinatown lies a studio freshly occupied by Lilian Martinez and her other artist friends.
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago graduate said she had just handed off a painting for an exhibit.
Earlier, I texted the artist to see if we were still on for 1 p.m. She replied in a fashion similar to her abstract work: ”Hey :~) ya.” Upon meeting the 30-year-old artist, I call her Lil in reference to our emails. Rather than shaking hands, we hug. Just like that, we’re already akin to her moniker BFGF.
Drake’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” plays in the background while we both stare at her 40″ x 30″ painting titled “Drake Eating Salad And Her Shoulder Is A Mountain” featuring the musician himself. Lil asks if she should move the painting for a better photo opportunity.
Lil paints palm trees, The Simpsons, basketballs and other common subjects. The Chicago-native’s pieces are minimal and natural, but noteworthy through its familiarity. Her work is Cave of Forgotten Dreams meets Henri Matisse’s Fauvism. She prefers muted over bold colors. Her favorite hues are greens, lavenders and periwinkles, but not purples. She strays away from maroons. The skin tone of her figures are either beige or mocha.
Lil’s items from bathing suits to woven blankets are available for sale online. The cotton, 71″ x 53″ blankets are $175 each. The 17″ x 17″ pillows go for $80.
Here is what Lil says about her art brand and musings.
KG: Have you locked in a design or work philosophy for the moment? If so, what is it?
LM: I like to work hard. There is something comforting about it to me. And I try to only work on projects that I feel positive and excited about. Design for me is about finding the perfect color combinations and composition.
KG: From this point on, how do you plan to develop your brand? How do you want to grow as a person?
LM: I’m really excited to see how digitally made textiles progress. I think that this will really inform the way my brand develops. Most importantly, I want to continue to make pieces that I feel good about introducing into the world.
KG: What were some initial setbacks upon creating your work on many mediums?
LM: When I first started BFGF, digitally woven and printed fabrics were not as easily accessible.
I think the desire to create in this way existed in a lot of people. Now it has become a lot easier to navigate.
KG: How do you draw inspiration? Has your procedure changed from the last few years?
LM: I love going to museums and seeing the texture and palettes on works. I’m also very inspired by nature and ideal settings and objects. I used to be more inspired by the internet because there are so many great visual references. But now, I really have to see and experience things in person in order to draw inspiration from it. I’m still inspired by the internet, but in a very different way.
KG: How long have you lived in L.A.? What has changed about your initial perception of the place?
LM: I have lived in L.A. for two years. I discovered that it’s the areas that surround L.A. that I love the most: the desert, forest and ocean. It’s great to live in a city with so many resources, but still be close to nature.
KG: If you could create a piece for anyone, what would it be and to whom would you give it to?
LM: I would make a painting for the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. It’s one of my favorite museums.
BFGF is currently showing a painting in a group show at Wayside Gallery in Downtown L.A. The exhibit will be available for viewing until Sept. 4.