The Sparklin’ World of Mandy Lyn Ford
Welcome to the sparklin' world of Mandy Lyn Ford, her paintings deconstructed and thick with paint (some are covered in — yes, you guessed it — sparkles).
The works of Mandy Lyn Ford fuse a delicate balance between a tomboy and her femininity. We had the pleasure of visiting her where she creates: a square-shaped, white-walled studio, with floors that had clearly been intimate with paint. Mandy had a smile on her face upon our arrival and we were drawn to her independent spirit and friendly tone discussing everything from parents, childhood, art school, her artwork (her inspiration to her thoughts as a woman artist). We were anxious to ask about her paintings, sparkles, and uncover all we could glean from her.
MANDY’S PARENTS & CHILDHOOD
Have you always identified yourself as an artist as you were growing up?
"I actually did not think it was a 'real job' until later. When I was in 12th grade, my art teacher showed me catalogs for art schools."
Mandy is based in Los Angeles, but is a New Jersey native, and a New Mexico transplant. Her parents raised her with Christian values and the only art-related influence around during her childhood was a collection of her father’s Norman Rockwell books.
Her next impressions of art were formed by comic strips, which her grandma would save from the Sunday newspaper. She indulged in the stories and visuals. She knew then that she wanted to make comic books when she got older, but never imagined how this would influencer her.
She soon started to draw her own comic strips and realized that she also had to become a good storyteller for them to succeed. Later in life, she switched from wanting to be a comic strip artist to pursuing a career as a creative writer (a skill that stills pays off because today’s artists have to be more diverse than ever, creating written content for almost everything they submit to galleries and museums). It was not until she was in high school that she started to take art seriously. She owes it all to her high school art school teacher, who saw some talent and told her about art schools she could attend. Despite this, she still battles the idea of 'art as a real job'.
"I don't even know if it is a 'real job', I don't know that it's a job at all."
What is defined a 'real job' can be taken either way, but for Mandy's is used with a slight sarcasm. She believes that a real job is clocking-in and clocking-out, while her art is a deeper purpose than a 'job' – it's a sense of fulfillment.
After high school, Mandy attended New Mexico State University to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She stayed in New Mexico because she got a scholarship, but says she "ruined it" because she had no idea what art school was like. Her parents didn’t completely agree with her decision to quit because their desire for her is to, "get married and have babies." Mandy, however, has always had different plans for herself. To pursue them, she realized she had to move out of their house. It was during this pivotal time that she started to paint. She covered her studio apartment with more and more of her paintings and used it as a workspace while she worked odd jobs to pay rent.
"I was living in a college dorm type place, but not officially through campus. A lot of people came through and I had my paintings hung up around my room. Those who came through provided a lot of positive feedback and that’s where it started – the idea of becoming an artist."
Between that time Mandy moved to Albuquerque to continue classes at The University of New Mexico. She continued painting. Just as she had found her niche she decided to move to California. From there, she applied to different programs and finally landed at University of California, Los Angeles, where she finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She feels that UCLA provided a good basis in theory and access to quality professors who had an expanded perspective of the art world.
As a female artist do you feel any pressures to be a certain way?
"I think if anything it may possibly be an advantage in a way. There are still less women artists than men artists."
She says that being a female artist today brings some advantages. With so many shows that are strictly meant to highlight female artists, they give her a greater chance for her artwork to be seen. Women are still in the minority, however, when it comes to the perception of someone pursuing a career as an artist. There are less women artists being represented and when she goes to modern art museums she is inspired by the female artist's work she sees. It has created the mentality that it is possible (as a woman) to be represented in a museum.
where does your Instagram handle @bettyscreams_ come from?
"It has this endearing memory attached to it, because it was an inside joke between me and my friend Audrey in High School."
Mandy and her friend Audrey created the name @bettyscreams_ one day, inspired by the Emo kids on Myspace that had their hair slicked over their eyes dramatically. They decided to make a fake account (as Emo as possible) as a joke to see how many followers they would get. So they made their Myspace name bettyscreams101 as a fake account. Eventually the name stuck and years later, when she made her Instagram account, she used the same name. Ironically, it has brought some confusion for some, as many think her name is Betty.
What is some of the best advice you have received that inspired you?
"The best advice I have ever received was from another artist, Eric Sal. He told me to, 'make sure the photos of your images are really good because, as an up and coming painter, people are not going to be coming into your studio.' I’ve seen a lot of shitty images of good paintings and vice versa. That is just the bottom line."
Eric Sal she mentioned to be one of her favorite artists that she is not only inspired by herself but aspires to his work ethic. We asked Mandy a few more questions on the type of artist her inspiration derives from. Paul DeMuro, Bret Slater (specifically his use of bright colors and appropriation of everyday objects). Taking from the inspiration of those bright colors, Mandy's works use various colors while being anchored with strong white and black contrasts. The use of colors is sometimes a surprise, she admits, as she works in layers and many times they are wonderful surprises. Her use of lines and geometric shapes are juxtaposed with the fluidity of the thick cake-like surface. Many of her recent works include kitsch glitter, but she mentioned that it is because of the negative opinion of glitter in the fine art world it has attracted her to it as a legitimate medium. While some may view her glitter as merely decorative, it is a stroke of true independence as an artist to create as she pleases. It is in this strong power we were attracted to her work and believe it is that same spirit behind all her paintings that make her truly unique.
“Get shit done.”
Mandy is more focused and determined than ever to work on her art and 'get shit done'. Her coffee mug in hand (with this mantra) is what reminds her to keep going.