Q&A: Laura Hapka
From February to March Los Angeles is jam-packed with art festivals. There is so much art we can’t help but explore. One such festival, stARTup Art Fair, takes over the Kinney Venice Beach Hotel by converting their rooms into mini artist pop-ups. In addition to showing their work, the artists are booked as hotel guests. This is where we discovered Laura Hapka’s artworks.
We were captivated as we entered her room. Her beautiful display of art looked like shattered money covering the hotel bed. Struck by how unique it was and our engaging conversation, we asked if she would talk to us about her artist journey.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Northern Minnesota on a potato farm, nine miles away from a town of 600 people. My family still grows potatoes, but the farm moved further north, to an even more remote location, since the original family farm was purchased by Enbridge. I still go back at least once a year to visit family. I frequently miss the big sky and tranquil countryside.
You have a non-traditional artist path. Describe your journey as an artist?
In High School I was advised to choose a major before going to college. I have always excelled at the arts and truly wanted to go for a Fine Arts degree but, being from a small remote farm town, I chose a field that was safe and still involved art and design: Landscape Architecture. In Fargo, at North Dakota State University, I received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design. Post undergraduate school, I worked as a Landscape Architect in Boston for a bit before I returned to North Dakota for an MBA at The University of North Dakota. I then moved to California and worked in various positions in Real Estate Project Management. I do not regret my college choices and enjoy working in the design and construction project management fields, but I needed that creative outlet. I took additional art classes in painting and photography and gradually met full-time artists and learned from them. I got an art studio and first showed my work to the public in 2015. I have worked hard to build a body of work and momentum since then.
We love your "Money Chrome" and “Texture” series of paintings. We know you don’t use any paper; tell us a bit about the process of creating these series?
I create abstract paintings through the manipulation and layering of acrylic paint. My paintings are composed of hand-painted acrylic that is altered once removed from an encaustic surface. To create my Money-Chrome Series, I mixed shredded United States currency with acrylic paint, that was shredded with a mechanical shredder. The coloration of the paint changes per piece and I tend to use metallics to signify other currencies. For my Texture Series, I shred, by hand or by a mechanical shredder, painted acrylic. I recently started to print on the paint before I shred it. For both series, the manipulated paint is applied in multiple layers with acrylic medium onto a painted wood surface. My newest series, Process Series, emphases the part of my process that I use to create sheets of paint, which is essential to all my artwork.
What are you most inspired by?
I am going to sum this up with a quote from Ray Bradbury, because it is so true! "Ideas excite me, and as soon as I get excited, the adrenaline gets going and the next thing I know I'm borrowing energy from the ideas themselves." My focus is typically ten steps ahead of what I can produce. This, as you may suspect, is both good and bad. It is good in that it gives me time to weed out what may not work and I never lack for ideas to try in the studio. It is bad because I tend to move on too quick, but I am aware of this weakness and I try to correct as needed.
If you had any piece of advice to give artists just starting their careers what would you say?
Yes, get yourself into a position to meet the leaders in your art community. It may take a while for people to know you and your art. I am still working on this. Also, be business oriented. Start early on a system for organizing your artwork details and photos.
What is next for you?
I am expanding my three newest series: Process Series, Texture Series and Money-Chrome Series. I want to use all three series to put together a body of work about women's liberation, but in a subtle, indirect way. I am also looking to add neon and large-scale acrylic prints to my texture work.
Interview by Diane Lindquist