Lili Arnold is 33 years old and lives in Santa Cruz, California. She’s a mother to an 8 month old boy, Rocco. Her husband, Rocco, and their two dogs enjoy living in the forest and being close to the ocean. « There is so much natural life to be inspired by here ! », she says. Thanks to Instagram, I’ve been in touch with her and I’m so happy she answers my few questions in such a generous way.

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Mel : Hello Lili! How would you describe your art? 

Lili : My art is inspired by nature and created in a representational style; it’s not super realistic but instead is inspired by texture, color, and interesting shapes of various plants. Because I make block prints, each line is created from carving out of a rubber block, so it’s reductive rather than additive. It’s a very tactile way to make art; so much of my process involves using my hands and body in often repetitive ways. I enjoy the ability to make multiples, something I’ve always loved about printmaking. This way I am able to create many prints from one block, each one being slightly unique because every print is made from an individual inking.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by nature above all else. I love going to the nursery, or a botanical garden and absorbing all the wonderful shapes, colors, textures, and compositions of flowers and leaves. It’s amazing the diversity in the natural world…I will never run out of subject matter! I am mostly inspired by unusual plants, or plants that have large colorful flowers; it’s always a fun challenge to interpret what I see in nature onto a 2D surface. I’m also inspired by traditional Japanese block printing, filled with soft gradients and flora that feels alive. Though I don’t use the same materials as traditional printmakers would, I would love to travel to Japan and learn from an artist practicing with those methods and materials today.
What is your favorite technic?
It is what is called the “jigsaw” method, which means I cut out pieces from my carved blocks to create a puzzle of differently inked pieces which when assembled and printed turns into a multi color print with just one pass through the printing press. I love using gradients in my work, so most of the flowers I create end up with a radial gradient of ink. It’s always so fun to experiment with color and to see how the different colors look when blended on a roller.
What is important to you today?
What is most important in my life now is my son. He is 8 months old and developing so quickly! Every day brings about something new with him, and I don’t ever want to miss a moment. Since having Rocco, my work life has become a little less dominant in my life, but I still love having a few free hours to print and work on new ideas. I also look forward to the day when Rocco is old enough to start experimenting with art; we will probably start with finger painting, and then eventually I can teach him about block printing! I feel very lucky to have the flexibility to spend time with my son throughout the day and also keep working at home as much as I can. My husband really helps to make this all possible by also helping me with my work and taking time to be with Rocco throughout the day.
As an artist, what advice would you give to other artists who would like to communicate about their art?

I would encourage any artist to follow their inner voice and stay true to themselves. I think in this modern era of social media and the “hustle” culture, often we can be persuaded to do what is “trendy” or will get us more attention, but unfortunately following any trend can take away from being unique and authentic. If an artist has the opportunity to follow their own path and make what they personally feel is the most gratifying work, then I encourage them to pursue that. Sometimes there are hard moments, or disappointments, or frustrating projects, or what we might think of as “failures”, but everything is part of the learning process and if you can just keep going and believe in what you’re doing, I think you will maintain deep personal fulfillment.

Interview by Mélanie Billaud

Scroll through the images below to discover Lili Arnold’s artwork :