Visual artists have four careers...early, middle, mature and posthumous. Blue chip? Or far more likely...no chip at all.
Trixie Fishstabber, also known as Sandra Ford had a good start once, but before progressing to the next stage she stopped to raise children. She drew, she sold, she quit, she raised children, and now draws again. So can she skip a step? Maybe, just maybe, the delay in her career allows her to skip right to mature, and yet retain the fresh, experimental, child-like traits of an emerging artist.
No thesaurus can really describe her work. It is certainly "other-worldly" or more appropriately "no-worldly." Ethereal as ethereal can be, and in an endearing way. These are not threatening images, but at every glance they are odd, and remain so after seeing a good number of her drawings. Sandra Ford seems both at ease with nature and a world which doesn't exist, and she excels in sharing her personal visions of a world which lives somewhere in between. One can debate the meaning of "visionary" or "self-taught" as Sandra does in our interview, but I do not think one can question the popularity, appeal and acceptance this artist is likely to receive.
Every work shown here is pencil on paper, though she also paints and has experimented with other materials. Most are quite small, but she has worked larger. She sells her work on the web and social networks, and it is not uncommon for her to receive an extraordinary number of "thumbs-up" for every image she posts.
I interviewed Sandra to learn where these delicate, curious drawings come from.
Well, we certainly should start with your name, and where the handle Trixie Fishstabber came from. Do you spear fish?
Nope, I don't spearfish, but I fish, a lot. And I love making up strange names, usually for others, but one day, Trixie Fishstabber came to me and I instantly knew it was my alter ego, my AKA. Trixie is my mischievous side, she's the one who sneaks in the rear door of the carnival side-show. We have the exact same sense of the absurd, she is a light hearted free bird who loves downtrodden underdogs, anthropomorphism and juxtaposed emotions and hates the mundane...Sandy is the name my friends use, Sandra Ford; if it's all business. The duality is entertaining and efficient, Sandy grows a garden, bakes bread, forages and practices Qi Gong, she is serious and sensitive. It's a good balance.
When and where did you start drawing?
I started drawing in High School. But I did not relegate drawing to just art class, I drew weird cartoons and passed them to my friends in every class and I got into trouble daily and the next day did it all over again. Finally a counselor informed me there was no way I was going to graduate with an A in Art and failing almost every other class. So I quit high school right after that, the decision was a no-brainer. This took place in Southern California.
I know you did some earlier illustration before taking time off to raise a child. How did that sabbatical change your drawings?
Yeah, wow, it is hard to describe what it was like sitting at my drawing table surrounded by all the art supplies I had stockpiled over the years. The day of reckoning; was it still there? Could I get the flow back? Would I be any good? It took nearly a year of continued practice and then it came and what a nice surprise to find how much I had matured, that I had the patience I didn't have before and the patience is what allowed me to fine tune detail and take complexity up a notch. But that first year was frustrating too and extremely overwhelming.
Did you take art classes? You indicate being "self-taught" and I wondered what that expression means to you.
Good question since I recently read through a long forum debate about what 'self-taught' means. The rather arrogant input into that discussion was that you could not have any outside influence what so ever. Well, that's ridiculous, I'm not out to invent crayons or discover a new color and I don't live in a cave... so to me it means I don't have a Masters of Art, I took art in high school. That's it. If I want to oil paint I have to figure it out from square one. I like having that challenge and the freedom is exciting but on the down side, I spend a lot of time in that learning environment making mistakes and sometimes wondering how an art education would have influenced me or more likely, corrupted me.
The "Comic-Con" movement seems huge. Do you see your work fitting into the cartoon and illustrated book movement, or are you rather seeking a "fine-art" place. Is there a difference?
In all honesty, I had to look up Comic-Con. I only had a vague idea of what it encompassed. Hmmm. I suppose my work could fit in that genre, I will have to learn more about it. I really like the idea of illustrating my own weird little book or someone else's. I think I am leaning toward the lowbrow side of fine art. I don't really know, I have had experience working with fine art galleries when I was a curator for a lithographer in Santa Fe and the whole experience left a bad taste. I disdain elitism and the fine art world thrives on it and people make a LOT of money. I don't see myself participating on that level if I want to live with myself and my ideals. So, with an open mind, I reckon I will find a niche most comfortable and obscure, but I am not in any hurry!
Your work, which I find very hard to describe, seems cute but profound, childish but unique, even just plain strange. Where does it come from? These are not real creatures, but they don't have an alien feel either.
The recesses of the mind, somewhere between the right and the left. I call it 'drawing organically' for lack of a better term. I start with an eye and from one eye the creature emerges. It is rare for me to use reference and rarer still that I have any idea of what I am drawing until it is finished. I snicker to myself a lot during the process. If get the same feeling that I had when I was four and went on some of those bizarre children's rides at Disneyland, I know I'm on the right track.
I have read other artists writings about the subconscious flow, some of them think they are tapping into universal energy. I don't know about that, maybe it's just about shutting up some of the left brain to get into a quiet trance akin to meditation. I ponder it frequently especially when I draw something I know I did not know how to draw before, and I just did it like it was no big deal. It is incredibly mysterious, it's a city built of curiosities and populated with idiot savants, kinda fun but scary. It's where weirdos hang out in Detroit warehouses and try to force feed ice cream to their hapless and stupid looking victims... it's almost insane to try to pinpoint anything about it.
Sandra Ford communicates at TRIXIEFISHSTABBER HERE, the artist's blog. She currently sells available work her online ETSY shop HERE.
Sandra Ford (Trixiefishstabber) Drawings 2010 ( A, E, F, G) Collection Jim Linderman
Sandra Ford (Trixiefishstabber) Drawings 2010 (B, C, D) Collection of the Artist