Interview with Artist Marcela Bolívar

September 30, 2021

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Russell Dickerson has been a published illustrator and designer since the previous millennium, creating works for many genre publications and authors. He has also written many articles for various organizations in that time including Apex.

Marcela Bolívar’s exceptional work once again graces the cover of Apex Magazine. Over the five years since our first interview with Bolívar, she has created new and fascinating works of art, finished her post-grad art education, and moved to an entirely different continent. 

APEX MAGAZINE: In the last few years you moved from Colombia to Germany, which seems like a big cultural difference. How does that change your day-to-day life as an artist?

MARCELA BOLÍVAR: My day-to-day life hasn't changed much, I must say, especially now that I am juggling so many projects and staying at home because of the pandemic. It was, however, a pretty drastic change in 2017 when I arrived to begin my master’s studies. Everything was new and exciting. I was meeting new people almost every day and learning so many things via the German culture that my brain could barely keep up. Not only with the influx of artistic inspiration, but the academic side and learning a new and complex language. My last days back in Colombia were a feverish state of working hard to save money, applying to countless graduate schools, attending German courses, and trying to maintain my artistic career. When the goal was achieved, another whole set of new goals and unexpected challenges arrived. These challenges led to some of the happiest years I’ve ever had.

AM:  In our second Apex interview back in 2017, we talked about how you created masks and crowns. Is that something that you still do, either to use with your illustrations or separate pieces? Overall, has the move changed the materials or props that you use or create?

MB: I haven’t made any new props due to lack of time, unfortunately. I’ve made all sorts of sculpted details for my personal images and for the series as part of my master thesis. I’ve discovered some new materials in Germany that I am really excited to try out! I am looking forward to making something related to Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” Let’s see how it goes!

AM:  One of the reasons you moved to Germany was to finish your post-grad art education. What drew you to go to college for art, especially postdoc work? Are there differences in the kinds of pieces you create in those programs versus your personal or published works?

MB: I am an art nerd, I guess. I love to delve deep into my inspirations and discover how themes I deemed completely disconnected from each other have influenced all sorts of artistic spheres for years. I have to say, my parents are academics and researchers, so something of that must have rubbed off. The academic route, even when fascinating, is not for me, though. At the end of my thesis, I felt a raw urge to create in a purely hedonistic and daydreaming state of mind. The difference between the pieces I create when I am conceiving a series backed up by a profound investigation is vast. It tends to nurture itself from esoteric connections and definitions, and it’s hard to keep the inspiration going when you feel it is not justified in some way by your academic research. But it gives you—and has given me—an incredible array of new ideas that are waiting silently and patiently in my sketchbooks.

AM: When you look at your cover piece for this month’s issue, “Entropic Garden,” compared to your other works, has the move and/or education altered your techniques? Has your overall vision for the types of art you create now or want to create in the future, changed?

MB: “Entropic Garden” is a very painful image for me. It was pure catharsis because otherwise, I would have driven myself insane. So I have to say that my state of mind radically influences the way that I express myself, not only regarding ideas but workflow. That’s why I can say my workflow has changed in these years, and that’s because even living in uncertainty, in Germany I found peace and inner conviction in my work that didn’t exist before. Of course, there are good and bad days, but the new things I’ve learned have driven me to experiment with more and better equipment, to search for my own materials, and slowly leave behind bad habits while recognizing what I do best and make it greater.

AM:  In our very first interview five years ago, we talked about using collected art websites like DeviantArt and social media platforms. How have those platforms evolved over your career so far, and are there reasons you prefer certain platforms over others? What advice would you offer new artists about the role of the web in their careers, that maybe has changed over that time?

MB: I feel I neglected my social media presence while I was going through my masters. I had a warped and misguided sense that everybody had forgotten about me. This was scary, finishing my post-grad education and beginning from zero in another country. It’s a shame that I felt that way since I did my best to keep everyone updated. But the feeling that if you stay silent you’ll disappear is real in the internet world.

I can’t give any serious advice on the use of social media though. I don’t pay attention to algorithms and insight charts or data. I show my work wherever I want and any artwork I feel like goes with my mood on any given day, regardless if it is new or old. Of course, I wish I had more new things to share. But I understand now that what I do takes me more time than other people, and that is okay, that’s how I work, that’s what it takes from me.

I decided to quit DeviantArt after almost 18 years for security reasons. But I rarely visited the community there. Other artists I follow are already on Instagram or Twitter, sites that I use instinctively and without much care. I feel, however, that Twitter is a bit more chaotic and that you can repost images into the sea of information. Having said all that, I wish some days I could disappear from the internet and not be affected by it.

AM: We sincerely hope that you don’t disappear from the internet, we would miss you and your inspiring work! Thank you, Marcela, for another insightful interview.

Follow @tropicalgloom on Instagram and Twitter to see more of Bolívar’s art and make sure to visit her wonderful gallery at www.marcelabolivar.com.

 

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© Russell Dickerson

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