Reilly Stasienko is a bright young artist based in Ohio who is going through life without a head – more on that later. Her drive and compassion shines through her work, both digital and physical paintings, which have become quite popular on her social media accounts. She has also been at work with music collective Loft 219 on creating their first EP. Stasienko is a gifted artist who just started painting not too long ago,suggesting an exciting and prosperous future as she grows older – and she has already made large stride since our previous interview. Today, we released a shirt collaboration with Stasienko in our shop, which you can check out here. Each purchase supports Stasienko as well as our company. Please read our interview below that gives more insight into Reilly’s work, the idea behind our shirt’s design, and the future of her art career.
Since we’re releasing our shirt collaboration together, can you start by giving me some background on the meaning of the design you made for it?
I received a piece of advice from an artist friend / mentor and ever since it was told to me, it’s been a sort of mantra for me whenever I feel overwhelmed. It was early June, I sat in his studio for one of our monthly meetups for long conversation and advice on my work. He had some overly-caffeinated tea from a farmer in China, but he didn’t have any way to brew it correctly. So, we were chatting and waiting for the herbs to settle on the bottom of our glasses so we didn’t accidentally drink them. I was talking about how I was stressed because I didn’t know if I wanted to go to school for painting or for something else. I was fresh out of high school and freaked the hell out. I told him this and he then asked what my gut said to do. After a long pause, I told him that my gut said for me to go for painting. He then laughed and looked at me and said, “See! You just have got to go through life without a head. Go with your gut. Go with your intuition. Don’t question that. Then, life is easy.” It’s so simple, but it stuck with me. I’m going through life totally decapitated at this point, but it feels right. I’ve got a lot of gratitude for those conversations.
You’ve been making a lot of digital pieces lately – the shirt design was made digitally. How do you approach creating a new digital piece in comparison to starting a new painting? What freedoms and restrictions do you see when comparing the two mediums?
Digital pieces are quicker. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of ideas of images I want to make. So I’ve been doing it digitally because I can achieve those ideas quicker and keep the flow going. When I have ideas of pieces that I think would look a lot better as oil paintings, I’ll pursue it on canvas instead of on the iPad. With the iPad, I’ll just start drawing with a preconceived idea of what I want and I’ll see where it goes. I do that occasionally with painting, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of preliminary sketches and studies before going to the canvas. I think oil painting’s restriction is time. On the iPad, you can just press undo or erase it, while painting has a lot more factors. Texture, color, etc. So, when you want to change something, you have to take all of these factors into consideration. Everything’s interacting with each other in oil painting. Everything has a relationship on canvas. Digitally, things can easily be changed or manipulated.
You recently tweeted that you ‘just want to paint on [canvases that are] 48×60 or larger,’ but implied that you’d be unable to sell pieces at such a size. Is it the size of the piece or the price you’d have to sell it at that makes it hard to sell?
Both. Moving paintings is an ass and a half. I don’t know how I would ship a large canvas like that safely yet. That’s something I’ll learn with time. A painting that size would be expensive, I haven’t met anyone yet who would pay for a large canvas like that. I’m still going to paint that large, though, because I’m not really painting to make money right now. I’m painting because it’s fun and working that large is fun.
Besides larger canvases being fun, would you say that smaller canvases are more restricting? Do you feel like you have ideas that wouldn’t work on a smaller scale?
I think sometimes I tell myself they are more restricting. Then, I look at artists like Dali and his small paintings and how he achieved a level of intricacy that you think would require a large surface and I realize that me telling myself that is an illusion. It’s something I’m working on.
I know you have a big appreciation for music and that you’ve been working on making some lately. How does music impact your artwork?
I’ve been making little things for myself for practice – nothing crazy yet. Loft  however, is working on an EP called Honey right now, it’s going to be groovy and I’m really stoked for it. I’m never really working on art and not listening to music. The melodies, different instruments, lyrics, etc. It all will work together to produce different moods for me. Different moods produce different pieces of works. Some artists I’ve been listening to a ton recently are Babe Rainbow, Lonnie Liston Smith, The Grateful Dead, Jerry Paper, Orville Peck, and Prem Joshua. All real good things to bliss out and work to.
Can you tell me bit more about Loft’s Honey EP? I know you guys have been teasing it occasionally and that you’ve been in a transitional phase as of late.
I don’t really wanna say too much about it other than it’s in the works. We are working on some video projects to go along with the EP. Those are real fun. The transitional phase for Loft 219 was a bit of a hard-hitter. We bounced back though and are all working to make content. All things are teachers in some way, shape, or form, and I think that taught us to have a bit more patience with projects and with existence in general as creatives.
And besides Loft, do you have any new personal ventures that you’re excited about / look forward to sharing?
Totally do! I’m slowly teaching myself animation. I’ve been playing with clay and 3D material, so hopefully I can get ons some sculpture projects soon. Working on a few t-shirt designs to sell. I want to expand the merchandise side of my art, so I’m working on a personal website for selling stuff and for having all of my work in one place. Hopefully I’m going to have that out by the end of winter.