Decoding the phenomenon that is being a Little Monster from the mouth of a Little Monster: Artist Helen Green on her work, her passions and her idols.
“This actually hasn’t sunk in. I can’t really describe how I feel… I actually can’t…” artist, Helen Green, writes in response to the fact that Lady Gaga has just launched a search party all over the Little Monster Empire to find out just who has created two pieces of fan art she’s spotted. “I’m just going to post my next drawing as normal… drink my coffee… then freak out some more…”
|The magazine- style fan art like the ones spotted by Gaga|
Yes, Helen. It is insane. Yesteryear you would pick up a pen and write a long fan letter and ponder if the artist would even take the time to get back to you. Today, you can contact a megastar the same way you would ask your best mate to go for coffee. It’s a perfectly standard situation, especially when it comes to social networking genius Gaga.
At last count the Queen of Twitter had amassed over 26 million followers (an updated count likes to appears now and again in the media, alongside the latest personal photograph.) It’s a phenomenon that has been adopted by others but never quite reached the spangling heights of Gaga’s crazy hats. Just why do these fans feel so intense about her? “I think she's inspired people of all ages to accept themselves for who they are and be stronger, braver people,” Green explains. “And I think her fans are so loyal to her because she's loyal to them and respects them.”
Above: Gaga asks her fans to identity Helen's work Below: Headlines from the press.
For the fan, the use of art (and fiction) has brought them closer to their idol often by immersing themselves in the world of the subject but, as Green points out, it has also allowed them to explore their own unique avenues of creativity. “I started making fan art during high school, while I was into drawing people. Back then I was just interested in drawing photo realistic portraits. They were skilfully drawn, but they lacked character.”
Green is renowned for character injected into every celebrity portrait she draws, a fact she attributes to a preference to draw from candid photographs rather than edited images. “I'm easily bored of drawing the over used, iconic images that so many people have seen and interpreted. I like to draw from raw, understated images,” she states. (And credits American painter Elizabeth Peyton for her exploration of fragile and vulnerable subjects.)
Green’s Gaga collection perfectly illustrates this: in several pieces, Gaga appears broken, mascara exaggeratedly runs from her eyes and words such as: “I’m not going to cry anymore” and the wickedly ironic “I’m going to be a star” sit alongside. Perhaps this is why Gaga is such an excellent subject for Green, her ability to convey raw human emotion in videos such as Bad Romance and Marry the Night fans love seems to match Green’s mantra.
Yet, while fan art has clearly given Helen a way to explore her own artistic direction, it has also given her a platform in which to reach her own personal goals. It is clear she wishes nothing more than simple self-improvement.
Helen posts her art on her blog everyday. “For my blog, I wanted to give [fan art] another go since my work had matured and massively improved over recent years,” she says simply. But surely posting on a daily basis must be difficult? “I didn't really know how long I’d commit to it. I've filled two sketchbooks and I've not long started my third, and I can see from start to finish there's a gradual improvement in my drawings. It's not so difficult to stick to, in fact it gets easier. The practice has made my drawings become more effortless and natural.”
Determined and talented. Is there anything else Ms.Green has left to turn her hand to? “Ohh I would LOVE to be able to design my own clothing line!” is the gushing reply. “ I love bold prints, and I've always imagined having clothing or accessories with an all-over print kind of like my Gaga backgrounds. That would be so cool…” (Of course, she has already kick-started that vision by selling her own artwork on t-shirts.)
Fashion is clearly something Green is passionate about. Alongside Gaga, she has opted to continually draw strong female muses, including several high profile models such as Charlotte Free and Daphne Groeneveld. (“I'm usually drawn to their image, the way they express themselves. Sometimes it's their persona or character that I'm interested in” she says.)
With this in mind, might it be time to pose the ultimate dilemma for the girl inspired by all of fashion, art, music and film? If she had to choose one cultural muse for life, what would it be? “It'd be either fashion or music, because I feel like they inspire me equally… but I'd have to choose music. I feel like singers and songs inspire my best drawings.” Somehow we think Gaga would concur.
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