Anastasia Parmson brings monochrome illustrations to the real world
Anastasia Parmson is an award-winning artist born in Estonia. She has Siberian roots, a French education and currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. Parmson graduated with a Masters in Visual Arts from the University of Strasbourg in 2009, then embarked on multiple life-changing adventures at sea, on land and in between. Traveling a lot and living in several countries of the world, she is constantly in search of belonging in unknown places, while inevitably remaining an outsider. Drawing was her way of creating pockets of intimacy and charting her place in the world.
Her work has been exhibited worldwide, including Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and MAY SPACE Gallery in Australia, Megan Dickinson Gallery in New Zealand, Tallinn Light Biennale in Estonia, Apollonia Art Exchanges in France , etc. Parmson has been featured in several blogs and publications, including Articulate, Create! Magazine, EatSleepDraw magazines and The big idea. In 2021, she received a Create NSW arts and culture funding grant to develop her most ambitious work: a site-specific art installation for the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, which was on display from November 2021 to February 2022. Parmson is currently working on several upcoming projects. In Sydney.
1. Do you consider your work to be “illustration” or “art”? Is there a difference in your opinion?
There is definitely a difference between art and illustration in my mind. For me, illustration is a representation of the outside world, of an existing subject or theme. Art, on the other hand, is the expression of something internalized, less tangible and more subjective. My work can cross both fields because the medium of drawing is also one of the main tools used for illustration. In the same way that it intersects with the fields of the object – or of interior design because I use ready-made objects and pieces of furniture as art materials and my installations take the form of domestic interiors .
People have approached me for some illustration projects in the past, but I don’t consider myself an illustrator and don’t think I have the right skills for the job. I’m deeply rooted in fine art, it’s what I know and love.
2. What is at the heart of your expression? How do you want your work to be experienced and interpreted?
The art I create stems from deeply personal memories, stories and experiences. It’s a way for me to put down roots; remind me who I am and where I come from.
I grew up in Estonia but moved to France on my own right after high school. After finishing my studies in Strasbourg, I went on an adventure to Australia and New Zealand and haven’t really stopped traveling the world since. I have lived in many places, each time having to start from scratch in terms of local culture, interpersonal relationships, even language. It has certainly been very rewarding, but has also made it difficult to find stability or to feel included when everything around you is constantly changing. So, for me, drawing is my constant; something I can always turn to to stabilize myself and find a sense of belonging. My art is a way for me to process and combine all of these experiences and express them in a visual format.
It would be great if people could experience my work in person, as an immersive installation or maybe even an interactive installation. And while the work is filled with personal stories and a few inside jokes, I’d rather not divulge most of them. It’s important to me to provide enough blank space for the audience to read their own stories between the lines. I like to hear different interpretations and references that I would never have thought of myself. Viewers reading the art expands and enriches the work after I’m done making it, and that’s the magic part for me. I hope my work can be uplifting and inspiring, that it will stimulate someone’s creativity. That’s all I could ask for.
3. Tell us about your creative journey – how has your style evolved over the years? What/who are your biggest influences?
Drawing has always been my favorite medium, since my childhood. I stumbled upon my current drawing style almost by accident: I aspired to draw in a more hyper-realistic style, in pencil or charcoal. Then one day I was in a hurry to finish some homework and was too bored and lazy to do the grayscale shading on a drawing, so I instead traced the outlines of where the lights and shadows should be with a pen. It was a liberating moment of epiphany for me. I haven’t looked back since. I love how drawing the outlines of objects and shadows can look completely abstract up close while still creating a representative image. I also like the immediacy of drawing with ink and markers, where instead of looking for perfection, you have to accept mistakes.
During my plastic art studies at the University of Strasbourg, I mainly started working with video projection and installation. Drawing appeared more as a tool for documenting and preparing work than as a medium in its own right.
My biggest influence was a college teacher who taught me most everything I know about contemporary art and who gently pushed me out of my comfort zone to a point where I could start imagining ways to turn a simple line drawing into full-scale installation art. I wouldn’t be where I am today as an artist without this teacher.
4. A work that you have created and of which you are particularly proud? Please share the details of how you designed it.
My last site-specific installation I drew a line and called it home at the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery is my biggest project to date and the culmination of many years of work. The primitive beginnings of this body of work were actually first exhibited at my graduation exhibition in Strasbourg in 2009, where I created a black and white letterbox and a television . It was during this time that I first conceived the idea of a whole piece in drawing. It took me many years, between travels, moves and other projects, before I could begin to turn this idea into reality.
5. An upcoming project that excites you… or an unrealized project close to you?
I can’t reveal any upcoming projects yet as nothing is confirmed yet, but I’m definitely working on showing my newest work to a wider audience and in more diverse places.
In the near future, I would like to present my work as a stand-alone installation module in a large exhibition space. I hope to have the opportunity to show what I mean by that very soon. And eventually, I would like to reintegrate my other favorite medium, video projection, into my work.
Many of my followers asked me about my work uniform and shoes which I painted in my black line style for my personal use. So maybe a collaboration with a clothing brand could be a fun project to get involved in as well.
(Research support by Vatsala Sethi, Deputy Editorial Coordinator (Arts))