Can you tell me a little bit about you?
My name is Margot Bird. I love to travel, and love making friends in new places. I recently lived in Mexico City for a year and a half, on a self created residency, where I spent every day in my studio painting. I speak Spanish fluently and have some representation by Ladrón Galeria there, with a solo show coming up soon.
I was born in Iowa and grew up in Wisconsin. I lived in Seattle for 5 years and moved to New York 6 years ago. I love to dance.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I’ve always been making art, it started from copying my older sister and dad, who doodled constantly. I studied Entomology in school and had been struggling with whether or not I would really be happy as a scientist or not. It took me about 2 weeks of meditating on it while painting before I realized that I paint all the time and should pursue that instead. So, in a way I grew up painting and drawing and making things as if it was second nature, that it took a long time for me to realize that I was an artist making art already.
What do you like most about working where you do?
There is a skylight above me, so working during the day is really rewarding. however, because I have to keep a full time job, there are a lot of evenings that I work. But my studio is in a punk squat sort of building so there is a lot of raw energy that I feel when I walk into the building, and that travels through the halls and rooftops.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My work has definitely been transforming. I used to only paint, first in oils then in acrylics for the past 7 years. In September I began making sculptures with different air hardening epoxys and these have led into sculptural paintings, the combination between my painting practice (which I love) and my new curiosity for making sculpture. I’m exploring the erasure of class, race, and gender distinctions in my work through a playful narrative involving poodles and aliens.
What is your process like?
I sketch things out and am generally free with changing the development of my pieces as they go. I work on about 2-5 pieces at a time that are either similar or very different, but will focus specifically on one in any given moment. I’m interested in exploring more gilding techniques in my work. I also have just begun a studio practice at a ceramics open studio nearby and am looking forward to what that opens up. I’m very interested in exploring working with paper pulp. However, there will always be paintings in my studio because I love painting so much.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I have been seeing lots of memes which make fun of people who have ‘LIVE LAUGH LOVE’ signs in their house and so I’ve been interested in playing with this idea in my work. I enjoy touching subjects that others don’t want to touch, in a humorous way. I have been working on some sketches of Freddie Mercury with his pet cats, but Freddie Mercury is depicted as a poodle and his pet cats have alien heads, and that has fit into this ‘LIVE LAUGH LOVE’ theme. Also, I just recently made a piece inspired by a tarot card for this group show at Spring Break, and that was a lot of fun. I’d have a lot of fun looking towards the other tarot cards as well.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I used to paint a lot of murals and I feel like those put me in some strange situations. Many late nights, from 8pm until 2am in Manhattan, working on these walls and then heading to a day job in the morning. I painted a mural at a skatepark in Mexico City where I spent many days hanging out with the skateboarders and learning how to speak their slang.
Maybe the strangest experience was taking a job at a climbing gym on the upper east side, because they wanted a mural painted but also some signs. I would work a few hours at the gym now and then, giving people pointers on how to climb the walls, even though I had never done it before and didn’t really have an interest in learning since it is hard on your forearms and I needed my strength there for the murals.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I work at an art gallery, as a production manager and head preparator. Oh my, sometimes it is very difficult to balance a full time job with a full time career. At the gallery job I get to build relationships with other artists, makers, and doers. I used to work for Bjarne Melgaard in New York and, before that, at a plant store in Seattle, and I think often about how I’d like to go back to something like one of those jobs, more pleasant. But I don’t think that a day job has much of an effect on my studio practice except that working at an art gallery will occasionally lead to conversations with artists and curators which could go somewhere beneficial for my own practice.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I am very open to getting as much advice from others as possible, though I don’t have a specific mentor at this time. I went to a psychic yesterday which really opened up some positivity and new ideas for approaching my practice. I think the two most important lessons I keep hearing repeated are to keep working all the time and to clean your tools.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Probably the same advice as above. Keep working all the time and to clean your tools.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
Oh man, a community is so important. To have a community is to have people who drive you forward because they are constantly moving forward. There are so many curators that can be helped out by artists doing shows with them but in specifically working well with them (responding quickly and meeting deadlines). There are so many artists that have inspired me by their hard work in their studio and showing me opportunities that I didn’t see available. I guess its important to mention that love makes the world go round.
What is your studio like?
I have a live/work space so I can work at any time. My studio is a large open loft next to my bedroom. There is a large skylight but no windows so I am able to have plants but very little to no distraction.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I listen to the radio, usually NTS, and sometimes light a candle. I am usually able to dive right into my work but if I’m starting a totally new idea I will sit on the couch with Cannonball, my cat, and meditate.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Art school was great for introducing me to materials and history and, most importantly, keeping a studio practice with rigid deadlines and critiques. Maybe if I had gone to a school in New York, I’d feel differently about this, because then I would have had made connections that may have introduced me to curators and gallerists more quickly.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
l think the most challenging aspect of pursuing art is that each artist is left on their own to determine if they’re pursuing the right natural pathways that creating art leads to…for example, if a figurative artist decides to paint abstract work, there aren’t many people to yell “stop! terrible idea! your figurative work is too good to let go!’
How would you define “success” in art?
Success in art is the ability to have unlimited time to pursue it every day, all day. Anyone with the luxury of having enough wealth that they don’t need to work, still have the struggle of focus, development, and growth with their work. When an artist is able to live in the constant state of creation, that is success to me.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
The most exciting thing I’ve accomplished with my work so far is my solo show at Sargent’s Daughters! That was very huge to me and A LOT of fun to prepare for in the studio. I just had a month and a half to prepare for it, so it was a fun buckle-down and push-everything-else-to-the-side time.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
No, nothing like that other than working with others in group shows, which sometimes more than others feel collaborative.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a solo show in Mexico City. I’m really excited for it! I’m making 3-4 large paintings and lots of small paintings, as well as 3 sculptural paintings. The logisitics of it is a lot of fun. The show is set for May, though the dates have not yet been locked down.
I’m in a group show at Wassaic Projects in May too! But those works are pretty much completed.
I’m also working on 2-3 pieces for an upcoming group show curated by Michael Hambouz. We were asked to go to a psychic and paint work that evolve from that experience.
I’ve also recently joined a ceramics studio, which I had signed up for before all these shows came up, but its been a lot of fun. I’m a hand builder and have lots of works in the kiln which I can’t wait to share!
Also, in June, Eliot Greenwald and I will be creating an installation for ‘Love Henry’ in Chinatown. This will be extra fun because it will be collaborative with another artist – we are building a centerpiece together, combining both our styles into one piece.