Lise-Marié Clarke, a pun-loving graphic designer from North-West University in Potchefstroom, is our next graduate series instalment. Her self-promotional corporate identity ‘Here I Ham’ is a perfect Fresh Meat fit. Lise-Marié’s body of work is a play on visuals inspired by an unconventional, mashed-up and often hilarious take on reality. She likes limbs, body parts, intricate details and flesh coloured tones. We interviewed her to find out more.
How and why did you become interested in graphic design and illustration?
I was interested in illustration for as long as I can remember. As a child I always entered drawing competitions at school. I would say that’s where my love for illustration developed. My interest in design evolved with my love for illustration.
What do you enjoy, or alternatively dislike, about it?
I love illustration and design because you can get lost in it, especially in the detail. It’s also therapeutic, it’s as if my illustrations express the wild thoughts that flow around in my head. There is a sense of freedom involved when I illustrate and design, the rules may be broken and sometimes when breaking the rules something completely different can be discovered.
How would you describe your style of work, and what influences it?
I work in a detailed, satirical, awkward, vector- style with undertones of abstract grotesque and macabre features. I am very passionate and fond of horrors and thrillers that result in strange dreams. It is these dreams that influence my work most of the time. But it’s part of a process and it is only when the conceptualization of a project is clarified that I refer back to my dreams. I also have moments when my mind runs away with ideas, these moments usually happen just before I go to bed; this is when I come up with my ideas and concepts.
There’s something quite fun and a little crazy about your work. How would you agree/disagree?
My work is absolutely crazy and a little bit strange. I derive the greatest pleasure to play with people’s minds. When someone looks at my work, it is most of the time a case of: what is this?, and then when a person realizes what it is, he / she will want more, but at the same time want to look away. It’s a case of I do not want to look, but I want to see more.
Was studying Graphic Design at NWU what you expected it to be? Has your perception of the field changed since your first year? – And if so, how?
My perception of the field has not changed much. I knew what I was getting myself into.
What’s the best piece of advice you received while studying?
The best advice I ever received was from my design and illustration lecturer Richardt Strydom: “Assumption is the mother of all fuckups, RESEARCH your shit.” The importance of research will always stay with me.
Which of your creative projects are you most proud of and why?
The project which I am most proud of is my final year illustration project called: Mufspul. The goal of the project is to raise questions surrounding the ‘abject’ and the object. This subject is addressed by the use of human bacteria and the transformation thereof into cheese.
In this work the abject is transformed into an object by using human bacteria, found beneath the toes of the chosen subjects, into the object by manipulating the bacteria into cheese. Thus something that is seen by society as intangible and useless is transformed into an actual object that can be touched and packaged as a product.
Thus, the abject is transformed from being socially unacceptable bacteria into a product, ready for mass consumption and consumer culture. The context in which the abject appears makes it more appealing and socially acceptable. The abject no longer poses a threat to society, but rather blends in as a product ready for consumption.
The female body, which is also seen as an object by society, is put in a reversed roll where the form is seen as an abstract abject used as the source of the cheese as well as a representation of her socially structured body type. The object represents an idea, which has been formed via a social construction. Each body represents a shape, and therefore is objectified.
Although this bacterium is the reason for people smelling bad, this bad smell is somehow acceptable in regards to cheese. Bodily smells, which are the products of these bacterias, are highly frowned upon, although they translate effortlessly into cheese. The context of the abject creates a blurry line between the socially constructed ideas we have surrounding human bacteria and hygiene.
In the artwork Mufspul I am constantly playing on the interpretation of the abject as an object and the object as an abject.
You’re a pun queen – how does this relate to your visual work?
I quite like the title of a pun queen. Puns make my work so much more exciting, and vice versa. It is as if one would not exactly exist without the other. I’m also very fond of using innuendo in my work.
And please explain your ‘meat’ obsession.
My meat obsession arose just after I finished with school. I was hipster enough to go and work in a butchery for a week. I got extremely fascinated by the raw meat and carcasses. It was a grotesque experience.
What are your plans for 2015 and beyond?
My plans for 2015 are to further my studies. I’m going to do my honours degree in art history while I would also like to learn more in the field of multimedia design. I would also like to broaden my interest and knowledge in photography. Unless somebody sweeps me up to go and work in Cape Town.
Where can we stay updated with your work?
You can stay updated with my work on Behance.
Self promotional corporate identity: ‘Here I ham’
‘Meat me’ book
Direct mail campaign: Swing(er)ball