Stanislava Pinchuk, known as MISO, is an artist, working between drawing, photography, tattooing & installation. Her work focuses primarily on data mapping conflict territory through textiles. Born in Ukraine, she currently works between Melbourne & Tokyo.
Interview with MISO
How do you describe your work to others?
I’m really, really terrible at that! I suppose I don’t work with words, to begin with… So I’m always more interested as how someone else might describe it, instead!
Do you have a preferred medium?
Usually pin-holes on paper, but also drawing, installation, tattooing, photography, design. All sorts, whatever they let me do.
How do you begin new work?
Because my work takes so long to make, I really plan a show in my mind pretty much in full before I start the works. There are always little changes and ideas that make it in as I work, but most of it just comes from the sketchbook scribbles and notes.
Do you tend to work in series or do you see your body of work as a continuation?
A little bit of both, but mostly a continuation. Especially working between mediums, there’s always a bigger sensibility that ties it all together, I think.
What do you use as reference material?
Do you work intuitively or more consciously?
I feel very conscious of what I make from the start, I think. My work needs a lot of planning before I begin, so I like to be quite clear about what I want to make before I begin.
Do you aim to create the finished piece exactly as you envisioned or enjoy allowing it to develop organically?
Maybe it’s boring, but I really do envision them from the beginning! They’re such laborious works, that it’s hard to work otherwise.
Where do you create?
Ideally, in my studio. It’s so nice to stretch out across a big table and have your own space. But I also do travel a lot, so I’m quite good at adapting and working wherever I have to.
Do you have a studio ritual to start the session?
Not at all. I’m not big on routine. Usually I just get in, put on music or a recorded lecture, turn my phone on silent and get to work.
You travel a lot for your practice, does this affect your processes? How does it influence your work?
I think travel definitely impacts on process really heavily – for better or for worse. Having to adapt to a space, at short notice, in another city and make good work quickly and confidently can be stressful – but I’m getting more and more used to it. Sometimes, I feel surprised by how differently I work in new circumstances – which can be a really good thing! But overall, I guess being lucky to travel a lot for work is a really huge influence – just in terms of being able to get to all sorts of museums and galleries, studios and meeting all sorts of people. I think it changes my work really quickly, and sometimes the distance from being in your studio makes you really articulate new influences and ideas to yourself, so when you get into the studio, you’re just ready to make all the things you’ve been thinking about! Sometimes that distance is really good.
What’s your favourite music to work to?
It really depends on what I’m making, what time of day, the mood I’m in. I play music all day and night, and I’m so nerdy about it, so really – there’s a lot that gets played! Lately, a lot of Moon Duo, and other bands on Sacred Bones records. Also, a lot of Eden Ahbez and Mulatu Astake, and Washington Phillips. Lou Reed albums have been a big part of the studio rotation when my studio buddy Sean is in. I’ve also been getting through Iggy Pop’s BBC6 radio show – it’s really nice to have someone with a similar taste in music keep me company and play me songs I like.
Do you enjoy coming up with titles?
No! Not at all, even though they’re so important for my work! I make little notes on the side when I make a work, and refine it a little bit as I go. I recently saw a flyer around my neighbourhood for an ‘Artwork Naming Service’, which I think is maybe a joke… but it sounds pretty good to me.
There are many elements to your practice with the variety of mediums you use, your tattoo work, and your commercial work that sees you collaborating with high profile brands. I’m interested in how your practice has evolved to where it is today?
Little by little! I never went to art school, so a part of me always feels like I’m playing ‘catch up’ – trying to learn new techniques and processes, because I never had the facilities to experiment like most artists did. So as a result, I think I just sort of pick up new things and try to teach myself as much as I can, and now I’m starting to realise that’s actually how I really evolved to do all the disparate things I do as one practice now.
What’s your favourite part of creating?
Every part of it..! Every single part is really, really good.
What advice would you give to your emerging self?
To stop worrying about all the extra blabbing, and just focus on making really good work. I was always really sceptical when people told me that when I was a bit younger… (they didn’t have to worry about paying their rent!) but I’m really starting to understand it now.
Have you ever worked with a mentor?
No – I’ve never had a mentor, or anyone close to that. But I would really like that – I’ve been really wanting someone like that in my life.
How do you alleviate the down times?
I’ve been so busy in the last while, that when an exhibition is over, it’s almost a relief… because there’s so much other work that’s been on a back-burner while I work on a show. So I guess maybe that’s a part of it? I’m not good at being lazy, or having time off – so keeping the momentum going keeps me together! But working across different mediums really helps too.
What defining moments have you experienced within your practice?
Hopefully the best epiphanies are still to come!
What is the most memorable exhibition you have seen and why?
Last year, I was so struck seeing the Tracey Emin retrospective at the South Bank in London. I’ve always been a huge, huge fan – but seeing so many works together, in a chronological procession really affected me. I was so struck by how much she’d given of herself, and how entwined she was with the work, and how confidently and un-apologetically she showed herself. You really need to be fearless to do that.
If you could ask any artist any question, what would it be?
I’d really like to ask Jan Van Eyck about the Arnolfini Wedding portrait.