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Life & Work with Lisa Roy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lisa Roy.

Hi Lisa, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Since I was a child, art has always been a meaningful part of my life. My interests through the years have evolved, and my focus has shifted from painting and jewelry making to photography and sculpture. However, art hasn’t always been my main career; rather, it has grown from an interest to a passion.

I spent 16 years working as a hairstylist, before deciding it was time to focus all my energies on my true passion, fine art. Eventually, I was able to pare down my time in the salon when my photography business started to take off. In 2019, I decided to stop working in the salon so that I could focus on my pursuits as an artist.

In recent years, my photography portfolio has grown both in volume and subject matter. I have always enjoyed photographing people, and over the years, I have shot hundreds of weddings, newborns, and high school seniors. I particularly love shooting weddings. I know that years down the line, many couples wouldn’t remember many of the details about their day if it weren’t for the photos they have to look back on. Sure, shooting weddings may be stressful at times, but it is one of the greatest honors as a photographer to be trusted to preserve these precious memories.

Seven years ago, I moved into an artist community in Minneapolis–a move which allowed me to focus more on fine art photography. I started focusing more of my photographic energies on landscapes and cityscapes to capture the beauty of our city. Additionally, living in an art community has opened up new opportunities for art shows, collaborations, and connections that have provided an avenue to connect with diverse audiences, further fueling my shift into a career as a career artist.

Collaborating with my neighbors has also expanded my interests in other media. In 2019, I took a job assisting the late, Minneapolis-based sculptor, and my friend and neighbor, Aldo Moroni. Initially, Aldo had a five-year plan for a project detailing the history of Mesoamerica that I was going to help with, as well as a big public art commission for twelve bronze sculptures of historic Minneapolis landmarks for a permanent street-side installation in southeast Minneapolis.

About one month after I began working with Aldo, he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. At that point, the job transformed, and I spent the next year, his last, working side-by-side in his studio as his apprentice, soaking up all the knowledge I could from him. Aldo was very passionate about giving back to the community and mentoring the next generation of artists. He wanted to make sure the knowledge he had gained from his extensive 45+ year career as an artist was not forgotten, and I was lucky enough to be the person he chose to carry on his body of work. I am forever grateful that I had this opportunity and was able to learn a fraction of the artistic knowledge he had.

Today, I share studio space in the California Building, where I am a managing partner for, and working artist in, Aldo Moroni Legacy Studios–a fine arts studio which functions as a working gallery, a venue for arts education, and a collaborative artist space. In its first operational year, the studio has found success as an arts incubator, and has resulted in three arts collaborations that have had three public art proposals successfully funded.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I wouldn’t say my journey in art has been the smoothest road. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and the bumps in the road are what shape the person you become. I also think that every artist, at one point or another, struggles with the fear that their art won’t be good enough or liked by others. My solution is to just keep creating and arm myself with the knowledge that it’s perfectly fine to create something not everyone is going to like. Just create something you like and the pieces will come together as they were meant to be.

The pandemic is one of the biggest challenges I have faced in recent years. The last two years were tough on everyone; there’s no doubt about that. Fortunately, things are getting better: art shows are coming back, weddings and events are happening again, and we are finding our new normal.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
It’s been quite a journey to get where I am today. When people get to know me and learn of all the things that I do, they’re usually surprised. To me, the journey from stylist to an artist is not a leap at all. My time in the salon not only provided so much insight into the complexities of human behavior and interactions, but also highlighted the fundamentals I use daily in my practice in the arts: color theory, composition, perspective, value, and more. As a stylist, you need to envision the whole picture before you execute the cut, and that skill is essential as an artist.

My exploration of color and value is evidenced in my photography. One of my favorite times to shoot is during the “blue hour,” which is just before or just after the sun sets. During the blue hour, the city lights have been turned on, but the sky still has color, which casts the city in a beautiful light.

I also like to photograph during or right after a fresh snowfall. Whether we love snow or hate it, we live in Minnesota, so we’re stuck with it. Several years ago, I decided to embrace Minnesota in all of its beauty, snow and all. Fresh snow acts as a natural reflector bouncing soft light all around, creating enchanting scenes begging to be captured. I have developed a significant body of work featuring winter weather. In fact, one of my most well-known photos was taken on a January afternoon during a blustery walk across the Stone Arch Bridge.

My art is also heavily influenced by architecture. We have so many interesting buildings and bridges in the Twin Cities, and I love incorporating them in my fine art photography. Additionally, a large part of my work with Aldo centered on carving architectural sculpture, and the techniques and skills from that exploration have strongly influenced my craft. Though I am still finding my “voice” as a sculptor, I do have a vision, and I look forward to making it a reality.

What does success mean to you?
Happiness is my key to success. If you love what you’re doing, you are already successful.

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