Liv Ranfelt, Artist and Painter
For Liv Ranfelt art is not only what she does, but who she is - it is a part of her identity. With a powerful need to constantly create and evolve through her work, Liv brings together multiple concepts that not only reflect her personal experiences, but also point out societal issues.
In this interview in our Time For Creative Souls series, the incredibly talented artist Liv Ranfelt shares the journey that led her to discover her passion for art, sources of inspiration for her work, thoughts behind her signature style and advice on how to find the creative voice that is hidden within us all.
To begin with, could you tell us about yourself and the journey that led you to discover your passion for creating art?
I was born in Århus in 1987. I was always very creative as a child, but people around me didn't believe there was money in it, so for a part of my life I nearly gave up on a creative life and shut down all those creative processes. I went to school and put my mind to building more of a standard life. Luckily I found myself in a situation completely free from all ties, and so I decided to chase my dream and move to Copenhagen to study fashion. It was tough, but I'm happy about it. During my education, I got the amazing opportunity to work as a designer in Guangzhou, China, while I traveled back and forth to Copenhagen to finish my degree in sustainable fashion.I've always loved art and especially abstract art. I painted a lot when I was a child and actually had Water Lilies by Claude Monet as a curtain. This way, art was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes in the morning. I think that was the best thing in the world - that I could begin the day by daydreaming off into art. When I moved back to Denmark from China, I felt that I had to find a way to get my heart more involved in my work. That is why, when in January I was at the Museum and saw an exhibition with Picasso, it was like finding a lost love. I immediately fell back in love and found that part of myself that had been missing. I went home and found some old sketch books I had made a few years back. I also took out all my painting equipment. Since then I have painted almost every day.
How did you come up with your signature style?
I have always loved Picasso, Matisse, Claude Monet. I think that art and fashion are very connected. In fashion, you see things that inspire you, and when they touch something in your soul, you take it to a more modern approach and give it a contemporary expression. This way there will be parts of yourself and your inspiration in every piece of clothing, every piece of art.I am very inspired by people and human thoughts. How do we communicate as humans? What parts do we feel we must keep to ourselves? Do we feel that we lose something by revealing our deepest thoughts and fears, or is it these thoughts that create the urge to express creatively? Do we really see each other in the modern world, or are we too busy ourselves to be present with each other?
My style has been developed through analysis and interpretation of what inspires and touches me. It is a combination of my thoughts and the message I would like to tell in my paintings.
Liv Ranfelt surrounded by some of her graphic art pieces
What is the most challenging part of creating graphic abstract art and what you do in general? How do you overcome these challenges?I think that the biggest challenge for me as an artist is to approach creativity with a child's curiosity. As we grow up, we overthink the process. The pressure to be successful can limit the process of developing as an artist and a human. I try to stay in it by following my intuition and doing things I feel are right and not overthink it too much.
And what is the most fun part about what you do?That I wake up every morning and love what I do, while I have the opportunity to express my feelings and thoughts.
Where do you seek inspiration for your artwork? What drives and motivates you to create?
Inspiration is everywhere. It can be a structure in a door, in the sky or a conversation. My phone is full of pictures I've taken everywhere I go. My emotional life is also a driver. I simply can't stop creating. It's so deep within me, this need to create. I feel there's something missing in me when I don't express myself through art. Painting is a process for me to express my deepest feelings and questions about myself and society around me. With the line on the paper I can tell the story I can't put into words. Afterwards, I look at it and try to understand.For instance, my picture “Times go by” is full of faces looking away from each other, I thought about how we are so busy that we do not really see each other. We all sometimes have our eyes closed towards one another and do not try to understand the people we meet on our way. The three watches symbolize time. There is a watch where the numbers are at the bottom of the watch and one where the time goes wrong. This to me symbolizes how time is abstract and how time slips through in between our fingers. The clock that works correctly symbolizes attempting to live in the moment and looking around to our fellow human beings. The arms are the attempts to reach out to each other in order to connect, but also to grab time in order to stop it.
Are there times when you feel “stuck” creatively? How do you deal with such moments?
Of course there are times when I feel stuck, but lately I'm so full of ideas that it's difficult to keep up. I actually have five notebooks full of sketches. If I feel stuck and need inspiration they're great to look through. I don't think I'll make it through all of them in my lifetime.
Can you tell us more about your process of creating art? Do you have any special rituals that help you along the way when painting?
I'm a morning person and my creativity is best in the morning. I usually get up at six to seven in the morning. I put music on like Billy, Sinatra or music in that style as it is quiet music that creates some good frames for my creativity. I think a lot before I fall asleep and the same when I get up, so at that time my thoughts and feelings are very clear which gives me a need to create. If I have a lot of things to do in the morning, it can be hard to reach back to that space where I can create.
Behind the scenes with Liv Ranfelt
We noticed that besides creating pictures, you also develop fashion collections. How do the two art areas of your work overlap? How does your interest fashion influence your painting work and in reverse?
There are many ways the two areas cross each other. In the process of developing art, I sometimes feel that there is something missing or wrong in the painting. Then I can go back to my design background where I look more analytically on the elements and try to figure out the problem in the expression. Conversely, in the designing, I can also use art to express myself in print detail textiles.
A sneak peak into Liv's work within fashion design
Could you imagine evolving your work more in the direction of fashion and start producing clothing collections?
It's actually a big dream of mine to combine the two things and creating a concept where art meets fashion.
Do you have a piece of your work that occupies a special place in your heart, the one that you have a special connection to? The one piece that has a very special story behind it?
It's a good question, I think every picture has a special place when I give them a piece of myself, but if I have to choose one, it must be "Soul". The picture captures very well what I tried to express. It was also the first bigger picture that I sold.
What are some of your professional dreams and goals and upcoming projects?
I have a lot of plans, but the most important thing for me at this point is to create more awareness of my brand and become more established in the market.
How do you manage working for yourself and staying focused and productive?
Every day I have so much I'd like to do. Therefore, I usually have a plan for the work I want to get done every day. To achieve it all, it's important that I'm focused. I remember that while I love being creative, it's a job like others and therefore there's a lot of practicalities involved in getting the work done. In the end, you have to sit down and do it.
Liv's art perfectly compliments any interior
Many fear to be more creative, as they fear being judged and misunderstood. What is your best advice for others that can help them discover their own creative voice and speak up with it?
My teacher used to say that if you looked at a final product without finding things you could do better, you would stop your own creative development.We all have heroes of our craft. These are people we deeply admire, because their work moves us and challenges us to be better at our own. Their voice comes through loud and clear in their work. However, they weren't born with a creative voice to speak up with. It's a process of trying and failing and through it getting better and developing a creative voice. I think my best advice is to overcome fear of failing, but instead see it as a process to get better and stronger and through it find your voice.
Last but not least: We love your Instagram feed - what are your best tips on creating an outstanding account?
Thank you so much, I'm so glad you think that. My advice to others would be to have a style that makes you happy and follow your instinct and decide what you want to communicate and stick to it.
What Instagram accounts do you turn to for inspiration?
I really like the Instagram account of inthefrow. She is the ultimate girl boss and a total perfectionist. Her universe is so inspiring to me.Martin.tardy. His lines are super inspirational to me and create the wildest oneliners.
Elenagual.art. Her interpretation of portrait is so beautiful and I can only recommend checking her Instagram account out.
Thank you so much for the interview, Liv!
➸ Head over to Liv Ranfelt's inspiring Instagram account to keep up with her beautiful work
If you liked reading about Liv Ranfelt, you might like our interview with the French, Copenhagen-based photographer Joséphine Löchen or our conversation with the Danish artist Bettina Holst.