Chiara Bautista is not like everyone else.
Chiara creates art for all of the right reasons and none of the wrong ones.
She doesn’t create art for you and I. She has created an entirely private visual narrative between herself, and her muse, Ilka.
Her work is pure.
We have been mulling this feature and interview in our head for about a year, and we weren’t quite sure how to go about it. We would have done it sooner, but we have been thinking very deeply about her work during these many months, as her work is very complex, and to a certain extent she is the most beautifully complicated artist we’ve ever known.
Her narrative illustrations are similar in many ways to a classical tale.
It is a classical story, but like so many works of literature, it’s inherently doomed.
A quote from one of her paintings “Oh my Deer:” –
“I’ll die the day you find me… & I’ll die the day you die.”
When you look at her work, you are not looking at simple paintings or illustrations, you are looking at the visual embodiments of her lovenotes to her untouchable, and unattainable muse. Ilka. We’re told he reciprocates this creative process with complex and elaborate stories created only for the two of them, which she in turn illustrates.
Their relationship is the artist and muse relationship, but on a rather drastic and epic 21st century twist. The relationship has completely existed online, and has never been on natural, face to face or physical basis.
The Tragedy of Milk and Ilka, has existed for years, with one of the earliest works being signed in 2005, it’s heartbreaking visuals seem to only escalate with every passing year. She deeply misses someone she has never even met. Their love is impossible, and that’s the way they want to keep it.
Chiara’s work is some of the most virally traded imagery we have ever seen in all of our years involved with viewing art on the internet. It is often posted uncredited, or without any analysis, “as is”, but usually with a link to her only known digital repository of her work, a Myspace profile.
Chiara is the most secretive and ellusive artist we have ever talked to. To a certain extent she is even more secretive than Banksy, as she has granted very few interviews and very little is known about her.
We were enthralled with her imagery and we were hungry for more information, so we dug deeper, analyzed the work and finally were able to contact her. What we found out was both mind-blowing and heartbreaking.
We spent quite a long time talking with her, about how little information is released about her, and the concept of the “muse.” We suspect our name (Urban-Muse) and similar sensibilities is why she was keen on granting us some of her valuable time.
We found she was of Mexican descent, and currently works as an illustrator for a Arizona newspaper by day.
We asked her about standard artistic rubrics for success, Fame, Money, Shows, Fans, and Prints.
We found that Chiara is absolutely not interested in making art for any of these reasons, her work is pure, and is created for her own personal benefit, because she needs it on a deeply personal level. The corrupting factors of commoditization, commercialization, and asking money for the work does not factor into her artwork at all. By this token, she is again unlike any other artist we’ve ever met, who even as the most minute levels acknowledge these kinds of things do affect them.
Her imagery is a incredibly dense tapestry in which she has woven so many iconic, and often commonly exploited devices that her work is at the same time overwhelming, and overjoying. Instantly the work hits you like a ton of bricks. It often can make you feel very sad, and almost as if you can feel Chiara’s heart breaking as she cuts herself wide open for the world, and her Ilka to see. Most people might see it pop up on their computer screens, click “like” admire it for a moment, and then close the browser. But there is so much more, and her work can take on new meanings over time you look at it.
Common themology/methodology, is of course the beautiful sexy heroine in a bikini, (presumably an extension of herself), Deer Horns/hooves, tentacles, the squid girl, arrows piercing her skin, little dead skeleton birds, broken hearts, subtle freckles, lucha libre masks, words/phrases, little bears, rifles (the hunter), swords, rain clouds filled with blood, tears, the word sailor, jets, planes, hair in a innocent double bun, drugs, pills, needles, alcohol, blood, the word malamor, bells, royalty, a certain repeating cross emblem, technology, wounds, wings, the number 777, bondage, death, certain key dates, earphones, lyrics, and MUSIC.
We feel the music themology is absolutely key, and again even the word “Music” relates to the theme of the “Muse,” (The Muse, Musing, Music, Museum etc).
In nearly every piece there is a strong relation to a specific piece of music that obviously has a deep specific meaning to Milk and Ilka. And the songs are even rendered as titles in iTunes or the actual icons themselves. You can listen to the track on iTunes and reimagine her work in that context. Again in that way this makes Chiara’s work incredibly unique, and adds even another level of depth to this dense and beautiful imagery.
We finally were able to track down Chiara, and ask her a few questions, and what follows is her response in her own words. This feature, and this interview are likely the most in depth you will find in the entire world.
Urban-Muse: Are you really as elusive as you seem? 😉
MILK: That made me smile :).
Urban-Muse: When and why did you start to create art?
MILK: I’ve always liked drawing and painting, and since I was a little girl I knew
I wanted to work on something related to that field. I have a bachelor’s
degree in Graphic Design and I’ve worked as a newspaper illustrator for
almost 12 consecutive years. As for my personal work, I create the
illustrations in order to work as part of a small conversation and use them
to express something I can’t find the right words for. After more than a
decade of condensing big amounts of text into single images on a daily
basis, I find using visual communication as normal as any other language. We
can say things through music, words and actions. I’m one of those who like
to say it using figures and colors.
Urban-Muse: Can you tell us about your illustrative process?
MILK: I have a very messy work process. I would have to say that from the
beginning until the end of the illustration process I’m always sketching. I
never start working from a final sketch and I’m always making
alterations when I’m vector tracing. I move, add and delete elements
while working, change details, move arms, replace hands and heads. To me,
it is like dressing a mannequin for a window display, or writing a letter to
your loved one. You go back, read again, replace some words with others…
The main element is there, I just rearrange the rest of the stuff around it
until I’m happy with the final result, until it says what I want it to say.
Urban-Muse: Your work seems like it would really translate very well into a solo show
via paintings or prints, is this something you’ve considered?
MILK: I really enjoy painting, but I have an evil work schedule that doesn’t leave
me enough free time to work on a canvas. I’d love to do that full time
though. As for the prints, I’m in the middle of a website
construction, so I can sell prints of my work through it.
Urban-Muse: Who are your influences?
MILK: The list of people I admire is way too long. My inspiration comes from
books and music, mainly from reading what Ilka writes to me. He is my
muse and my illustrations are a reply to his stories.
Urban-Muse: Can you elaborate more on your usage of music (and digital media files) as
elements of the work? Do you pick a song and a image is born from that?
MILK: I really like music. I’m usually listening to music while I’m working
and most of my day I have my headphones on. I think we all have a song
we love because it remind us of a great moment, or a track we avoid to
listen because it brings back bad memories, even if the song is great.
We all have a soundtrack compilation of the best and worst moments in
our life, (at least I know I do). So I include music on the images to
provide a soundtrack to the fictional characters lives, for their good
and bad experiences, just like it happens to all of us.
Urban-Muse: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
MILK: I have lots of plans and I never seem to have enough time to work on
them. On the top of my list, I’d love to have the free time to
illustrate some of ilka’s stories and make a graphic novel.
Urban-Muse: Do you have any advice for other artists who may admire your work?
MILK: The best advice I could give is a phrase I heard some time ago and
always makes me smile because of its simplicity: “Don’t emulate,
Urban-Muse: What is your favorite album these days?
MILK: Brian Lopez – “Live at the Solar Culture-2009”
You can currently keep an eye on Chiara Bautista (Milk) by visiting her myspace.
Currently this is the only official avenue to experience her work directly from her.
You can rest assured that we will keep you posted on Chiara’s new work, her website updates, and possibly even the tragedy of Milk and Ilka.
We would like to thank Chiara so much for spending some time talking to us, and inspiring us.
– Note: Chiara Left us this link to a Mr. Bungle song.
MAKE ART. PAINT THINGS. BE AWESOME.
Feature by Curt Anderson for Urban-Muse.com