DE: Tell us about your experience with art school and your choice to pursue an art career outside of a “traditional” program.
Theresa Baxter: It wasn’t really a choice – I’ve always only liked one thing.
I actually completely failed at art school. I did a semester at Cal Arts out of high school and promptly got myself into trouble because I couldn’t handle it. I tried to go in Vienna too, but never got in. My favorite thing to tell people is that I got rejected from the same school that Hitler did, which is exactly what happened. My degree is in Psychotherapy and I still might like to go back and get my masters in art therapy once ALL(MOST) fails.
What inspires your art? Do you think your background in psychoanalysis influences your work?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. I love Egon Schiele, Botticelli, Los Angeles, vintage porn – but mostly my own life, and the badass women in it.
I did a lot of dream interpretation and symbol interpretation when I was studying psychoanalysis. I believe that so much of how we move through the world is determined by who we our to ourselves; what our bodies and habits symbolize to us. I also had this dream once that I was literally drowning in my own hair when I was heavy into Freudian symbol interpretation…I won’t bore you with what I thought that meant, but it definitely made me fixate on hair as an expressive part of the human body.
Ultimately, it’s hard to talk about concrete ways that psychoanalysis influences the work I make – art is such id function that dissecting what it means can be reductive. I think most people make art to express the things they can’t define or talk about…it’s a method of reshaping your internal library of symbols, and changing the way you see yourself and how you fit into the world.
What would you label as some major themes in your work?
I like exploring the female body (I’m just starting the feel like I can approach the subject of the male body…I drew a penis the other day and it felt so wrong, but it shouldn’t) and the sexuality that always comes with it. Bodies aren’t always sexual from the inside…but no matter how I pose them they look sexual. That seems weird and backwards to me.
I use my work to heal my own pain and shame around just being alive – I like finding and championing the beauty in the stuff they tell us we shouldn’t like. Sooo…feminism I guess? Humanity? Boobs? You choose.
Your art contains sexual/sensual imagery would you consider your art sex/ body positive?
Quite a few people have told me they find my work to be like sexually aggressive or shocking. I think we’re just so used to only seeing naked women portrayed passively in art that when their bodies are in motion it reads as aggressive. Bodies move though, that’s what they do; and this movement isn’t always sexual or sensual. I guess I’m more interested in normalizing the body than I am in making statements about sex / body positivity. Although both things are great too.
When did you start All(most)?
We moved into our building last November, but I’d been planning and scheming for about a year before that. I’ve always daydreamed about having something like ALL(MOST) – a space that can transform for all our creative endeavors.
What is your goal with the space?
To provide open-ended, accessible creative space to all the amazing makers and artists in Los Angeles. There are too many barriers to entry into the art world, we’d like to not be one of them. Also I like money, I haven’t made any yet, but I’m still holding out hope that I’ll be able to make rent soon.
Tell us about the type of events you’ve thrown.
We’ve done so many weird events; we’ve had indoor jungle booths, bouncy houses, car shows (yes with real cars inside the building), gallons of fake blood, glitter (duh), live music, DJ’s, art shows, comedy shows etc. etc.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of your career?
Figuring out what it was.
How do you manage it all?
What’s your proudest accomplishment with All(most)?
The fact that it’s open. The learning curve for starting your own business is STEEP. Everything is hard, but it’s all worth it and it’s all fun if you can find ways to make it that way.
Where do you go to feel creative?
My couch with my dogs in my studio. I love being at ALL(MOST) honestly – I like hearing people doing stuff outside my door. We also have coffee so that helps
What do you envision All(most) becoming?
It’s definitely not realistic right now, but I’d really like to buy a big plot of land in LA (I have my eyes on La Brea tire across the street), preferably with some cool historic buildings that we’d have to revamp, and build a perfect little creative commune. Like maybe it would be a cult, but probably just a collection of micro businesses and art studios. I want some outdoor areas for music events and sitting on grass. Definitely a coffee shop. I love the community that has sprung up around ALL(MOST) and I just want to expand that in exciting and unexpected ways.
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Extra cheese and pineapple.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Tapioca pudding is gross and you guys should stop eating that.
Theresa Baxter is an illustrator and graphic designer based out of LA. She co-owns (ALL) MOST Studio in the heart of LA. In her free time she can be found watching Buffy with her two dogs. For more information about (ALL) MOST Studio click here. Check out Theresa’s personal website here. This is her instagram.