An Interview with Lucky Rapp
We love the genius of Lucky Rapp. She is a thoughtful and dedicated creator with skills that are not immediately evident how meticulous the artist has to be. Her work with resin and typography may seem effortless, but that’s all part of the magic. Lucky creates messages within messages, because nothing is exactly what it seems. We set out to discover the stories behind her work and explore the root of what she shares: This is Lucky Rapp.
How did you come to be commissioned for the the works you did at Petit Crenn?
I was contacted by Chef Dominique Crenn’s assistant in 2010 to create artwork for Atelier Crenn. I decided to accept the commission as an opportunity to both be challenged and to work with Chef Crenn, who is a close friend of mine. My goal was to create works that were inspired by and resonated with the artwork already in Atelier Crenn, which was created by Dominque’s father. Working closely with Chef Crenn allowed me to experience first-hand the artistry she brings to her profession and her love of family. As a result, the commissioned artwork for Atelier Crenn incorporates a recreation of a poem Dominique wrote to her father and a contemporary twist on French vintage canvases. The final four pieces for Atelier Crenn can be seen in the main dining room.
What was your inspiration for this specific piece?
I was inspired to create this work in the middle of a Thai jungle during a silent meditation retreat. Each day for one hour we were allowed to take notes during a lecture given by a resident monk. While everyone was feverishly taking notes, I was designing ‘a piece of my mind’. As the monk lectured about the mind, the idea of creating a giant brain and renaming the different sections of the brain, came into my mind. Immediately upon returning to San Francisco I began work on this piece. I want people to be excited and ‘wow’ed’ when they see this piece for the first time. It’s whimsical and witty, maybe even meditative, and definitely an unusual scale. As for the songs in my head, when I created ‘a piece of my mind’ I was listening to a CD by Boards of Canada, ‘Music Has the Right to Children’. This piece was acquired in 2016.
Did you face any unique challenges when creating a piece?
A couple of years ago I created a series called ‘c’est moi cherie’. One of the pieces in that series was ‘because i just want to be loved’. I was inspired by a magazine cover that I saw at a law firm in downtown San Francisco, when I was delivering a commissioned piece ‘chill baby chill…’ for their office. The magazine cover photograph depicted a cacophony of different textures and layers of paint. I wanted to recreate this in my own language. What I disappointingly realized, was that I couldn’t peel off 11 layers of textured paint because the materials that I traditionally use wouldn’t allow the paint to peel away as I had expected. I tried everything from electric tape, wire brushes and brillo pads. Finally, I realized that it was going to take too long to sand down the pieces to show the layers of paint and texture beneath. So, I decided the final top layer of black would be imperfectly painted over the torch yellow color, allowing the yellow in the end to show through more obviously. Ultimately, fate had its own hand in the work. I had asked a friend to assist me in my process, but I skipped a crucial step and forgot to let her know that I had a new idea. In the meantime, I went into the other room to work on another large piece, and when I came back my friend had covered the entire piece in black. All I could do was laugh. I can’t expect anyone to know exactly what I am thinking or how I want to create something, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. You can see hints of trench coat beige and torch yellow in some places, and while I don’t think many people would know there are 11 layers hiding underneath, it still has an echo of more. This piece can be viewed at Playground Global in Palo Alto until mid 2017.
What materials did you use, and why these materials specifically?
When creating the artwork for Petit Crenn I knew going into the project that everything was going to be white with raised white acrylic letters. Petit Crenn’s theme was bright white contemporary and very modern. I wanted the pieces to be able to flow together and tell a story, regardless of how the works were arranged. For me, creating the work, the constructed dialog was, ‘coucou, de temps en temps, c’est moi cherie, comme des garçons.’ (‘hi. sometimes, it’s me sweetie, just like the boys.’).
My goal was to create work that felt light and playful, reflecting both the restaurant’s charm and Chef Crenn’s. The bathroom artwork, ‘les enfants terrible’ (‘the unruly children’), was specifically made in playful honor of Chef Crenn. I wanted the artwork to be both a dialogue and a story, to melt into the aesthetic of the restaurant’s interior spaces. For me the artwork has to faces. At night the pieces are warm and lit by the hanging table lamps, reflect a simple comforting mystery. By day, the artwork appears light, playful and filled with possibilities. These pieces were commissioned by Petit Crenn in 2015. They can be viewed at Petit Crenn in Hayes Valley in San Francisco.
What are people’s first reactions when seeing your work?
People’s reactions to my work over the years have been as varied as human emotions. I have had people come into my studio and laugh, giggle and even cry over my word selections. In 2001 I had a piece that said, ‘i miss who i thought you were 2001’ with a very small crown and a woman burst into tears. I think art moves us in different ways, so it is interesting and an honor to see the different reactions my work elicits. I also have had friends tell me “I don’t like your ‘inappropriate’ series” and I laugh and say “good”. We all have different reactions towards pieces. When I created my 3 scissors ‘snip, snip, snip’ for DZINE Gallery, I tried really hard to make these 40″ x 30″ x 2.5″ pieces perfect. It’s hard to have a resin pour flawless, but it was extremely important for me to deliver perfect sculptural scissor pieces to DZINE Gallery and curator Philip Bewely for their show ‘rock + paper + scissors’. After creating this series, I received a phone call and the person told me, “I had to walk away from the conversation, because the scissors were so beautiful they made me cry”. That is touching and exactly why every meticulous effort I make is worthwhile. Of course, I don’t expect that to happen every time. But when it does, it’s almost tear for a tear. It’s very moving to have impacted someone’s life positively and to have them call you to say so as much. These pieces can be viewed at DZINE Gallery in San Francisco until May 2017.
Every piece captures the essence of the designer. How would you say this piece captures a little bit of you?
I created a series called ’13 signs’ last year, most of which were realized during a personal period of heartbreak and loss. Because this was such a ‘raw’ moment in my life, I feel like this work, and the others in the series, captured the literal essence of what I was experiencing in texture and language. What I loved about it at that time was that it was a way for me to let go with words. My favorite part of the creation process was staying up late at night editing my texts and being able to laugh out loud when my graphics person in New York would write me back and say, “I’m just not feeling this one, it doesn’t have the same impact as the others…”. I had to work hard writing and rewriting to get it to where each piece felt perfect. Another favorite part of the process, was hearing people laugh or gasp as they studied all the pieces and then look at me and ask, “do these all go together?” I would grin, because I hung them in a way that they read almost as one piece, as a story would read. I think what I relate most to about this piece is that these are all things that we have all gone through at one time or another. We all hurt the same, sometimes a little more sometimes a little less but heartbreak is heartbreak and we can all relate to that feeling. ‘we were always on the edge of everything and nothing…’, well, that is how I felt in April 2016.
Parts of this series will be on view at Dolores Park Cafe June – August 2017.