Written by Eva Barragan
Photography by Lauren DeLuca
Inspired by her adoration of the female figure, her curiosity for the human experience, and her search for the wabi-sabi in her everyday life, Abbey Golden’s work exist in an artistic category all of its own. In fact, she created the term gritPOP which she feel describes the duality in her work. She describes her art as humanist, contemporary, and nostalgic. We caught up with Golden in her Los Angeles studio apartment to discuss life as a transplant in LA, finding a balance between love and her career, and how every young artist should have a grandmother who makes them feel like they can draw just as well as Picasso.
What was your introduction to the art world?
My grandmother was extremely artistic. She studied under Isadora Duncan, dropped out of high school and became a feminist dancer. Growing up she always told me, don’t buy my presents. Always, always make me something. She was always sketching, painting, sculpting so that taught me from a really early age that art is life.
That’s amazing. It seems like she was an extremely influential force in your career.
Oh absolutely. I grew up in New York and she would always take me to Moma, Guggenheim and she would have me sit in front of a Picasso and say, “try drawing that.”
Wow, did you understand the magnitude of a Picasso at the time? What did being exposed to those kinds of artists teach you?
I think those experiences taught me not to see a difference between myself and the artist whose paintings lined the wall of a prestigious museum or art gallery. It’s a lesson I’ve taken with me my whole life. I think there’s this kind of intimidation factor in the art world and it's intentional but I think it's essential to teach kids that there is no difference between them and “the great's.” If you continuously work on your craft, you can easily get there.
Do you notice a difference between yourself and someone who didn't grow up with an artistic family and had to go out and seek those experiences on their own?
I think if you have the drive to be an artist in your heart, it doesn't matter what your circumstances are. For example, if you’re attending Columbia Art School because your parents can afford it but you don’t have drive or passion behind what you’re creating, it doesn't matter where you go to school or how you grew up. You’re never going to make it. I actually think those individuals with more obstacles possess that crazier drive because they know what it takes to succeed.
When did you decide creating art was going to double as your livelihood?
Well, I was living in New York, I studied fine art and art history, and I remember thinking, “I’m going to be a struggling New York artist, and I’m going to make it like that.” Let me tell you, it was really fucking hard. I worked in my apartment, or wherever anyone would take me. Eventually, I started selling my own pieces and it felt really fucking good.
Why did you decide to move to Los Angeles?
Honestly, although my work was selling, New York became unlivable as a creative professional. I was going through a breakup and a bunch of my friends were moving to LA so I decided now was a good a time as any.
How do you sustain your craft? What’s your bread and butter?
I’ve now shifted gears where I only create art for myself. I don’t know if that has to do with my age or moving to LA but in New York, everyone is so competitive. It's very dog eat dog, and you have minimal resources. LA is the opposite. You can work outside all year round, and art just feels very liberating here. I’ve always had a side job (working inside galleries) and I find it extremely balancing to be honest. I would love to be creating every day but at the same time, i can get so obsessed with creating something someone will buy instead of creating something that feels authentic and worthy to me.
How do you define success?
For me, it's not about the attention. I’ve had attention, I’ve seen my friends have the attention and its fleeting as fuck. You can have that moment of recognition and be completely dropped the next and what it comes down to is the work. It always comes down to the work your making. Success to me isn't having a huge gallery show. For me, success is about creating a full body of work that I’m proud of.
Seeing as you’ve been in the game professionally for almost a decade now. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in the arts?
Focus on the work and start where you are. I would love to have a studio where I go an create but that’s not where I’m at right now and that’s okay. I can build my website from my bed, create portraits in my kitchen, it doesn't matter where you start, just start and embrace the wabi-sabi.
What is Wabi-Sabi?
Wabi-sabi is the beauty of the unfinished. I love finding the wabi-sabi in my art, in my life.