Verve catches up with visual artist Lizzie Snow, who works under the name ‘fortyonehundred’ and has collaborated with the likes of Blunt Umbrellas, Whittaker’s, Allbirds and Converse.
Tell us about yourself Lizzie?
I am a 24-year-old Kiwi living between New Zealand and Canada. I create contemporary explorations of the mandala and free-flowing artworks, all inspired by fractals in nature. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree, a Bachelor of Design degree and I’m honoured to have over 100,000 people following my work online. I paint murals internationally, create original artworks, release limited edition prints and collectables, and collaborate with brands across the world.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I have always been creative and entrepreneurial, so the two came together seamlessly. Back when I was thinking about what career to choose, I felt that pursuing art was the most challenging, exciting, and uncertain thing possible. I went in headfirst and have never looked back!
What inspired the love of fractals and mandalas?
Growing up in New Zealand, we are absolutely blessed to be surrounded with endless natural beauty. I have always been drawn to the patterns and symmetry in nature, so this is where my fascination in fractals began. The mandala is a manifestation of fractal patterning; structured through symmetry, scaling and self- similarity. That’s the essence of it—but there are many layers I could delve into!
What equipment and materials can’t you do without?
My steel compass, MuralPens, AeroPress!
Describe your usual workday?
I start with inspiration—walking one of the beaches with my beautiful toy poodle, George. Then, back home for strong coffee, emails, sending out orders and other business admin. Once that’s complete, I get onto creating for the rest of the day – and continue late into the night.
How do you get into a creative mind space?
The key for me is to just start, even as rough sketches on scrap paper. Engaging the hand-mind connection enables my creative ideas to flow. Good habits encourage creative thinking, too, like spending time outside, interesting podcasts and documentaries, inspiring books, beautiful music, limiting screen time, and practising mindfulness.
What do you like to wear to get into the mood?
Business mode: black skinny jeans and Allbirds. Creative mode: freeing but fabulous non-restrictive clothing, my current go-to is wide-leg silk pants.
How do you know when an artwork is complete?
This can be a hard one! Some artworks have a distinct moment of completion. Other times, I need to step back and revisit later to decide. I’m slowly learning that less is more, or, specifically, how more can be balanced with less.
Do you ever use colour?
Gold, often. Other colours, sometimes. A recent painting combined dusty pink, faded green, gold, black and white, which was quite striking! That artwork sold to a New Zealand collector. Colour is gorgeous but, just like that quote ‘colour is everything but black and white is more’. I do love both, but I can’t get enough of the boldness, simplicity and elegance of black and white.
How much time does it take to complete a work like that for Blunt umbrellas?
The final Blunt design took around 80 hours to draw. Larger works can take up to 500 hours! I’m currently working on a large wood-burning piece that has well surpassed that, and it’s only halfway to being finished. On average 50-200 hours would be a normal time range.
Likes and dislikes?
First thing that comes to mind for likes is watching the seasons change; dislikes, cutting open a spoiled avocado. My art-related loves are painting murals, and I’m not fond of dealing with plagiarism.
You have an amazing following on social media, how did if happen?
It is truly special to connect with so many people through my art, and I feel so honoured. The first few years I focused on growing my audience through research, trial and error, and really trying to ‘make it happen’ online. After a while it started to take off organically and now it’s a global community! My approach has always been to simply document and share what I’m creating. Social media is a great tool, especially when paired with the endless other ways of communicating and connecting with people through art such as exhibitions, events, interviews, live painting, video, collaborations website, murals, email newsletters, and being featured in Verve!
Who wins, Canada or New Zealand?
New Zealand will always have my heart. They’re both wonderful countries and I’m grateful to call both places home. A comparison I find interesting is when walking in the forest. In Canada you have an on-edge, excited feeling because of the mountain lions, wolves and bears—no exaggeration!—whereas in New Zealand, you can close your eyes, listen to the birds and feel at peace. Quite different experiences, but I love both sensations!
Walk the dog or downward dog?
I’m going to have to cheat on this one – both! My long daily beach walks with George almost always include a stop for yoga. I almost tear up with happiness in these moments – vinyasa flow to the crashing waves, sandy toes and a snoozing puppy—well, 10 years old, but forever a puppy.
Your lockdown journey?
My daily routine has stayed pretty normal! At the beginning it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but I settled down after a week or so. The slower pace is lovely, although I feel a bit uncertain about six months, one year, two years. I guess we will see. A time of devastation paired with silver linings.
Your betterment routine?
Practising gratitude, having ‘analogue’ days with no screens or tech, and embracing art as meditation.
CJ Hendry. Karen Walker. James Jean.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me, Verve! It’s been an absolute pleasure.