Signed with DNA and recently walked for Raf Simons, Maine-native Liam Little is more than a full-time model. A self-taught painter, he currently resides in Bushwick, in an apartment filled with paintings of exaggerated surrealistic creatures. Some of his works might seem confusing and even knowingly disturbing, like a self-portrait of himself lying in a coffin referring to Picasso’s Blue Period. We visited Liam’s apartment on a Sunday morning to chat about things that influence him.
How did you start painting?
When I moved to New York I stopped playing as much music as I did before. I needed a way to keep creating alone, and visual art is unlimited.
Describe yourself when you were a child?
Always creating, always destroying. A little distracted, a little misled.
What passions did you have?
My uncle taught me my first chords on a guitar. After he died, I kept playing. I've never felt like a part of the real world. A lot of the music my father showed me had a big influence on my sense of humor and philosophy.
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What type of music?
All kinds of stuff. Free-form jazz, psychedelic rock, some classical, etc., but blues rock stuck with me the most. I draw a lot of inspiration from the music and art of England and America in the 1960s and 1970s. His extensive record collection gave me tons of album covers and music that I still enjoy.
Do you have an inspirational figure that has influenced you the most?
Not one in particular. Maybe Kurt Cobain? I discovered his music when I was maybe eleven years old and began reading a biography. Teachers were worried about the content (laughs).
I know you've played in a music band. How did it go?
I got a lot of practice. We were mostly just jamming in my basement for hours a day, but I have upcoming musical prospects that those years have helped prepare me for. Stay tuned, and so will my guitar.
“Art doesn't come from a feeling of freedom, it is a search for freedom itself.”
Let’s talk about your paintings. The characters you are drawing seem exaggerated yet vulnerable. Who are your favorite artists?
James Ensor, Giorgio de Chirico, Philip Guston, Francis Picabia and R. Crumb, to name a few. I am always discovering new inspiration, the influence on my subconscious turns like tides.
In one of my first art classes we were looking at Picasso’s Weeping Woman. That blew my mind. Then later learning about Van Gogh and Monet, I realized visual art was maybe the most visceral, powerful thing in the world.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I hope it is communicative, even a bit confusing. But overall, somewhat timeless and disconnected from today.
What are your thoughts on the art scene of New York?
New York is one of the cities always driving the art bus. I am at least a backseat driver. Maybe I'll hijack the bus one day.
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Does modeling encourage/block your creativity?
Work can get in the way. It definitely supplies an audience but that's not a concern of mine. I'd like to be painting more than I am right now.
Which of your paintings are you most proud of?
The ones I've spent the most time on, or the portraits of the people that I love.
What is your dream project?
I just want to totally blow my own mind.
What is your definition of freedom?
No audience, no influence, no medium; nothing pushing or pulling you to do anything. Art doesn't come from a feeling of freedom, it is a search for freedom itself.
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