Twelve Questions with Lymariz Piazza
Updated: Aug 18, 2019
1. I want to begin by asking about your childhood exposure to the arts and how possible/accessible that world felt to you. So can you speak about what Artisthood looked like to you as a child? Did you have creatives in your family or your family’s close circle of friends, or did you strike out in a new direction from your family culture?
Growing up art was never a part in my life. I grew up in a small town by the water in Puerto Rico, so life was basically simple - mom worked, dad worked. It was chaotic and an abusive environment. We moved to CT when I was eleven and I had to learn a whole new culture, a new language, and experience being bullied because I was new in 6th grade and I guess that was the thing to do.
Art didn’t play a part in my life until I learned how to sew in HomeEc class. I learned how to bake, sew and I made some basic things in middle school that inspired me to want to become a fashion designer. Once in HS, I took an advanced sewing class and made some pieces, learned to work with patterns and I was good - my teacher was definitely moving me towards my goal in fashion, and I was barely fifteen yrs old. In tenth grade I decided to take an art class to learn to sketch. I was ready to expand my talents and needed that piece to be able to design. I ended up not being able to take the next sewing class that year because I was not in a good place the previous year and barely passed my required classes. I got an A in sewing but failed two classes and had to make them up so it was either art or sewing. I chose art.
Once in that art class I evolved into something else. Fashion seemed so pointless and art seemed to open a whole new world for me. I could express myself in so many mediums. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had the most supportive teacher - he believed in me and made sure every year I was in his class no matter how I fit into the schedule.
2. Is there a formative image or event around creative calling for you? What made you want to pursue your artistic field? And was there anything in particular that gave you the courage to take that first step?
My calling happened by accident. It only took a teacher who cheered me on, taught me techniques he wasn’t teaching anyone else. It may seem weird, a male teacher with a female student, but he was gay, and honest and a beautiful soul. He introduced me to photography, painting, sketching, and graphic design.
The moment I knew what I wanted came when the art institutes came to class to tell us about the schools and programs they offered. I knew that’s where I needed to be.
My courage came from having to prove my family wrong; it backfired because I’m still not doing much, and the little things I do have no effect on them. It’s like, oh that’s nice, but you need a real job.
3. What are some creative works of others that have made the greatest impact on you, stylistically or personally? Is there a work that makes you fall back in love with your craft or industry when you’re discouraged?
My favorite photographer of all time is Henri Cartier-Bresson. The way he captures life around him is just so beautiful. I love Salvador Dali, his paintings make me feel like he’s in my head. How is it possible that someone I’ve never met can express the melting pot in my head?
4. Can you share a low point on your creative path and talk about how you dealt (or are dealing) with it? Or can you speak about a greatest fear that you grapple with?
After all these years of working and struggling with Bipolar Disorder, depression, severe anxiety, I started sewing again. Simple things. I started with relearning how to sew on a zipper and small things until I was confident enough to start design hand bags. I focused on faux animal skin and cotton. I was so inspired by Cathy Heller’s podcast that I went full in - made bags, sold them and people were loving it. Mostly friends and family.
Within a month or so my whole world was destroyed. My husband was having an affair and I detached myself from everything. I was hopeless all over again. It has been a year since I touched my machine. I have some bags that I had made for an indie market that didn’t serve me the way I had wanted.
Right now, my biggest fear is beginning again from scratch for the millionth time in my life. I need to close that chapter and hopefully that will happen in a month. That set aside, I have all those fears of not being good enough or wasting my time for no reason at all.
5. Could you distill the most important thing you’ve learned about your craft or your identity as an artist into one sentence?
I am free, I can fly again.
6. Our childhood experiences shape us, the positive and the painful. Sometimes we have access to unusual resources, and sometimes loss, loneliness or lack can be a rich tool to move us forward. Are there any unusual circumstances, weird childhood habits, or difficult challenges that shaped the way you see or interact with the world? How might these things show up in your craft?
I was a very shy child. I had issues speaking to people. I felt I didn’t matter. That stemmed from sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. There has always been this feeing of unworthiness. I know it’s not my narrative, but it plays on loop some days. The things I want to instil in my craft is a feeling of calmness; a feeling of peace and positivity.
7. Talk about a failure or disappointment—can be related to your artistic career or not—that led to greater success or sent you on a more authentic or whole-hearted path.
I hate my job; it triggers my anxiety. I’m strapped to a desk for eight hours a day and I am not free to explore the world around me. What I want is to create something that will sustain me and my family and offer me the freedom to be creative.
8. What does a good creative day look like for you? What gets you in flow?
A good creative day can look like anything. I always start in a quiet place, work my way to writing. From there ideas pop up and then if time allows it, I start the project. I’m all about using meditation to get me focused on the good, and then once I start, I can work for hours. Music is a must; I love dancing.
9. What has your experience with loneliness and creativity looked like? How do you find creative community?
When I feel lonely, I go inside myself. I shut out everything around me. It might spark up some writing, but for the most part it’s not productive.
Creative community? I still struggle finding that space where I feel comfortable around others. I am afraid of people seeing me.
10. What would be some things on your go-to resource list (ie. books, podcasts, online courses) that you would love to share with others? Any habits or spiritual practices that keep you on track or pull you up when you’re down?
Ok so Cathy [Heller's Don't Keep Your Day Job] podcast was what inspired me to go ahead and just do it last year. During [her] Accelerator course hearing from different women and their paths I’ve been able to connect directly and get some serious advice.
Meditation and mindfulness has been something I have been working on this past year to help me center myself and get back to the place where I love myself again. It’s a work in progress.
11. What does success as an artist mean to you?
I would feel successful if I can provide inspiring messages within my art, whichever form it takes. I want to empower people to take charge of their story and not go by what was dictated to them growing up.
12. If you could go back in time and speak to yourself at any age, what age would you choose and what would you say?
I would go back to me at eighteen, and I would say, “It’s ok, things won’t always be this bad. Take chances, don’t be afraid.”