Comfort is key. Comfort is a sense of relief and it comes in so many different forms. When you’re comfortable, you feel at home. Lilian Martinez, the Chicago-raised, Los Angeles-based artist, and designer, finds solitude in comfort and homeliness and has cultivated a following through her art by following that sense of self.
Martinez runs a brand called BFGF, meaning boyfriend/girlfriend of course, that specializes in “comfort, humor, and beauty.” If this was a drinking game, I would advise you to take a shot every time you read the word “comfort.” The appeal of Martinez’s art doesn’t stop at comfortability; the art is drenched in pop culture references like household names such as your favorite sax-playing smart ass, Lisa Simpson, or instantly recognizable symbols like the Nike “Swoosh.” The artist hesitates to call it “nostalgia” because though we grew up surrounded by these popular figures in our childhood, they still remain present today. Maybe we should just call it a warm familiarity. By combining functionality, familiarity, comfort, and blurring the line between artist and seller, she’s crossed the bridge from internet artist to becoming a part of people’s lives via her art.
When did your style really start to develop?
I would say maybe four or five years ago when I started drawing. That acted as a catalyst. Before then things felt more experimental for me, then something just clicked. Being able to draw and then paint, to create an image, was liberating.
Can you tell us a little bit about BFGF?
BFGF is an art brand where I focus on creating accessible and functional pieces. These pieces are meant to be introduced into the buyer’s everyday life and home. I work with a mill in the USA to produce woven cotton blankets and jacquard woven pillows. I also make small runs of things like keychains or crew necks when I am inspired to. BFGF pieces always start from a digital drawing. As opposed to my personal work which is hand painted and one of a kind.
Can you tell us what the brand means to you?
I started it because I wanted to make tactile objects. In school, all my work was digitally-based and I wanted to step away from that. Initially, I was focused on designing textiles mainly for clothing and accessories. That transitioned into including more home-based objects. It’s nice to make work that is non-editioned and is meant to be well used but also well cared for.
A lot of your pieces feature pop culture references, whether it be popular fashion symbols or a cartoon character, what attracts you to this imagery?
I like to draw things from my childhood that still feel relevant to me. I wouldn’t describe it as nostalgia because it still seems present. Maybe I like things that stand the test of time in some regard; things that manage to continue to occupy space in life aesthetically and mentally. I really like things from classical periods as well, like sculpture and architectural elements for the same reason.
As a woman of color, do you have any advice for women that may second guess their place in the art world?
Discover your power.
For more from Lilian Martinez, follow her on Instagram.