Larisa Mamonova was born and raised in Moscow. During her teenage years, her family immigrated to California in the US. By her early 20s she discovered her natural gift for design and art after taking part in creative courses at San Diego City College. Shortly after receiving a scholarship to the Art Center College of Design she was forced to drop out because of the cost of her remaining tuition. But that didn’t stop her career from blossoming.
She went on to work as a graphic designer, then an Art Director for many years. After meeting her now husband, she moved with him to Italy and decided it was time to pursue her art career full time. This led to her first solo exhibition in Italy in 2018. After her husband’s work contract ended, the pair decided to explore life in Berlin. Since moving she has already participated in a group exhibition and been a part of several art collaborations, including a music video. Learn more about the artist and how you can keep up with her work:
What inspired you to become a visual artist?
After high school, I was very lost and had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but for some reason, I always envisioned myself being an artist. For many years, I worked in the hospitality service industry to provide for myself, and then, I finally had enough of all the stress that comes with customer service jobs and gathered enough curiosity and bravery to take some art courses at San Diego City College.
I found out, I indeed had a talent for visual arts, so I decided to pursue it. After school, I worked as a graphic designer for many years and since moving to Europe 5 years ago, I decided to try to pursue a career in fine arts more seriously.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best advice I’ve ever heard actually was not so long ago. I am always very hard on myself when it comes to painting and creating in general. About 2 years ago, I was painting and watching a documentary called David Lynch: The Art Life, and at some point, he was talking about the role of making mistakes during his artistic process.
I used to be so focused on not making errors, and if I messed up somehow, I’d be so discouraged to continue. After hearing Lynch describing his process, I realized this chase for perfectionism was holding me back from exploring my ideas, my emotions, and my expression through art on a much deeper level. “Accidents or destroying something can lead to something good,” Lynch says. “Boundaries, they just screw you. And you have to sometimes make a huge mess and make big mistakes to find that thing you’re looking for.”
Funny enough, while watching the documentary and painting, I was so out of it, I ended up adding a color that I didn’t initially intend on using in the painting. And from that mistake, my favorite painting to this day was produced: The Blue Girl. Mistakes are amazing opportunities to look at your work from a different perspective, to explore something you’d otherwise never see.
Who inspires you the most?
My biggest inspiration is women. Women who are in my life, women who are making a difference in their communities, their neighbourhoods, their industries, women who fought and continue fighting for all the freedoms I have now. I feel like we are all so incredibly powerful and strong. Perhaps it’s because my mother raised my brother and me practically as a single mom. I was always astounded at her ability to keep going even though life dealt her some shitty cards.
Women are unstoppable when we support each other and work together. One of my greatest work experiences was when I worked in the all-women creative team, there was so much passion, resourcefulness, love, and support in that group. I am fascinated by women’s bodies, the amount of strain they can endure, the genius behind our physical abilities. I find it all very beautiful and incredibly moving.
“After hearing [David] Lynch describing his process, I realized this chase for perfectionism was holding me back from exploring my ideas, my emotions, and my expression through art on a much deeper level.”
What do you do when you need some inspiration?
To be honest, it’s not just one thing that I do to get inspired, I have many remedies to kick the laziness or a mental/creative block. Sometimes, watching art or social and political documentaries helps, other times, it’s taking time to read a good book, go to a museum or a gallery, have a chat with a fellow creative soul, go for a walk.
I have to admit, I have to be in a certain mindset to be inspired to create, and there are days or weeks, sometimes, where I don’t make any work, but I don’t punish myself for it. We all need to do things we love on our own terms. And my terms are to let it come to me and not force it.
What is one thing you love about Berlin and what is something you would change?
Loving Berlin is a complicated concept. I have never met so many incredibly talented and driven artists in such a short time, who are so open to collaborating and exchanging creative ideas in one place. Berlin is full of curiosities. It is a place where anyone can be anything they want and not care what others think.
Truthfully, I am still finding how I fit in in this city. It’s very different from Italy, where I lived for 4 years before moving here, and it’s even more different from the States or Russia, two places that I am from. With all that said, this city can be a difficult place to settle in. There is not much I would change about the city. However, a few things that come to mind are the cleanliness of the city, or the lack thereof, and the smoking EVERYWHERE!
Where is your favorite place to go in Berlin?
I have only moved about six months ago, so there is so much I don’t know about Berlin. I am slowly discovering what the city has to offer. So far, one of my favorite museums in Berlin is Käthe Kollwitz Museum, I also love going to Kindl Stuben for the Open Mic Sundays, or to have some beers or wine by the Spree Riverfront. At the moment I live in Friedrichshain and it’s filled with places to see and try.
What events or projects are you excited about in the next year?
Many exciting things are happening that I am looking forward to this year. One of them is a music video for which I did a live painting, that is going to be released in a week or so for Michael Leonardi.
Later this month I will be working with a new concept hotel, which will be opening sometime later this year on creating some installations for one of their rooms and painting murals in the hotel rooms. I am hoping to have a new exhibition at the end of the year or at least participate in a group exhibition.
Keep up with Larisa on these social channels: