10 Questions With Artist Lori Tannis

Up Close 10 Questions With Artist Lori Tannis

For artist, art director, and prop stylist Lori Tannis of createdbylori every table top, window, and wall has the potential to be an art project. As W’s Artist in Residence at W New York – Union Square, Lori designed the staging in the main window and the glass panels with a boudoir powder room aesthetic that is inspired by the What She Said event and collaboration with Uzo from Nars. We talked intimately with the artist about her inspirations, her favorite city for seeing art, and just how to create a simple space into a work of art.

Lori with her Nars collaboration installation at W New York - Union Square

How would you describe the artwork you make?


Lori Tannis: The art I make is essentially a mix of a feeling, a vision, and an idea – all of which originate from some place inside my mind. It can also be very color focused, blending certain tones together to create a particular feeling, whether it be wild and whimsical, or quiet and restrained. I create things because I want people (and myself) to stand back, look at it, and feel a certain feeling. I also create because that feeling I feel, or that vision or idea I have in my head I feel I need to bring it out. But the truth is, it’ll never come out the exact way you see or feel it… That’s why artists keep creating because we convince ourselves one day we’ll portray these sensations in their purest form, in the exact way we experience them internally.



What are your main inspirations?


LT: My constant inspirations, when it’s all said and done, are that twinge of excitement when you realize the endless depth of possibility, New York Crazy City (still after 17 years), and my husband, Skinny aka @skinnywashere.



What was the first piece of art you made?


LT: As a child I’d make my younger cousin Stephanie perform with me in plays I’d write and direct. We put them on almost every year for our family during the holidays. I remember one year playing this tiny keyboard while she danced and sang…there’s a polaroid of this particular show floating around somewhere between Brooklyn and Chicago.


Film making was my first love, and I remember as a teenager describing these super in-depth scenes to my mom that I wanted to shoot that took place in downtown Chicago alleyways. I went on to have my first film classes junior year of high school at Columbia College in downtown Chicago, where my final project that semester was a black and white short film, shot on 16mm FILM (yes, film!) and edited on Steinbecks… this was before the digital era. It was your typical boy meets girl, boy hurts girl, girl is sad, boy makes it up, and all is well in the end. We shot that in downtown Chicago and in Grant Park, which is now known as Millennium Park.



If we’re going to buy you a drink, what should it be?


LT: Anything with mezcal! I love tequila and it loves me too. I love spicy liquor or a glass of rose when I want to feel lady like and because “rose quartz” is the “it” color this year. Also, remember:  presentation is key!



Your favorite city for seeing art?


LT: Every city has gems along with the mediocre. Chicago will forever have the some of the best architecture, especially in the states, period. New York is the forever canvas that every one from all over the world either paints on daily, or dreams of painting on daily. Paris has the tiny alley ways that lead you to those places you thought only existed in your mind. Istanbul…Istanbul is beautiful, there’s something very creative and fluid about Istanbul, I can’t exactly pinpoint it.


If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be?


LT: Everywhere. Seriously, there isn’t a place I don’t want to go, and I know I want to go back to everywhere I’ve already been. I’d love to spend some time in Victorian London, or be in Paris with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge. I could also be on the set of an upcoming Tim Burton or Baz Luhrmann film. So it’s safe to say that I don’t want to be anywhere present, just somewhere in the past or future. Oh, and Pluto!



Is there an art show, gallery or museum that really struck you recently?


LT: Yes, I really enjoyed Martin Creed’s work at the Park Avenue Armory earlier this year, as well as Meg Webster’s installations at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Both were large scale, fun installations. Also loved the MET rooftop series with this summer’s commissioned artist, Corneila Parker. She basically built an entire replica of the Bate’s mansion from Hitchcock’s Psycho – so cool.



Who’s your style icon?


LT: I used to (and still really do) love the Olsen twins! Their personal style was always my favorite. Now, it’s Zoe Kravitz! She can do no wrong. I’ve always been into the fly girl that’s just chill with no serious thought put into her look, but no matter what, it’s still uniquely hers.