Watching Not Watching: Twin Peaks with Artist Summer Ortiz
Watching Not Watching is a recurring Free Range series where we invite a WNW Member to nerd out with us over a particular TV show that fuels their creativity. It's essentially a way for us to experience a taste of the water-cooler conversations that the freelancing portion of our community might be missing out on. So far, we've covered Stranger Things, Mr. Robot, Mad Men, Black Mirror, Fargo, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and The Eric Andre Show. But in our wildest dreams, we could have never imagined covering Twin Peaks. It's still hard to believe that the curtains will be pulled back once again on the warped world of David Lynch and Mark Frost.
We've enlisted WNW Member Summer Ortiz for a spoiler-free discussion of Twin Peaks. Summer has also contributed some pitch-perfect illustrations that perfectly capture the strangeness of its characters and quotes, just as bizarre in context as out of context. In the conversation below, Summer talks about her favorite character, her love of David Lynch, and how Twin Peaks hooked her through her love of a good puzzle. "Twin Peaks has that quality of feeling like you are trying to solve a puzzle before someone gives you the answer. You’re getting to know these odd personalities that fill out this dreamscape all while putting the pieces together. I’ve always really liked that about David Lynch’s work."
Tell us a little about your creative background. Who is Summer Ortiz and how did she get here?
I’m a Visual Designer by day and an illustrator by night. I got my degree in Printmaking and quickly realized I made a huge mistake and was virtually unemployable. I was able to get a position doing design at one place and then another and since then I’ve been working in agencies and freelancing doing visual design. I do freelance illustration on the side and in my free time on Instagram.
You’ve created several drawings paying homage to the world of Twin Peaks. What is it about Twin Peaks that first hooked you?
It actually took me an embarrassingly long time to watch Twin Peaks. I’ve been a David Lynch fan since I was 16 and saw Mulholland Dr. for the first time. I was a pretty typical Lynch groupie and sought out all his work, but it wasn’t until three years later when I found myself with too much time on my hands and I just decided to finally give Twin Peaks a try. I was pretty much hooked from the start! If there is one thing I really love, it’s quirkiness. David Lynch has a way of building out atmospheres that really make you feel a certain way. I love the campiness and the dream-like quality of Twin Peaks, not to mention the all the odd characters and bits and pieces that leave you feeling confused and uncomfortable. I don’t think I slept for about 3 days just binge-watching the whole thing on Netflix.
I’m also always drawn to things that feel like a puzzle. Twin Peaks has that quality of feeling like you are trying to solve a puzzle before someone gives you the answer. You’re getting to know these odd personalities that fill out this dreamscape all while putting the pieces together. I’ve always really liked that about David Lynch’s work.
Who’s your favorite character and why?
You have to love the Log Lady. She is just so strange and ominous, the true essence of a Lynch character. You can be watching an episode, thinking that things are finally starting to make sense and then she comes along and says something that throws everything out of focus again. Plus, I find something very endearing about a woman whose only companion is a log.
Without giving away any spoilers, which season did you like best? Or are you partial to the Fire Walk With Me movie?
Definitely Twin Peaks the show over Fire Walk With Me. I think I am in the Twin Peaks purist group and would have to say that Season 1 is superior. The original creators (David Lynch and Mark Frost) were far less involved in the second season and I think you can definitely see that in the storylines. And while I won’t give it away, I will say that a pretty big event happens in the second season and the show loses some of its intrigue when it does.
Is Twin Peaks, and television in general, a source of creative inspiration or escape for you?
Any kind of moving picture has always been a source of creative inspiration for me. For a long time, I thought I wanted to go into film and be a director or a cinematographer because I was so enchanted by film and television. Eventually, I realized it wasn’t for me, but I have always kept an appreciation and it definitely reflects in my work. I’ve done drawings of Twin Peaks a few times since I first saw it. Something about the setting and the people that make up that world really draw me in and I find myself revisiting it as a subject. It just lends itself so well to artistic interpretation.
The worlds that David Lynch creates seem to operate by some kind of dream logic. Do you ever draw a subject or scene that you first encountered in a dream?
I used to get asked this question a lot because I tend to gravitate towards the weird or surreal in my illustrations and I think people assume that it must come from some subconscious place. But you know, I don’t draw things from my dreams very much. My dreams are actually kind of dull in that regard! Sometimes I will remember bits and pieces of a dream and as I think more about it, it can take on a different meaning or form, but that’s not my usual inspiration.
Twin Peaks and the films of David Lynch often focus on the seedy underworlds beneath their wholesome counterparts. Does your work ever take on a similar edge or mystery or do you prefer a much more direct and resolute approach in your craft?
I definitely prescribe to the Lynchian school of art. I love to incorporate strange or mysterious elements in my drawings. I read something from David Lynch once where he said that he doesn’t talk about what the surreal or disjointed aspects of his work mean because he doesn’t want to influence the viewer, and I really like that thinking. I like for someone to be able to decide for themselves what it means to them and not think that their feelings about a drawing are wrong just because that’s not what the artist had in mind. I like to put creepy or strange elements in my illustrations because I am drawn to those kinds of elements that make me feel sort of uneasy but also make me want to look at something longer. I’m also very partial to drawing dismembered limbs… I just like how they look!
Complete this sentence: If you like _____, you’ll love Twin Peaks.
Young Kyle MacLachlan.
What other shows, new or old, do you recommend to fellow WNW Members?
Handmaid’s Tale is my current obsession, although sometimes it hits a little too close to home and I have to turn it off. And if you aren’t watching The Americans, you are living wrong.
One of my all time favorite shows that doesn’t get enough love is Strangers with Candy. I guess I just really like campy, quirky, low-budget shows!
What are you working on these days?
I’ve been trying to bring more movement into my work lately, so I have been teaching myself animation and experimenting with traditional hand-drawn style. It can get a little tedious but it is really making me think differently about my illustrations and what I can do with them. I would like to eventually do a short little animated film. I’ve also been playing with patterns for fabrics and making clothing from them. I tend to get bored easily so I am always trying to learn something new.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just thanks for featuring me on Working Not Working and letting me talk way too much about Twin Peaks and my love for David Lynch. And if you want to see more of my stuff, check out my Instagram!