WNW MEMBER DIANE LINDQUIST GUIDES GURL MUSEUM DAYS
As the temperature and humidity rise in the coming months, you'll be desperately searching for air-conditioned escapes with cool marble flooring. You should be thinking museums. And if you're a "gurl" in LA, you can hit up the best museums and galleries with your own "gurl" gang. WNW Member Diane Lindquist is the founder of Gurl Museum Day, which includes both organized field trips to the latest exhibitions and installations, and a branded magazine that celebrates female artists, their journeys, and girl-focused exhibits.
In our interview below, Diane offers generous insights and openness into her creative background, in part shaped by the loss of vision in her right eye at a young age due to retinoblastoma. "In the years after surgery and treatment, I had many tests to make sure the cancer had not returned. The tests would be made up of shapes, color palettes, and other cognitive exercises. It was during this time that I began to develop my creative background."
She also shares the impetus behind GMD and its growing headcount. "My gurl friends would tease me about the galleries and museums I would visit. So I invited them to go with me. The next museum we went to they invited their friends and, soon enough, I asked everyone to document their experience on Instagram using the hashtag #gurlmuseumday. After a few more museums, other girls began to ask for information about how to be included. During one night of spontaneity–and lack of sleep–I developed the branding and website and GMD was born. I later discovered that only 5% of female artists had their work shown in reputable galleries and museums. That set in motion a series of events that deepened my mission to increase those numbers."
If you're in Los Angeles, you can learn more about GMD here and below. And New York, stay tuned for when GMD officially becomes bicoastal.
Tell us a little bit about your creative background. Who is Diane Lindquist and how did she get here?
The story of Diane Lindquist starts in the city of stars, Los Angeles, a city where there are many shiny bright lights, but for me those lights were a bit blurry at first. At a young age, I started to lose vision in my right eye. It started out very minor and it quickly worsened. I can remember feeling so confused by what I was seeing that I would bump straight into walls. It turned out I had retinoblastoma (a form of cancer) in my right eye. My parents were immigrants, working-class, and this was something beyond their understanding and reach. If it wasn't for my mother's love and determination I might not be here to tell this story. With her help, I fought and survived cancer, but it took my right eye. I spent countless nights in the hospital, making friends with other kids with cancer (many of whom lost their battle) and developing a sixth sense — what I call my "killer fine eye.”
In the years after surgery and treatment, I had many tests to make sure the cancer had not returned. The tests would be made up of shapes, color palettes, and other cognitive exercises. It was during this time that I began to develop my creative background. I had to wear eye patches, which weren't a friendly look for other children. I would dwell in the sounds, colors, and type around me because I lacked the vision I felt I needed and missed. I tried so hard to capture as much in my memory. Over the years, I always felt a creative spark within me. Coming from a humble background, I still felt a need to be practical.
At the age of 16, I started working. I had excelled in strategy and liberal arts in high school, so it was natural to pursue them in college. I put myself through higher education by working nights and I also set up a backup plan. While design is my passion, I decided to hedge by earning a BS in Marketing and a minor in Graphic Design. The world needs designers, but I felt like marketing was a skill I could always support myself with. Afterward, I worked my way from a junior to senior designer. I taught myself web design, later UX/UI design (with some established education) and so on. While I have come a long way, I will always be learning. I think one has to be constantly learning to be successful.
How would you describe your creative style? Do you recognize a signature style that links all of your projects, or do you try to excuse yourself and approach each project as its own entity?
It took me a while to figure this out. My creative style is a combination of clean, stand-out designs with a fresh, bold, modern, and minimal aesthetic. I use lively colors, a synthesis of my Mexican-American heritage and love of Swedish minimal design. My creative style is completely different for projects I work on. I really try to keep a piece of my style within each project while I create designs that are based on what the client's or users needs are.
What was the impetus behind GURL Museum Day? What’s the project all about?
GURL Museum Day (GMD) stems from my childhood. I didn't have many opportunities for recreation, but at school, we had field trips. The first museum I visited with my teachers was The Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles. I was about eight years old. For those who have never been, it's very impactful. I felt shocked and learned so much during my visit. The exhibition was fully interactive (with videos and other interactive installations). It evoked so much emotion in me. The empathy I felt struck those feelings I had from children teasing me for wearing an eye patch or even the rejection of my father's approval (since I was not 'normal' to him). I remember tearing up, touched deeply by their struggle. It also opened in me the desire to learn more about others through the conduit of the museum experience. Thus my love for museums and galleries carried me through my teenage years. When I could, I would use holidays to visit them. I learned about creating and exhibiting work. Some prints I made were shown at an LA River Gallery and, to my surprise, they were featured in The LA Times. I sold out half of my digital prints, which was a new thing for me. This also led me to volunteer in the expansion of the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, where I was seeing art reshape the inner city. My gurl friends would tease me about the galleries and museums I would visit. So I invited them to go with me. The next museum we went to, they invited their friends and, soon enough, I asked everyone to document their experience on Instagram using the hashtag #gurlmuseumday. After a few more museums, other girls began to ask for information about how to be included. During one night of spontaneity–and lack of sleep–I developed the branding and website and GMD was born. I later discovered that only 5% of female artists had their work shown in reputable galleries and museums. That set in motion a series of events that deepened my mission to increase those numbers.
Can you give our readers and potential GMD attendees an idea of what a Gurl Museum Day looks like?
We have GMD Tours monthly, currently in Los Angeles (coming soon to New York). The day begins with meeting at a selected spot (usually in front of the museum). Gurls start arriving and we allocate thirty minutes of meet 'n greet. There we make a collective circle and I introduce myself, welcome them to GMD, and pass out name tags for gurls to write down their Instagram handle (towards the end I like to collect them in a printed promo piece to make sure I tag the girls in the photos I take). Then I ask two to three questions: (1) What are you passionate about? (2) Your most recent obsession or (3) Your favorite artist or type of art? This really gets all the gurls to open up and loosen up. Then we enter the gallery or museum. Sometimes we have a docent, sometimes we do a self-guided tour. It's fun to see all the gurls talk to each other and bond over art. The last thirty minutes we usually say where we are going next, say our goodbyes, and hit up the gift store (of course)!
Of the museums and galleries you and your gurls have visited thus far, which ones do you recommend most highly? Which exhibits sparked the best discussions afterward?
The Broad is the brand spankin’ new museum of Los Angeles. It’s been all the rage and it doesn’t disappoint. My favorite gallery in LA is Ace Gallery. Most people don’t know about it but it’s amazing space. The beginning of the year we went to the Annenberg Space for Photography’s Skylight Studio for #GIRLGAZE. That generated a lot of conversation and interest because it was a range of photography in the perspective of females views. We talked about how powerful and important it was to feel represented within each photograph.
Was a magazine always an integral part of this project or did it come about later on?
It’s wasn’t at first. However, after sharing this with so many girls, it clearly became the most needed part and I was happy to find collaborators that wanted to assist in the development. I partnered with Erin Remington. She’s an art curator and blogger at AFINEREYE. She helps with the interviews and the rest of the development of GMD. The magazine is strictly focused on sharing stories of gurl artists. Supporting their journeys or reviewing exhibitions that are related to girls.
In what ways has this creative undertaking surprised you and challenged you?
I had done other projects, but they were planned out and systematic. This developed organically and every step has been a discovery both creatively and strategically.
Will you be planning a good number of air-conditioned museum trips this summer to escape the L.A. heat?
Oh yes! Summer in LA is the best. Everyone wants to go out and it’s the best time to visit galleries and museums. We have a whole year planned out. We are heading to visit Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, MOCA, MOLAA, Blum & Poe, & CAAM, to name a few. We are also planning to expand to New York by the beginning of summer.
Who/what are your biggest creative influences?
As far as designer legends and greats, I admire and respect: Susan Kare, Aaron Draplin, WNW Member John Maeda, Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Jessica Walsh and Stefan Sagmeister. There are also many designers out there that are equally amazing and talented like Mig Reyes, Janet Longhurst, and Tobias van Schneider. I also find inspiration other ways from companies, products or agencies like HUGE and am heavily into art and culture. I have a whole list of female artists. At the top is Barbara Kunger, Maria Lassing and so on.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I have another project called Compassionate Landspace. This is a collection of visuals—posters and social cards—created and donated by designers that encourage empathy in the name of fairness, equality, and progress. Our goal, as a collaborative effort, is to allow a different type of visual messaging in our current landscape with compassionate visuals to be used by marginalized communities, organizations, protestors and the general public who aim to share the same message. I am working on another collaboration project and just hoping to expand GMD in different exciting avenues.
What do you do when Not Working?
Galleries and Museums… no really! I still go to so many opening receptions (aside from the ones we do with GMD). I am highly addicted to coffee, but as I like to say, “Coffee is addicted to me!" I enjoy visiting and collecting coffee shop experiences. I am also a mentor and love those relationships dearly. We can only shape our industry if we share our knowledge.