12 Rising S.F. Artists Show Us Around Their Creative Spaces

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on July 19.]
In a city like San Francisco, you find inspiration lurking around essentially every hilly curve. In fact, this town is so rife with creativity and noteworthy talent that our local art community might soon be sending spots like L.A. and NYC some stiff competition.
So, naturally, we’re amped to shine the spotlight on 12 artists whose names you don’t see plastered on street-side banners and buses along every downtown street…yet. These are the underground makers influencing the budding S.F. contemporary-art scene from the ground up—and we think it's only right that you meet them all in a totally intimate way. Which is why we roamed around town to peek into their studios and galleries to document the inspiration, environment, and personal style behind each creative. Ready for some major insight into some of S.F.’s coolest creators? Get to clickin' (and buying)!
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Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Charmaine Olivia, Oil Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Dreamy, romantic, and whimsical."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Probably doing a poster for Lady Gaga."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"Pretty much anything by Memoryhouse."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
“Walking around the Mission, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the S.F. Botanical Gardens.

What projects are you currently working on?
"I’ve just started preparing for my next solo show at Shooting Gallery, which is in February."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Who are your artistic icons?
"Gustav Klimt and Pablo Picasso."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"I love the colors, the food, and the abundance of interesting people."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Justin Hager, Illustrator

Describe your art in three words.
"Punk, rock, nostalgia."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"It’s great to live in a city where people are interested and passionate about seeing new artwork. There's a community that really supports each other. This city is brewing with creativity, and I’m psyched to be a part of it."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The Mission district, McDonald's, Salvation Army, and Beauty Bar's happy hour."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What projects are you currently working on?
"A plate of 40 chicken wings from 'Wings Wednesdays' at Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem and a gallery show in which I will have some extra-large canvases. Also, my drawings are going to be used as graphics for a new shirt company called Rip-Off Artist."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Having people get tattoos of my art is the ultimate compliment. And just being able to make drawings and have them get a positive response. My favorite is when someone comes up to me with a mash-up. I love it when people start thinking the same way as me."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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If you weren't creating art what would you be doing?
"Beating my head against the wall."

Who are your artistic icons?
"Daniel Johnston, Mark Gonzales, Raymond Pettibon, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They are all self-taught, rough around the edges, and real."

On the flipside, what about style icons — do you have any?
"Kurt Cobain and Bobo, the guy on Mission Street that kicks cans into the trash."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Meryl Pataky, Welder, Silversmith, Neon Artist

Describe your art in three words.
"Inquisitive, scientific, and humorous."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Having my neon work at the same art fair as Joseph Kosuth’s."

Do you have a go-to gallery outfit?
"A cute dress, knee high socks, or jeans and a tee."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"Most recently, the kids I work with every day. I teach and coach kids year-round and I have unique experiences with them all the time. I also enjoy the young gallery owners in this town doing their thing and being awesome."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"My favorite S.F. spot is most definitely the National Cemetery. I can’t entirely explain it. I love riding my bike there and being awed at how old some of the tombstones are. The view is amazing."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"'Nightmares on Wax' by Massive Attack got me through the painstaking painting of etching resist on a huge sheet of copper for a Tarot card design. Massive Attack is amazing for relaxation and thought. The Pixies are my all-time favorite. I’ll stop there, otherwise it will get out of control."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What projects are you currently working on?
"I am having some fun with the Rorschach ink paintings that will be available as originals or limited-edition prints. I am also working toward producing a limited-edition print run of my neon and installation work."

Who are your artistic icons?
"Cornelia Parker, Cai Guo-Qiang, Eva Hess, Joseph Kosuth, Anna Schuleit, Oscar Munoz, and Joseph Beuys."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Rachel Kaye, Painter, Sculptor

Describe your art in three words.
"Pattern is everything."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Attending the J.B. Blunk Artist Residency."

Do you have a go-to gallery outfit?
"I have an ever-increasing collection of colored and printed trousers, so a gallery outfit usually involves a pair of those."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"Going on long walks through Golden Gate Park."

Who are your artistic icons?
"Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, and Sheila Hicks."

On the flipside, what about style icons — do you have any?
"Iris Apfel. I'm not quite as radical, but I hope to be over the years."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"Having my dear friends nearby, who are all incredible artists."

What projects are you currently working on?
"I’m working on colored-pencil drawings and a sculpture. I try to work in two mediums simultaneously, because each is a different process. I like moving between two ideas so nothing becomes stagnant."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"David Bowie."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Kevin E. Taylor, Oil Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Evolving, exploration, mystery."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"A full-page illustration for T.C Boyle's short story, 'A Good Home' in Playboy Magazine."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"The constant streams of stimulus that take shape in so many various forms."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"Stravinsky and Slayer listening to The Smiths together."

What projects are you currently working on?
"I'll be living in Berlin for three months, working on a show that will open in late October."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Who are your artistic icons?
"Animals."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"Tank Hill."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Kelly Tunstall, Mixed-Media Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Immersive, stylized, eccentric."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"Bell’occhio, Flax Art and Design, Green Apple Books, and Wasteland. This list used to include Metier and Adobe, but they are both closing, so I am really bummed."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Who are your artistic icons?
"Ferris Plock, my husband and collaborator, tops my list. Followed by my friends Marci Washington, Alexis Mackenzie, Hieronymus Bosch, Alphonse Mucha, Vermeer — the many masters of Japanese woodprints — Wes Anderson, John Currin, and Cindy Sherman."

What projects are you currently working on?
"Private and restaurant commissions. I'm working on a new project for the restaurant SPQR, where we recently hung work. We are developing a permanent site-specific installation for the space."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"My first big solo show at 111 Minna Gallery in 2003."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"Getting to live in San Francisco is the best thing. Ever."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Jessica Hess, Oil Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Bold, bright, and brazen."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Without a doubt it’s the fact that I have been self-employed and supporting myself off my art for the last six years. It isn't easy, but it’s a huge accomplishment in this economy."

Do you have a go-to gallery outfit?
"I sure do — skinny black jeans and heels with a marching-band jacket. That's what I will be wearing at my next opening this September at Spoke Art."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The Mission is pretty soaked with graffiti and I find burritos pretty inspiring. If I am looking for something a bit more dangerous, I will hike on out to Bayview or Dogpatch with a ‘bodyguard’ a.k.a. anybody taller, scarier, and more muscular than me."

Who are your artistic icons?
"I am enjoying the work of these sculptors lately: Scott Hove, Thomas Doyle, Gregory Euclide, A.J. Fosik — to name a few. But, German painter David Schnell will always be number one with me."

On the flipside, what about style icons — do you have any?
"Matthew Barney-meets-Iggy Pop. I wish."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What projects are you currently working on?
"My newest paintings are exclusively gouache-on-paper scenes of the Bay Area. It should be fun for locals to recognize the different neighborhoods in my work."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"Great street art, awesome weather, and the most colorful cast of local characters outside of NYC. People. Are. Weird."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"It would probably be composed of what is usually playing in my studio. Post-punk and dark-wave. The ‘70s had a lot more than disco goin', kids."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Hilary Pecis, Mixed-Media Artist

Describe your art in three words.
"Collaged, reconfigured, image-based."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"The San Francisco Bay Area embraces creative thought and has a history of alternative lifestyles and career choices. It is a hodgepodge of high and low culture and there is inspiration around every corner. With the exception of rent prices, it is a very nurturing place to be."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What projects are you currently working on?
"I am working on both digital and analogue collages. Most of the work I have made in the past few years consisted of digitally constructed collages, which I absolutely love to make. But, in the last few months I have reverted back to paper and glue collages made from stock photography. Both methods allow me to explore image in different ways."

Who are your artistic icons?
"Richard Prince, John Baldessari, Dara Birnbaum, and Rob Pruitt. These artists always inspire me and remind me of what art should do. I cannot look at any of their works without being overwhelmed with excitement and enthusiasm for art."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"I am still making work and don’t foresee an end soon. It sounds simple, but it is not always easy to keep up morale if sales are slow or press hasn’t been as abundant as anticipated. I had expectations upon receiving my masters degree, which have not fully been met, which can be disappointing. However, I have had many opportunities and recognitions that I am grateful for. My hopes are that regardless of any accolades, I am able to continue making work that I find exciting."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"Well, I am often inspired by mishaps in the printed image as well as technology-based media, which I can’t seem to prepare or search for. However, if I want inspiration for art in general, it’s easy to locate by popping into one of the many local galleries to view or chat about art. S.F. has a lot of galleries and at least a handful that I really enjoy frequenting. Also, it can be fun to troll through the studios at the local art schools to peek in on student work. There is often a lot of experimentation going on, which can be both exhilarating and awful."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Eric Bailey, Oil Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Oil, refined, and raw."

If you weren't creating art what would you be doing?
"If I wasn't painting, I would still need be involved in some sort of creative outlet. I enjoy all design in general. I would probably explore fashion or furniture design in depth."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Probably just being able to work from home doing what I love every day. I think it's important to find that balance of life and work. Hopefully, your life can be your work and vice versa."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The drive over the bridge from Oakland to S.F. never gets old. The view of the city sprawling out over the Bay reminds me of just how awesome of a place I am blessed to call home is. Also, I am finding Oakland to be very inspiring with all the growth and room for development. There is a lot of creative energy."

Who are your artistic icons?
"I really admire oil painters like Alex Kanevsky or even older painters like Nicholai Fechin. In a world filled with new media and contemporary art I still really appreciate the rawness of a classic, figurative oil painter. A simple brushstroke says a lot to me."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"The Bay has always been home to me and where I most feel in-tune with my surroundings. The weather, food, people, and mindset are all things that help me stay sane while I grind away at trying to create relevant images and hone my craft."

What projects are you currently working on?
"Making paintings for an upcoming solo show at Nieto Fine Art — opening August 24."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Maja Ruznic, Oil Painter

Describe your art in three words.
"Honest, psychological, and expressive."

What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Landing the cover of New American Paintings last year! This accomplishment has already opened many doors for me. I do not think many people know this, but the image on the cover is an interpretive portrait of my mother, which makes the accomplishment even more meaningful. Despite the unfortunate circumstances of my childhood, my mother always made sure I had art materials — paint, brushes, paper, and books."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"I love the diversity here. San Francisco is small enough where you don’t need a car, but large enough where you do not feel a lack of anything."

Photographed by Caro Ramirez
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If you weren't creating art what would you be doing?
"I think that I would be doing what I am doing now — only full-time. I teach art to kids! I love kids! I love their honesty and enthusiasm for life. Kids have taught me to be fearless and to question everything!"

What projects are you currently working on?
"I am currently in the 'absorbing' stage. I am not painting a lot, but I am writing and closely observing my environment."

Photo: Courtesy of In the Make. Check out the site's recent studio visit with Maja and other West Coast artists.
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What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The Mission, where my studio is, and the Lower Haight, where I live. But, in general, wherever there are people and stories. My work is more dependent on people than places — so luckily, I can find inspiration everywhere!"

Who are your artistic icons?
"Spanish romantic painter and printmaker Francisco Goya for his interest in human pathos and subversive subject matter. Contemporary painter Marlene Dumas for her incredible way of handling watercolor — in my opinion, no one does it better. I am also inspired by the work of Emir Kusturica, Serbian filmmaker, actor, and musician. His films, 'Underground' and 'Time of the Gypsies,' which I saw when I was about 13 years old, have deeply inspired my aesthetic. I also find his interpretation and commentary of the Balkans dark, but honest."

Photographed by Caro Ramirez
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Serena Mitnik-Miller, Artist, Photographer, Designer, Curator

Describe your art in three words.
"Color, shape, light."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The dunes at Ocean Beach."

What projects are you currently working on?
"Opening up another General Store in Venice Beach."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"I am heading to Australia for six weeks in August for an artist residency!"

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"The San Francisco Bay Area is filled with such beautiful and diverse landscapes, ocean, mountains, and everything in between. I especially love living and working in the Sunset, it is more like a small town and I am able to focus on my work while still having access to the city."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Who are your artistic icons?
"Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, Frank Stella, and Georgia O’Keeffe — just the tip of the iceberg."

On the flipside, what about style icons — do you have any?
"My mom, a creative and inspiring artist and all-around hippie! Jane Birkin, who wore denim so well. Coco Chanel, practical and modernist, yet so extravagant!"

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Hannah Stouffer, Illustrator

Describe your art in three words.
"Ethereal, visceral, macabre."

What do you love most about creating work here in the Bay?
"My commute. Waking up to a run on the beach, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and my usual stroll to the studio, which happens at a very leisurely pace. Being within a stone’s throw distance of one of the most amazing bars in the world, Smuggler’s Cove, and having access to more organic, delicious cuisine than you can shake a stick at."

If your art had a soundtrack, what would it be?
"Something like a Black Sabbath, Danzig, Gucci Mane, Salem, Gucci Goth mixtape."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What’s your biggest art-related accomplishment?
"Being trusted enough to create a permanent site-specific installation in the Dior Homme store in Union Square. Also, every small obstacle and bridge I've crossed along the way to get to this point."

Do you have a go-to gallery outfit?
"Black on black on black on red lipstick."

Who are your artistic icons?
"Oh wow, there are many. I’ve definitely had different icons through different phases in my career. Some I go back to, some I move forward from: Deanne Cheuk, Rebecca Bird's explosion series, and Erika Somogyi's watercolor trees. Caitlin Hackett, Richard Coleman, Cleon Peterson, Boris Vallejo, and Killian Eng, as well."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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What projects are you currently working on?
"I'm getting ready for a show in Brooklyn at the end of the month. I'll be completing a 40-foot wall entitled, ‘Visceral/Visible,’ which is a site-specific installation at Kinfolk Studios. I've been prepping and planning it for a few months now. I also have a solo show at Portland’s Antler Gallery this August. I've been working on a new series of landscapes! I've been getting really into the landscape movement, but with a new-age, fantasy touch. Also, a handful of commercial work going, per usual, and my consistent work as a print and web editor over at Juxtapoz Magazine."

What are your fave spots for inspiration in S.F.?
"The Magazine, Crissy Field, Alameda Flea Market, Point Isabel, the Main Library, and my own studio, of course."

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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