Interview with Zoë Williams: Dreamy surreal needle felt sculptures

Zoë Williams creates needle felt sculptures based on dreams and visions. Otherworldly creatures serve as oracles, presiding over past, present, and future. They hint at the possibility of non-linear time, complementing a life that is experienced in both inner and outer worlds.
Born in 1983 in New Orleans, LA, Zoë Williams holds a BA in Fine Art from the University of New Orleans and a Certificate in Fiber Art from the University of Washington. Her work in needle felted wool has been exhibited in galleries around the world. She currently lives and works in New York City.


Hello dear Zoë, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?

I’ve been making art since I can remember and it’s the only thing I’ve ever seriously thought about doing with my life.


What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your art?

I get a great deal of inspiration from my dreams, which I’ve been lucky enough to remember vividly and reliably since childhood. I’m also inspired by nature, animals, mythology, and synchronicity.

Zoe Williams from Denton Labs on Vimeo.

How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?

I work part time in the mornings, but I spend the rest of my day in the studio making art, or doing the multitude of administrative/marketing tasks that come along with an active art practice.


What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperative for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?

I have a formal art education, but I am completely self-taught in the ways of needle felting. Of course I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, but I don’t think there is only one way to be an artist.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?

I find individual artists and artworks fascinating. My style is to try to invoke the dream world and the power of deeply personal symbolism. I hope that the viewer will recognize something in themselves when they look at my work, and maybe feel more connected to the world around them.

What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?

Making things;  giving form to things from the inner world.


Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

I mainly work in needle felted wool. It’s an extremely slow and meditative process, so I have a lot of time to think about what I’m doing while I’m doing it. My tools are felting needles: needles that are specially designed to mat and lock wool fibers together.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

I would like to get back into painting and drawing a little. I used to do a lot of drawing, but in recent years I’ve been wholly devoted to sculpture.


Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hiding in your studio?

I do most of my felting work from the couch. It’s not particularly glamorous or interesting, but it’s comfortable for sitting long stretches.

What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?

Learning when to say when. For a long time I would always say yes to every opportunity, but there definitely comes a moment when you have to say no, and that’s OK.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?

The worst advice is unsolicited advice. Unfortunately this also seems to be the most common type of advice!

The best advice is to be gracious (coincidentally, very helpful when dealing with the above). It is everything to be courteous and kind, to give credit where credit is due, and to pay it forward whenever possible.


What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

It’s hard to measure success. Is it shows? Sales? Reviews? Sometimes it feels like a victory just getting to be an artist at all. Networking is part of the job, so at least it’s never lonely.

Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?

Hopefully a better version of myself today, with time and money enough to travel more.


Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?

All kinds of people will say all kinds of things to you, about you, about your work, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Try not to let it get to you.

Your favorite art or life quote is ...

I always liked “A rising tide lifts all boats.” It seems particularly relevant to being an artist because it’s a great reminder that we are all in this together. When we do what we can to turn the tide, we keep each other afloat.


What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?

I write for Mr. X Stitch. I like videogames. I love to travel whenever (and wherever) possible. I would like to have a pet someday!


Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?

Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?

My third solo exhibition, ORACLES, opens June 5, 2015 at PSG Gallery.

Thank you dear Zoë, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. May 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.