In her studio in rural New Jersey, Swiss artist Simone Christen creates minimalist art which primarily reflects emotions and atmospheres.
This week's Featured Artist strives for balance without losing tension and is always fascinated by universal concepts of form, mass, proportion, rhythm, and structure.
Her works are quiet reflections on the beauty of life and its fundamental simplicity. Their deep color spaces, reduced color palette, and simple shapes offer a grounding experience and provide a sense of calm, peace, and serenity.
Christen invites her viewers to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life, to let their eyes rest and their souls linger for a brief moment of reflection and resonance.
Artwork Archive got the chance to chat with Simone Christen about her creative process, career, and what being a successful artist means to her. You can see more of her work on Discovery and learn more about her art practice below.
Simone Christen, 'Winter Blossom', 45 x 45 in, 2022
Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?
My artistic style has changed over time, and I am open to it continuing to do so. My art is an expression of myself, and just as I hope to evolve and grow as a person, I hope the same is true for my art.
I used to draw and paint in a more representational style, very much inspired by nature and landscapes. It became more and more abstract, and it was only three years ago that I became a completely abstract and non-representational painter.
The pandemic taught me that only a few things matter very much, which translated more into my minimalist style. I'm curious to see where my journey is taking me!
Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your creative process?
I love the beginning stages of an artwork. It feels so good—even if it takes some courage—to finally put an idea or inspiration that's been floating around in my head onto paper or canvas and visualize it.
In the beginning, there are countless possibilities that become more and more limited as the process goes on. In the end, often only one essential detail is missing. When I manage to find that missing piece and the whole image suddenly becomes coherent and begins to vibrate as if it has suddenly come alive, that is undeniably the most satisfying part.
But, often there remains this little drop of dissatisfaction—the feeling that the image is not quite perfect. This gives me the impulse to try again. I try to enjoy every step of the creation: the process itself, the material, the application of the paint, and the evolution of the image, while also accepting the struggles and mishaps.
Your work primarily focuses on the “quiet reflections of the beauty of life and its fundamental simplicity.” How do you think working exclusively with liquid media propels that sentiment?
With my increased focus on the credo "less is more," I have also changed my materials and techniques. All my traditional acrylic paints, earth materials, ashes, stone dusts, or sands are hardly used anymore.
From this perspective, what I like about liquid media is that little paint goes a long way, very little wastewater is produced—which is also very practical since my studio has no running water—and my paint cabinet remains manageable.
Transparency is a constant theme of my style, and that can be achieved beautifully with liquid mediums. Lately, I've been painting mostly on raw canvas, which adds to this sense of naturalness, honesty, and simplicity. Nothing can be painted over to cover it up, every step remains visible, leaving its traces.
Like life, these imperfections are part of it, and I try to accept and integrate them.
Simone Christen, 'amazonas II', 16 x 12 in, 2022
What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?
Already in Kindergarten, the painting corner was where to find me. An exchange year in the U.S. during high school, focusing mainly on art, fostered my love for art. Back in Switzerland, I attended the equivalent of an undergraduate study at the School of Art in Lucerne.
After earning a Master's in Geography, I worked for many years in the field of digital cartography and graphics. In addition, I always attended courses in painting, pottery, etc. After creating art took center place again, I visited a three-year study at the Visual School of Art in Basel.
I think art courses and studies are great for exchanging ideas, gaining new perspectives, and learning new techniques. I took home at least one valuable experience or piece of knowledge from each course. In the end, though, education teaches you tools and insights from others.
As an artist, finding your own voice and individual expression can't be achieved in any course alone. Rather, it requires introspection, time, and the willingness to critically examine yourself again and again.
We’d love to hear more about your process of choosing a particular color palette for each piece. How much of a role does color play in how you’d like your work to be perceived?
My paintings mainly express moods and atmospheres, therefore the color palette is central. Before starting a canvas, I create many sketches on paper to develop a feeling for the intended colors, shapes, and their interaction.
My paintings aim to have a calming, restorative effect meaning my color choices tend to be subdued and harmonious. Most of my paintings are in shades of blue or green or show colors of the natural palette.
Simone Christen's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist
What does being a successful artist mean to you and your life right now?
I have not been working at this professional level for long, thus my learning curve is still quite steep.
My main challenge at the moment is to have a daily art practice, to stay open, curious, and experimental, and to keep the joy of being creative.
In life, everything is a question of balance. Between art and the demands of everyday life, social interaction with family and friends, artistic experimentation, client commissions, studio time, and office hours, for me, being successful means maintaining a successful balancing act.
Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?
At a point where the volume of my work and the complexity of my art business grew, my ways of managing had to evolve too.
I struggled to keep track of everything and was wasting too much time trying to organize my business. I worried about the security of my data and the lack of interconnection.
I embarked on Artwork Archive at just the right time. My use of it has grown in sync with my art business over the last year and a half. I love that I now have all my data in one central, safely cloud-stored place, and everything is intelligently connected and elegantly presented.
Simone Christen's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist
How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?
When it comes to the administrative side of my art, Artwork Archive is my hub where all threads come together. It's my mobile office!
I'm able to store virtually all data and photos of my artwork, my contacts, my art-related finances, and more. Since the Public Profile is integrated into my website, I'm able to keep my website up-to-date without doing double entry.
I use Artwork Archive almost every day—usually to look up information about a work, enter a new piece, generate and print a Certificate of Authenticity, add a contact, or enter an art-related revenue or expense.
Artwork Archive is such a pleasant and visually appealing platform that runs smoothly. Managing my art has not only become efficient but also enjoyable.
What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?
Speaking of Artwork Archive, it is certainly helpful and advisable to use an integrative inventory program as early as possible and to continuously collect all the necessary data.
In order to be successful in the art world, the demands on an artist are high. Therefore, it's crucial to run the administrative side as efficiently and professionally as possible.
As an artist, you're in charge of your own marketing and sales. This means developing sound professionalism through social media and the web is key.
It's important to give yourself time to develop your own style—to listen to your inner voice. Keep the joy in the creative process and stay curious, experimental, and daring.
As an artist, you'll need to grow some thick skin and keep a positive mindset; it helps to put away frustrations and failures and start over again and again.
Simone Christen uses Artwork Archive to track her artwork, store important information, and manage all other admin tasks for her art business!
You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business.