In conversation with Suzanne Forbes

An interview taken from our June Issue. In this special issue, we wanted to give light to artists, especially illustrators and painters, to know how to quarantine time affected their lives and their process. We wanted to showcase a different story, different arts to give a voice and platform for these creators.

KALTBLUT: It’s been almost 2 months since self-isolation has been enforced worldwide, how are you feeling?
Suzanne: I’m feeling ok. I am extremely privileged to be able to work from home, because of the support of my Patrons, and I’m so grateful to be in Berlin. I overworked the first seven weeks, so I’m recovering now.

KALTBLUT: What have you been doing to pass your time in quarantine?
Suzanne: I went into self-isolation on March 1, the day after Torture Garden Berlin. I’m disabled, asthmatic and immunocompromised, so I knew I was locking down for the long haul. I slept for four hours after TG and then immediately started working from the minute I woke up to the minute I went to sleep, seven days a week, until late April.

KALTBLUT: How has the situation affected your work?
Suzanne: For that first seven weeks, I felt fiercely energized. I’m a trauma survivor with C-PTSD, so when there’s a crisis I go into endocrinological power space. I was galvanized, and I worked so much. Suddenly I could “attend” and do my documentary drawing at far more drag and burlesque shows than usual! Normally I have to ration the events I go to really carefully, because of my physical limitations. But suddenly all the shows were coming to me, online!

It is very, very different drawing live from a screen, from a Livestream. I keep the same rule, that I have to do the main part of the drawing while the performer is live, but a feed provides much less information than my eyes do. Even in a dark, smoky club, I can see much more of the performer in meatspace than I can when they’re reduced to two dimensions on-screen. This is why I’ve been live-drawing primarily streams where I know most of the people and have drawn them IRL before – I have a mental map of their faces stored! My first live-stream-drawings were really bad. I got the hang of it though. I make my stream drawings a lot simpler.

With simpler drawings, I worked even faster than usual, and on one night I drew from THREE shows. I haven’t drawn three shows in a night since Folsom Weekend 2006 in SF! Like a kid in a candy store, I overdid it, triggered my autoimmune disease, and now I am resting and recovering. Of course, I have FOMO about the online shows I can’t draw, just as I have FOMO about the IRL events I’ve missed because of my health.


Instagram: @suzanneforbesartist

Read the full interview here: