The graphic works of Marleigh Culver erupt from walls, explode from pages. Leaves stretch and flowers bloom, their shapes obscured and distanced from a reality—an arguably duller realm. Culver, based in New York City, specializes in richly saturated and abstract works that evoke the natural world. The colors she employs feel fresh while also conjuring up dreams of the 1960s and ‘70s, her flora often rendered in shades like subdued tangerine and lime-tinged mustard. Her preferred number of dimensions is two, and the flatness warmly recalls elementary school projects of construction paper cut-outs.
Culver’s work is chic, charming, and increasingly in demand. After four years in-house at Richmond, Virginia clothing boutique Need Supply Co., Culver moved up north for a stint at Gap Inc. Since then, the artist and graphic designer has been a free agent, and a successful one at that. Culver has been commissioned by everyone from Sweetgreen to Teen Vogue, and she has recently launched a handbag collaboration with Coach. She has, naturally, caught the eye of many an editor, and her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Domino, and Wallpaper, to name just a few.
In the midst of what could be described as a breakout year, Culver kindly took the time to let SIXTY into her studio. Below, the busy creative talks cross-country tracks, pre-flight IPAs, and a boundary-free approach to the enjoyment of life.
Place of residence:
Creative Lead of Lalo and freelance designer.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A master of stress and a master baker. Sounds related…
Quote to live by:
“It’s not that big of a deal” or, my personal favorite, “Ugh, whatever.”
First job you ever had:
Slinging smoothies at the oceanfront in my hometown. There was one lady who came in every day who got the same smoothie at the same time. Her name was very French and she was very tan and always sported a chic exercise outfit and giant sunglasses.
Least favorite part of your day:
The time spent getting places; it’s not as fun without a car.
Windows down, the song you’re playing is:
“Solitude Is Bliss” by Tame Impala. My favorite time to listen to music is in a car with windows down.
Three guilty pleasures:
Expensive facials, having The Office on repeat, and Taco Bell. I’m a super fun person with no pleasure limits!
If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?
Clueless… “I’m having a Twin Peaks experience.”
You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…
Paintings from Alex Katz, Julie Mehretu, Helen Frankenthaler, and I’d donate money to art programs for kids who need it. Does producing my dream film count for “art,” too?
Plane, train or automobile for a trip?
Train! Tracks show you things you’ve never—and would never see—by any other means. It’s full of strange sights and gives me a lot of inspiration.
What IS your favorite trip?
Driving through Virginia to see my parents, or doing my almost-yearly trip to London to see my best friend. Love getting closer to people close to me.
Personal travel ethos:
I’ve adopted cute sweatpants—you people are on to something. Also platform Tevas—cool and easy to slip off for security screenings. And a beer before the flight never hurt nobody.
Drink of choice:
I’m annoying and love natural wines.
Beach house or tree house:
Beach house! I grew up near the ocean. No question. Sun and sand for life, baby.
Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?
Wow, really hitting the hard ones. I’m going to say Bodega 1900 in Barcelona with my love. Fantastic, understated, ridiculous. Twelve courses paired with glasses and glasses of vermut. Salut!
What is the best news you ever received?
“Your blood clot has cleared and your brain is looking normal.” I cried.
Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.
I’m not really a hater. Ohhh, wait. Hating things is overrated! Can’t stand pompous assholes. I find negativity suffocating.
Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.
I feel like I have been to so many concerts! I’m going to say seeing Blonde Redhead the three times I have has been incredible. The first time hit the hardest because the members are all beautiful and incredibly talented and I’ve been listening to them since I was 12. I think my parents showed them to me! Something about Kazu Makino’s voice really transcends the space they perform in.
Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?
I get my best ideas in yoga, at Sky Ting. I worship that place. Invigorating my physical body wakes up the weird parts of my mind. Or seeing things upside down is fun, too. I like gardens as well.