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Made in LA: Liesel Plambeck

"I think there’s always a way to make something interesting or different. I really do see everything as a design challenge. I like the optimism in that."

When asked to describe what Liesel Plambeck does, we’re often at a loss for words. To help us sort it out, we were lucky enough to sit down with the artist and talk shop.

You could start with the SoCal native’s ambitious murals — seen everywhere from public elementary schools and universities to high end eateries and residential spaces. Or maybe her encyclopedic knowledge of textile creation, which she teaches at her alma mater, Otis. Or maybe it’s best to talk about her master printmaking and large scale paintings. Though diverse in range, her creative output has an unmistakable authenticity that has captured the eye and imagination of so many Angelinos.

Liesel grew up in Ventura, immersed since childhood in Southern California’s lush greenery and coastal views. Her mother is an immigrant from Taiwan and her father is a Danish mechanical engineer, perhaps an influence on her highly technical work. In 2009 she hopped from the suburbs to the city for college and has continued to work and live in LA ever since.

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Her first experience in the arts was competitively playing piano. She would spend her summers in Solvang, CA with her grandmother (a professional tailor), who encouraged to explore her creative side. She credits her grandmother teaching her how to sew as her initial exposure to handmade crafts.

Liesel began her career as a professional designer, cutting her teeth at the iconic Kelly Wearstler design firm (working in four different departments). When asked about the huge range of work that she does, she says, “there was definitely no plan. Even in college I felt all over the place. I’ve always just been interested in a lot of different things and different media and not wanting to get pigeonholed or stuck doing one thing.”When deciding to go freelance and open her own practice, Liesel thinks back on the advice of an old boss to “always follow your truth and let that guide your decisions.”

Though casual about her range, much of her practice has been more intentional than one might believe. “I’m really interested in how art can interact with people, and how people can interact with art and design in daily life.” While many fine artists might turn their noses up at the idea of their work being on a rug or a plate or a cement wall, it’s that daily interaction that sparks curiosity in Liesel. “A lot of my favorite artists weren’t afraid of being open to applied arts like that. I think it’s really limiting if you say you’re some kind of purist painter or whatever. I think it’s kind of boring too.”

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Working with a bright color palette, Liesel’s work evokes more positive feelings, a sense of joy and hope. “It’s not an intentional thing,” says Liesel, but it seems a sense of wonder and playfulness are often associated with her work. However, when it comes to fashion, Liesel’s personal choices are in stark contrast to her vivid, intricate work output. Opting for simple minimal pieces is perhaps in response to being maxed-out on patterns, colors and shapes.

Working in fashion also made Liesel super conscious of the wastefulness of trends. “My personal goal is just to have staples. I don’t like buying tons of clothes and the goal is to have things that I’ll have for life. So I always gravitate to the classic and simple.” A master of applied arts, it’s no wonder that even getting dressed is a design challenge that she gracefully solves.

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“I just think that simple clothing is the most classic, timeless look. 30 years from now you could see it in a picture and it would still look great.”

Shop Liesel's Picks

natalia linen button-up shirt

Regular price $225.00
Sale price $225.00 Regular price

ventura pant

Regular price $153.00
Sale price $153.00 Regular price $218.00

claremont shirt

Regular price $219.00
Sale price $219.00 Regular price

hazel canvas bucket hat by freya

Regular price $120.00
Sale price $120.00 Regular price