My name is Corynne Ostermann, and I am an artist, musician, designer, stylist, and occasional poet (among other roles) living in Baltimore, MD.
I am originally from the Chicago suburbs, attending public school about an hour away from Chicago city (so, not quite Illinoisan, definitely not Chicagoan, but certainly a Midwesterner). My ceramicist mother and my musician/audio engineer father raised me out there, and I have one younger brother who’s in the military.
My mother loves to brag that I knew how to draw before I learned how to speak or write. In any capacity, I’ve always felt like I’ve been training my entire life to do what I do. In moments of weakness or poverty I bemoan this fact, but it is a source of pride and identity for me, as well.
In 2007, I attended Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Arts Camp (IAC) for the first time, initially as a drawing major with a painting minor, and in 2008 returned as an advanced painting and drawing major. IAC is one of the premiere arts programs in the country, and it was the first time I was surrounded by some of the most talented, driven people I had ever met working in the arts. Many of my friends from Interlochen are still working as artists of all stripes and as consummate professionals, and I am grateful I had this intensive training since day one.
At my public high school, I was the prominent visual artist in the art program, and also played in Orchestra, Jazz Band, and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble on trombone/bass trombone. There were a few teachers who actively pushed against my talent, some of whom told me outright that I’d never get into the East Coast schools I wanted, that I was unskilled and coddled, and talentless—so, in order to boost my luck for college applications, I attended figure drawing classes every Saturday and hustled to rebuild my portfolio.
My luck turned out—in 2009 I was accepted into Maryland Institute College of Art, and in 2013 I graduated from MICA Summa Cum Laude as a painting major with a gender studies minor. I am grateful I never listened to the people from my small town who told me I’d never be anything.
My senior year at MICA, I started a band with two then-illustration students & 1 drawing major, and we called ourselves Natural Velvet. The original lineup in 2012 was myself on bass guitar and vocals, Kim Te on guitar, Spike Arreaga on guitar, and Adam Jones on drums.
Natural Velvet released our first EP “Salome With the Head of John the Baptist” in 2013, and then our first full-length “Shame”, in 2014. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we were happy to be doing it—we were building the basis of what our sound was going to be like for years to come. It still tickles me that folks listen to these records sometimes; occasionally I hear a compliment from someone about them, and it makes me smile.
In late 2014 our drummer Adam Jones left to focus on his illustration and drawing career, and we had a series of temp drummers. Nothing was working out until we secured Greg Hatem as our drummer, who has remained since then. At this point, we can’t imagine the band without him.
In 2015 we released “She is Me”, our first full-length record on Friends Records, with singles “Fruits”, and “Crash!” “Fruits” had a gluttonous music video directed and edited by Chris LaMartina, and “Crash!” was made with the help of Nick Baldwin & LaMartina, both videos art directed by me.
This past year, Natural Velvet released “Mirror To Make You” on Friends Records. This record was recorded with Martin Bisi, of B.C. Studios, who is known for his work on Sonic Youth/Lydia Lunch/Swans/Unsane, etc., records, all recorded on the same equipment in the same studio. The record was mixed in Baltimore with Rob Girardi (Beach House, Double Dagger, etc.), and mastered by Sarah Register (The Shins, David Bowie, Ariana Grande, Future Islands, etc.). The single “It’s All Mine” and the corresponding music video, shot by David Manigault, and art directed by me, featured 18 boys in gold bootie shorts exercising and lounging by a pool. Queer and campy, we followed it with “Kristina”, a love song to a friend living in California. The “Kristina” music video was directed by Elena DeBold & produced by Jeff Rettberg.
Natural Velvet is still ongoing—we left last week for our largest tour yet, the “Who Framed Natural Velvet?” Tour, and it will be our first time travelling Internationally as a group. I’ll be posting updates sporadically here about the tour as we chip away at the next five weeks on the road.
As for my visual arts work, in 2013 my then best friend Jonathan Levy and myself started a studio space in Hampden, Baltimore, calling it “Ash Street Studios”. We took over an old auto body shop, and transformed it, turning the 3300 sq. ft. space into 14 studios for visual artists. Over the years, 30+ people called Ash Street Studios their creative home. Our business model was designed around creatively affordable studio space for emerging artists, and as such, we took very low studio rents from our artists until we ultimately closed up shop in 2016. Many studio spaces in the city blossomed shortly after we opened or in our wake, utilizing the model we first experimented with at Ash Street Studios.
I showed my paintings sporadically until 2016, and then curated my first group shows in Baltimore. In February 2016, “Cake Out in the Rain” opened for one month at Current Space, featuring work from Walker Seydell, Kevin Runyon, Johnny Rogers, Adam Amram, and myself. This was followed by “Remixes” opening in March 2016 at La Bodega Gallery, featuring work from Dre Britton, Jean Alexander Frater, and myself. I had the great pleasure of attending Vermont Studio Center as a resident painter in 2016, as well.
This past year I had my first solo painting show. “Super Hot Female” opened at Terrault Contemporary in November 2017, and it was fantastic—I fell in love with my own work again, and have been creating in a nonstop frenzy since.
In terms of day jobs, I have worked as a floral designer since 2013, originally in floral retail and more recently in wedding and event work. I had the great pleasure of studying at the New York Flower School under Robbie Honey in 2015, and currently freelance for Steel Cut Flower Company, in Baltimore MD.
Beyond that, I freelance art direct for creative entrepreneurs, musicians, and artists, and I create anything from music videos, record cover art, EPKS, to branding and digital brand management. I’ve been truly lucky to work with undeniably talented, smart, and musically sound musicians, and have lots to share soon from my work with these talented peers.
And occasionally when I have time, I write little poems.
Why do all this stuff? Why mention it at all?
I find that artist biographies tend to gloss over details that are often labeled “tangential”, when writing about the big, exuberant art practices with multiple creative outputs; it’s easier to write about the singularly focused artist, toiling away in the studio. This multiplicity of outputs is what I consider my strength as an artist, and is misleading to younger, impressionable creators, who might feel they have to pick one specialty and focus in on it with laser precision to the detriment of the diversity of their practice. It is unfair to those of us who consider ourselves true “Multipotentialites”, who are capable of a variety of skills and talents that make their voice unique among the many.
The full phrase is “Jack of all trades, master of none, but better than a master of one”.
This blog is ultimately a celebration of my accomplishments in all facets, written by me, to share with you. I am excited to share the breadth of my work, and consider my music and my art careers equal to each other in terms of my practice and production, therefore, I shall write of these equally and of more regular inspiration drawn from the world around me.
Thanks for joining me here.