3 Questions

3 Questions with Liz Lambert


Hotelier Liz Lambert on taking risks, enjoying collaboration, and asking "what if?"

3 QUESTIONS is a series of brief, three-question interviews with PNCA’s visiting artists and lecturers. Each year, PNCA attracts innovative, thoughtful, and creative makers and thinkers who share our belief in the transformative power of creativity. In three short answers to three short questions, these artists offer perspectives on career, motivation, and transformation. When available, we include links to audio recordings, transcripts, slideshows, or video.

The MFA in Applied Craft and Design program welcomes Liz Lambert as part of the 2013-2014 Graduate Visiting Artist Lecture Series.

“Read and write and read and write.”


Photo by Matthew Gaston ’16.

What advice would you offer current students about to embark on a career in the arts?

Don’t be afraid to change the lens. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the homogeneity of everything around you in this day and age — art, architecture, advertising and commerce. Go deep into your craft, explore everything you can by the artists you love, read and write and read and write, and then get out and travel, to a new neighborhood, to a different country. Find a different way of seeing.

How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?

One of the great things about the hotel business is that it is a collaborative and on-going creation, and there’s a cast of characters that come through the back door or front door on a regular basis — artists, designers, musicians, writers, thinkers. Sometimes it feels like the party is coming to me.

Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?

Well, I was a trial lawyer before I came across a dilapidated motel in my South Austin neighborhood. I used to pass by and wonder what it would be like to buy the place and give it a new life, but it was really just a daydream. Then a good friend of mine died of AIDS – he took his life in order to die a dignified death. And it became impossible not to knock on the door, not to find out “what if,” not to take a risk on something that felt so possibly full of promise and meaning and that might change the course of my life. And I did. And it did.

Originally a New York trial lawyer, LIZ LAMBERT is an improbable success story in the world of hospitality design. She’s been called “the avatar of cool for the inn crowd’s in crowd.” With smart design that is both Texan and global, Lambert’s quirky hotels and other properties – the now-famous Hotel San José, Hotel Saint Cecilia, Jo’s Coffee, and Jo’s Downtown in Austin, El Cosmico in Marfa, and The Havana Hotel in San Antonio – capture the spirit of a place.

— Posted on 10/24 at 02:13 AM

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