Posts tagged artist
Studio Sunday: Brandi Hofer
BrittanySM_1512x1512.jpg

This week’s Studio Sunday feature highlights the work of Canadian artist, Brandi Hofer. With three pieces from her GUS series currently on view with PxP Contemporary, we wanted to learn more about her creative practice, how she tackles creative blocks, and what inspires her work. Behind the bright colors and gestural marks lies a wealth of emotion tied to love, loss, new life, and most importantly, the joys and challenges of motherhood. Learn more about the artist and her work in the interview below!

Bio

Brandi Hofer was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan in 1986. She studied in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College from 2004 - 2006 before transferring to the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008.

Hofer has worked in several art media including: drawing, printmaking, and painting, with oils, acrylics encaustic, mixed media, and watercolors.

Hofer has long focused on female portraits and has explored themes of feminism, empowerment, the emotional self, and the female psyche. Hofer's work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in France, London, New York, and all across Canada. In 2011, she attended residencies at Red Deer College, Toronto Island, the Marnay Art Centre outside of Paris France, and was part of artist Robin Lambert's project in Montreal, Quebec. She was listed as the online Saatchi Gallery’s “Artist to Watch” feature on their website. Most recently her work appeared on HGTV’s House of Bryan, Bryan Inc, and has been published in The World of Interiors Magazine and a General Motors commercial.

Her show "Gus", based on parenthood, for 2018 traveled to Red Deer at the Harris-Warke Gallery, Lloydminster with through The Collective Art Market, and the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon.

Brandi Hofer's studio where she works and creates is located in Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada.

Image-49_480x480.jpg

When did you first become interested in art?

Art or being an artist and creative has always been a part of me. From a very young age, I was interested in all forms of art, particularly painting and drawing. Every book in our home had an original drawing on its pages. My parents were always very encouraging and open to my interests, they never pushed or questioned, they were just supportive of whatever interest my siblings and I had. If I received a gift from someone, it was always related to the arts. I remember breaking a wishbone on Thanksgiving when I was about 4, and I wished aloud for a pack of markers, that week in the mailbox the “wishbone” delivered. I was very fortunate, in the regard that I had a support system, encouragement, love, and the space to experiment, explore and create.

Around my second year in the visual arts program, something began to shift, and I made a conscious decision to actively pursue the avenue of becoming a professional visual artist. I had no idea what being an artist and running an art studio or what it meant to run a self-employed business actually entailed. I just knew that I was passionate about creating, it made me happy, it was fulfilling, and I would do anything to be able to do it every day.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work and what your creative process is like.

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging endeavors in one's life, however, I have no doubt it is the most meaningful. As an artist, I am influenced and inspired by my everyday environment. In this new series of artworks, I aim to highlight and capture the beauty of being a parent, (from what I've experienced) as the richest time in my life. This series aims to speak about my triumphs and struggles as a mother. It deals with the ideals of motherhood, its morals, and its priorities. It is an exciting series that revels in a mother’s time with her child.

I would like to begin by establishing that I rarely like to bring up or to discuss the subject matter of losing my mother in 2014, being that it is emotionally painful. I lost my mother, my beacon of wisdom and love, my sense of home. After a brief fight with lung cancer, my mom passed, I was six months pregnant at the time with my first child. I found her death to be beyond life-shattering. Devastatingly I lost my “home”, the constant in my life. Though her values and way of life are entrenched in my every day, I still long for the sound of her voice and cling to the dream of her meeting her grandchildren. Her meeting them for even a minute, to see how amazing, beautiful, and smart they are, those thoughts are the most heart wrenching for me. There is no doubt in my mind that my son Gus and my husband Carly saved my sanity in those trying months following her death. Gus was my focus, and Carly was my strength. I learned in that trying time that a mother’s love for a child is an insurmountable love, and I now know how much my mother loved me. 

That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother. You will not get the things you want in this life by not taking a chance in the first place.

“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

-Steve Jobs

Since the passing of my mother, my life has kicked into high gear. Time is our most precious commodity and should be spent on the things that matter most: family, love, and one’s passions. Moments are fickle and fleeting; I have endeavored to make the most of mine. I refuse to lock myself away in my studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark-making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brushstroke or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands, and no Finn, you can’t eat it”!  My 2-year-old son Gus and I had the most amazing time together painting this series; I hope the unique artwork can even scratch the surface of the significance of our time together.

The paintings consist of a series of portraits. The intention of the work is to project strength, integrity, love and the struggle of what it takes to be a parent. This series is a celebration of motherhood, parenthood and the sheer innocence of being playful. The mindset and mood of the artwork is to project the incorruptible freedom of a child’s open cognizance, and zest for living life in the moment. 

What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your art?

My aim and hope are that the viewer can connect in some way, get a feel for the artwork, and grasp not necessarily the exact meaning that I have intended while creating, but to have their own associations and perceptions.  Moreover, the viewer can feel the passion and emotion behind the imagery, figure, portrait, and forms in the artwork. 

What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

I do think about this from time to time. I have a few “wishes”, like utilizing social media a few years ahead, in a more effective manner for business purposes, I could have built a wider audience had I been more focused or aware of its effectiveness earlier on. I also wish I had applied myself as hard as I do today, and made a point of being in the studio, including it as a part of my daily routine, like I do presently. I have always been very prolific, but I think could have had more of a vision and focus for my practice. I still would not change a thing about how my life or my creative process, or the way my art business has evolved into what it is today. There are important lessons to be learned in the way that life falls into place. I feel like changing anything would possibly affect the outcome of where I am now, I am happy and grateful for the life that I have presently, and in the end, I guess I wouldn’t take my future self’s advice. 

How do you overcome creative blocks? 

I believe in working through creative blocks. As long as you are in your studio creating, there is a lesson to be learned or ideas to explore. You are never going to get ahead if you can’t take the first step of being present in your practice. I also believe in rest. You cannot master your active life if you cannot master your resting life. Living a balanced life helps my practice immensely: getting a proper night’s sleep, taking naps, reading, eating well, spending time with loved ones, meditating, and exercising. Because when I finally get that time in the studio it feels like an honor and a special treat. How many people can say they do what we do as artists? I am always grateful for the ability of simply being an artist, creating something out of nothing, and creative blocks are just an organic part of the process. 

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

The most recent show that I am involved in is with PXP Contemporary for their “Faces & Figures” show. My work from the “MINE” series is soon to be available in an upcoming publication titled, “FEMME Issue II”. My “MINE” series (from 2018/19) has found homes in several galleries. I just had my third child recently, and I am taking a month or two to rest. I will continue working on my ongoing commissioned work, as well as my personal in-progress series. The focus of my new series is based on heritage, lineage, and imagery from found photos from the past, this series will be opening at the Assiniboia Gallery in 2021. I also was recently featured in an episode for a documentary series “Making it in Saskatchewan” which aired in June. The “GUS – artwork created by Mother & Son” series just finished its tour. The series was a 44-piece show and interactive installation, travelled to 3 Galleries across Canada, in 2017/18. 

Hofer_wall_1_1_1512x1512.jpg

By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Natalie Bradford

This Studio Sunday we meet Natalie Bradford, a multimedia artist based in Michigan. Inspired by the connection between humans and nature, her work also depicts themes of absence and decay. Two of her surrealistic ink drawings are currently on view with PxP Contemporary. Learn more about the artist in her interview below!

Bio
Natalie Bradford is a young, emerging artist en route to earn her BFA with an emphasis in Printmaking from Western Michigan University. She splits her time between Kalamazoo and Detroit, where she is from, and creates prints, paintings, drawings, and collages. She has exhibited locally and previously been featured in Average Art Magazine, Wotisart Magazine, A5 Magazine and Juste Milieu Lit + Art Zine.

Statement
My artwork is mostly surreal and imaginative and oftentimes deals with themes of absence, decay, humans, and nature. It explores my concerns, anxieties, and curiosity about the future and what happens to our bodies and souls when we die. I create images and narratives of what I perceive to be life after death depicted by the human figure, nature, and animal/hybrid creatures.

When and how did you first become interested in art?

I was always interested in art, ever since I could (kind of) hold a pencil. I started to get serious about it during my senior year of high school when I had to decide on what college to go to and which ones had the best art program. I ended up choosing the Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, and love it!

Tell us about what inspires you creatively. Can you share a bit about the meaning behind your drawings that we're exhibiting in Faces & Figures?

I’m inspired a lot by nature. My drawings depict birds and human body parts and speak to the circle of life and the temporality of life. Basically, how humans, being organic beings, eventually die and their body goes back into nature to nourish new life.

20190925_135404 (1).jpg

What is your process like?

My process starts with a very rough, vague pencil sketch to establish important lines and curves and then I move into using a pen. I know using a pen this early on in a drawing is risky since it can’t be erased, but as I work through a drawing, I’ll sometimes instinctively make marks or add pieces that weren’t originally sketched out and it adds another element to my drawings

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is kind of split in half at the moment; I have my own studio space through the Printmedia department at WMU where I work on my prints and other class projects, and then I have a little makeshift studio space in my sunroom at my house. That space is where I do most of my drawings. I always keep a stack of sketchbooks and an empty coffee canister of pens and pencils in both studios.

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

One thing my now-retired high school art teacher said to me my senior year was that making art isn’t just dependent on talent; he said: “Art making is about 1% actual talent and 99% dedication and time spent on your craft.” I oftentimes put this pressure on myself to make masterpieces every time I sketch, paint, draw, or print. That quote has stuck with me for a long time because it acts as a reminder to myself not to rush the process and really take my time with planning and sketching out my pieces, and working through the actual piece.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

I have three prints that are going to be in a holiday exhibition at the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center this November to December! This will be my second time exhibiting work at this gallery and I’m really excited about the prints that will be on display because they are three of my favorite ones and it’s nice to have work in a gallery that’s close to home for me.

nataliebradford.pushpull.inkonpapermountedtowoodboard.jpg
Ceramics Questioning Contemporary Expectations of Clay by Elyse Grams
131 (1).jpeg

Elyse Grams is a ceramic artist based in Portland, Maine. Hand building earthenware coil vessels in the style of Victorian era Wedgewood pottery she is questioning contemporary expectations of clay by remixing histories, old and new. Elyse was recently a fellow at the Artist Campaign School, a conference dedicated to involving more artists directly in the political process. She has shown work in group and solo shows in Texas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Maine. Elyse is a current MFA candidate at the Maine College of Art.

 Statement

Ceramic history stretches out behind me like the line of a coil, plastic and uneven. The clay rolls beneath my fingertips and here and now the coils begin to build. I look to the specific shapes of Wedgewood pottery to ground myself but the coil, one of the most basic building blocks of a pot, always calls me back. I am a vessel building a vessel. I am plastic and uneven.

Wedgewood pottery fascinates me both as  objects that are a Frankenstein mish-mash of culturally appropriated signifers and as historically fetishized domestic heirlooms passed down from mother to daughter. Through the re-creation of these pots using red clay and coils I am questioning long held expectations of ceramic material worth, process, and form. I am challenging the value judgements made on earthenware vessels and their traditional place in the hierarchy of fine art. What is “technically wrong” becomes an open dialogue through time between myself and the ceramic histories I draw from.

www.instagram.com/lyseygirl/

I_made_a_space_for_us_here (1).jpg
Fallacies_of_the_Past (1).jpeg
Studio Sunday: Andrew Indelicato

Andrew Indelicato, an artist, designer, and teacher, is this week’s Studio Sunday feature. In his interview, he discusses the crucial moment last year when he reevaluated the work he was making in order to develop a style that was more true to himself in addition to what he believes is the most rewarding aspect of being an artist! He also has two works currently available with PxP Contemporary in their show ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Andrew Indelicato holds a Master's in Fine Arts and a Master's in Product Innovation. He is passionate about color, design, and Japanese culture. Indelicato has recently been featured in multiple publications and group exhibitions and he currently teaches Art, Creativity, and Design at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Statement

This body of my work revolves around the beauty of alternate futures that lay within the aesthetics of niche Anime subcultures. In today’s age, we are always looking for something to escape into. Remembrance and the retro always come forth. We want to relive ourselves within the nature of what we watched and saw when we were younger. It’s all about connecting to something that never was but perhaps might come forth in the future. The work draws upon the cyberpunk and dystopian aesthetics with subtle hints of neon vaporwave culture. It's big, bold, and a tad kitsch. The work can become somewhat awkward, but we as viewers crave this and then always want to take a peek.

unnamed (5).jpg

Tell us about your background in art. Where and what did you study?

I grew up in a creative household and was always pushed to pursue what I wanted. I got my BFA in Painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the University of Georgia, and just recently I completed a Master’s in Product Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University.

How did you develop your style?

I’ve always had a hard-edged geometric aesthetic as well as an intuitive way with color. In 2018 around May, I had a gut-check moment about my work and why I was actually making the work that I was. I didn’t enjoy what I was making so I started to do some self-reflection and remembered the things I was passionate about and the things that I grew up with. These things really never left me and I wanted to bring these topics and images into the contemporary world. It’s an ongoing process and I’m enjoying the ride.

What is your process like? Do you work on pieces simultaneously?

I do a lot of research and planning for the imagery I want to use as well as the aesthetic I want to go for. Some of it is mapped out, some of it is just by chance - one of my goals is to find the play between both. I like to work on multiple works at the same time, especially within different media. Drawings, paintings, and digital work all go on at once.

Name a few artists who inspire you or where you look for inspiration.

I’d say KAWS, John Felix Arnold, and Felipepantone, just to name a few. For inspiration, I also look to anime, manga, and pop culture or tech websites as well as YouTube and Instagram.

Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

My studio space is all over the place right now. Unfortunately, I don’t have a dedicated space, but I have a screened-in porch that I use and a spare bedroom I use part of. I must always have my computer and my projector.

unnamed.jpg

What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist? The most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect is time, finding time to make for yourself and not for a client or anyone else. The most rewarding is that gut feeling when you know you hit that sweet spot in the piece you are working on. It’s like putting two puzzle pieces together, it just feels right.

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Right now I’m working on a couple of paintings for a group show for early next year as well as getting some things together for new opportunities.

'Satisfy Your Sweetest Desires': A Profile on Artist - Entrepreneur Robyn Blair Davidson (“by robynblair”)

By Zoë Goetzmann

004-2018-11-26 Robyn Davidson copy (1).jpg

When life hands you candy, make art.

Over this past year, New York based artist Robyn Blair Davidson –  or rather “by robynblair” –  has built, established and maintained a successful career for herself through her candy wall art designs, prints and acrylic candy dishes. 

Prior to becoming an artist, Robyn worked as the marketing director for a contemporary clothing company. Up until last year, she was the owner of her own consulting agency through which she helped brands with experiential marketing, partnerships and large-scale collaborations.

So, how did Robyn make the switch from a career in marketing to a career as an artist? More importantly, why candy?  

If you ask Robyn, she can tell you all about her candy obsession, “I love candy and I always have candy on me, in my bag, in my house, everywhere!” Through this intense passion for candy, combined with a later interest in home décor, Robyn made the transition from a marketing professional to an artist-entrepreneur.  

Whilst sitting in her living room one day back in 2018, Robyn got the idea to create her first candy art piece. As she says, “I started to care about my environment and making my space a reflection of who I am and one day, it hit me that I wanted to put candy on the wall! It’s so pretty and happy, so why not? I’ve always thought that candy packaging is an art in itself.”

For her first piece, In Case of Emergency, Break Glass, Robyn filled a custom-designed acrylic plexiglass case with Dubble Bubble gum, printing the title of the work in hot pink block lettering.

 She also designed the exterior case to be, “1 ½ inches thick,” she explains, “so [that] it had depth, but also was thin enough to hang on a wall as fine art.”

Robyn then hung her work on the walls of her own home — next to one of her favorite works by Pop artist, Deborah Kass entitled, C’Mon Get Happy! (2010).

“I hung the first piece on the wall, and it made me smile,” she reflects. “It all happened without a single thought of starting a candy-based business or becoming an artist. I just made it for myself.” 

A few days after completing her first piece, Robyn’s friends and family began to reach out to her to ask if she would make similar pieces for them. In March 2018, with their encouragement, Robyn posted a photograph of her work onto her personal Instagram account. Soon, she would create another profile under the Instagram name: @byrobynblair, which now has over 16,000 followers.

In the next month, Robyn would become a full-time working artist who promotes and sells her work to clients all over the world such as in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Dubai, Shanghai, Toronto and London. Currently, she operates the majority of her business and sales via her website: byrobynblair.com.

For Robyn: collaboration is everything.

Since establishing her brand “by robynblair,” Robyn has collaborated with other brands and companies including Name Glo and Dormify. In November 2018, her works were displayed in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. In December 2018, Robyn made a set of pieces for Harry Winston, which were shown alongside the jeweler’s candy-colored diamond collection, Winston Candy.

As a former marketing professional, Robyn understands the importance of social media. She also attributes a portion of her career success to her prior connections in the fashion world.

“Brand partnerships have always been one of the most fun parts!” she exclaims. “I can’t help but feel, if I started my brand 10 years ago, companies like Harry Winston wouldn’t be reaching out to [me]. It’s a different world now and big companies are willing to go alongside emerging artists like [myself] because creatively, they know that’s what resonates on social [media] right now. I’ve been able to leverage connections from my old days in fashion to get a pop-up at Saks, something that would not have happened before Instagram took over!”

Even candy companies have contacted Robyn in order to express their admiration for her work. As she says, “since I started making my pieces, candy companies have been reaching out to me to partner on a new flavor launch or send me candy for future pieces with a nice note.”

Robyn’s Instagram, @byrobynblair also serves as another means of collaboration for her business. Using her Instagram as a visual portfolio for her work, Robyn will often direct her clients to this platform if they need guidance when picking out candy for specific commissions.   

As she explains, “It’s the most amazing platform that I use to show what I’m working on, and [to] help give people ideas and inspiration as I work with them. Instagram is a great place for my clients to get inspired and see that they like and what they don’t like. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

byrobynblair - 2 Candy Dishes-1 (1).jpg

 

Through her collaboration with Dormify, an interior design company that specializes in college room décor, Robyn has also been able to adjust her higher artwork prices to accommodate her younger audiences who might also follow her on Instagram.

As she says, “I was so happy to partner with Dormify and offer poster prints because I never wanted to say, ‘no’ to somebody who reached out for a piece. I love being able to have another price point that’s accessible.

When creating one of her works, Robyn approaches each new piece with a sense of humor, positivity, relatability, nostalgia and thoughtfulness.  

In lieu of paints and a canvas, Robyn puts as much effort into arranging the candy within its cases, as a fine artist would put into a masterpiece. 

“I only use packaged pieces, never loose candy,” she explains. “I also use a special glue to help preserve each piece and I work with expert plexiglass manufacturers to tightly seal my pieces, making sure nothing gets in and nothing gets out.”

 Although her tagline  – “Satisfy Your Sweetest Desires” – would suggest otherwise, Robyn prefers to indulge in sour, rather than sweet candy. When creating one of her works, she is drawn to the bolder, more colorful packaging.  

“I gravitate towards the sour candies and ‘make-your-own-candy’ bag stores,” she explains. “Because I don’t work with loose candy, when it comes to candy packaging, I gravitate towards bright and fluorescent colors that make a big statement. Think: Push Pops, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, Dubble Bubble. Their branding is Pop Art in itself!” 

Despite Robyn’s predominantly female audience, she also has a large following of couples who love her candy art creations. Establishing a collection called Man Cave, Robyn expanded her talents beyond her candy art medium, creating artwork out of playing cards, superhero memorabilia, cell phones and even perfume bottles to satisfy her clients’ individual tastes.

“It’s interesting to have clients who are couples come to me saying they’ve been having trouble finding pieces of art together, but they saw my art and both loved it so much. My couple clients see my work as Pop Art, not too feminine, not too masculine, just fun, bright, statement-making art,” she says.

byrobynblair - Candy, Warning Sugar High (1).jpg

 

When brainstorming artwork titles, Robyn tends to choose ones that would make her laugh and would also make her collectors happy. Her ideas are always personal, establishing a relatable connection between herself, her clients as well as the specific candies that are featured in each one of her pieces.

“I think it’s really funny that the first piece I made had, In Case of Emergency, Break Glass  printed on the front, because of all people, I would be the first one to break into something to get a piece of candy if I wanted it badly enough!,” she jokes. “So, I kept thinking about the correlation between the candy I eat and what else makes my life sweet. Life is Sweet and Sugar High [candy wall art titles] fit the mold of more fun and quirky sayings, and I realized that all my phrases are about how candy makes me feel.”

Robyn applies this same logic when working with older types of candy from the 1960’s and the 1980’s, revealing another astute, yet “funny” observation about her clients’ buying habits.  

“Something funny that [I’ve] learned is that not everybody knows how to buy art, but everybody knows how to buy candy,” she says. “I find [that] the pieces that make my clients the happiest have a nostalgic element to them and really connect to who they are.”

Through this whirlwind of a year, Robyn has kept a positive attitude when it comes to her career, looking forward to other projects and collaborations in the future. One of which, includes working with interior designer, Cara Woodhouse of Cara Woodhouse Interiors to turn her new living room into an art showroom. 

Her work also echoes other well-known Pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Barbara Kruger. In fact, Ruscha even used food products in his previous work in order to capture the socio-political reality of everyday life. Just look up his installation, Chocolate Room (1970) for example! However, in contrast to these other artists, Robyn’s work is far more optimistic rather than ironically sardonic.

byrobynblair - Golden Kishes Artwork.jpg

 

Above all, Robyn desires to keep making work that appeals — or rather, “satisfies”— her own happiness as well as the happiness of her clients and her followers.

“My number one overall goal is to make people smile and to bring happiness into their homes,” she says. 

In times when the world can often feel like a dark place, Robyn’s work represents the necessary sweetness that we all need to lift up our spirits.           

byrobynblair - Robyn & Artwork-1.jpg (1) (1).jpg


   Robyn Blair Davidson [Website]: https://byrobynblair.com/

 

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Sergio Garcia
Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 12.42.48 PM.png

We were so excited to learn more about Sergio Garcia, a highlight artist for the upcoming Moniker Art Fair in London! Sergio is a Cuban-American artist, a sculptor and a painter who uses art as a means for exploring his personal identity, both past and present, within the context of the ever-present human condition and the socio-political environment. Read his interview below to know how he got started in art, what he will be presenting at the fair, and the other big projects he has coming up this year!

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 12.27.47 PM.png

Tell us about your background and how you became interested in art?

My father’s side of the family is from Mexico and my mother’s side is from Texas. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Growing up I read a lot of Bloom County comic strips and listened to a lot of Iron Maiden and ZZ Top. I started drawing a lot of album covers on book covers at school. Eventually, I slowly started getting into graffiti and skateboarding. The skateboarding culture really influenced me and my work today. As I got older I learned to airbrush and started airbrushing cars and motorcycles. Then that slowly led me into doing contemporary art. I still paint motorcycles every now and then.

You use words like unconventional and unorthodox when discussing your work. Can you describe in what ways your work can be seen as pushing past traditional boundaries and what effect you hope to achieve by doing this?

I guess the main reason would be the types of materials I use. Most of my work is done in automotive paint. I also use a wide range of material like; blown glass, plastic, resin, fiberglass. All with automotive clear float finishes. I guess another thing would be that I don’t have one set way of making my sculptures. I experiment with all types of products to achieve the best look possible.

Tell us about your most interesting project or favorite piece that you've made?

Believe it or not it’s the ones for the moniker art fair. Probably the OJ II WHEEL. Seeing that one come to life brings back a lot of memories and excitement. I think a lot of my work ties to youthfulness and this one hits home the hardest.

How does your process work? Do you do a lot of research and sketching or create art more intuitively? How long does one piece take and do you work on series separately or simultaneously?

I do a lot of research beforehand. I think about every option and I even try samples of materials that I think would work best. I try to have everything thought out before I attempt it. Some series I think about for years before attempting. Sometimes I’ll make a piece and then assembly line the rest. Other times I go all in and change things as I go.

WW-sergio.jpg

What can we look forward to from you at Moniker Art Fair?

I’m doing a new series that I’ve kept under wraps of oversized hyper-realistic skateboard wheels. I’m really excited about this series. I’ve been wanting to make them for a while. Moniker offered me a spotlight series which gave me the freedom to pull it off. The group of work is called “It’s the little things”. Skateboarding culture is kind of what got me into doing art in the first place. A lot of the styles, graphics, colors, and thing from the 80s and 90s struck a chord with me. It still does to this day. So it’s nice to pay homage to that. I hope the viewers are just as excited as I am.

Are there any other exciting projects, collaborations or exhibitions for the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

We have Miami in December, which is Art Basel. I’ll be showing with Thinkspace. That’s always my favorite time of the year. Other than that, I have a few mural projects in the works.

By Alicia Puig

New from RijksCreative - How to paint in the style of Karel Appel!
Karel Appel 5.png

We recently introduced the YouTube Channel RijksCreative, a series of art tutorials created as an initiative by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. If you have always wanted to try painting or experiment with a new style, we encourage you to check out RijksCreative’s most recent lesson. In it, you’ll watch Ruud Lanfermeijer give instructions on how to paint in the CoBrA style of famed Dutch artist Karel Appel. Visit RijksCreative online to learn more and see the entire collection of instructional videos! 

Here’s the direct link to watch ‘How to create a Karel Appel painting’. Take a look at the video notes for a complete list of the supplies you’ll need before you begin!

About RijksCreative

As part of an initiative that brings both greater awareness and appreciation of the vast collection of masterpieces exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, the RijksCreative YouTube channel allows you to delve deeper into the style of prominent figures throughout art history. On RijksCreative you’ll find how-to videos in which art teachers from the museum demonstrate the steps to creating compositions like Rembrandt or painting self portraits like Van Gogh. Each video explains one art technique in detail so that even beginners can follow along! 

Check out the RijksCreative channel here.

Karel Appel 1.png

About the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the Dutch national museum dedicated to the arts and history. The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. The Rijksmuseum has on display over 8,000 objects and a total collection of over 1 million. A walk through the galleries is a journey through 800 years of art and history. Some of the museum’s masterpieces include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands and welcomes over 2.5 million visitors each year.

For more information about the museum please visit their website

Studio Sunday: Ladislas Chachignot
Pic-Ladislas-travel-workspace.jpg

Meet Ladislas Chachignot, a French artist working in Barcelona, who we’ve profiled for our Studio Sunday feature! His traditional and digital paintings integrating the figure and nature are characterized by beautiful and complex compositions that draw the viewer in. Learn more about his studio practice in his interview below and make sure to check out his two available works in PxP Contemporary’s current exhibition ‘Faces & Figures.’

Bio

Ladislas Chachignot is a French digital and traditional artist based in Barcelona. Specializing in colorful and detailed art, Ladislas is a kind of graphic chameleon that is working both digitally and traditionally, mixing various techniques to experiment and create vivid and bold artworks, full of details that are reflecting his vision of the world.

Ladislas is inspired by several themes like pop culture, urban art, graphic design and illustration, ecology and arts or crafts from ancient civilizations. The painting technique via a digital medium is almost the same as the traditional one: everything is hand-drawn and painted using a graphic tablet. No photographs or photographic textures are included in his images.

In parallel to his digital work, Ladislas began to paint on canvas and transfer his knowledge learned in digital art into traditional. He uses various mediums such as watercolor, acrylics, water-based markers, and spray-paint to create his images and paintings. No matter the medium, digital or traditional, Ladislas is willing to transfer his vision of the society and world and share his love for living as well as raising awareness toward the preservation on planet Earth by showing its richness and diversity.

Statement

I'm confronting the human body and its place alongside the richness and diversity of nature. See how we interact and are part of it and at the same time how we transform our world to fit to us.

I'm showing the ambivalence / ambiguity that lies in each human being, the two sides that are clashing and go in opposite directions within us:

- The constant need to control, adapt our environment to our own needs without thinking of the consequences of these modifications.

- In opposition to the need of peace and balance that we can find when connected with the natural environment. A kind of roots that we've rediscovered.

Through these images, I am questioning our place as humans in the world. We do concentrate more and more in the cities and are progressively losing the connection between nature and our initial primitive wildness and freedom as we fall more and more into a digital and 24/7 connected way of living.

How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

Images were always something very attractive for me since I was a child. I could spend hours in the toy shop watching colorful packagings and dream about stories I could create with all those toys. I was watching a lot of cartoons and always loved to play. I started to discover the art world bit by bit with school trips and with my parents. We visited French museums and I remember that I was amazed by all the paintings I was seeing on the walls.

I was attracted by ancient art and crafts from old civilizations (like Pre-columbian art) , so much details and stories, "bestiary" of gods, monsters and heroes. 

Everything I needed to imagine stories while watching the images.  I started to absorb images everywhere and tried to draw characters I saw in magazines, on the TV... With the growth of internet and its unlimited access to images I discovered various new visual trends and Artists I loved. 

It helped me a lot to develop my skills and also to get inspired to create new paintings.

We love that your work is so bold and colorful. Can you tell us about what inspires you?

Colors are really important for me yes. I guess it's my way to express emotions through the image. It's really interesting because when you experiment with it you learn how to create contrast, and highlight some elements in your image only with the use of colors.

You can change the mood of a painting just by picking some specific colors and the way you create lighting in your scene.

I think that my main inspiration is definitely "nature". It's a source of unlimited inspiration, so much species, and diversity. Patterns, colors, shapes, there's everything you need to create images. You can find species and then discover sub-species that has different colors and shapes, sometimes quite different from the one you knew. To me, Nature is a the biggest source of creation, and we all inspire ourselves with it.

Preview Painting Ladislas PXP interview-4.jpg

What is your process like? Do you do a lot of sketching or make work more intuitively?

I don't think I sketch too much when I'm starting a new piece. I've got an idea of how it should look in the end and then I start putting lines on the paper. But the great point of doing this is that as it's not planned totally, there's room for improvisation, it makes the process more fun and enjoyable. I follow my instinct on this, and look for the moment when I tell myself " yes, there's something interesting here". I look for excitement and fun when creating.

I usually sketch the character first and then I start to fill the canvas bit by bit all around the character.

I do everything with pencil, lines are quite sloppy in the beginning, but I focus of the composition and how shapes are interacting between each other. To create movement and so the viewer can dive into the image and look for details. Then I erase slowly and leave the first layer of lines a bit visible so I can re-create a refined and clean version of the lines. Then start the "color phase" where I'm putting colors and change them progressively as I experiment and build the image. In this step also, I don't plan too much, I often have a "mood board" but I leave room to make "tests". It's quite easy to do with the digital medium so I do it until I feel I found the right combination in the image.

Describe your current studio or creative space. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your work area?

I work in a co-working space which is a big open space in an ancient factory in Barcelona.

I've got a desk in it so I can leave my things inside and don't need to remove them every evening.

My workstation is made of my computer that I leave closed, an additional screen bigger than the computer screen which I use as my main screen + my Cintiq pro 16 graphic tablet. When I work I leave my images and references open on the other screen and paint on the Cintiq .

I also have an additional Hard drive to save projects and don't leave them only in one place , would be a shame to loose all my images so I often do backups and copy my things on various places.

I surround myself with plants on my desk. Small green plants that I let grow and invade the desk if I could I would create a jungle surrounding my screen and myself but Im a bit afraid of the humidity problems I would have with this solution haha). I also have a collection of pine cones that I collect everywhere I go. I've got some from various countries all around the world and display them in a jar on my desk. I like to collect things so I display a few of them, images, a few toys or motivating quotes to help me get some good and relaxing vibes when I work.

When I paint of canvas I prefer to do it at home as the activity is more messy and dirty, I don't disturb anyone like that.

Chachignot-Ladislas-08_2048x2048.jpg

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

My favorite thing about being an artist is that I mix work with passion. I'm lucky to be my own boss and propose my vision to my clients. 

I feel I express myself through my images and have a purpose with this. The best thing is that I can give people emotions when they look at my images. When I see that I give them a small piece of "dream", a moment of "pause" and spark there curiosity, I'm really happy of it. It's a reward to remind me that art has a great power to deliver strong message and emotions and I'm grateful I can create connections with people by doing this.

When I look back 10 years ago and think about what I wanted to be, I feel that I'm on my way on the right track. I don't have all the solutions yet but I trust that if I do my best and do it with pleasure, people will see it through images.

Do you have any big collaborations, projects, exhibitions, etc going on during the rest of the year that you'd like to share?

I'm currently traveling for a a month in Los Angeles. As I live in Europe, the culture scene is a bit different from the USA. 

I'm gonna get inspired and stop by various galleries to present my art and meet gallery owners. The city is really excellent for art. Many artists I follow are living or exhibiting there.

I also want to see if there would be opportunities to work there. I combine my activity of illustrating with painting. The entertainment scene is so developed in LA, I feel it would be a great place for me to live and work. 

I'm also in the process of a collaboration with an organization for the protection of the oceans. These type of projects are something I'm really interested in and I'd like to do more of these in the future. Using art to deliver important messages and raise awareness toward environmental preservation is one of my goal for the next few years.

Preview Painting Ladislas PXP interview.jpg

By Alicia Puig

Studio Sunday: Karen Navarro
Navarro_Karen2-3-2.jpeg

Our Studio Sunday interview this week highlights the work of photographer Karen Navarro. Learn more about what inspires her colorful, figurative images, her creative process, and the motto that keeps her going in tough times! You can also view two of Karen’s works in ‘Faces & Figures’, a group exhibition presented by PxP Contemporary.

Bio

With a background in fashion design, Argentina-born artist, Karen Navarro, works with a highly stylized aesthetic in a diverse array of mediums that includes photography, collage, and sculpture. Her constructed portraits, as she describes it herself, are known for the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details. Navarro’s work expresses self-referential questions that connect in a much larger scale to ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading. Similarly, Navarro explores in her work femininity as a cultural construct.

Navarro has lived in Houston since 2014 where she completed the certificate program in photography at the Houston Center for Photography. In 2018, Navarro was awarded a scholarship at the Glassell School of Art | The Museum of Fine Art Houston where she studied analog photography. Most recently, she received the Artadia fellowship in 2019.

Navarro's work has been exhibited in the US and abroad. Her most recent shows include ones at the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, TX (2019), Presa House Gallery in San Antonio, TX (2019), Melkweg in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2019), Museo de la Reconquista in Tigre, Argentina (2018), The Union in Houston, TX (2018), and Houston Center for Photography in Houston, TX (2018).

Statement

Driven by an insatiable curiosity about understanding the self and the resulting human behaviors shaped by social norms. Furthermore, understanding the role of social norms in the construction of personal and social identity, my work seeks answers and proposes questions that may not yet have a predetermined answer.


Through the use of color theory, surreal scenes and minimalist details, the constructed portraits, as I like to call them, recreate a character that usually doesn’t have an identity. My photo process blurs those lines of identity by disguising, hiding and covering the faces. In the performative photographs, often times, the characters are isolated in a serene environment. I believe photography allows me the expression of self-referential questions. By expressing personal worries, my work appeals to connect these ideas to a much larger scale of ideas of construction of identity, societal expectations and the understanding of the being; prompting a discourse about the subconscious will to comply with the contemporary societies' canons when these are in fact misleading.

When did you first become interested in art? 

I first became interested in art while doing a photography assignment for an art class in high school. But I would say that I grew up surrounded by an artistic environment, my grandmother was a dressmaker and my grandfather, who I didn't get the chance to meet, liked to draw. I remember spending my childhood days with my grandmother in her atelier. And, I think that was what led me to study fashion design and then photography. My fashion design training had a strong art program. I gained a general overview of art and history but it wasn't until I came to Houston that I started to get more interested in the contemporary art world and the art scene.


Tell us about what inspires you creatively.

My inspiration comes from different sources. Color, lighting and shadow from the everyday can inspire a mood. I usually use these moods to approach new artwork and link it to philosophical ideas, self-referential questions, or something else in what I believe in and I want to share. Looking at artwork and specially from the Surrealist, Renaissance and Cubist periods brings a lot of inspiration. I'm interested in the concept of identity so I explore it in many different ways. Photography for me is about creating conversations, making relevant a topic that may be only relevant for me. It's about inviting people to question along with me. My work doesn't offer answers because I don't believe in absolute truths. And, in the in-between of this dichotomy of not believing in absolute truths and having an opinion at the same time is where I position myself every time I approach a new body of work. Inviting you, seducing you through a highly stylized image to reflect on topics that may challenge our social notions.

What is your process like?  

Usually, everything starts on the sketchbook, then I pay a visit to the warehouse to buy some painting to paint the backdrop wall. After that I go to the thrift store to get some clothing and some props to prepare for the photo shoot. In my performative photographs I create characters, for this reason I meticulously arrange the elements in the scene. Although, while in the photo shoots I allow myself to get creative and try new things, I don't stick entirely to the sketchbook. 

Since my work is evolving and I am working on new mediums, like collages and soon sculpture, my process changes according to the work I am doing. For example in my last series of collages "El Pertenecer en Tiempos Modernos"  I added laser-cutting, 3-D printing, and embossing.


Describe your current studio space. What is most important about it or one thing that you can’t live without in your work area?

I like to call my studio ‘big white box’. I love the high ceilings and how airy it is. Natural lighting is something I can't live without. My studio has small window that faces the top of a tree. I enjoy looking at the the wind blowing the tree with the sky on the background. During the mornings the sunlight is very beautiful. For me, my studio is my sacred temple, everything has to be in order and be very minimal for me to be able to concentrate.

Navarro_Karen-1.jpg

What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you or a quote that you think is especially meaningful?

My motto is from a Spanish saying, Persevera y triufarás, which translated literally into the English language means Persevere and you will Triumph. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. 

Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?

Yes! There are two things I‘m very excited to share. I'm currently working on some sculptures that explore the notion of body and beauty. It’s an extension of my body of work “Soft Objects”. I’m currently at the first stage, but am very excited about it!

I’m also organizing and co-curating a show called “Alternate Pathways”. The show celebrates Houston’s cultural diversity and has received a grant from the city. The show opens on October 19th 6-8 PM at 2315 Union St, Houston, TX 77007⁣⁣. 

Interview with Moniker Art Fair highlight artist Ken Nwadiogbu

Founded in 2010 in London, Moniker Art Fair is a hyper-curated five day contemporary art fair, exhibiting an international roster of the finest artists and galleries at the cutting edge of urban art and culture. This October, Moniker brings its acclaimed event format to Chelsea, which has for 9 years attracted contemporary art collectors in their thousands to East London. Moving from Shoreditch to Chelsea marks a year of radical change, as Moniker continues to push the narrative of urban art, and its role on the London art scene, Moniker’s reinvention in Chelsea will pioneer its future-forward outlook.

Over the past decade, the fair has embraced risks and it seeks to prove how powerfully the immersive and experiential fair format can stimulate audiences and win over the next generation of contemporary collectors. As much a festival as an art fair, Moniker has evolved since its East London foundation and the scene’s inevitable global transience means it can embrace its transient roots as it relocates.

The five day arts festival will include a daily talks and film program hosted by The Art Conference, Live Dj’s, art workshops, immersive experiences and a selection of food and beverages.


OPENING TIMES

___

VIP + COLLECTORS OPENING: Wednesday 2 October | 3pm - 10pm

PUBLIC PREVIEW: Thursday 3 October | 3pm - 10pm

Hosted by Creative Debuts

PUBLIC FAIR DAYS

Friday 4 October | 1pm - 9pm

Saturday 5 October | 11am - 8pm

Sunday 6 October | 11am - 6pm

Create! Magazine was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview one of the highlight artists who will be exhibiting at the fair, Ken Nwadiogbu. Ken is a Nigerian visual artist whose practice is primarily centered around hyper-realistic drawings and is inspired by gender equality, African cultures, and black power.

You actually studied civil and environmental engineering in school so how did you pivot to focusing on art?

Interesting question. If you’re from Africa, you’ll understand that nothing says “value” more than a university degree. Not just any degree, but either from Engineering, Law, Accounting or Medicine. So from a young age, the society starts, subconsciously, breeding this hunger; regardless of it being your passion or not. This was my case. Everyone wanted me to be an Engineer, and it became a subconscious part of me, even tho I loved drawing.

I entered into Civil and Environmental Engineering in the University of Lagos. Was doing pretty well till I stumbled on someone drawing the Dean of the University at that time. Everything changed from there. The feeling of Art started coming back, the hunger begun to grow, I begun researching and asking questions- “how did he draw that?” Study brought hunger.. hunger brought addiction... addiction brought love. And that’s how I feel deep in love with art in the first year of my university.

Was it something that you were always interested in or pursuing on the side?

I never thought I’d be a visual artist 7 years ago. All I thought was, I was gonna be an Engineer. The moment I started art, my mindset changed and this slowly drifted my attention from my studies into my art. Couldn’t quit Engineering, cause to everyone, the excuse was “a taboo”, so I had to get that certificate, prove I had that value, then pursue art exactly how I wanted to pursue it. “Art is not lucrative”, they’d say. “Art is for the poor”, “Art is for the dumb”... so many wrong perception... but I’d not blame them, I’ll blame the society for the lack of knowledge and exposure, and the government for the lack of support to the Nigerian art scene.

Your work is described as being part of the Contemporealism movement. What do you see as the core principles of this style of art?

I started off doing Hyperrealism as my mentors range from the likes of Carole Feuerman to Chuck Klose. But you see, one would describe hyperrealism as a genre of painting and sculpture, resembling a high resolution photograph... Just that.

For me, I’ve always wanted more, so what I try to do with my work is not just creating high resolution photographs but incorporating with it- the 3-Dimensional illusion and figurative elements born from conceptual ideas and contextual narratives. In some sense all I’m trying to do is deploy elements of contemporary art or illusions of form and space, usually, to create emphasis in the narrative I portray. With this style, I get to display Hyperrealism in a ‘unique Contemporary way’.

Tell us about where you find inspiration for your art and how you use art to express ideas on social and political issues.

It started with me being extremely disappointed with a lot going on in my country. Then I figured, every country has same issues, just with different names and profiles. This pushed me to create art to attack this abnormality- To listen, To speak, and To change a wrong socio-political ideology. I believe that with my visuals, the narratives I portray, and my actions, I can, in some way, change the world to see value as I see it- a conscious act to build worth from within.

What is the art scene in Nigeria like and what did you do to push beyond it at a young age to begin showing internationally?

The art scene in Nigeria is a growing one. The likes of ArtX, Omenka, Artyrama, Rele, and Retro Gallery are changing the narrative by showing upcoming amazing visual artists. But that’s just few out of the numerous galleries around the country. The scene is changing, and I believe it’s only a matter of time. For me, I’ve always seen myself exhibiting internationally... I’ve always seen myself in the likes of Christie’s and Sotheby’s, making global moves like Kehinde Wiley and Kerry James Marshall, birthing strong narratives like Ai Wei Wei, and still being as contemporary as Damien Hirst. I’ve always seen myself as more, so I went for it and it has taken me thus far.

Can you share a bit of what you will be exhibiting at Moniker art fair coming up in October?

A plethora of works that show black presence and value. Works made as of January to August, 2019 in Nigeria- a time when the country went down in value- both politically, financially, and economically... and holds the record of housing one of the highest cases of fraud in the world. A very strong time for me, as a Nigerian and as a Visual Artist.

The Value of Nothing III (2019) (1).jpg
Artist Feature: Nelly Tsyrlin
IMG_0510.jpg

Create! Magazine is pleased to introduce the work of abstract and figurative artist Nelly Tsyrlin. After graduating from York University with a Bachelor of Arts, Nelly continued her studies in classical painting at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Although at first glance her style of work may seem anything but academic, she actively employs all the pillars of a traditional art education, with an emphasis on color, harmony, and drawing.

Statement

I work in short series inspired by both profound and mundane experiences. My artwork is created by painting on glass and transferring the imprint to paper using a technique called Monotype. Each artwork is original and utterly unique. Each mark placed on paper is permanent, leaving no room for error and creating a sense of intimacy and exploration. My work is often spontaneous. It is not pre-sketched or designed. I find that without strict boundaries I am able to create a finished product that is truly honest.

We’re excited to hear about your new series! What can you tell us about ‘Compositions in Color’?

The following images are selections from a body of recent works created over the course of 2019 mainly as conversations in color. My theme color is Payne’s gray - I love it because it is neither blue nor black and yet it is both. I love to wear it and I love to work with it as its temperature is cool enough to compliment any warm and bright color on the color wheel, such as hot pink or my other favorite, Indian yellow. In addition, it always works equally well with neutrals like raw sienna and yellow ochre.

Learn more about Nelly’s work by visiting her website or following her on Instagram!

Photographs of the artist by Daria Perev.

15 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Art Career (Plus 3 More That are Free!)
organize-your-studio.jpg

Our Director, Alicia Puig, recently wrote a guest post for Empty Easel on ways to invest in your art career! If you haven’t heard her podcast on the 10 FREE ways to invest in your art career, check out that first on Art & Cocktails then read her full article on Empty Easel’s website.

Excerpt:

“You’ve probably heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money,” right? That’s not always easy to hear when you’re just starting out, having slower than normal art sales, or trying to find work, but if you are able to allocate some funds to professional development it can (and often does!) end up rewarding you with more than what you put in.

The good news is, investing in your art career doesn’t always require you to spend money. Setting aside some time to work specifically on business and administrative tasks can be incredibly helpful and yield great results.” Read the rest of the post here.

Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 2.50.04 PM.png
Studio Sunday: Kestin Cornwall
6_In_The_Studio_Kestin_Cornwall_2000dpi.jpg.jpg

This week’s Studio Sunday goes behind-the-scenes with one of the represented PxP Contemporary artists, Kestin Cornwall. In his interview, he discusses an early memory with his mother that inspired him to start drawing, why working with certain mediums are important for his style, and how he gets into a state of flow in his studio. PxP will have two of his works in our upcoming fall exhibition, which we will be announcing shortly!

Bio

Kestin Cornwall grew up in the Windsor Ontario area. His father is Grenadian and his mother is American, and he spent much of his youth in Detroit, Michigan with family. In 2001, he moved to Oakville, Ontario to begin his training at Sheridan College. While completing the Art Fundamentals and Illustration programs, Cornwall’s focus and love for the arts grew quickly. He increasingly combined both classical drawing and painting with modern digital reproduction and screen-printing. In 2006, Cornwall won the CAPIC Best In Show Award. Over the past ten years, Cornwall has focused on creating relevant progressive art. He has used a varied practice of combining hand drawings, digitally removing the human hand and then forcing the element of the human hand back into the work. Using elements such as painting, wheat-pasting, screen-printing, installation and drawing to explore the relationship between art, human rights, politics, sex, and freedom. Cornwall critically charts current political, social, and economic landscapes with compositions brimming with references to media, popular culture, music, and art history. He enjoys challenging what’s considered “common” and feels it is the duty of an artist to add beauty to the world while invoking the unending social responsibility to capture thought. Many of his influences include contemporary graphic realism, street art and old comics, with a complimenting factor of mystery, often mirroring timeless depictions of pop culture. Each piece depicts an analysis of our obsession with beauty, age, and change. Kestin Cornwall lives and works in Toronto.

Cornwall-Kestin-7_1296x1296.jpg

When and how did you first become interested in art? 

I was a little kid, grade 3 or 4. At that time, if my family was not in Detroit visiting my aunts or at church we were at home with an old tv that had just three stations and no video games for the most part...not much to do most days in the summer after you completed your chores. Small town shit. My mom was trying to keep me busy and decided to show me how to draw an elephant. It blew my mind how much it looked like the real thing to me. Her drawing was so simple and didn't have much detail but I knew what it was and I loved that. That moment felt like it lasted forever, instead of a word it was an image, a thousand words as they say. From that evening on I wanted to draw an elephant as well as she did, and draw as often as I could. 

I loved art and sports and as I grew up life was hard at times, art and sports provided a place to channel my energy. What is interesting, is that studies have shown that young male aggression and creativity follow the same line on a graph, and at peak male aggression, creativity peaks. So having outlets are important. Outlets are valuable. Again, I didn't know this at the time but art and sports gave me a direction and an outlet, I got to work with my hands and create objects and images. That's why it felt so great to do it, that’s the core of what I grew to love about it, all the other reasons came after. 

Tell us about the series you’re currently working on and a bit of what inspires you as an artist

So much inspires me. Resilient people inspire me. People that can get hit, have everything go to shit and keep going, like my parents. If you think about it, we’re descendants of the strongest. What’s the number...0.5 percent I think,  of the male population in the world have Genghis Khan geneticists.

I’m currently finishing up another skate deck, a series I started this year. The work is based on visual culture and ethnicity. It’s impossible to disentangle or separate the two. Visual art presents a direct opportunity to actively challenge images that are discriminatory or biased and create new imagery. I draw on not only my own racial identity but also include faces from my community. With the new work, I’m using images to examine the notion of how culture and entertainment including film and other media, shape the mass public perception of people of color in North American culture.  

I try to ask questions, do research, create and then repeat that process. A few friends and I had the idea to do a Jeffersonian Dinner, it was a great way to help form new ideas and shape future thoughts, but next time we need to add additional rules. I always say I like “happy mistakes.” One could argue that the creative process is just a series of mistakes.

3_In_The_Studio_Kestin_Cornwall_1200dpi.jpgl-2000dpi-3.jpg

How did you develop your style? 

There were so many factors. From what I just enjoyed working with, to the longevity of the medium. Also what I grew up listening to. Hip-hop, rap, punk, and rock music raised us. My boys and I looked at artists before us as a path out. A way out you know? Some wanted to be ballplayers, some wanted to be rap artists or in a rock band. Guys like Mike Giant, Blek le Rat, Basquiat, Richard Hambleton, Shepard Fairey, Cope 2 are like the forefathers to some of us. I looked up to them and they helped shape my idea of what art is while trying to forge my own identity and my own vibe, my own cut, and line work.  

Early on I had no budget for tools and costly materials so it was whatever I could get my hands on… in a lot of ways that helped. It forces you to be creative and resourceful, do more with less. I think that's what separates the people that are creative enough to keep making personal art and those that stop. Keep in mind, making art is subjective, you could be an art director or teacher who never draws a thing and in some ways still, be making art.

Everyone has something that inspires them, you just have to search long enough to find it. Everyone has to find what they think is a great tool or what they think is real art. For so many,  if it's not done in a classic medium like oil, it's not real art. I respect oil greatly. It's a beautiful medium but you can't do with oil what you can do with a spray can or screen print and vice versa. I kept this in mind with all of my work and wanted to capture the contemporary culture and modern society not just in the images at times but also the material and technique. Nothing screams contemporary art like a spray can. 

4_In_The_Studio_Kestin_Cornwall_1200dpi.jpg-2000dpi-5.jpg

Describe your current studio space. What is important to have in it and how often do you dedicate time there? 

Coffee!!! Coffee is a prerequisite… lol

I work in a midsize space above a storefront, with lots of light and houseplants. I just got a new monstera, pretty stoked on that.  Learned how to propagate a monstera a few weeks back! So look out!

I like to live and work in buildings with history.  Like, if the pipes make noise, and there are old bricks that had to have patchwork done, I'm drawn to that! I like that.  

A lot of what I keep around and much of what decides when I work is the ability to know when I can or can't tap into flow. Ya’ know what I mean? That state where you’re so zoned in on a task that at the end, the time melts away leaving only the moment of creating it. An hour feels like 5mins. It’s just done. I can get two or three full images done in 8-12 hours when I’m inflow. I just come out of it and I’m almost done, and I crash because it takes so much out of you. The time dedicated varies, it all depends on flow.  

I need tools like a sander and mixed media. A glass of wine or bourbon to help me tap in to flow, you vibe? Makes it easier. You have to be on point, only a glass or two, too much and you’re out of flow or fucking up shit. I also can't start if I don’t have a fan or blow dryer to speed up dry time and a football or basketball to toss around the studio as I think or wait for the paint to dry. I have to have music… most of the time. Oh, music.  Music and painting are like steak and eggs, or old jeans and a fresh black t-shirt, they belong together.   

1_In_The_Studio_Kestin_Cornwall_1200dpi.jpg

Can you share a bit about your artist community and the art scene where you live?

The East Side of Toronto is diverse. We call it the Ark, in my hood anyway… due to the diversity. When you walk the core, you see two of everyone. Lots of 3rd generation black Canadians, lots of 1st and 2nd generation South Asians and 5th-10th generation white Canadians. You can get roti, samosa, oxtail or baklava all in a three minute walk on one street. 

Some of the top upcoming galleries have moved from the West, where all of the upcoming and established galleries use to be, to the East. The contemporary art scene is very young. There’s a lot of great street art. There are some awesome artists, art studios and the music scene in the East is always popping off. 

Besides showing in the next exhibition with PxP Contemporary, do you have any other exciting projects coming up for the rest of the year? 

I have a few commissions in the works I'm excited about and an upcoming show I might take on next year.  I have an interesting project that incorporates art, that I'm excited about but can’t give too much detail on this just yet. I rolled out a new site layout earlier this year, so I'll add a store option with past and new work shortly. 

Yes! I’m excited to work with PxP Contemporary and am looking forward to the next show! I’m feeling that.   

Thanks for taking the time to interview me, and giving me the opportunity to share some details of my work and process with your readers, I truly do appreciate that.  Thank you.

2_In_The_Studio_Kestin_Cornwall_4000dpi.jpg.jpg
Studio Sunday: Curtis Anthony Bozif
bozif_ontario.jpg

We have an exciting Studio Sunday interview this week with Curtis Anthony Bozif! He is a Chicago based artist who has a solo exhibition of new works currently on view at the Evanston Art Center. The show opened on August 17th and will run through September 22nd.

Find more of his art on his website or on Instagram @curtisanthonybozif

We are pleased to have featured you in one of our previous issues, but you've got some new things going on now to share. How has your work developed in the last few years? What are you creating now? 

I think my work has undergone a kind of distilling since last we spoke. A simple observation would be that the paintings have become more monochromatic and less compositional; more textured and less graphic. I’m focused on building surfaces and less concerned with what I’d call picture making. To this end, I’ve been using a lot of metallic and iridescent colors. They have a sheen to them that accentuates the texture and surface of a painting; its physicality. Metallic and iridescent colors  shimmer. This causes the appearance of a painting to change relative to where you’re standing when you look at it. As you move around, the angle at which the surface absorbs or reflects light changes; the color shifts. A certain part of a painting may be obscured by a bright reflection while another part may appear to fall into shadow. In a sense, this kind of painting is hard to see. It’s hard to know. 

What kind of studio space are you working in? What is important for you to have in it? 

My wife and I recently moved into a new place here in Chicago. I now have a whole room dedicated to my studio. Definitely the most important thing for me to have in it is space. Because I make relatively large paintings, I need to be able to step back and see the whole thing at once. I also need to be able to move around and see it from different distances and from different perspectives. When a painting gives me trouble, this has always proved helpful; looking at it from a different perspective. Sometimes the hardest way to see a painting is to look at it head on.

Another thing that’s important is light. For me, this has always been the most frustrating part about setting up a new working environment. Balancing natural light with artificial, the temperature of the light, the intensity, and where to position the lights to reduce glare, I still haven’t figured it out. I‘ve never be completely happy with the light in any of my studios.

One last thing I’ll mention is my old CD player. It’s a simple stereo boombox I got when I was in high school. I’ve had it with me in all my studios. At the Kansas City Art Institute, Northwestern, and the string of different places I’ve had since then. I think music is important to a lot of painters because painting is a solitary activity that requires a lot of time and attention. Having something to listen to can help prevent loneliness, help you pass the time, and help you to focus. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Steve Reich, Ingram Marshall, Third Coast Percussion, and the soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, composed and performed by Ernst Reijseger. I think of the repetition and layering that is so characteristic of this kind of music as analogues to the repetitive mark-making and layering in my paintings. This has helped me to think about my process in some interesting new ways.

How do you maintain a consistent schedule with your creative practice? Do you have certain habits or routines that you follow?

The first thing to mention is I have a nine-to-five job. Any consistent schedule, unfortunately, has to be worked around that. In his book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, David Lynch recounts Bushnell Keeler’s expression: “If you want to get one hour of good painting in you have to have four hours of uninterrupted time.” Like Lynch, I agree with this statement, but the exact times, one or four hours, doesn’t really matter. The point is that excess time is essential. It’s essential for play and for accident and for chance, but sadly, uninterrupted time is very difficult to make happen. 

So weekends are precious to me; I’m usually up by seven. I’ll make a pot of coffee and read for an hour or two before I start painting. Research has always been an important aspect to my studio practice and reading is a big part of that. For instance, I just completed a series of paintings inspired by the Great Lakes. Over the course of making this work I read dozens of books on the subject. In my research I discovered an author named Jerry Dennis. He’s based out of Traverse City, Michigan and has written extensively about the Great Lakes. I found I had a strong affinity for the way he often approached the lakes, which is to say, on a geological time scale. I was so taken by his writing that I reached out to him and we developed a correspondence and that’s been really rewarding. In a way that’s not easy to describe, I’ve always thought of painting as a way of thinking; a way of knowing, but so too is poetry, music, history, and science. Learning how people who work in other disciplines approach—and ultimately come to know—the same things you’re dealing with in your own work can help to develop a more complete and nuanced understanding of those very things and, of course, your work.

Coffee and reading wake me up and help me to focus, after that, I’m ready to paint. I try and make this a quick and painless transition. It’s important to me to be able to walk into my studio, grab my tools, and immediately get to work. Here, I’d like to quote Lynch again. In the same book as before he writes: “It’s crucial to have a setup. [...] So that at any given moment when you get an idea that you have the place and the tools to make it happen. If you don’t have a setup there are many times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together and the idea just sits there and festers. Over time it will go away. You didn’t fulfil it and that’s just a heartache.” Today, there are so many distractions vying for our attention, there’s so much noise, to have the time and space to dedicate to your work and where you can focus, and what Lynch calls a “setup”, is so important. 

bozif_huron.jpg

What is one piece of creative or business advice that you would give to your younger self? Is there a quote or mantra that is especially meaningful to you right now? 

I would tell my younger self to ignore, or mostly ignore, his grad school professors. It’s important that what you’re doing is enjoyable. I’m talking about the physical act of making art. What you do with your hands and eyes when you make art, is it enjoyable? What you do with your body, do you like doing that? It’s something that rarely gets discussed in art school. For example, when I was at Northwestern, I started making video art and my professors responded positively to it, but looking at the world through a camera, staring at a screen, and clicking a mouse all day made me really depressed. I ultimately stopped making art.

Similarly, I’d tell my younger self to think hard about the sustainability of his studio practice. By that I mean: is what you’re doing, are the ideas you’re engaging with, are they generative? Do they foster a healthy curiosity? Or, are you backing yourself into an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual deadend? If making the art you’re making is no longer enjoyable, or healthy, if it’s just paralysis, dread, and boredom that you feel upon entering your studio, then you should probably be doing something else.

Finally, you have a show coming up - can you tell us about the details and any other events you have lined up for the rest of 2019? 

My solo show, Great Lakes, at the Evanston Art Center, runs from August 17th to September 22nd. As I alluded to earlier, this work is the culmination of a year long effort—through research and careful observation—to engage with the Great Lakes and to translate these experiences into the paintings.

One way I’ve tried to do this is by thinking about the lakes in terms of their scale. By scale I mean their size relative to the human body; their time relative to human time. People often try and describe the Great Lakes by listing a bunch of figures like: they contain one fifth of the surface liquid freshwater on the planet. This sounds like a lot, but of all the water on the planet, only two and a half percent is freshwater. So what does one fifth of two and a half percent mean? It means that the freshwater in the Great Lakes, as a natural resource, is both abundant and exceedingly rare. Similarly, we think of the Great Lakes as being very old; melt water from the end of the last ice age, but this melt occurred just 12,500 years ago, while the last ice age lasted almost a 100,000 years and the earth, it’s over 4.5 billion years old. On a geological time scale, the Great Lakes, like human beings, just appeared. Reconciling these time scales is impossible. If painting is a way of knowing, these paintings have been a way for me to know the Great Lakes, but to know the Great Lakes can often times feel like an exercise in abstract thinking.

One of the ways I’ve tried to translate the irreconcilability of these scales is by making relatively large paintings built of dense layers of minutely-sized, seemingly random marks across their entire surface. It’s my hope that this kind of scale and intensity suggests a vast, infinite space, and unknowable depth. As I mentioned the last time we spoke, I’ll often employ sticks in lieu of paint brushes when I’m working. This technique, along with embedding different materials like sand and iron filings into my paints, creates a highly textured surface that can often times feel more natural than human made; like the surface of a rock face. Layers of thin glazes and metallic and iridescent paints enhance these textures by catching the light, they shimmer, obscuring the image, and for this reason these paintings can be hard to see. I’m interested in the tension between the depth created by these layers and the flatness that’s emphasized by the sheen of the iridescent surface. You have to negotiate the way the light is interacting with the surface in order to see past it, to go deeper. It’s not unlike looking at water. 

bozif_michigan.jpg
Create! Magazine introduces RijksCreative, an initiative from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

We often get questions from our community from people who are interested in art, but are wondering how to get started. Whether you are a practicing studio artist, a passionate hobbyist, or even if you’ve never picked up a brush, we always love to recommend looking into free online resources to take your creative skills to the next level. To this end, Create! Magazine is excited to share a series of art tutorials on the YouTube channel, RijksCreative, an initiative from the Rijksmuseum, a renowned art museum in the heart of Amsterdam.

About RijksCreative

As part of an initiative that brings both greater awareness and appreciation of the vast collection of masterpieces exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, the RijksCreative YouTube channel allows you to delve deeper into the style of prominent figures throughout art history. On RijksCreative you’ll find how-to videos in which art teachers from the museum demonstrate the steps to creating compositions like Rembrandt or painting self portraits like Van Gogh. Each video explains one art technique in detail so that even beginners can follow along! 

Check out the RijksCreative channel here.

One recent video from this series is the ‘How to create a Van Gogh self portrait’ lesson from Ruud Lanfermeijer. Make sure to read the video notes for a materials list and you’ll be ready to start!

About the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is the Dutch national museum dedicated to the arts and history. It is located in the museum square close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw. The building was designed by Pierre Cuypers and opened in 1885. The Rijksmuseum has on display over 8,000 objects and a total collection of over 1 million. A walk through the galleries is a journey through 800 years of art and history. Some of the museum’s masterpieces include works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands and welcomes over 2.5 million visitors each year.

For more information about the museum please visit their website.

Rijksmuseum - 2014 - John Lewis Marshall - 04 (JPEG) (1).jpg