Monday, January 16, 2012

Interview: Andy McCready

Andy McCready is a 30-year-old artist from Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand. She paints the most beautiful female figures, and I really love her use of MDF board, wallpaper and records for painting surfaces. She sells beautiful giclee prints of her work under the name Gilt and Envy on both Etsy and the New Zealand-based Felt- make sure you check them out because, as always, it wasn't easy selecting just a few images to show here.

Where do you consider 'home'?
As above, but if someone wants to magic me up a green card I wouldn’t mind calling New York or San Francisco home for awhile – I went to the States last year and fell in love with those cities.

Are members of your family artistic?
My family are an eclectic bunch of crafty and ‘making things’ types (various members could teach you to build model airplanes, sew and knit, create coats of arms, stained glass windows, make cards and even build furniture), but I think I’m the only painter.

Are you a full time artist?
Oh to be a full-time artist… sadly, at the moment I have to pay the bills by other means, so I squeeze the art in around a full-time job at a university. I want to be an artist when I grow up though – that hasn’t happened yet, right? Hobby wise, I guess I sew and play guitar now and again, but most of my free time is taken up by painting these days. Does gambling count as a hobby?

What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
Watching some of my artworks come to life at an exhibition opening. My boyfriend and I had a joint exhibition at the end of 2010, and I thought it would be cool to get some models made over to look like my paintings and have them serve drinks. We got sponsorship from Aart on St Andrew hair salon, and they did a fabulous job of creating a bird’s nest, beehive and peacock do on my lovely and ever-obliging friends-slash-models Sam, Nellie and Elza. Despite the fact that I look like a hobbit standing next to them in all the photos from the night (and despite spending most of the week leading up to the show crafting bits and bobs for their hair rather than working on my art), it was awesome seeing the finished effect next to the paintings and helped make the opening really special.

How do you record your ideas for new pieces?
I have a sketchbook full of pictures, phrases, lists, doodles, quotes and general scribbling. I usually go back and trawl through this for inspiration when I’m starting a new piece, but it’s kind of frustrating to know that probably less than half of the vague ideas and quickly noted thoughts will ever be developed into an actual painting – perhaps there'll be more hours in the day when I finally get that full-time artist job…

Do you have any experience with exhibiting?
I’ve now organised three DIY shows myself, as well as participating in heaps of group exhibitions others have curated. Exhibiting 101: it always takes at least three times as long to hang the works as you think it will; no matter how much booze you buy for the opening night, it’s gone within the first half hour; and the piece everyone wants to buy is the only one you made not for sale. And pricing everything sucks.

Is there a particular gallery in the world where you would love to have your work exhibited?
I went to an opening at this really cool little gallery in New York called Last Rites Gallery which, with its black walls and gothy décor, looked more like a gig venue or tattoo parlour - admittedly, it incorporates both of these as well - than your standard white-walled empty exhibition space. I’d love to have a show there, although maybe I’d need to angst my work up a bit first…

What role has the internet played in your artistic career?
For someone who’s quite technologically impaired, it came as a great surprise to me that the internet has ended up playing a significant role in getting my art out into the world. A workmate introduced me to the joys of Etsy and Felt, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled my way through setting up my own stores on them to sell prints. I’m still slightly impressed that the whole thing actually works – Paypal is quite possibly the best idea ever, and I still get a little thrill every time I get one of those ‘you have made a sale’ notifications.

Do you have any special routines or 'rituals' attached to creating your artwork?
If I’m in painting mode, you’ll find me in my bedroom, sitting on the floor, usually at night, listening to punk rock music and fuelling the process with a coffee then a beer, a coffee then a beer, repeat till the beer runs out. A painting often won’t see the light of day until it’s almost finished and then I usually have to go back and touch things up because natural light exposes all those little flaws that a dimly lit room (and beer consumption) cover up.

What artistic training do you have, and do you believe you have benefited more from formal lessons or your own experimentation in developing your style?
I’m the rather sheepish holder of a Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Massey, which was possibly the least worthwhile thing I could have spent $6000 of my own savings on. I would have been better off doing an illustration course, instead of an expensive indoctrination into the glories of conceptual art over aesthetics. I also have an Honours degree and a Master’s in Art History and Theory from Otago, which I’m slightly more proud of.

Do you remember the first piece of artwork that you sold?
I arranged to show ten of my paintings at a local café about five years ago, and was pleasantly surprised that most of them sold, including two to my former art history lecturers. The café had gorgeous bright orange walls, which I thought would be the perfect backdrop for my black/white/grey paintings, although hanging the show was something of a nightmare. I had to do it in the middle of the day when the café was at its busiest, so was climbing over people and moving tables to position the ladder and generally annoying everyone by hammering nails into the wall. I should note that this was all carried out with a massive hangover. I had such a sense of accomplishment seeing all my works up on the wall for the first time though, and selling some really made me feel like this was something I could pursue seriously.

Who are your favourite artists of any medium?
Pop Surrealism/lowbrow art all the way, especially the amazing work of Audrey Kawasaki, John John Jesse and Natalia Fabia. This new current in art synthesises many of the tendencies that appealed to me in the work of earlier artists, such as Rene Magritte, Frances Bacon and Joseph Cornell, three of my all-time faves.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
Acrylic, because I’m impatient and it dries quickly, and MDF board, because I like that I can shape it and that it’s not textured like canvas. Painting on vintage wallpaper also works well for me, as it forces me not to overdo things and be a bit more restrained in my painting – you can’t get back the pattern underneath once you've put paint on top.

Do you have a favourite colour to work with?
I started off painting solely in black, white and grey, but have come to love colour, and some of the most fun I have is playing round with different colour palettes when I’m starting a new work. I guess I tend to use warm, earthy colours more than cool colours, and orange and pink feature strongly.

What inspires you?
The usual suspects - punk rock, pretty girls, lowbrow art, junk shops, libraries, old wallpaper, lyrics, clothing… I’m always particularly inspired after I’ve been to an art exhibition, whether or not I liked the work on display.

Do you have any particular goals for the next five years?
This may sound silly but I’d like to get some kind of prize in some kind of art competition. I enter a lot of them, but have never placed and feel it would be a vindication of sorts – a ribbon to pin on my art CV if you will. I used to win colouring contests all the time as a kid, and this just seems like the adult equivalent. Failing that, showing my work in the States would be pretty cool, as would being featured in Juxtapoz magazine, to which I’m an avid subscriber. Five years may be a bit ambitious for all that though – maybe I should just focus on getting into a position to be able to quit the day job first…


Dori the Giant said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


miss teacups. said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

wow. so talented.

Katrina said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

she sounds amazing. best to go to check out all of her works! great interview

xo katrina

Teddi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

nice interview alice. :) not only is andy an exceptional artist, she sounds like a fun punk rock girl!

hungryandfrozen said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

What beautiful work. Great interview, I loved it.