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Interview: Max Erhman aka Eon75

Known for his bold, enigmatic, abstract graffiti, the irrepressible Max Erhman (Eon75) manages to strike that balance between order and chaos on his work that triggers emotions and memories for each and every viewer. His talent shines through like a laser beam, you just can’t deny it. I was interested to find out more about his surreal work as well as to hear some of his thoughts on the relationship he experiences with his walls. We caught over the net. Read on..

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Honey: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself (where you from, your background, any formal art training/schooling)?

Eon75: My name is Max Ehrman but in some small communities i am know as E.O.N. or Eon75 or the master of Space Crickets…. I am originally from who knows what planet but I seem to have landed in Florida and spent the first 18 years of my life there before moving to Berlin at the age of 23. My formal schooling and education is in Architecture, I then decided after receiving a 5 years Bachelors of Architecture to pursue my goal of going further into debt by getting my 2 year masters of architecture at the Bauhaus in Germany.

Honey: Did you draw/paint a lot as a kid? What was it like for you growing up?

Eon75: I never really drew much as a child. I remember in kindergarten I drew a grasshopper that I spelled grassphoper and my parents were so impressed by the imagery they still have it framed in their house. But as far as I know that is the only pre-graffiti painting that I ever did. I see it as priceless others may see it as a misspelling. I didn’t really start drawing till i went to college and still to this day I don’t draw that much. Most of my drawing and freestyle sessions happen at the walls.

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Honey: When did your passion for graffiti start? Do you remember your first wall, or the first one that really hooked you?

Eon75: The addiction to painting graff hit me in 1994 when I was living in Gainesville, Florida attending school. There was a mile long wall of fame that people used to paint, daily. All of the murals were sophomoric in there attempt at originality then on day 4 guys from Germany came through and painted an amazing memorial wall. To this day I still can’t understand how they could achieve what they did in 1994. So that blew me away and the next day I went to good ol Walmart and bought a bunch of Krylon and started painting. I haven’t been able to stop since.

Honey: How would you describe the theme you work in, your style – your creative process?

Eon75: Organic life and nature are the key elements to understanding my process and style. when you look at one of my abstractions you will see lines of site and geometries that form a harmony with is modestly based off of nature and its supreme architecture. Having found a rhythm and harmony in the nature I have tried to mimic its simplistic pure beauty in the paintings I design. Everything I paint, unless its a paid wall and they want a dolphin jumping over the moon or something equally as entertaining, is a freestyle haphazard event. Luckily these eventualities form a cohesive relationship that tells a story. Same as when you look at the cross section of flora and fauna. Some call it sacred geometry I call it Eon75.

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Honey: There is so much going on in each and every one of your art. How much of your own life is reflected in your work?

Eon75: The paintings are mirrors..I leave it at that.

Honey: How long does it take you to complete a large mural?

Eon75: Murals on average take about 1 to 2 days to complete. Unless its a 4 story building the like of which I painted a month ago. That took 4 days but were a fun 4 days cause I was able to drive a 40′ cherry picker and look down on society for once.

Honey: Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind? If so, what?

Eon75: No not really, I just stare at the wall and see what it has to tell me. As long as I have a starting point everything else flows off of that form.

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Honey: Max, what do you often dream of?

Eon75: A beautiful beach with a nice long wall for me to paint, with a cooler of IPAs, sandwiches and a Dj playing music for me all day.

Honey: What is the most important lesson you have picked up in life so far?

Eon75: Money up front!!!!

Honey: Is there a downside to being SO talented?

Eon75: I dont know you tell me….ahhaha

Honey: What sort of lasting impression do you hope your work will have on other people?

Eon75: Id love if people never get tired of looking at my work or finding new relationships and elements in the murals. I love collecting artwork and to me the work I love is images I never get tired of devouring with me eyes.

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Honey: How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art?

Eon75: There wouldn’t be a life…

Honey: Any current projects do you have coming up in the near future that you can share with us?

Eon75: Hopefully there will be some travels in the future…maybe Miami or other destinations unknown to me at this moment.

Honey: Last words? Thank yous? Shoutouts?

Eon75: Thanks so much to Sweet Station for the love and Honey for everything. Much love to my family and my lady for always smiling when I tell them all I want to do is paint. My crews Team Alosta in Belgium, WCF in San Francisco and HBT in Florida. Much love to all the homies and people I’ve painted with over the years.

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Links here:

www.maxehrman.com
www.maxehrman.carbonmade.com

Interview: Steven Taylor

It brings me huge pleasure to introduce you all to the world of Los Angeles-based photographer Steven Taylor, someone whose work I admire and secretly just a tiny bit envious of. Pharrell Williams, Incubus, Snoop Dogg, Bruno Mars, Common, Neyo, the list goes on and on. He specializes in portraiture and has a keen eye for capturing personalities and character in his elegant portfolio. You might have seen many of his photographs, but what else do you know about the man behind the lens? Read on..

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Honey: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What sparked your interest in photography? Have you had any formal training or is it just talent and practice?

Steven Taylor: I have OCD, spend far too much money at restaurants, and I don’t like talking about photography. I became a photographer with the help of Google, friends, and trial and error–no formal training.

Honey: What photography genre(s) best classifies your work?

Steven Taylor: I’ve never thought about this, so I’m not totally sure. I photograph my life and the people that come in and out of it, so I guess portrait… is that a photography genre?

Honey: Would you give a brief walk through your work flow?

Steven Taylor: My approach is fairly simple. I try not to over-produce or over-think things, my shoots are relatively short, and I don’t like heavy editing. I’m attracted to images that feel simple and honest. Of course it’s fun to push yourself and try new things, but I always end up drawn to the shot that we didn’t overwork ourselves to get.

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Honey: What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Steven Taylor: I know the answer you’re looking for, so I’m going to fight the urge to answer sarcastically… I’m not a big gear guy. I keep that simple, too. Typically, if it’s digital, I use a Canon 5D. If it’s film, I use a Mamiya 645 or a simple 35mm.

Honey: Which is your most-used lens?

Steven Taylor: Canon 35mm 1.4.

Honey: How much time do you spend taking photos versus retouching photos?

Steven Taylor: If I were to break it down, I’d say 45% of a project is spent sharing drinks, 45% is shooting, and 10% is editing. Obviously this varies, but I think that’s an honest average.

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Honey: How did you get into photographing celebrities and/or famous musicians?

Steven Taylor: I’ve always loved shooting musicians. I grew up playing music, so it feels natural for me to capture what I love about that medium. A few years ago I moved to LA to pursue that goal, and it all just sort of happened. It’s Hollywood, so even if you try and fight it, you can’t escape the whole “celebrity” thing for long.

Honey: Who would you like to work with the most?

Steven Taylor: Honestly, right now my focus is on a few personal projects rather than potential subjects.

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Honey: What has been your biggest hurdle when setting up and working on a shoot?

Steven Taylor: Not connecting with a person I’m working with, which will always be my answer. I have the hardest time on a shoot when I can’t find common ground with my subject.

Honey: Besides your camera, what is a must-have at each of your sessions?

Steven Taylor: Water. I typically talk a lot, so my mouth gets dry without it.

Honey: If you could have anyone in the world to take your portrait, who would it be?

Steven Taylor: I really love Hedi Slimane. His photos are iconic and beautiful. I choose him. Are you planning a birthday surprise or something?

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Honey: Haha.. no. Anyway, tell us what’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?

Steven Taylor: Honestly, it’s being happy. When I look back at what I wanted for my life as a kid, I’m blown away that I have it. I can’t give all the credit to what I do professionally, but I’m definitely the type of person who would have a hard time in an area that didn’t make me this happy.

Honey: It is very challenging to establish yourself in such competitive industry. What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in photography?

Steven Taylor: I’ve said this a few times before, but I really do believe it: I think it comes down to relentlessness or luck, and the most successful artists have a bit of both. Obviously it takes a lot of work to learn and stay consistent in your craft, but in regards to your career, I don’t believe in back-up plans. Just go for it.

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Honey: What are some of your upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for?

Steven Taylor: I think I’d be jumping the gun if I were to extensively share some of them, but I am working on a few project ideas right now. Some are mindless and fun. Others are more thought-out and produced. I keep my blog and site updated fairly regularly, so someone could check back there if interested… or hopefully here once the projects are complete.

Honey: Anything you’d like to add? Thanks yous?

Steven Taylor: For sure. Big thanks to Tom Ford for helping me smell fantastic and MarchLab watches for keeping me on time.

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Links here:
http://steventaylorphoto.com/
http://steventaylor.tumblr.com/
http://twitter.com/StevenTaylor

Interview: Zoë Williams

Felt-making is an art form that dates back as far as in the Sumerian era. It’s a laborious endeavor wherein you poke the wool fiber into a desired shape with a sharp needle until your hand ultimately becomes numb. It’s crazy work but very, very satisfying and rewarding. With all the history behind it, Zoë Williams takes it up to another level. There is something incredibly alluring yet filled with impending danger about Zoe’s animal creations. She uses  a hands-on craft technique  to mimic that enticing and fluffy effect on her sculptures. You see them hanging on the wall and you can’t help but feel the urge to touch them. You don’t, of course, they might bite you. Keep an eye out for more of her amazing work in upcoming shows and projects. But first, read the interview below.

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Honey: Can you tell me what it was like for you when you were growing up? Did you have people in your life that you would say had some influence on what you are doing now?

Zoë Williams: I was born in New Orleans, which was a lively and interesting place to grow up. As a child I loved animals – at first mostly cats and horses, but many, many others soon followed. Likewise, dreams and their secret meanings have been integral to my life ever since I can remember; I’ve always dreamed vividly and I am fortunate that I almost always remember my dreams in great detail. I have my parents to thank for exposing me to the work of Carl Jung at an early age, and getting me in the habit of talking about, sometimes writing down, my dreams. They also took notice of my artistic inclination early on, so I took a lot of art classes as a child: painting, pastels, clay, glass, you name it.

Honey: When did you start felting wool?

Zoë Williams: Not until mid 2008. I have a BA in Fine Art, but my focus in school was New Media; I did a lot of collaborative, interactive and installation work. I graduated in 2005, and just a few months later Hurricane Katrina hit and I was forced to relocate. I moved to Seattle, where I found myself somewhat disconnected from just about everything, including art. Then I remember a coworker at my part-time job buying a needle felting kit and I knew right away that I wanted to try it too. I got one of my own and I think that weekend I made my first rabbit.

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Honey: How do you go about creating the different animal characters in your work? Do you have a system that you use in order to propose your work and to actualize it?

Zoë Williams: My first sculptures were all white rabbits, based on a dream I’d had of a powerful and wise spirit rabbit. After the rabbits, I started producing pieces that were direct translations of dream images into sculpture; the Red Peacock and White Ram are examples. Nowadays I am more deliberate about the symbols I choose for my pieces. I am taking what I have learned from years and years of introspection and applying it to the waking world.

Honey: Most of your character sculptures are both cute and creepy at the same time. Do you feel a kinship with your characters then?

Zoë Williams: Very much so. I like to think of each piece as part of my own personal mythology: the significance of aspects of my life that is usually only revealed in moments of synchronicity and in dreams.

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Honey: About how long would a typical sculpture session last?

Zoë Williams: There is the occasional felting marathon, but mostly I stick to a couple of hours every day. Needle felting is tedious work, so it’s “slow and steady wins the race”. Finger stabs are what happen when you work too fast or too long!

Honey: Do you work on multiple pieces at the same time?

Zoë Williams: I do if I am working on a series – it helps to maintain cohesion and uniformity. Otherwise, I usually work on them one at a time. The process has distinct phases, so I think moving on to the next step is part of what motivates me to keep working.

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Honey: What is it that primarily fuels you to create? That is, where do you find your inspirations?

Zoë Williams: Aside from my dream world, I get a lot of inspiration from nature. I still love animals as much as, if not more than, when I was a kid. I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of them.

Honey: What unnecessary work interruptions and trivial matters could you live without?

Zoë Williams: I could definitely do without the “administrative” end of things – taxes, gallery applications, etc. The marketing aspect of the profession can be fun in its own way, but sometimes it does feel like I spend more time conducting the “business” of being an artist than I do actually making art.

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Honey: Do you experience ups and downs in your productivity?

Zoë Williams: I certainly do. There is the inevitable lull after finishing a piece, but there are also times when other things get in the way and there is simply no time left to work. I recently ordered a new set of business cards, which turned out really nice, but designing them ate up an entire day!

Honey: How did you begin reaching out to the art market?

Zoë Williams: I apply to group shows at galleries that I think might be a good fit for my style or subject matter. I’m not super outgoing, but I force myself to go out to openings and meet other artists as often as possible. I can’t overstate the importance of networking.

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Honey: How do you see your work in the future as far as the art scene?

Zoë Williams: Gallery representation is certainly something I am interested in, but finding the right match is complicated. I’d like to see myself hitting it big someday – fame and fortune and all that, but realistically I’d be happy with enough income to quit my part time job. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with my part time job (and the freelance work that I do), but my artwork is what drives it all.

Honey: What is the best way anyone could compliment you about your work?

Zoë Williams: My favorite compliments are when people ask for my expertise. There is a lot of “learning on the job” to making art, so when I can share something I’ve learned with someone else, I feel that not only am I helping that person, I’m making a small contribution to the sum of human creativity. I like it when people ask for an interview too.

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Honey: Which contemporary artists do you find most interesting?

Zoë Williams: There are so many talented people making wonderful things that it’s hard to know where to begin. I love miniatures, so I’m fascinated by the work of Patrick Jacobs and Thomas Doyle. I’m also a pretty big fan of Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”.

Honey: What are your present major projects and ventures? What’s the next step for Zoe Williams?

Zoë Williams: Here are some places where you can see my work now, and over the next couple of months: April 6th – May 4th G40 Art Summit (various locations) Richmond, VA Link here / May(opening reception May 11th, 2012) Buddy’s Den TT Underground 91 Second Avenue, Lower Level, New York, NY 10003 Link here / June (opening reception June 6th, 2012) The Guild of the Black Eagle 5 Fuse Gallery 93 2nd Ave # A, New York, NY 10003 Link here

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Honey: Thank you’s? Shoutouts?

Zoë Williams: I would like to thank my friends Samantha Levin, David Hochbaum, Jeff Faerber, Allison Sommers, and everyone else who has been so kind in welcoming me to NYC. I would also like to thank all of the gallerists and curators who have invited me to show artwork, and the bloggers who have shared my work on the internet – it means the world to me!

Links here:

http://zoewilliams.net/
http://twitter.com/x03

Interview: Victor Reyes

San Francisco-based street artist Victor Reyes is well known for his vibrant, aesthetically beautiful, free-flowing handstyle that are highly coveted and admired by many artists in the world of art and design. Looking at his work makes you want to re-learn how to hold a brush and spray can. REYES is a force to be reckoned with in this world. I thought it would be a great idea to run an interview with him here to talk inspiration, his body of work and how he goes about producing it, and all the other good stuff. Let’s not waste any time and get right to it, shall we?

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Honey: What’s on your mind right now?

Victor Reyes: I have drawing on the brain currently.

Honey: You have a very recognizable style that can’t be mistaken for any other artist. How did you come up with this style?

Victor Reyes: My style has been distilled through many places, graffiti, illustration, contemporary art, and pattern making, however I would say classical reference is a constant inspiration.

Honey: I’d love to learn about your creative process. What goes through your head when you are about to start a new piece? What can you share?

Victor Reyes: When starting new work I usually dig for reference and make decisions on composition and palette. Once I have some guidelines I usually abandon part of the plan and let improve take over.

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Honey: Have you experienced fluctuations in your productivity through the years?

Victor Reyes: My productivity has gone through some phases, sometimes I loose my way or get down about an aspect of art and I take a few to reset, however that’s part of being me, so I roll with it.

Honey: What other media have you tried or wanted to experiment with?

Victor Reyes: I have tried a range of mediums which include illustration, pattern making, paper making, painting, print making, wood sculpture, apparel design ,adobe suite, Photography, and Graffiti. In the future I am looking forward to studying book making and auto cad with CNC output.

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Honey: How many works do you currently average in a year?

Victor Reyes: In a year I usually produce a long list of work I could not begin to add up however here’s a rough I feel safe to qualify. Hundreds of drawings, fifty Design Products, a solo art show, thirty Graffiti pieces, four large scale murals and a few print releases. I should work harder though.

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Honey: What brought you to where you are as an artist today, what decisions that you made created the opportunities that you have at this time in your life?

Victor Reyes: I made the decision to make art and paint Graffiti when I was fourteen. Since I started early, there were great opportunities to meet people and build networks with other artists. I also got to sell large works and attract big name clients, and travel to exotic locals.

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Honey: Does the impact of your work change when it is being viewed in a gallery as opposed to in the streets?

Victor Reyes: The impact of my work in the streets is based largely on taking over large space and painting on the fringe where I am always breaking rules. Graffiti requires athleticism and cunning. All these elements communicate to the viewer and there is a credit you earn with people from doing this regardless of their prejudices. However a gallery show is more of a cerebral methodical process where viewers glorify or scrutinize the work by purchasing or criticizing what they see, really these worlds are at opposite ends of the universe and the economy is more the judge of the sacred.

Honey: Is there anyone you’d like to work with creatively in the coming year or so?

Victor Reyes: Yes. I want to work with Martin Scorsese, do you know him?? I give good type, I am thinking some opening titles.

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Honey: Of all things someone could say about you, what would make you feel the best?

Victor Reyes: I would love for people to say I am a good person, however that is not always true.

Honey: What significant social change would you like to see happen in your lifetime?

Victor Reyes: Seriously, I would love to see social change for the good where ever possible, universal health care, subsidize college education, Equality for all people however I am sure it’s up to me like most everything else.

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Honey: Any plans to come to NY?

Victor Reyes: I am planning a show in New York for September more details coming soon.

Honey: What does the rest of 2012 have installed for Reyes? Anything you are working on at the moment that you are excited about?

Victor Reyes: I am excited about this business here “The Jungle” new paintings by Victor Reyes “Known Gallery” late March 2012.

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Honey: Any words of advice you’d like to pass on?

Victor Reyes: My advice to myself everyday is work hard and stay positive, this is a challenge…

Honey: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you, it’s a great pleasure. Anything else you’d like to add?

Victor Reyes: Thanks for interviewing me, you have great taste.

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Links here:

http://reyes78.com/
http://twitter.com/reyes78

Interview: Raymond Klecker

Today, I bring you Raymond Klecker (previously-blogged), the absurdly talented young illustrator and painter based in Orlando, Florida. Hes so good I kind of want to throw up a little. Below is just a small sample of the talent Raymond holds. I thought it would be a great idea to run an interview with him here. So without further ado, here is Raymond Klecker’s interview and his artistic journey.

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Honey: Name, age, location and what are you doing later today?

Raymond: Hello, my name is Raymond Klecker, I’m 29 years old, and I live in Orlando, FL. I enjoy cheese, traveling, good music, and the occasional instance when I can enjoy all three of those! Tonight I’m going to be working, sadly. I need to begin preparations for a new project I am doing for the City of Orlando. A couple other guys and I are going to be painting dumpsters this weekend in an effort to help beautify the city as part of a project called “Dumpster Presence.” It should be pretty fun!

Honey: Where did you grow up? How did you become interested in the arts?

Raymond: I am originally from Burtonsville, MD. It’s a small town right in the middle of Washington, DC and Baltimore, and I lived in that area until I was about 23 or 24 years old. Then I moved to Orlando, FL, where I’m living now. I love it here. It can suck not being around my family though. My whole family is artistic, and that’s how I became interested in creating art. My Grandpa especially. He would always be creating art, building something or just doing something really creative. It was really a source of inspiration for me.

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Honey: Do you work from life or photos?

Raymond: When I am coming up with a painting, I like to just start drawing from my head, but over time as the painting develops and a story starts to form, I really try to refine the elements by using references. A lot of times I try to use my own photos, but sometimes I don’t always have a photo of what I need. I really want to start experimenting with models soon, too, so I can control the lighting, poses, and everything else. So if you’re a model and you’re reading this, email me! For my ‘Sketch A Day’ drawings I almost always work from reference photos. I’ve always wanted to be that guy that sits in a park or on a train and draws people from real life, but usually I draw at night and if I started hanging around a park in the middle of the night people might think I’m creepy. So I’ll stick with the reference photos for now.

Honey: How did your style develop?

Raymond: I never had any formal art training, and I never had anyone telling me I could or couldn’t draw or paint a certain way, so my style developed on its own pretty quickly. I had always drawn my whole life, and my goal was just to make my pictures look exactly like what I was trying to draw. I spent a lot of time recreating comic art and drawing my own versions of Where’s Waldo and stuff like that, but it wasn’t until I started incorporating color into my art using paints and pastels that I really started to have a style of my own.

Honey: Are you picky about how, when, and where you paint/draw?

Raymond: I’m not too picky about where I create art. I’ll draw or paint anywhere as long as I have the tools I need. I do feel more comfortable painting and drawing in my own space though, so that is always my preferred spot. What I really hate is making stuff right after I finish drinking coffee. It’s terrifying. My hands get the shakes and I can’t draw a straight line to save my life! I also like to be able to set up and paint for long periods of time, so I won’t start painting anything if I know I have somewhere to go. I really love making art though, so if it came down to it and conditions were crappy, I would still be making art.

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Honey: Would you be able to give me a time-scale on how long each piece takes to complete?

Raymond: Paintings usually take me a few weeks. I like to take my time with those and try to make them look the best I can. I’m always chasing the white rabbit of perfection. Sometimes just coming up with all of the elements for an idea can take a while because I really like to develop a story and add meaning to the pieces, and that doesn’t always come right away. So even if I’m not actively drawing or painting, I’m almost always thinking about my work and letting it grow inside my head. For my Sketch A Day series I try to do drawings every day, so I can’t spend too much time on them. I usually work on them for 2-3 hours before I go to sleep. It really is a relief to start and finish something in one sitting. That feeling of accomplishment is priceless.

Honey: What kind of feedback do you get from general public about your work?

Raymond: I think most people like my work. I’ve been fortunate to sell a lot of stuff over the years, and I haven’t really heard too many complaints. I drew a picture one time of a girl that had a gun pointed at her head. There were a few people that didn’t like that imagery and they mentioned it to me. On the other hand, a different group of people did like it, and those weren’t people that usually comment or like my stuff. So I think in the end it all evens out. I love getting criticism and especially love the positive feedback, but that’s not why I make art, so in the end I guess it doesn’t really matter to me what anyone thinks. If I was alone on this Earth, or on any other Earth, I would still be creating art.

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Honey: Did you have role models that you were aspiring to emulate?

Raymond: My Grandfather was probably the biggest role model in my life. He was always making something and he always encouraged everyone in our family to create on some level. That, in combination with the support from my friends and family, really made me want to be a better artist. Once I started really getting into art and really appreciating it, I looked to other artists for inspiration. Living near Washington, DC I was able to get to the National Gallery of Art a lot. I saw so many classics and really started falling in love with work by people like Jan van Eyck, John Singleton Copley, Edward John Poynter, Jan Weenix, and so many more. I am a classical art whore. I could look at that stuff all day long.

Honey: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

Raymond: Staying motivated can get hard sometimes. I recently started to sacrifice a lot of sleep for my art and I always think “Well, I can just go to sleep and make something tomorrow,” but it’s that feeling of accomplishment and that positive feedback I get from people that keeps me going. I love waking up to comments about what I did the night before, it’s a great way to start the day. I really think creativity is like a muscle, too. Since I’m trying to make something every day, it’s easier for me to pick up the pencil or paintbrush and just do something, even if it’s a stupid idea. But if you don’t use that creativity, you lose it, and it gets harder and harder to get back into it. Creative block is a heinous unforgiving bitch!

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Honey: Say if you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?

Raymond: I have had this one idea for a while that I am not quite sure how to bring to life… It would take lots of time and experimenting, but basically I thought that if I could get a couple different projectors or strong lights and shine some base colors through an interconnecting series of mirrors that mix and bend the light, I could ultimately project a finished painting on a wall. It’s a little ‘mad scientist’ and seems completely over-the-top and unpractical, but I think it would be really cool to see the art being created right in front of your eyes in a single instant.

Honey: Raymond, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Raymond: The moon is considered part of this world, right? If there was real estate on the moon I would totally live there. If that’s not an option then I might like to have an underwater lair in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. I hear the summer’s there are pretty nice.

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Honey: What’s on your to-do list for the future?

Raymond: I really want to create more paintings and show in more galleries, basically grow more as an artist. I’m also doing this “Dumpster Presence” project which is going to be pretty awesome. I’m also working with some very talented people to develop and produce a web series for ArtAttacksOnline.com, a website which I help run. Over the past few months we have been traveling around collecting footage of some well-known artists and events, and we are looking to edit everything together into a documentary style show where our host, artist Andrew Spear, travels around the county exposing new and established artists and their relationship with their community. So over the next month or so we are going to be working pretty intensely on getting that done.

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Honey: Anything you wanna say to me? Shoutouts? Thanks yous?

Raymond: First, I want to thank you for interviewing me! I check out your site all of the time, so it really is an honor. I would also like to thank anyone who read the whole interview and made it down this far. You rule! Other than that, I just want to thank all my friends, family, and fans for all your support. It really does mean a lot to me. Be sure to find me online at:

http://raymondklecker.com
http://facebook.com/klecker
http://twitter.com/raymondklecker

Interview: Chor Boogie

If a one liner was needed to sum up Chor Boogie‘s art work it would have to be “conscious reawakening“. His work proliferates through nearly every dimensions of his life, from his art murals, graffiti to his home studio and his faith. And that faith seems to be the central point in his work. But it wasn’t always like this. Back in the days when he was intensely curious about things, he began experimenting with drugs and had run-ins with the law. Those experiences made him realized what he had to do. Originally a self-taught artist, he was determined to get his life back together and through his love of art and faith, Jason Hailey was reborn as Chor Boogie. Through the spray painting medium, Chor is now getting his proper due. His art is almost flawless, design and execution brilliant, colors applied are intensive, the impact is undeniable. Considering the fact that in the era of computer rendering magically stored on disk, this is a big deal. If it was an isolated incident, that would be one thing, but every single painting is amazing – so where does that leave the rest of us artists? In the dust. In short, this guy rules. So ladies and gents, here’s Chor Boogie as interviewed by Evans Mbai, Sweet Stations’s newest addition.

Chor Boogie 1

Evans: How did you become interested in graffiti/spray paint culture and how do you think people view them differently from the traditional art, for instance, fine art?

Chor Boogie: Well I was introduced to it through the streets .. so basically once I got a visual taste for it ..it just clicked and I told my self I was going to paint like that one day especially starting my creative process since the age of 5.. but once I hit the spray can it was all over with (in a good sense of the term).. and basically that was one of my goals as far as spray paint goes.. taking it to new heights and new levels ..i.e technical skill and style .. to prove to the contemporary /fine art world …we are the same .. so now a days things are changing and I feel there are a lot more open eyes /minds to it rather than 20 30 40 years ago..

Evans: What kind of materials do you work with?

Chor Boogie: I work with a special designed brand of spray paint from Barcelona Spain called The original Montana or MTN for short from whom am which I am supported by ..so MTN Colors ..Spray paint No additives No preservatives..

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Evans: Eyes seem to be key in a lot of your work. Has your opinion/philosophy of them changed through the years?

Chor Boogie: My opinion and philosophy changes about everything I do .. it may still carry its weight in its own perspective as far as the philosophy goes.. but things change constantly.. but when it comes to the eyes the eyes to me are the windows to the soul .. the visual keepers of our perception and how we view reality and un reality.so the point of the eyes is to basically open them ..

Evans: You’ve, “been to hell and back” a few times. What/who was your guide back?

Chor Boogie: Well first off ..let me give the credit to the most High… whether it be a he or she.. then comes my self for taking that first step back to reality ..and my artform at the same time ..a combination of all 3 helped me find my way back..

Evans: In 2008 you were commissioned by, Century Ginwa in Xi’an China, to paint a mural for the Beijing Olympic Games. How did it feel to contribute to a global event?

Chor Boogie: It was one of the best moments of my life .. to be apart of something this amazing being over in china and understanding a totally different culture aside from ours.. and really catching the feel of the environment so it can help influence or inspire my style to create something spectacular for the Olympics.

Evans: I rarely use the word “cute” to describe anything else other than Asian girls, but, your Boogie Birds are just that. Will there be anymore cute creatures?

Chor Boogie: WOW they are like cute asian girls… lol Actually they are the power of cuteness and the beauty of simplicity at the same time basically the simple side of what I do… as far as any other cute ones .. things change so I’m sure it will happen..

Chor Boogie

Evans: You’re a man well educated in colors, have your ever seen a color outside the spectrum?

Chor Boogie: I wouldn’t say well educated ..just a man that appreciates colors.. But to answer your question … yeah .. the color of nothing which is the spectrum outside the spectrum..

Evans: Out of everything so far, what’s your favorite thing that your work has appeared on?

Chor Boogie: There is allot of those may be to many .. pretty much every accomplishment is my favorite .. but every year it gets bigger & better..

Evans: Who are some of the people who’ve had the biggest influence on you and your work?

Chor Boogie: From a spray paint point of view… Phase 2 and Vulcan fas of today from a historical stand point… Caravaggio

Evans: How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art?

Chor Boogie: If that where in the cards then that’s the hand that’s dealt to me .. so I would hate it but eventually have to accept it.. something worth not thinking about..

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Evans: Where do you see Chor Boogie in 10 years?

Chor Boogie: As 1 of the biggest names in the art world.. but overall 10 years from now ill still be painting..

Evans: What about L.A. gives you the most pride?

Chor Boogie: Nothing.. But ego and pride everywhere dictates the flow of every ones life..

Evans: There are a lot of vandals out there creating art -illegally. Do you have any advice to help them reach a respectable position similar to yours?

Chor Boogie: The choice is yours you can get with this or you can get with that.. BLACK SHEEP

Evans: Any shows or projects your excited about?

Chor Boogie: There are allot ..but they are top secret evidence and documents .. Lets just say some major museum action.. and major deals to be signed ..

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Evans: Any last words? Thank you’s?

Chor Boogie: I would like to thank my sun for being my sun ..i just found out after 14 years I have a sun.. and its pretty awesome .. I also would like to thank my Grand pa John for being such a cool Grand pa ..and rest in paradise.. I also would like to thank my family and fans for putting up with all my shit.. Lets keep the success going for all of us .. and always remember to always ..stay …shining..

We’d like to thank Chor Boogie for this awesome interview and while you’re at it, check out his cool art portfolio at www.chorboogie.com

Interview: Gwenn Seemel

I first saw Gwenn Seemel’s work about a month or so ago and her unique painting approach to portraiture mesmerized me. Her work is unmistakable. I knew nothing about her and I wanted to know more about the artist behind the incredible images. Gwenn was so gracious enough to provide us an insight to her creative mind. And according to Gwenn, her ultimate goal is to paint everybody’s faces. Well, there’s a billion plus people in the world and growing. I think it’s safe to say that she won’t run out of faces to paint anytime soon. And that’s a very good thing. Enjoy the rest of the interview.

Welshie: I’ve only come to know the Gwenn Seemel I’ve been reading in the articles. But who is the real Gwenn Seemel?

Gwenn: The version of me that’s fit to print wants to write a very long answer that reveals very little; the real me is stumped by your question.

Welshie: You’ve done a lot of portraits (200+ and counting). Where does your obsession of painting portraits come from?

Gwenn: By painting portraits, I’m guaranteeing myself a fascinated audience of at least one. Love it or hate it, the subject of my portrait can’t help but be engrossed with it. I would rather make art that is sure to impact one person than art that may never mean anything to anyone.

Welshie: The general impression of an artist is that he/she is reclusive. You are a contradiction. When approaching your objects, you interview them at great lengths along with snapping hundreds of photos. Why do you go that far? What do you hope to accomplish with that?

Gwenn: Sometimes I think I became a portrait painter because I’m socially awkward. It might have made more sense for me to become a landscape painter or some other kind of artist who is not, by definition, required to meet people, except that the hole in my social skills is in a very specific place.

I enjoy meeting people, but not in that chit-chatty way that’s socially acceptable. I like asking the more personal questions and learning about another individual, even if it’s only for the space of an hour. My interview process allows me to do this.

I take hundreds of photos because I am looking for that little moment in between traditional images, that movement and breath that reveals the essence of the subject.

Welshie: Do you let your subjects give you their input during your painting process?

Gwenn: No. I’m very interested in their favorite colors as well as their self-propaganda–the story they tell themselves about how the world sees them–at the time of the interview, and those things definitely find their way into my paintings. But once the photo session is over, I don’t want or need input from the subjects.

And in my years of doing commission work, only one of my clients has ever asked me to change a finished painting. I told him that he might as well touch up the portrait himself, because the painting wouldn’t be my work if I changed it. He was disappointed to begin with, but, 6 months later, he called to thank me and let me know that he loved the work.

Welshie: Your style of painting is very distinct. I see a lot of bright colors and crosshatching patterns. It’s got that almost unfinished modern look. Have you always been this skilled with your style? How did it (your painting style) evolve over the years?

Gwenn: When I was 15, my parents signed me up for an intaglio printmaking class at the local art college. At the time, I was drawing a lot but without voice or visual integrity. The class introduced me to crosshatching, which is one of the primary ways of creating a tonal area in etching. I left that class with a love of acids and soft ground techniques, but most especially with a passion for crosshatching. When I started painting in acrylic a year later, I kept at it, only now I was doing it in color.

Over the years, that basic style has developed both with the tools I use and with my growing confidence as an artist, but my mark-making remains essentially the same: using line as mass instead of simply contour.

Welshie: In Mutually Beneficial, you went on Craigslist personals looking for men seeking women with the intent of painting their portraits in exchange for some kind of “commission”. It generated a lot of controversy among fellow artists and the media alike. How did the idea come about in the first place?

Gwenn: I was talking with a friend and he was going on and on about how fascinating personal ads are. It occurred to me that I’d never even looked at the personals on Craigslist. Once I took a peek, I was hooked. I began collecting the strangest ones I encountered with a vague idea of doing a series of painted portraits of the people behind the words. But then I started to notice a pattern: men seeking women were often keen on letting their potential dates know that they were financially stable. Once I saw the pattern, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to couple the traditional heterosexual male relationship role with the stereotype of the young female starving artist being little more than a prostitute with a quirky sense of fashion.

There was no “commission” involved in the making of these portraits, nor even the promise of one. When I invited the men to participate, I told them I would buy them a coffee if they’d let me photograph and interview them. A few of the men I contacted asked me what they’d get in exchange for lending me their faces and their stories. I replied that I couldn’t pay them but that participation would give them the opportunity to see their portrait done by me–something which appealed
to just 5 of the 30 men I contacted.

Welshie: That must have been a nerve-racking experience, Gwenn. Tell us a little bit about an encounter you had with one of the male correspondents that made a lasting impression on you.

Gwenn: The subjects were sweet and mostly harmless. It was Portland’s primary art critic who crossed the creepy line. He accused me, in print, of not having the courage to see my project through since I had not slept with any of the men I met. Clearly, we did not agree on the point of my series.

Welshie: You paint portraits exclusively. Do you see yourself moving away from it and trying a different art medium in the foreseeable future?

Gwenn: Of course! But first I have to paint every person in the world. If only people would stop breeding, I might one day get to pursue my career as a mime.

Welshie: I’ve read that you regularly teach art workshops for artists hoping to go full-time and make a living from their artwork. What has been the best advice you’ve given to them so far?

Gwenn: 1) Make a lot of work.
2) Show a lot of people the best of that work.
3) Be friendly.
4) Repeat.

Especially #4. The people we know as artists today are the ones who
didn’t give up.

Welshie: Describe the concept of Swollen where you painted seven women going through changes in their respective lives.

Gwenn: With Swollen, I was looking for the moment that a person becomes a woman, and I conducted my search among the physical changes that are often associated with a transition to womanhood. I found seven test subjects for study, their transitions ranging from puberty and pregnancy to marriage and menopause, but also embracing modern gender surgeries like breast enlargement and male-to-female sex reassignment.

I painted one “before” portrait of each of the test subjects and, a year later, when their transitions were complete, followed up with an “after” portrait.

I also painted “before” and “after” portraits of one subject who would not experience a major physical change during the year’s interval. I painted myself. I became the control subject for my own experiment, and, in one of those delicious moments of unexpected synthesis, learned what scientists have known for years: it all comes down to asking the right question. It turns out that womanhood has nothing at all to do with physical transitions.

Welshie: What do you want people to think about you when they see your artwork?

Gwenn: I’ve been told that my work is adorable and that it radiates happiness. I’ve also been told that it’s unsettling and offensive. That all sounds about right.

Welshie: Wow Gwenn, painting a portrait almost once a week is insane (by my standards). That’s some dedication I admire. Do you even take any breaks at all? What do you do when you’re not interpreting people’s faces?

Gwenn: It does seem a little bit insane when you put it that way. I’m not very good at taking a break if I’m at home, but, when I get out of the city and away from my paints, I excel at not doing anything remotely work-like.

Welshie: What’s next for Gwenn Seemel?

Gwenn: Currently, I’m working on Subjective, a series of portraits in collaboration with Becca Bernstein . For Subjective, we are painting ourselves and each other, as well as our parents, partners, and other relations. Two views each of ten subjects: twenty paintings of loved ones immortalized once by a stranger and once by their kin.

The series will tour through the Pacific Northwest in 2010 and 2011. We’ll also be publishing a catalog early next year to go with the series, and Richard Brilliant, author of countless essays about portraiture as well as a much-quoted book on the subject, has unexpectedly offered to write the catalog essay. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have a respected art historian writing about my work as if I’m dead already!

Thanks so much, Gwenn! We finally got this one posted after a few delays. Hope you’re feeling better and back to painting portraits where you clearly belong. So hey guys, can you count all the portraits she has done since doing this professionally? Well, go find out by visiting her site below and while you’re there, why not get your portrait done by the one and only Gwenn Seemel.

Link here:


Gwenn Seemel’s official homepage

Interview: Edie Nadelhaft

Curiosity is always a good thing. Edie Nadelhaft is all about making ordinary images very, very interesting.. by blowing them up. You can’t help but do double-takes when you see her artwork. Macro painting definitely stimulates the mind in a very relaxing way. So come one, come all. Welcome to Edie’s world.

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Welshie: With the latest opening of your Oh Cow! exhibition, let’s go back in time and tell us about your first artwork exhibit. What made you decide to show your work in a gallery?

Edie: Hmmm this might sound odd but I actually not sure about my first exhibition. I think it might have been at the Trident Booksellers Cafe on Newberry Street in Boston. I did have a show there but am not gonna swear to it being my first. I liked that space because it was not a gallery but extremely prominent from a traffic and visibility standpoint. They were lovely people – I personally spent endless hours reading their books and magazines for free under their benevolent gaze (as in, they didn’t demand that I buy something or get out!). They were very artist-friendly, plus there were always lots of good looking Berkley students to look at in there. And Tarot readers. They had a rotating cast of Tarot card readers too.

Welshie:How’s the Oh Cow! Art show going? What has been the general response to it?

Edie: The response has been phenomenal! A number of works have sold, and The Flushing Times ran a nice piece on the show in late July for which I was interviewed.

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Welshie:Tell us little bit about your painting process? Most of your paintings use multiple canvases like a grid instead of one huge canvas. Any reason in particular?

Edie: Actually, most of my work is not paneled. I started doing the panels to shake things up a bit around the time I did the first large-scale bovine portrait. At the time, I had been working on a painting of a couple of cows (the exception to the single portrait) and kept obsessing over this – forgive me – cow lick ha ha!, I realized that what I really seemed to want to do was make a painting of that hair formation, not man-handle a detail on a larger work. So I did! The result was awesome. It opened up a whole new process for me. It was very liberating because when I do the paneled works, I use a little cardboard window so I only see the piece of the picture that I am painting. This results in me making what are often completely abstract paintings. Only once the panel is finished do I put it together with the others in the context of the whole image. Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.

Welshie: Out of all your painting series, Cherry Biters intrigues me the most. I wonder why. I’m curious to know if there’s any meaning behind the imagery.

Edie: Those are some of my favorites as well. There is no deep hidden meaning there, though. I intentionally strip out all context for my subject-whatever it may be-so that the viewer may focus entirely on the thing itself and the paint that describes it. In all of my work, I try to depict the sheer essence of the thing represented, be it the sweet sloppy pleasure of eating a cherry or the daiphaneous wing of a fly. Interpretation is open game as far as I’m concerned. As long as you feel something.

Welshie: Whose lips were those modeled from?

Edie: Those are my lips. I take high resolution digital photographs of myself and print ‘em out at about 8″ x 8″ so I can see what I’m working on. You’d be surprised how hard it is to paint while holding a cherry in your teeth without drooling while trying to get all that fine detail down on canvas

Welshie: I read once on a interview you did that you also work as a web designer. Is this something you’d like to pursue full-time or will it only remain as a part-time gig?

Edie: I’m pretty much over it-please don’t print that hahaha! No seriously, I got into the field b/c it was challenging and exciting and a ton more intellectually stimulating than bar tending and waiting tables which I had done prior to that. It turned out to be very lucrative and I rode the dot com wave for some time, really enjoying it. I still do it part-time but I am primarily focused on painting now.

Welshie: Talk about obsession. Edie, what attracted you to cows in the first place?

Edie: I have never had any particular interest in cows, but that all changed a few years ago when I rode my motorcycle down to a farm in Bucks County, PA where my husband’s family had been dairy farmers for over 200 years. I met Harold Haldeman, my mother in law Betty’s cousin, who at that time was in his 80′s, still worked the farm despite having been run over by a tractor, and drove that same tractor on the highway when his son refused to humor him with a ride to their other property.

Harold was a very interesting man, very different from us in so many ways yet completely non-plused by our black leather attire and flashy rides. He showed us around, fed us cake and talked about life on the farm. As we stood chatting near a fence, I noticed a number of cows about 20 feet from where we were standing. As we talked, it seemed to me that the cows were getting closer. Within about 10 minutes they were inches front of us nuzzling each other and angling for pats on the snout. I asked Harold why they had come over to us expecting it to have something to do with his taking care of them, but he said that wasn’t it at all, that ‘They are very curious creatures’.

Wow. I had thought them charming in an abstract landscape-y kind of way, and I’d felt compassionate regarding their treatment in an agricultural context but this, this was a whole new perspective for me: a personality trait. That sparked my interest. That and the sheer magnitude of the creatures. Later that day we went inside the barn where I had my first encounter with a bovine friend in an enclosed space, and I have to tell you, this may sound stupid, but all I could think was they are HUMONGOUS. Another contradiction.

As human beings, we think of cows as gentle and slow ‘not threatening at all. Which I think is mostly true, but there’s no escaping the instinctual response one has when confronted at such close range with a MUCH BIGGER CRITTER.

Welshie: When I look at your cow portraits, especially the macro paintings, I couldn’t help but giggle. Have you ever intended them on being funny?

Edie: Of course they’re funny! So glad you get that. I think everything in life is at least absurd if not out and out funny. Except cancer. Cancer is not funny.

Some of them are sad, or contemplative or maybe even a little hostile looking, but the body of work, as a whole is a bit silly on a lot of levels. For one thing, if you look at the history of portraiture, it’s all about very rich and/or prominent religious figures immortalized in often self-important displays of wealth and power. So, here I am elevating cattle (a traditional symbol of wealth, btw) to that same stature. But aside from that, the ‘girls’ keep me amused. They have great faces and it is impossible not to anthropomorphize this work.

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Welshie: Of course, more cows, the better. However, are you interested in expanding your portraits beyond bovines, say from cats, dogs, to more exotic animals?

Edie: Funny you should ask about that. I have recently been offered a grant by the Catskill Center for Conservation & Development to stay in the area for a week to gather source imagery for paintings that will be mounted in a solo show next season at their Erpf Gallery. It seems there are some fancy goats up there that need painting ;-)

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Welshie: Interestingly, you also paint fly portraits. Do you look at each fly as having its own personality? Personally, White Fly is my favorite. Which one is yours?

Edie: Naw. Flies are vermin. One of the things that interested my about flies is the contradiction embodied in something that is so beautiful when observed at close range but is ultimately associated (quite rightly) with excrement and death. “Handsome Hu is my favorite. He’s poised on a paint sampler. I thought that was funny, speaking of humor in my work. Since paint samples are for decorating, and decorating or beautifying the home, is most obviously at odds with the creepy little creature. And of course decorating, make up, wealth everything we do in a cosmetic and/or material sense is ultimately a denial of our mortality. That makes it even funnier-right? (see ‘The Denial of Death’ by Ernest Becker)

Welshie: What other things are you into, aside from painting and web design?

Edie: Motorcycling, long walks on the beach. I’m a Sagittarius (and a smart ass in case you hadn’t noticed;-)).

Welshie: I noticed the electric guitar you’re holding in one of your published photos. Was it only a prop or are you a rocker at heart?

Edie: I am an ardent admirer of sexy rockers, but I personally, do not make the rock. That belongs to my husband. It’s one of seven that he owns I think. He’s the musician in the family.

Welshie: This is something that I have to ask on every interview. What advice can you give to someone pursuing art as a major career option?

Edie: OK, this might sound corny but here goes: Make art for the love of it. Or b/c you can’t NOT do it. Exposure and material rewards are great but they can be elusive and they aren’t good reasons to do something so all-consuming and difficult. I think it can be hard to maintain the brutal honesty and vision required to make meaningful art if that is your primary motivation. Inspiration is the most powerful thing in my life. It is the thing I am most grateful for. Without that, life is dull no matter how much money or press you get.

Welshie: Are you working on some projects right now which you can leak some info about? Anything you are working on at the moment that you are excited about?

Edie: Flesh. And more bugs. Exotic bugs if you must know. Purchased from the entomology department at Evolution. See “Palmed Beetle” on my website’s home page for a sneak peek.

Welshie: Edie, anything you’d like to add? Thank yous?

Edie: I want to thank you and Honey for showing an interest in my work and my story. And Ron Raymond (aka Arena Bound) because he RAWKs and I love him. There are so many friends and family members whose support and confidence in me has been pivotal to my success that I’m kinda scared to try to name them lest I forget someone in my Monday morning, under-caffeinated state BUT, I have to mention Michael Costello, one of my oldest friends and a wonderful painter whose faith in me has never wavered, my sister Marilyn Hirsch, a couple of teachers-Scott Richter and Kofi Kayiga, my friend John Moore who kept me and my work in his thoughts, any collector who bought my work early on, and Karin Sanders cuz she’s awesome! I think that’s about it. Thank you!

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Well there you have it. Another end to a fantastic and entertaining interview. We definitely had fun interviewing Edie. A big thank you to her as always. And we wish her mooooore success in the future. (get it? mooo.. oore.. OK I’ll stop).

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Links here:

http://www.edienadelhaft.com/
http://www.sweet-station.com/blog/?p=4142

Interview: Jeffrey Batchelor

Great paintings are more than just applied techniques perfected over time. The best portrays emotion and context, and give us a window into the subject’s world. This leads us to the beautiful work of painter Jeffrey Batchelor. His ability to paint is only secondary to the way he captures his unique vision. Jeffrey’s artwork not only captivates the viewer’s attention visually, it also makes one think and feel. Exactly how art is supposed to be. Here’s a good interview by Honey, if I may say so. Now go ahead and read along to get an inside look at the mind of a “magic” realist painter, Mr. Batchelor.

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Honey: Hello Jeffrey. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you know you wanted to paint?

JB: My talents and abilities began to present themselves at a very early age. I began drawing at about age three and it was apparent that I was far advanced beyond significantly older children. I always knew that I was going to be an artist of some kind. I studied in college and grad school to that end, but it wasn’t until I got my first job as a scenic artist that I knew I was going to keep a paintbrush in my hand for the rest of my life.

Honey: Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? Was art a ‘thing’ that was encouraged in your family?

JB: I combined these questions for expediency’ I grew up in quasi-rural North Carolina, a slight, artistic, nearsighted, acne-prone child, fourth in the line of five. My father was a raging alcoholic; my mother had been hospitalized twice for depression. I was frequently the focus of my father’s violent outbursts because of my sensitive nature. I was scholastically gifted, but fell deeply into depression “ I didn’t know at the time; it was the only life I knew “ and lagged somewhat behind. The only positive reinforcement I knew as a child was my art. To note: I have greatly recovered from this unfortunate beginning to my life. I am a grateful member of Al-Anon, the program for friends and family members of substance abusers. I also found contact lenses and a great dermatologist! I now embrace the sensitive nature for which I once was abused, and employ it generously in my art and in my relationships.

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Honey: How often do you paint?

JB: I approach painting as a job, which it is for me. Monday through Friday I usually paint from about noon until 8 PM. I seldom start earlier because I find myself better suited for either paper work in the morning or the gym, and my most productive times are always in the afternoon or early evening. I will frequently add a few hours on the weekend, especially if I’m nearing the end of a piece.

Honey: What style would you most strongly classify your paintings?

JB: I like the term, ‘Magic Realism’ but most people more easily identify with Surrealism so that’s fine. People unquestionably recognize that there is something ‘going on’ in my paintings. They can then decide if they want to put the pieces together or not. I do enjoy realism for its own sake, and do sometimes paint in that manner. When I do this, like in the glass still lifes, I create a sort of visual journey for the viewer. Glass exists as a composite of its surroundings “ whatever is in front, behind, or around. I try to take people on a trip through abstract shapes and twisting forms to find the objects, light, and shadows that make the glass there.

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Honey: Tell us, how do you manage to achieve such realism in your works? Would you give a brief walk through your work flow?

JB: Working in oil, I start with an underpainting, usually a flat color, but sometimes I’ll do a shaded blend. I always mix in some type of drying medium, either liquin or cobalt dryer, so that whatever I paint is dry the next day. I work in layers, so the next day I’ll add additional shapes or shading, being very careful to form sharp or soft edges as need be. I always work with a super-soft bristle brush to lightly go over the paint in appropriate places to blend or shade.

Honey: How long would you say it normally takes you to complete a piece from beginning to end?

JB: It depends on the size and complexity “ Small pieces, 16″ X 20″ or so, take about two weeks. Some of the bigger more complex still lifes with lots of cut crystal can take three to four months to complete. An average surreal painting, about 50″ X 40″ or so, will take five to seven weeks.

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Honey: How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork? Where does your subject matter come from?

JB: I really stand out here, I think. All of my surreal paintings now start out in written form. I get an idea “ sometimes from a meditation “ and I write it down on a post-it or piece of paper. I’ll later come back to it and begin writing the concept, describing all of the images and their relationships to each other. More ideas, images, concepts will develop during this process. I find the writing process reaches deep into my imagination, opening up possibilities. Once the piece is in progress things always change, but I need that fertile beginning with countless branches of opportunity to start strong, focus, and keep excited about my direction.

Honey: Are you picky about when and where you paint?

JB: I am. I need good lighting. I need a place away from distraction. I need music or certain non-confrontational talk radio. I need my palette set up a certain way, lit a certain way, a certain place to put my brushes and clean them. As tight a painter as I am, is this a surprise to anyone??? Yes, I have control issues. *Grins!*

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Honey: What do you think sets you apart from other artists?

JB: Certainly technique. There just aren’t a lot of artists that work in my kind of detail and realism, if for no other reason than that it dramatically cuts down on the dollars per hour factor. That’s the first thing people notice. Second, as I mentioned earlier, my surrealist pieces demand that the viewer looks beyond the imagery to discover the meaning beneath the surface. They must engage their minds.

Honey: What is it that you love about your artworks?

JB: I love that they are all a sincere part of me. I have remained true to my vision and ability without losing the capability to be open and grow. My development has come from the courage to step away from myself, regard myself honestly, and return more aware and focused.

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Honey: Can you describe a day in the life of Jeffrey Batchelor? Tell me about your average day.

JB: Hmmm I’ll pick a gym day: I have coffee in bed with a cat on my lap while reading my meditations. I clean up, dress down, and I’m off to the gym on my bike for a 1 to 2 hour workout. Then I come home, have lunch (usually around 10:30/11 and usually my home made soup!) and then it’s up to the studio. Streaming music or talk, I’ll paint until 7:30 or 8, breaking occasionally for a little snack (my home made hummus, for sure!) or for a few minutes at my piano. Then I’ll clean up, make dinner, clean the kitchen, shower, share some time with my partner, and then off to bed. All boring, predictable, serene I provide for myself a well-designed routine that cares for my mind and body and leaves me free to create and work on my art.

Honey: In your opinion who are the most overrated artists of the 20th century?

JB: Girlfriend, I ain’t touchin’ that one! I will respect any artist who honestly works to the best of his ability, whether I like his work or not. Sometimes, marketing is the primary focus of an artist, and if that’s the case then hes a business man, and more than likely will admit it. I think all artists would be better off if they managed themselves with some degree of business-like professionalism. I know this: I can find as many people as I want who will tell me I’m a genius, and just as many who will tell me I’m crap. As long as I respect myself and love my work, that’s all I need. And I’ll admit, it’s nice to have ardent fans and collectors that admire and respect my paintings.

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Honey: If you could take home ANY painting from ANY museum, which would you choose and why?

JB: I love this question!!! GOD! OK, I don’t want a painting; I want a sculpture, and I didn’t see it in a museum, I saw it at Art Basel In 2004? 2005? I went to Art Basel in Miami and saw for the first time the work of Evan Penny I was STUNNED. I went home and wrote about it. His sculptures are distorted, often oversized busts, full, or partial figures made of aluminum, silicone, pigment, and human hair They are FRIGHTENINGLY real, horrifically distorted and merciless in their depiction of aged imperfect skin and form. I LOVE THEM. The piece I would love to own would be “Self“ 2008, a bust back study. The attention to detail is nearly beyond comprehension, and once inside the alter-reality of his world, I relish at the loving crafting of imperfection, and the gentle sincerity it brings. It shows the true beauty of humanity, the creation of God, embraced by man.

Honey: How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to make art?

JB: No art, i.e. no music, painting, or sculptures I would become a psychologist. I spend much of my focus on opening people’s minds to my vision through my art. If I couldn’t do this, I would want to open their minds more directly, for their own vision of themselves. I would move from a more passive outreach to a more active one. I want to make a difference for people, have them think in a different way. And I’d probably have more cats *Wink!*

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Honey: Any current or future projects that you could tell us about?

JB: I’m loving this magical still life series that I’m doing. I have a plan to do a large piece based on The Last Supper fresco by Da Vinci. It would be set up and apportioned just like the fresco, but comprised of my wooden hands, gloves, drapery, hats, goblets, plates, masks, all imitating the poses of the characters in the original.

Honey: Final remarks? Anything else you want to say?

JB: It is not easy to be a full-time professional artist. We are self-employed business men and extremely vulnerable even in the best economy. However, I get to do something that I truly love, and with every piece I put out I realize that I will have a voice in centuries to come. Long after I’m gone the creations of my hands will reach the eyes and excite the minds of people I’ll never know. This is an awesome gift. I am honored to have it and I never, never take it for granted.

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Links here:

http://www.jeffreybatchelor.com/
http://www.sweet-station.com/blog/?p=5431
http://www.sweet-station.com/blog/?p=5836

Interview: Shay Aaron

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shay Aaron, a wonderfully talented young jewelry artist based in Israel. His adorable line of polymer food jewelry and charms are so incredibly realistic. It’s exciting to see familiar dishes or yummy pastries being used as a jewelry. A wonderful treat without any calories! I sent Shay my list of questions. Here are his answers..

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Honey: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Shay: My name is Shay; I’m 24 years old and live in the holy land of Israel. I’m working in a daily center for adults and children with special needs and I also teach crafts for a living.

Honey: Did you always think you were creative or is it something that you discovered later on in life?

Shay: I always remember myself as a creative boy. I grew up with scissors in my hand and never stopped to handcraft. Five years ago, I discovered the polymer clay and I fell in love with this great material, but still work with so many other materials.

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Honey: How did you learn to make jewelry? What originally led you down the path of jewelry design?

Shay: Before I start to make my Mini Food Jewels, I made tons of fimo beads, using the famous Millefiori technique. But so many people do this kind of art, so I stopped. I never learn how to make jewelry by myself. I have two big sisters who inspired me and taught me what women wants! Nowadays, I create dollhouse miniatures and food jewelry.

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Honey: What initially inspired you to create “food jewelry”?

Shay: Oh, there are so many things which inspired me! I collect food magazines and flyers, and have towers of cooking and baking books. I get inspirations from Jamie Oliver to my mom’s kitchen. I usually make dollhouse items, but sometimes I feel like this tiny sandwich should dangle on someone’s ears.

Honey: What kind of materials do you use?

Shay: The major material has to be polymer clay. I’m also combining metal,paper, resin, acrylic paints, glass, ceramic and much more materials in my work. I’m always searching for new clays and for unconventional supplies to include in my work.

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Honey: Do you start with the materials or a drawing or do they just come to you as you work? Could you describe a little bit about your process?

Shay: Well, sometimes I do sketches. Usually, when I start to work on a new miniature project, I collect so many photos and information for inspiration. I’m always looking for new and creative dishes on the net, searching in different magazines and books. In 1:12 dollhouse scale, the size of the item is an important issue, so I need to make sure that the item has the correct measurements. Color and texture.. a combination of the both will produce the best and realistic miniature food. Sometimes I found myself fighting with mixing clays for the perfect color and shade for the tiny treat. I use unconventional tools for the texture; a tooth brush, aluminum foil, table cloth and much more funny and unexpected tools.

Honey: What are the rewards and challenges in creating these real small sculptures?

Shay: A plenty of clay do their way to the trash, because I just can’t hold myself from trying new ideas of clay food. I’m always holding a tiny notebook in my pocket and writing down new ideas for new projects. I love to challenge myself with new and ambitious projects, and when I’m done, I expect from everyone to comment about my last design.

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Honey: What have been some of your favorite jewelry pieces you’ve created and why?

Shay: It’s too hard for me to say, because I love all my creations. I adore my sandwich earrings collection. It takes me couple of hours to make one tiny pair of them, but they are so detailed and charming, so its worth every second. I’m so proud in my miniatures from the Mediterranean cuisines, I think I have made an excellent job with this collection too.

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Honey: Who would you like to see your jewelry on? Got an ideal client?

Shay: I believe that my clients are people who have tons of sense of humor and are truly open-minded. I love to see people enjoying my art and wearing my stuff, it makes me feel good. My handmade jewelries are pretty reasonable price wise. Right now, I just can’t think about the ideal client. I promise to inform you when I can think of one.

Honey: What is the most unusual piece you have made?

Shay: Oh my, you name it! The basket full of veggies necklace and the salmon steaks studs are definitely unusual pieces to wear.

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Honey: What’s your favorite food?

Shay: CHOCOLATE!

Honey: One place you could travel right now?

Shay: The States!

Honey: Where would you like to take your craft next? What’s your next goal?

Shay: To build the ultimate dollhouse! I’m in a process of collecting items and materials for my 1:12 kitchen, bakery shop, seafood and supermarket sections. I hope to finish at least one section until the end of the year. Another goal of mine is to keep with the food jewelry items which I love, to be inventive and unique, and to come up with new ideas, techniques and interesting items.

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Honey: Where can people buy your work?

Shay: My food jewelry collection is available at my Etsy shop. I will open my second online shop of handmade dollhouse food in 1:12 and 1:6 scales soon. I’ll keep you posted about that one for sure.

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Link here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5093660
http://www.flickr.com/photos/shay-aaron/sets/
http://www.tapuz.co.il/blog/userblog.asp?foldername=handmade