Andrew Craven Interview
Interviewer - Phill Bruce
Interview Date - 28th August 2011
One day whilst on a photoshoot I got talking to a steampunk gent called Andy, after the shoot we found our way to a pub there after. It was then I found Andy was an artist as well as a jolly nice chap. After seeing his art I was interested about getting an interview of him, the fact was all my friends were asking to try get an interview with him I had to ask. So when Andy said yes this is what happened.
Phill – Hi Andrew thank for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview. Can we start by you telling us where in this beautiful world you are from and a little bit about yourself?
Andrew – Hi, your welcome. I was born and raised in Oldham and I have lived in a number of places for the past ten years or so. Mostly around Manchester with a three year stint in Birmingham where I studied fine art in Birmingham University. These days I am stuffed in a corner living life with my soul hanging out of my backside!
Phill – Can you describe to our readers how you choose to define yourstyle of art?
Andrew – The first thing I would say is that it is potentially illustrative, licentious and cathartic...basically I scribble with fine liners and felt tip pens to blaze the paper with vintage colours to shout out. I also use it as an arena to explore concepts and design ideas, especially in fashion as my work is mostly about people. To a certain extent, I suppose my art work could be described as theatrical.
Phill – What are the inspirations for your art?
Andrew – Life and Subculture. Movies and books also has a hand in it too. Just talking to some Goots in a pub can tickle my creative zeal. I like to make people laugh and entertain them as they entertain me with pub banter. But I must admit that there is a dark side to my art work. This is where the cathartic element comes in. My Penny Dreadful series and Venturous Inventor series developed from my visual rantings in university. Some people put me in an unforgivable situation that left me hurt. I used to do sculpture and photography but at the last year of university I exploded...I took a step back to my drawing where I began to put those people in unforgivable situations but in the form of art. Back then my style was much more loose, lewd and vandalistic. I even did my last dissertation on Graffiti. At some point after many pieces of art I began to realise how much I was stuck in a pot of stagnant water. Curiously at the same time I was realising this, the Principle of the art department came by chance on some errand for one of the other students who shared a studio space next door to mine. He was overwhelmed with what he saw in my art work and the first thing he told me was about their policies on bullying. It was a very constructive conversation we had. I knew what I had to do. He gave me some artists to look at such as Robert Crumb. Even after that I dont think I have ever lost that ranting quality in my art work, especially in these two series. But where there’s rants there is also a compliment for someone it has to be said!
Phill – When you are coming up with your art do you work with photographs or is it all from your imagination?
Andrew – I have been drawing pictures since I could push a pencil. As a child I was always drawing to achieve realism in my pictures. Many times I would copy images of other artists and out of magazines and books etc. It was in my college and university art courses I was introduced to Life Classes where I learned more of the trade about figurative drawing. Now I dont bother with photographs...I rely mostly on the old imagination.
Phill – What techniques do you use when you are creating your art, do you use one or many?
Andrew – I simply produce a line drawing with fine liner and then I add the colour. At this point its almost like a colouring book. I use felt tip pens but even at this stage I am thinking about the shades and hues of colour, layering and technique of application for the desired effect. I do strive for a certain realism as much as possible.
Phill – What is more important to you in your art the subject of your art or the way in which you create it?
Andrew – Subject matter and the method is all important to me. With subject it gives me the oppertunity to explore fashion design. With my Venturous Inventors I will also explore old age mechanics with the naughty jollities the inventor produces. For me personally it is very much a journey. Not just for the two characters Penny Dreadful and the Venturous Inventor, but each image will by essence represent some elements of my past. With regards to method, I belief this owes itself to the raw expressive ‘Art Brut’ finish of the work. With every piece I make, I feel like there is a break through. A break through to what I am not sure, but I feel enlivened with each finish. And glad to be able to entertain people when I exhibit them!
Phill – Do you have any tips for staying centred and motivated towards your art during hard times in life?
Andrew – My personal life can put an halt on my art work at times. It can hinder my motivation where I will not feel the want to do anything. Sometimes though my art work becomes an escape from it all. It goes hand in hand in my experience. I believe its a matter of patience and endurance of the times given to you. I know people who loose sight of their art projects with how the world treats them. Loosing hope and not being able to do things because of being too busy with day jobs or something else more profound. I have been at it for six years. What the world has done to me, I have stuck to my guns and carried on in the best way I could possibly do. I understand how time and patience can make a good red wine. I believe this is the same for everyone’s goals in life. I believe money can be the main killer of such matters. But as they say...money isn’t everything!
Phill – Your art is amazing to say the least, what has been the main subject of your art?
Andrew – Thank you, your too kind. Subculture is most certainly been the main superficial subject matter. I love Punk, I love Goth, I love Cyber, I love Steampunk...all these alternative aesthetics. Its where I can express all my fascinations from life. May it be art, literature, history, movies and music. They are the bedrock of my art work. With it I find a home of the soul. When I go on the scenes I can dress up as myself. This is another element to my personal life being captured in my art work. One could say that I am living the scenerios of what I create. Not entirely true as I am not so debauched as some of the scenes I compose. Though I do love to banter with the people who follow these tropes. People who have seen it all or who are wanting to see it all are extraordinary open minded individuals. And for the most part, they are the world I draw.
Phill – I notice a steam punk theme in a lot of your art, what is it about steam punk you adore so much?
Andrew – When I was in university...such is the pinnacle point in my life as I seem to mention it a lot haha...I was into wearing vintage fashion. I loved the dandy, I read and also watched movies about Beau Brummel, Oscar Wilde and Casanova. I was always fascinted with what they wore. Also from what I used to love as a kid, such the geek I was, I loved science fiction and military history. All this seemed to had conjured up when I first discovered this Steampunk. It was a spontanieous do really. I was looking at artists to support my work on my course and I immediately loved the images I was looking at. I loved the notion that some bloke took a PC computer and modified the exterior design to make it look as though it was from the Victorian times that you could almost take to the Antiques Roadshow. I also saw the fashion, especially on an individual who wore a black Victorian three piece suit who wore these mechanical sort of dreads. He also had some cyberpunk sort of accessories as well as him patting dust on his frock coat that I thought was deeply retro yet so punk. And yet, something else other than Doctor Who. This is what I based the Venturous Inventor on. This series I developed from these steampunk sights is in actual fact a spin off of Penny Dreadful. In one of the early Penny Dreadfuls I put Penny in a situation where she was visiting the Venturous Inventor who had invented the SteamFukamotive. It was also from this series my wardrobe began to be influenced. Initially I did a Steampunk costume for Halloween based on the Inventor. And as they say the rest is history. These days I love to sport more military and dandy stuff in Steampunk. Despite my fascination for this cultural aesthetic, I am always going back to the Goth scene.
Phill – Have you had any problems getting your art out to the masses, if so how have you overcome those problems?
Andrew – I am still in the process in looking at genuine ways and means to show off my art work. Because of the lack of cash I have been unable to do most things. So I have become reliant on Facebook and DeviantArt.com. I do wish to look at exhibitions. I am in the process of collaborating with a writer in producing an illustrated book. A sort of Steampunk version of Alice in Wonderland. I believe this will have a lot of importance in getting my stuff revealed out there.
Phill – Has a piece of your art been inspired by music, if so what music?
Andrew – I wouldnt say any of my work has been directly influenced by a song. “Penny Dreadful and the Torturous Tormentor” was a request of sorts from the girl you see being whipped on the Japanese torture cross by one of the guys she loves from the band Dimmu Borgir. Mostly my art work is based on real people who through the clothes they wear shows the kind of music they are into.
Phill – Who do you aspire to be like?
Andrew – Like myself hopefully lol.....There are actors and characters from history out there who I am fascinated by. Too many to mention I think. But I make do with my own self!
Phill – What is your taste in music?
Andrew – I love all sorts of music. From old sea shanties and folk songs, Sandy Denny, Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, The Who, to Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, Gary Numan...AC DC, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Die So Fluid, Ladytron, Sex Pistols. So many out there man..am quite the eclectic in music.
Phill – Tell us a little known something about yourself?
Andrew – I love Lego! Wish could get it...all I could get was a Tractor that I bought for myself last Yuletide.
Phill – What is your main inspiration for life itself?
Andrew – Once Upon a Time I studied the Runes and Shamanism of the Norse pantheon. Things changed when I joined the Territorial Army, but it has always been there in my heart...to be a wiser person with each step I take is what inspired me from the runes..to be responsible for my choices.
Phill – Do you have any pets and what would your ultimate pet be fact or fiction?
Andrew – Unfortunately I can not have any pets where I live. If anything it would have to be a black cat named after the lesbian poet Sappho from Greek myth. A German Shepard called Brian in an ideal world. And a Raven called Quoff.
Phill – If you could live in any period in history what period would you live in and why?
Andrew – I dont know about living in another time period after what I have learned from such times. I would make a lousy soldier in the days of Major Sharpe of the 95th Rifles. I would be poor in being a courtesan during the reign of Elizabeth I, especially the Lizzy in Blackadder. Hell...ad be a shite whore in occupied France. I can most earnestly say we have it better where we are now despite the Parlimentary grumblings from down south.
Phill – What style of restaurant do you usually choose and what is the one thing you always order?
Andrew – In a Tandoori...Chicken Tikka Kebab. But I am known to have just got a salad Kebab because I was skint. You know I would love to try all the restaurants in town...If I was a millionaire, I would become a restaurant critic. As well as an artist!
Phill – Are you a gamer, if so are you a pc or console gamer and what is your favourite game?
Andrew – These days I dont bother with games as I like to use the time for my art. But I am a Resident Evil (1, 2, 3 & 4), Silent Hill, Dino Crisis 2 and Metal Gear Solid (1, 2 & 3) veteran. I did used to have an excursion on the GTA games from time to time.
Phill – Thanks for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Andrew – Thank You, Your welcome. Its been a pleasure to answer your questions. I dont think there is anything else I can add!
Thanks so much for doing this Andrew, good luck with your art.
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