Interview: Andrew Pommier
Andrew Pommier ist Skateboarder und Maler, und in seinen poppig bunten, seminaïven Arbeiten verschmelzen moderne Kunst, Comics und der typsche Style der Skater-Szene. Ausserdem entwirft er Designs für diverse Board-Hersteller sowie für Adidas, Nike, Stüssy und zahlreiche andere.
It’s the type of place you leave the first chance you get and I did.
Diskursdisko: Hi Andrew. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start painting?
Andrew Pommier: I was born in New Westminster just outside of Vancouver BC and grew up in a small northern Ontario mining city about four hours north of Toronto. It’s the type of place you leave the first chance you get and I did. Took off for the big city of Toronto to attend art school there in the early 90s.
I first picked up a brush seriously around the age of 17 before that I was all about pencils and my sketchbook. That was pretty much the be all and end all for me. I must have done a little painting in art classes in High School but obviously not enough to make an impact on me.
I like that term faux naïf. It pretty much sums up my work.
Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art? Do you have a system or method that you adhere to?
Andrew Pommier: I have a studio space I paint in. I don’t have a set way that I produce my work. Most ideas start in the sketchbook and get fully realized on canvas or panel or whatever else I want to paint on. I’m not systematic about how or when or what I paint. If I set out with a system it quickly starts to break down. I think that is the reason I didn’t continue with printmaking, which I did a lot of in art school. I am not a big fan of process. Intaglio was my favourite printmaking process because it can be so immediate. Scratch into the ink on the plate, throw it in the acid bath, clean the plate, fill with in, print. It’s printmaking so there are always process and repeated steps but this one I found the most satisfying.
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Andrew Pommier: I guess you could say I get a lot of inspiration from nature. It’s such a rich resource. There are so many shapes and images that it presents. But also I really like the urban world. I find a lot of good stuff just walking around. There is so much going on in a city. If I’m stuck for ideas or just in a creative funk a nice stroll around my studio gets my head swimming with good stuff. My studio is in a really bad part of town. Crackheads get up to some interesting things right there in public. I’m not talking about using drugs cause that is sorta boring but their personal interactions. The downtown eastside of Vancouver is their living room and their clubhouse. I might not find images to use in my work but just getting my mind thinking about people and places and making odd connections. That’s enough to get my creative juices flowing.
Diskursdisko: Much of your artwork is in a rough, faux naif style, with strong brushstrokes and well-defined colours – how did you develop this style?
Andrew Pommier: I like that term faux naïf. It pretty much sums up my work.
In once sense I haven’t tried consciously to develop a style. There are artists who’s work I really enjoyed growing up. The one that jumps to mind is Robert Williams. I was amazed on the detail but also the boldness of his work. I also really like the photos of Diane Arbus. So I think those two people are key in how I paint what and how I paint. I can’t really tolerate muddy colours in my work. I like the colour to be clean and crisp, that’s not something I picked up at art school it is just how I mix colours and how I like my work to look. So to boil it all down the work developed organically with little self-awareness.
Diskursdisko: What came first for you – skateboarding or painting? Does one inform the other?
Andrew Pommier: The art came first. I was a little kid who loved to draw. In my evolution as a painter the skateboarding came first. I didn’t pick up a paintbrush in my free time until half way through high school and had been skating for a few years.
Skateboarding and painting are fundamental to my personality. So they feed off of each other. My aim as an artist initially was to do graphics for skateboard companies. As I grew up and went to art school my idea of what an artist can be changed, also that was around the time that people related to skateboarding started getting involved in the fine art world. People like Ed Templeton and Thomas Campbell. My first shows outside of Canada where connected to skateboarding. So skateboarding is pretty integral to my artistic development.
Diskursdisko: When working for clients like magazines or skateboarding companies, how do you keep up the balance between clients’ wishes and concepts and your own need to produce art? Do you feel there actually is any difference between “commercial” artwork and other art?
Andrew Pommier: In the commercial world I consider the clients wishes over my own. The client is paying the bills and has more invested in the product. I’m happy to use my fist and pencil to make sure that they are happy. The client usually has an idea of what they are looking for from me so I would like to hear that from them at the begining so I have a foundation to start with. If I know what they are looking for then it saves me from groping around in the dark trying to find something they like.
I would rather work with the light on. That is generally how I feel about regular client work. If it’s a signature product that my name is attached to then I generally like to have more control but again in the end it’s the client’s investment so there has consideration for that.
The main difference between commercial wok and my own is the freedom to follow my nose with my own work. I can get kinda random with my own output. Clients don’t want random most of the time, they want specific.
The further in time I get away from the work I have done the more I like it.
Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at andrewpommier.com, currently undergoing a lengthy reconstruction, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?
Andrew Pommier: Just after I received this interview my in box the site went live, thanks for the push.
As far as social networking sites you can find me in the usual places. myspace.com/andrewpommier is a place to find me. I don’t check it that often or post on it but if one feels the need to add me as a pal I’m all for it.
Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?
Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on the web, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?
Andrew Pommier: The further in time I get away from the work I have done the more I like it. That is part of the reason I don’t tend to hang my own work where I live cause I get enamored with it and want to keep making it.
As far as work I feel connected to I would have to say the piece called “Runny Bunny”. I was trying to get some motion in my work and maybe a little bit of context so that was my stab at it. It was also created as a time where I was so at ease with using oil paints.
These days I have gotten away from using oils and really want to get back to them but I’ll never be able to paint like that again. Maybe it’s because I’m older and other work and ideas have polluted the way I see and make are now. The same goes for the series of masked faces I did around that same time. Those pieces where made in Toronto. I had a studio space I shared and I was working in film so most of my off time was spent at the studio. That was the first time I had a dedicated space for art making. I feel like it was a really productive time for me. I think I’m less productive now and I have all the time in the world.
I am really fond of the three series of boards I did for Toy Machine. The first one was a dream come true and I had a good streak with them, I did three series in a row. Again somehow I can’t find the time to make that kind of work these days. It’s not that I’m swamped with work it’s just that time is elusive.
Just keep plugging away.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Andrew Pommier: No real plans. Maybe I should make some. One plan would be getting back to oil full time and I guess another would be creating more context and dynamics to my work.
Just keep plugging away.
Diskursdisko: Andrew, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?
Andrew Pommier: Stay humble.
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