“Art allows me to look at the world with different eyes. Perspective and omitting or adding details can drastically change what we’re looking at through the lens of the mind of the person making the art. Communication can be difficult, but in art, the message can be presented in different ways.”
Tell us a little bit about your personal “art history”.
In my early memories, I was mostly engaged in making props for toys. Creating worlds where the toys resided, rather than playing with the toys themselves. As I grew older, I started drawing to create more complex worlds. It allowed me to focus on what I wanted to make instead of being limited to what was around me to use. As a teenager, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when grown up, and since I liked drawing, a creative field seemed logical at the time. I tried various creative fields and landed on pursuing a BA in Animation. I like the idea of telling stories through endless means, the freedom of expression to create worlds and their physical laws, to create meaning without the need for words. Unfortunately, it’s unsuitable due to the patience and consistent quality of work it requires. Due to my autism manifesting in sensory hypersensitivity, I get distracted by sound and movement easily which breaks my concentration and my workflow. I managed to power through college on sheer will and my passion for Animation. However, this was not without consequences. I became mentally exhausted, which caused problems both at school and at home. I had taken on too many classes in the first year, and after two years of getting good results, I burned out in the third year. I was sent home by the dean to get a few months of rest, to return after some counseling and ambulatory support at home. After I got back on my feet, I took some extra time and finished the degree. If you’re passionate about what you do, you can succeed even if you have extra baggage.
What is your creative process like now?
Usually, my personal works are created in one or two days with little to no planning involved, depending on the size of what I’m drawing. The ‘turbulent flow’ drawings are often drawn when I’m feeling restless and have trouble focusing. Usually, this happens after being overwhelmed with sensory input. This happens often after an extended period of time involving social interactions and being in unpredictable environments. At these times I often find myself unable to plan ahead and instead, I just draw. In Animation, there is a technique that is named “Straight Ahead”, which I favor. In Straight Ahead, each frame leads to the next as opposed to “Pose to Pose”, where stills are drawn followed by transitional frames. I tend to start with a few lines and imagine those to go into a direction. Each line on the paper triggers the next line, like a moving cloud on paper.
This is a process I developed during animating my thesis film. I found that drawing from my subconscious and allowing myself to go along with the flow of movement lets me see the flow of movement in my mind. As for planning, it is of importance for larger projects but I have a tendency to lose track of what I’m doing and end up getting lost in the work instead of following my plan. As a consequence, I’d look at where I diverged from my original plan and I would start over and over again, as I am very critical of my own work. If I’m on a tight schedule with a deadline, this doesn’t work and in such cases, I need a plan in written format as I have trouble creating oversight due to a lack of experience. I usually need some help creating a step by step planning. As someone on the Autism spectrum, I have a tendency to get lost in the details, which is reflected in my artwork. Drawing flowing masses comes naturally to me, but I find drawing characters very difficult. A character has many aspects, for example, proportion, facial expressions, and body posture. These signal the mood and bodily position of the character. A general oversight is needed to put all those together.
Can you elaborate a little more on your line drawings? What effect does this style have on your mental health?
As I mentioned earlier, this subconscious style of drawing evolved during the animation of my thesis film. After my burnout, I wanted to make a personal film in order to find out what had happened through self-exploration through my art. Impatient and eager to continue as I was, I decided to go back to school before I had fully recovered. This resulted in a lot of smaller meltdowns and shutdowns during this period. These meltdowns manifested themselves in irrationally angry and self-harming behaviors such as kicking, hitting, throwing objects or uncontrollable crying. The shutdowns are a more introverted problem, as the overload of information to the process would lead to not being able to verbalize or receive information properly. A shutdown feels overwhelming like you’re carrying the weight of the world. It distorted the way I saw the world and felt like an existential fear of not being able to deal with the complexity of life itself. My original plan to include characters in my thesis film had to be toned down to a landscape driven plot, to keep the project feasible. In a way, the environment became the main character. As drawing characters is difficult for me, yet drawing a moving mass comes naturally, it took away my creative blockage and allowed me to continue production. During this period I found it very therapeutic and calming to draw in this manner and as it was a subconscious way of drawing I could even work during a shutdown. This way of drawing is very repetitive, as the movement of mass requires a lot of small variations in the details of the collection of lines, moving the mass trough the details one frame after another. After my thesis film was finished, I continued to progress this style into single drawings. Drawings that are featured so often on my Instagram as thinking of and drawing mass in motion brings me a sense of calm.
What do you hope other people will get out of viewing your work?
My drawings are based on my view on reality. I look at physical phenomena, such as the motion of smoke over the shape of a wing inside a wind tunnel and create an abstract image of the smoke’s movement. In a way, it’s how I reduce the complexity of reality born from the consciousness being confronted with what seems like chaos beyond my understanding. Zoom out and more elements are added to the view. Zoom in and discover there are more elements within the view that were previously not visible. I’ve recently drawn a piece on astrocytes, the cells in the brain that regulate the electrical impulses within the brain. I enjoy looking at space, especially nebulae capable of forming stars. These are drastically different sizes, yet they also share a lot of visual similarities when drawn the same size. You can find beauty wherever you look and we’re all made of stardust. If anything, I want to give people a sense that everything is separate but connected.
Fineliners, Graphite pencils