Happy Monday! I thought I’d start the week with an interview with Andrea D’Aquino, an artist based in New York. Her work is a mix of collages and illustrations; and you can also find her work in Velocity, a gallery and showroom based in Seattle.
Name: Andrea T. D’Aquino
Location: New York, NY
Website/Shop: www.andreadaquino.com / andreadaquino.bigcartel.com
llustration media: Multi-media (drawing, painting, collage, digital)
Tell us a little more about yourself!
Well, I have lived several lives as an art director, already. I’ve designed ads for Giorgio Armani, done shoots with Kate Moss, been on film sets with great cinematographers for tv spots that I’ve written, and collaborated with some of the best illustrators and photographers around. But somehow, as wonderful as all that is, I still found myself somewhat creatively unsatisfied. So I slowed down. I spent several summers in Italy (France and Spain, too), learned to speak Italian. Got a schnauzer. Somewhere along the way, I rediscovered my own creative nature, and how to express it not for a client, but for myself.
Where do you live currently? What is the best thing about living in your place, and what is your daily schedule like?
I live and work in an NYC apartment. Not a bad size, by most standards, but it’s important to keep my space well-organized. I start each day with a long dog walk, Occasionally, I can be found hand-coloring paper with tea, coffee, and even beets, among other things, for use in my work. Other days, I have deadlines and a graphic problem to solve, and I generally enjoy the process. It mostly feels like play, which is the only way to do it well and not even feel like working at all! This is the truth, and I feel endlessly lucky.
How did you get your start in illustration?
I’ve been drawing all my life. Since childhood I have been extra receptive to images of all kinds, from Saturday morning tv shows, to great Art. I can still picture a Captain Fantastic Elton John album cover, from when I was maybe 8 years old. As well as painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of St. John the Baptist’s severed head on a plate. I drew photo-realistic pictures of the Beatles incessantly that my friends hung on their bedroom walls. A bit later, I learned about typography and classic design, and found myself working in the most creative ad agencies, where I met and worked with some spectacularly talented people. Now, I’ve returned to my original inspiration – drawing pictures, and here I am.
Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
If anything, I try to empty my mind of any and all thoughts, as much as possible, anyway! I often find myself looking at Medieval Art and botanical/scientific/historic engravings. Psychedelic 70s graphics. Great typography. Listen to music. I try to stay open to free association so that any and every thought is welcome, unjudged… and mysteriously, things happen. Its like tuning in to a radio station that sometimes comes in loud and clear, other times, is a little static-y. I am just here to receive it and describe it.
Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?
Yes. I draw. Though often, my version of “sketching” is cutting up paper and collaging/painting/gluing with abandon. I try not to worry about doing anything “good”. I am spontaneous, and let accident happen. Often, its utterly horrific. But sometimes, bits and pieces find their way into more finished work.
What or who inspires you?
Other artists, of all kinds. In no particular order: Guy Bourdin, Marc Bolan, Milton Glaser and Pushpin Studios. I am enamored anything 70s from graphics to film, Peter Max. Medieval Art, Jan Van Eyck, Eric Rohmer, Woody Allen, Joni Mitchell, Alan Watts, Lewis Carroll, Tadanori Yokoo, the short films of Kenneth Anger, Hipgnosis. The Wizard of Oz. The Virgin Suicides (the book), 9 Short Stories by JD Salinger. Fancy french pastries. Great perfume. Google one and all, worth the effort.
What keeps you motivated?
Looking at my work and thinking, “I can do better than that”, or somehow that I haven’t quite crystallized the images in my mind to paper quite yet. I enjoy looking at other artist’s work….though I find that in the end, it works out best to do my own thing, without thinking TOO much about what anyone else is doing.
What’s your favourite tool?
An eraser? I only said that because everyone says “ a pencil”. But, its true. A pencil. While I try to keep obvious digital effects to a minimum in my work, I admit, I am addicted to my computer. For researching random images, to being able to find a Kate Bush or David Bowie video circa 1977, I love it.
Are you a full-time artist?
Yes. I can handle offices for short bursts, need be. But for longer stretches, my spirit literally suffocates. Many people ask me if I feel isolated or bored being freelance…..well, occasionally. But the fact is, it suits me to spend long stretches by myself. Plenty of voices inside my own head. If I get tired of them, I go have a coffee somewhere in the neighborhood to clear my mind.
What advice would you like to give people who are interested in being an artist full-time?
We all get discouraged sometimes, but follow your own vision. Don’t gravitate towards trends just because they are popular. Most creative people struggle with balancing art and commerce. And its easy to get sucked into thinking that everyone else is doing great. Some are fortunate to hit on something, that for whatever reason, is in vogue. But do what YOU do, but be open to the reactions of others. I think you need a certain amount of backbone to hear it, take it in, but not be discouraged by it. Or ignore it, if need be. But continue and trust your own rhythms. Try not to freak out. Everyone’s are different. Hey, Bach Remedy Stress Relief Spray, why not.
Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
I’d like to see my work in various mediums, from print to motion, and exposed to new people. Beyond that, I have a vision of myself painting like Jackson Pollock in a huge barn, with the luxury to be as spontaneous and messy as possible. Minus the part about drinking and driving into a tree.
What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I suppose that its all about the exuberance and humor of childhood, along with a certain melancholy about the fact that it is gone forever. Both colorful and decayed.
Glittery but faded. I am trying to be true to myself.
Tell us something random about yourself!
I have a kind of obsession with making my studio smell nice, convinced that it enhances creativity. I have wide array of ambient room sprays. May I suggest lavender, amber, citrus, or any of the Diptyque scents? As long as its natural, nothing artificial or perfumey.