Artist Interview: APRIL CAMLIN

Camlin Baker Profile Pic
APRIL CAMLIN

Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

We bring you another amazing artist associated with the Baltimore art/comedy group Wham City, April Camlin. She’s somewhere between a fashion or textile designer and fine artist, and onced played Lex Murphy in a small stage production of “Jurassic Park”. Her current black and white textile series is so eye-catching we needed to ask her all about it.

 

SW: How long does it take you to come up with the designs and then create a piece?

AC: Well, I think that’d be the planning. I like to start out with an idea, at times it’s like an arsenal of techniques that are influencing the composition and I like to kind of intuitively work, so I think that the execution takes a really long time. Because I have that space, I can kind of change things as they go along. If I don’t like the way that something is working, I can undo it and then start over again. I definitely think that I spend a lot more time in the execution. I did an installation in August and I spent about 200 hours stitching. The design of it, maybe, I spent like a couple days just laying it out. I’ve been doing more with digital fabric printing. That definitely involves a bit more planning ahead and doing more design work on the computer. It’s been like a new thing for me, but I’ve been really excited about it. That stuff is a little bit more time consuming I suppose.

SW: You use like Illustrator, or something?

AC: I use Photoshop. I’m so technologically illiterate, but I’m probably using it in an incredibly inefficient way. [Laughs] So it probably makes it take longer. Every time I’m making work, I’m kind of like ‘I know there must be a better way to do this,’ but I’m very connected to the labor.

SW: So you’ve got needlepoint, weaving and digital printing? Is there anything else in the series?

AC: No, not at the moment. I’m drawn to working on anything that involves a grid. Mostly those three right now.

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SW: I see actually one piece that’s an infinity sweater, it says machine knit.

AC: Yeah, I kind of started out with this series of ideas that I’m working on now, with the idea of super exaggerated or forced perspective, sort of tricking the eye. Then it moved into something a little bit different. I was doing some stuff on the knitting machines, but not quite so much anymore.

SW: Where do you get your fabric printed?

AC: I’m very fortunate, I have it printed at school. We have a really nice fiber reactive printer, which means that it’s printing the ink. The dye, it’s penetrating the fabric instead of sort of just sitting on top and not being extremely durable. It’s a really high quality image that’s getting printed. It’s a great resource.

SW: Wow yeah, so the nylon is like this sheer black color? Is that what it is? Then it’s printing the white?

AC: Oh no, the opposite, it’s white then I’m printing the black.

SW: Wait, whaaaat?

AC: [Laughs]

SW: How? What??

AC: Crepe Georgette is the material and it’s backed, it has a paper backing when it’s going though the printer. When you remove the fabric adhered to the paper backing before you steam it.

SW: That’s amazing.

AC: Yeah, digital printing on fabric is so cool. I feel like because I’ve been very connected to these very labor intensive processes, like the needle point and the weaving, it’s kind of forced my scale to be a certain size. Digital printing really allows me to think about things on a larger scale than I have before.

SW: With all of these designs, are you thinking more like a designer or thinking more like a fine artist that’s putting practical use to these? I can’t tell, some of the closeups are so nice on their own, but obviously they make great patterns to use. What was the original intention?

AC: That’s a good question. [Laughs] I feel like I’m informed and interested, both in the fine arts and also in more of an industrial fabrication. I think ideally, when I see myself in the future, I think about working in some kind of industry where I’m working with fabrication and having that be something that informs my fine art. I think that for me, the two are inextricably linked.

SW: Why black and white?

AC: I think that black and white kind of triggers this vibration almost, with my eyes and my mind, that’s very appealing to me. For me, they are the two colors that have the highest contrast. I was at Haystack this summer in Maine, it’s like a residential Art School. You do, like, two week sessions. I was looking at the ecosystem that was around me and the relationship of all these natural elements to each other. Somehow, one thing led to another, I started doing research on all of the plants in the area. It seems kind of weird, but it kind of led me towards this binary relationship between the eyes and the mind that exists in Op Art, and how that’s its own little ecosystem. So I started doing more research into Op Art. There’s always been something about black and white to me that I’ve really responded to it. I feel like I kind of understood why as I was doing more research over the summer.

SW: Are there any other artistic or cultural inspirations? You said binary and I can see that perfectly, but are there any other cultures that are involved or influencing this?

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AC: Totally, I’m looking a lot at Kuba Cloth, which is this embroidered pile which is made of Raffia which comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’ve just been really inspired by the way that the people, the women who are embroidering these designs, they’re kind of working with this really complex structure, but there’s also this kind of play on the structure. It’s really appealing to me, really interesting to me.

SW: Yeah, it’s really cool.

AC: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s kind of mind-blowing/boggling.

SW: What’s your process like? I can’t tell if this is something where you have to be really focused or can kind of have Netflix on and zone out? It seems like you do once wrong stitch and you’ve made a new pattern.

AC: Well, that’s kind of something that I’m interested in exploring too. The way that a pattern can be manipulated and be caused to interrupt itself. Those moments where it collides with itself, that’s kind of something that’s really interesting to me. I think it’s for different things. I listen to a lot of audio books, it is kind of this weird involuntary focus. It feels very natural to me to be working this way. It is highly focused work, but I don’t feel like I have to devote every iota of my mental processing to execute the design. Know what I mean?

SW: Mmhmm.

AC: I do enjoy some Netflix from time to time as I’m embroidering. I’ll admit it. [Laughs]

SW: Did you design this jumpsuit or did someone else design the jumpsuit?

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AC: That’s a pre-made pattern I got from a website that sells patterns. I didn’t design the pattern just the print on the fabric that goes with it.

SW: Also, where the seams would meet, you picked all that and everything too.

AC: Yeah, it’s known as engineered print so you’re kind of working with a pattern shape and designing the fabric to fit specifically into that shape and then you can do things like orchestrate where the pattern matches up on the seams and things like that.

SW: Oh wait, did this design come first or second? How did that overlap? Did you pick the jumpsuit first and then you were like, ‘I need to make a pattern for this jumpsuit’?

AC: Yes

SW: Ah okay, very cool.

AC: I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to do, I knew that it had to be a jumpsuit and so I kind of just looked for jumpsuit patterns.

SW: This back little piece, the dart or whatever that is, the fold, that came out excellent.

AC: Thank you! [Laughs] That fabric was… not fun to work with.

SW: It doesn’t look fun to work with, but it’s fun to look at.

AC: The funny thing about it, I kind of, like, smudged. You can see there’s some weird warping happening with the design, and that was something that I did intentionally, but as it was coming out of the fabric printer, the printer tech was like ‘Oh no! There’s a problem with the printer!’ I was like, ‘Haha! No I fooled you!’ That’s just my print! [Laughs] When things like that happen it’s really exciting to me. You’re tricking your mind. I’m really interested in the way that feels.

SW: Do you have any more big plans for this series or are you just kind of letting it go? Not go, but stop…

AC: I feel like I’m going to keep working in this series until it doesn’t feel right anymore. I don’t think too far ahead, I like to just focus on what’s happening and kind of let the work go where it wants to go. I try not to place too many restrictions on the direction. Sometimes these happy accidents happen and sometimes they can be just as inspiring as months of dedicated research, so I try not to impose too many time restrictions on it. It feels like a progression to me. I’m going to keep working within these parameters for awhile.

SW: I hope you do! It’s so fun to look at. Something about the way you worded something right now reminds me of this quote I wrote down the other day from ‘The Simpsons’.

AC: [Laughs]

SW: Officer Wiggum said, ‘Don’t censor me, it’s what stifles creativity.’ Something like that.

AC: Officer Wiggum said that? [Laughs]

SW: Yeah, he drew his gun and said something really bizarre. The other officer was like ‘…Chief?’ And then he said that. I thought it was kind of profound. [Laughs]

AC: [Laughs]

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SW: One last question, just random. What kind of vending machine do you think needs to be invented?

AC: This is something that already exists, but I don’t think there are enough coffee vending machines in this country. [Laughs] Probably not a cool enough answer.

SW: No! Bring them back! They had those in the 70s and 80s, they were kind of dying in the 90s. We need those back. [Laughs] That’s a great answer.

AC: It’d be pretty cool if there was a vending machine that just sold thread. That’s the thing that I’m always running out of and I’m always running out of it late at night. There’s nowhere to get it, when I’m working at night I’m like ‘what do I need to unravel to get these colors…’ [Laughs]

SW: Oh man, I would love that.

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Artist Interview: LOU PATROU

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LOU PATROU

Intro & Interview by Shanon Weltman

Looking at the artwork of Artist Lou Patrou, you almost wouldn’t believe his larger than life images are actually paintings, not Adobe Creative Suite digital masterpieces. He’s also designed an entire Patrou line of products that is not currently on the market, but hopefully will be soon. His kitsch-inspired art is equally sophisticated and bizarre, with killer craftsmanship. Seriously, I can’t believe some of these aren’t done in Illustrator – see for yourself.


SHANON WELTMAN: First question, what and who are your artistic inspirations?

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Priest

LOU PATROU: I like vintage toys, I like vintage ceramics. I collect a lot of old ceramics like old cookie jars, those kind of things that have a lot of anamorphic shapes to them. I also like old vintage glassware, things that have images printed on them or something. Not just simple glasses. Kitschy, bizarre things I’ve found over the years. I have a whole cabinet filled with that kind of stuff. [Laughs] I guess that has kind of rubbed off on me. If you look at the drawings, Hank and Sylvie, that’s where they kind of sprung from I guess.

SW: Ah yes, that was one of my questions. Who are they?

LP: A lot of the artwork on those old ceramics, the finishes are very, very smooth tones. Very pretty, smooth, rounded out tones. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was kind of [Laughs] really obsessed with a really slow, graduated tone. The black and white tones, which could be in any color. I did those with pencil, black and white. I’m actually doing a lot with Hank and Sylvie. I’m doing something right now, but most of the stuff I’ve done with them now for product applications and other things are all in color, even though the original is in black and white.

SW: How big are the originals?

LP: They’re 50 inches high.

SW: Oh wow.

LP: [Laughs] When I moved here [NY] from LA, I had more space. I lived in a really cramped garage apartment in LA for 20 years. I did a lot of good artwork there, but I couldn’t… the largest sheet artwork I did there on paper, was probably 24” x 30”. That was the biggest table space I could get in my kitchen there. I have a really large space here, I have two long tables put together. I like to draw on that, paint on that, lean over my work. I don’t know why, maybe it’s getting my face close to it. I never work with it straight up. I have a painting that I finished this weekend and I still haven’t seen it in any way but a flat, down position. I guess that would be weird to some artists. [Laughs]

 

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Hank and Sylvie

 

SW: Do you ever find when you do stand it up that it’s warped, or are you so used to working flat that it comes out the right perspective?

LP: I really figure that out well before I do it, I do a lot of practice drawings. I work from modeled parts and a lot of stenciled pieces for all the parts of the drawings and the paintings. I will take those and hang them on the wall and look at them.

SW: Ahh, that was my next question, to walk us through your process. What’s the next thing you do?

LP: Well, it takes a while to get to that. The whole beginning of it for me is just scribbling on a table. Doing spontaneous drawing and painting. That, for me, is when you just let everything go. You kind of act like your dowsing for water. [Laughs] You know, like those guys with the sticks, who thought they could find water. Just kind of empty their mind and walk around like they’re looking for something. I think most creative people that I’ve known do that same thing. Just kind of let your mind and your drawing follow whatever free flow, just to see what happens. You sort of pick up on that, analyze it and see if you like it or don’t like it, but you follow what your hand is doing and try to take after it. After I get a couple good ideas, I’ll try to see if it would work as a good idea for a finished piece of art. Each piece that I do, there’s probably about a 100 small drawings and then one of them you can see is the derivative. The whole thing came from that one idea. I think it’s the same for most people. See what you’re doing, find a way to scale that whole thing up and then polish it, see if you can make it into a finished beautiful piece.

 

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Delegates

 

SW: How long does it usually take you once you get to the part where you’ve enlarged it? How long does it take to knock out the piece?

LP: That is really slow. One of the reasons is I like to live with it a little bit. I have to watch out that I don’t live with it too long that I get bored with it as a concept and then get on to the next one or something. This painting I just finished, I started the idea about 6 months ago. It takes a long time, I don’t produce in high quantity.

SW: Do you work in oil?

LP: No, all the painting that I do is either watercolor or acrylic.

SW: Oh wow, it’s so smooth!

LP: Yeah, I like it because it dries fast. I can lean over it and I can lay in some color. It takes around, sometimes up to ten coats, opaque.

SW: Have you ever done any of your images as screenprints or any other kind of printing? It looks like it would translate perfectly for printmaking.

LP: I know! Interesting you picked that out, that’s exactly what I want to do with a lot of this stuff. Did you see the series called the “Raves”? That’s a complete step by step explanation of what I’m trying to say.

 

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Raves

 

SW: Ah, very cool! Did you do any of these faces in Illustrator? Is it really just that clean?

LP: No, they’re all [by hand]. If you scroll down, the third picture down is the final concept sketch, where you see the little green face on the left, and then the big stencil on the right. That’s the scaled up stencil for that. Does that make sense?

SW: Yeah!

LP: That little thing on the left, I messed around with that probably around 40-50 ideas like that. Then I came up with the idea of the side faces, those laughing half faces on the cheeks. That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’

SW: Wow, I am so floored that these are all done in watercolor and acrylic. It’s beyond flat, so amazing!

LP: These are acrylic, the little thing on the left is watercolor. There’s four of them and my whole idea here was… I didn’t know, I was going to do a series when I came up with the first one, but then I said ‘Whoa, there’s too much I want to fool around with’. I wanted to keep the same exact face, but fill it in differently, you know? Like a cool set of barware or something. If you scroll all the way to the bottom you see the four. I can scan those and then punch out the background and then turn these into what you said before. I can turn these into another color process for t-shirts, for huge screen prints or something. Even on glassware, or plates.

SW: Mmhmm

LP: My ideas have kind of merged into like secondary applications to the art, after. My first parameter is to make something that will ultimately be in a gallery somewhere, on a wall. That’s why I don’t make Photoshop drawings or something, I make a real painting on paper.

SW: When did you start working like this? So graphically, with patterns, in this style.

LP: It started happening I guess a few years ago, but I’ve always made either tattoos or patterns on faces, I’ve always done it. For like 35 years or something.

SW: Where are you originally from?

LP: I was born in Rochester, NY. A long time ago.

SW: Cool! You just mentioned galleries and I see you’ve been in a few, what kind of advice would you give to other artists breaking into the gallery scene?

LP: I’m still breaking. For the first 30 years, I was never interested in promoting my stuff. I just kept it kind of secret. You know those stories you read about some guy who has done photography for 25 years and then he died, and they open up his apartment and they find 500 boxes of pictures and negatives? That’s me with my artwork. For the first 30 years, I never thought about being in a gallery, I didn’t want to promote myself, I thought I’d end up being a jackass if I tried to say hey look at me, or look at my stuff. [Laughs] I was too passionate about the whole thing.

 

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SW: What was the turning point?

LP: When I moved from LA I just started. I have a lot of age on my face at this point, I don’t know how many decades left I would have, I just want to start. I want to make it as a full-time career and I want as many people to see my stuff as I can. That thing, whatever that bug is where you want to self-promote, it just takes over. You see it on Facebook and Linkedin, people constantly posting their stuff — that’s what I do now. I didn’t even get anything into a show until 2006, so I am way behind these other artists that have been out there for decades. Selling and doing everything just to be able to build their resume. You know these long long resumes, thousands of shows. I don’t have that. I have the work! But I don’t have the shows on the resume.

SW: But it sounds like as soon as you did make the effort you started seeing results. Like you’re saying, it was just what you were putting in, in terms of your output. Because if you’re still making the work…

LP: I’m still doing it. And the weird thing is, or the good thing is, I have all the artwork. All those other artists, they don’t have any of their artwork. They pretty much just sold it off for nothing, in exchange for putting another gallery name on the resume. That’s what a lot of them do. There’s a catch 22 in this business of getting to where you’re an established artist, getting a lot of money. I only know a few living artists that really make enough money to make a living like that. Ron English, people like that, Kenny Sharp, who get $125,000 for a painting. You know, before the gallery takes their cut. Those are the guys that have made it like movie stars make it. I see these other artists out there, I see it everyday. They’re really incredible talents and they’re selling off these things, it just depresses me how low they have to sell them. These galleries, they don’t care, all they want to do is get a big name in there. Get foot traffic in the gallery and then try to make something, which is totally understandable. They have to make something. If the guy comes in there who has work it’s so awful it can’t sell, they don’t want to use that guy. If another guy at the other end of the spectrum, another guy comes in and says I want ‘X’ amount of money for these paintings, the gallery says, ‘We’ll never be able to sell it for that’. You can’t use that guy. That lower ground is where all the artists end up going. It’s really depressing to me. I don’t see a future in it. These galleries, I get calls from them. They want me to work up an incredible piece, but I can’t just whip out quantity like an abstract artist, or spray artist. I can’t just make fast crap and just ship it out. ‘Just give me $500 or $1500.’ I can’t do that. I live with these pieces like this is my family, these are my weekends, these are my best times. I spend months and months on one piece.

SW: That makes sense, that you would want your stuff to also be on products. It seems like the last thing you just said, seems more important to you. Like, things being around, in your home.

LP: Getting the image out there.

SW: Exactly.

LP: What I’ve figured out, in this game of publicity and press is, the artist who makes the most press can win. He can still win, because his name is out there. It’s getting your name out there. I could get my name out there if I had a lot of money, I would just buy a publicist and I would just buy a gallery in every city in every month and just have my own shows. I would just pay people to put my name on stuff. Sooner or later it just sticks, it’s like Angeline out in California. If you put enough billboards of yourself out there, sooner or later you’re famous for that. You’re something.

SW: Right. Your stuff, it makes me think you could be another Marimekko kind of brand.

 

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Watch Samples

 

LP: Everybody tells me those kinds of things. Here’s another idea, here’s some other stuff. Did you ever look at my product ideas?

SW: Yeah! The watches are amazing. I’d love one.

LP: I know, there are a lot of people who want to buy them. They email me, they want to order one.

SW: Do you have access to get those made?

LP: For me, it just comes down to money. Do I want to be a watch company or a t-shirt company? Do I want to have boxes of palates of t-shirts in different sizes in my room?

SW: Right.

LP: That’s what it comes down to, when you decide you want to be a manufacturer, then you’ve got to deal with returns, you’re a store. You’ve also got to market and distribute and fulfill that, that’s a whole business too.

SW: Oh I know. [Laughs] We also sell stuff, it sometimes takes a lot away from the artwork itself.

LP: And then you can make yourself look like a small timer too! Like you’re just a guy running an Etsy store too. I don’t want to do that. Plus, I don’t like selling. I like giving stuff away, I don’t like selling. I just don’t like it.

SW: I’ve got two more questions for you, they’re kind of unrelated to everything else. One, I was just wondering, what is your birthday?

LP: I’ll tell you the year, how about that? And month. It’s July, 1954. I keep the date just for identity theft…

SW: Are you a Cancer or a Leo?

LP: Leo!

SW: You seem like a Leo, from your art. Very fun, loud and colorful. Here’s the last question, on a super random note, also about a fellow Leo artist. What is your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie?

LP: That’s a difficult question.

SW: [Laughs]

LP: The first one that popped in my head was “The Birds”. I don’t know how much it’s a favorite, I’d have to sit there and analyze myself over it. Know what I mean? [Laughs]

SW: I saw that when I was eight and it terrified me.

LP: Those movies! I don’t know how old you are, but when I was growing up and there were only three channels on TV, that stuff was big. Same with the “Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits”. You probably don’t remember those shows, right?

SW: I do! I do.

LP: Ah! [Laughs]

SW: I don’t remember them because I wasn’t alive when they were originally on the air, but I know them. I’ve watched them.

LP: “The Outer Limits” and Alfred Hitchcock, they were just pure quality. The whole family would just sit around and say nothing, just watch that stuff. It was good.

SW: Do you think you enjoyed his movies more or his tv show more? Hitchcock.

LP: Well, I think of his films… well they’re history makers. I worked in the film business for 20 years, I worked out in Hollywood. This guy is a history maker.

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Artist Interview: 1st YEAR

CLAW CLAW Artist Interviews: Year 1 (8/13 – 8/14)

A short list of a few things we learned from the artists we interviewed this past year:

1. Fake it til you make it by being your authentic self and make work you really want to make.

2. Have a day job so you can turn down bad freelance clients and still make the rent.

3. Nothing can really prepare you for the real world like living in it.

4. Being around other actively creative people creates a magical synergy.

5. Making promotional artwork is worth the effort.

 

1147518_10151543397721556_1021490862_oALEX FINE

 

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ANDREA KALFAS

 

Joan 1BILLY NORRBY

 

10455849_888067657877025_3821713467327834009_nBRIAN SPARROW

 

Ice-Cubism-byrockwell_72dpiBYRON McCRAY

 

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CHI BIRMINGHAM

 

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CHRISTI JOHNSON

 

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CIOU

 

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CLARA LIEU

 

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CLAY RODERY

 

yoga
CORIANNA BROWN

 

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DADU SHIN

 

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DANA VERALDI

 

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DEB CHANEY

 

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ELLEN T. CRENSHAW

 

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GINA SCHIAPPACASSE

 

sweetboys
GRACE LANG

 

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HADAR PITCHON

 

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HEATHER BENJAMIN

 

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HEATHER CLEMENTS

 

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JOE WIERENGA

 

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JOHN MacCONNELL

 

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JONNY NEGRON

 

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JORDAN JEFFRIES

 

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JUAN LEGUIZAMON

 

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JUSTIN SANZ

 

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KALI CIESEMIER

 

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KELLY LASSERRE

 

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KEVIN SHERRY

 

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KIM HERBST

 

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LISK FENG

 

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MALOJO

 

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MATT ROTA

 

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MAURICE BLANCO

 

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MICHAEL HOEWELER

 

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MICHAEL MANOMIVIBUL

 

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MICHAEL MARSICANO

 

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NATALIE FRAGOLA

 

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NATE BEAR

 

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OJAY MORGAN (A.K.A. ZEBRA KATZ)

 

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PATRICK SMYCZEK

 

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REBECCA BRADLEY

 

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RICH TU

 

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SEAN MAHAN

 

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YAO XIAO

 

Dalliances
ZACH OSIF

Original Illustrations Printed Fabric Handmade Tote Bag

by Shanon Weltman

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Original weird & lovely illustrations design printed on 12″x14.5″ white Kona® cotton, with cotton jersey lining and backing, 23″x1″ Avocado green faux suede straps, and light pink stitching.

(not sewn with a serger, just a regular ol’ Hello Kitty sewing machine)

$50