The THERMostat&THe gReEN DRAgoon
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Interview with Benjamin Offroyq)What is your name?
q) Where do you live and work?
a)For the moment, I live in
q) What is your creative process like?
a)My “creative process” is the following: I have an idea and then I draw; or I draw and then I have an idea. After that I choose one drawing and I paint it. That easy!
q) What is your favorite medium?
a)I am used to painting with oil. In fact, I have started with oil paint because my grandaunt and grandfather, who painted as a hobby, gave me their tools as a present on their old age. And I just got used to it… That’s the reason why I am not painting with acrylic which is by far the favorite medium of most young artist.
For 10 years, I have painted on canvas, but recently (since the beginning of 2008) I have started to paint on wood panel, and I actually love it!
q) What is your current favorite subject?
a)My work describes a post-apocalyptic world, with joyful colors and humor. A kind of science-fiction-funny-horror-vision of our future, based on what strikes me, freaks me out or annoys me: ecology (pollution, waste), over-consumption (food, medicine), violence etc...
In a nutshell, my universe aims at being a sort of mix between
I think that science fiction, for instance in literature or cinema, is the most efficient narrative way of expressing an idea, an opinion about our nowadays world and the way it is spinning; and I try to apply this narrative way to express myself in my paintings.
On a general basis, I believe that we are living in a world that is dramatically changing. The balance of the world is quickly moving in favor of some eastern developing countries, which is actually fair, as the western countries have mismanaged the globalization to their almost unique profit for the last 30 years, when it should have been at the very least, a win-win deal for poorer countries. (For those interested in this issue, I recommend to read the books and interviews of Joseph Stiglitz, an American Nobel Prize in Economics).
In other words, from a political and financial standpoint, people in western countries start to feel and understand that they won’t be the leaders of tomorrow.
Ecologically, we are facing a tremendous challenge that is going to change our everyday life forever. As a matter of fact, the stake is simple: whether we dramatically change our way of living, driving, eating and consuming, or we will be in some big troubles.
Sociologically, I think that the landscape is quite regressive, childish. Sociologist have discussed extensively about the no-kids phenomena, the 40 year old teenagers, the way cell phones turned into a transitional object for many grown ups…
The bottom line of all this, is that, for me, as an artist, I work on our (western) world’s decline, with a zest of childish references and humor.
Actually, I think that most of nowadays artists work on this (especially lowbrow / pop surrealists artists). If you see the works of Mark Ryden, Anthony Ausgang, Takashi Murakami, Gary Baseman and a lot of other younger less renowned artists, you’d see the reflection of our world’s childishness. If you look at the works of Camille Rose Garcia, Jeff Soto or Travis Louie, I assume that you’d look at our generation’s concerns about our own decline and alienation.
And that’s what I am also trying to do.
q) How long does it take for you to finish a piece?
a)It takes me about 2 weeks. Knowing that, as I use oil paint and it dries slowly, I work on two paintings at a time. I focus on one in the morning session, and on the other one in the afternoon. Depending on the format, I paint 4 to 5 pieces a month.
q) What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
a)That’s a tough question. I would say that my biggest accomplishment has been to live my life listening to my own inner voice. I don’t want to sound too much like a Buddhist guru, but life is a journey. Once you have achieved something, you soon realize that it is already part of the past, of your personal history.
I don’t want to sound too much like a Buddhist guru, but life is a journey. Once you have achieved something, you soon realize that it is already part of the past, of your personal history.
I feel that you can now set outstanding goals to reach, goals that might seem out of sight at this specific moment. But as you keep on working, keep on evolving, the goal that seems today as unreachable as the Holy Grail, little by little becomes more real, more reachable. And once you finally reach this goal, obviously you have already set and focused on new goals… I think that’s the way most people work. That’s how mankind keeps on moving forward, and that’s maybe why it is so hard to feel satisfied and accomplish in the long run.
More practically, I think that my biggest accomplishment is still to come, it may be when I will make a living of my art (even if it obviously depends on one’s standard of living!).
q) Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a) http://www.camillerosegarcia.com , http://www.jeffsoto.com , http://www.imscared.com , http://www.travislouie.com/, http://www.raycaesar.com/, http://www.heikomueller.de/ , http://www.victor-castillo.blogspot.com/,http://www.brandtpeters.com/, http://www.paul-barnes.com/,, http://www.amysol.com/ , etc…
q) Can we buy your art anywhere?
q) Anything that people should know about that we don’t??
q ) What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
a)I would quote what a fellow artist once told me: “Let it flow”.
And I would add: “keep on working”.
Most people tend to think that being an artist is an attitude, a kind of state of mind. They “feel artist”, so they think that they are one. That’s wrong. To be an artist, you need to practice and work on your art, on a daily basis if possible. It takes work and time to become an artist.
So my advice would be “Let it flow and keep on working”.
q) What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
a)I think that the question is more like: “what keeps you going?”-period-. When you seriously think about it, being an artist is a suicidal choice!! There is a motto that says: “Waste your life, be an artist”… And from a rational modern perspective, that’s kind of a true statement. However, strangely I don’t feel that I am wasting my life, and I am sure that I will succeed. Maybe not to the extent of a Mark Ryden or a Takashi Murakami, but I am convinced that I am going to do well.
Being an artist is sometimes hard. You need to have a lot of energy to practice, improve your skills, create, have ideas, find inspiration, judge your own work, show your work which means being your own salesman, dealing with public relations, coping with critics, rejection or indifference. Yes, that’s sometimes tough and frustrating.
That’s why you need faith. Being an artist is an act of faith. I am obviously not talking about religious faith. Just the faith in yourself and the fact that you are here for one good reason: create. It is all about listening to that little voice that has been commanding you, from the very beginning, to create.
And apart from these spiritual considerations, in general, a good night’s sleep is an efficient remedy to get rid of frustration and bad feelings.
q) How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?
a)That’s always very hard. The problem is that most people who ask this, generally don’t know much about art, which makes the trick even more difficult. In general, I start by saying that I paint, and that my work is figurative and colorful. I say that it has social and political content too. Then, I dare to say that I do Lowbrow / Pop Surrealism art. After that, I try to define Lowbrow / Pop Surrealism. If I see that the person stares at me with two-rounded-wide-opened-dull-eyes, full of incredulity, which is often the case, I ask if they have ever heard about Mark Ryden (who isn’t especially my favorite artist but one of the most renowned), or if they remind the CD cover of Michael Jackson’s album “Dangerous” (which is one of Ryden’s work). And frequently, I end up giving a business card saying that on my website they could find my work, but also a “link” page to get more familiar with Lowbrow and Pop Surrealism.
Now, I will tell them to check out this interview!
q) What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
a)I am self-taught, so my only training is my life and the support of my wife, family and friends.
q) Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
a)My computer with a broadband Internet connection.
Internet has revolutionized the way everyone works and socializes and I cannot imagine how difficult it would be for me to meet people, other artists, and galleries without it…
q) Who are your influences?
a)I will shamefully quote my own self on this: I am a mass media child.
Which means I have a lot of references, most of them unconscious. We are so overflowed by images on the TV, in the streets, everywhere, everyday, that in the end, it obviously has an influence on you. To that extent I think my generation has been greatly influenced by cartoons, mangas, ads and reality TV.
I guess I have been influenced as well by some trips I have done, especially
If you want me to quote other artists, I would say that I have had different periods. I have been influenced by Dali, Picasso, Bacon, Miro, Turner… And now my favorite artist, the one I feel the closest and look up to, is Camille Rose Garcia, who has a political fucked up universe I love.
q) What inspires you to create?
a)I think the way the world is not exactly going well today is quite a hell of a source of inspiration to me.