Pictoplasma focus – Interview with Andy Kehoe

Back to our Pictoplasma interviews. This time i’m talking with Andy Kehoe. I think it’s the first time i’m interviewing a painter on the blog.

After having embarked on what he calls “a long and expensive tour of art schools”, Andy ended up studying illustration at Parsons School of Design in NY. Nowadays he is successfully showing and selling his paintings in art galleries across the U.S. For more flamboyant information about his life, this is the way to go.

krampys2coD40SxL5wvUXcS.jpgKrampus in the Wild, 2011

ForeverMyFellowl.jpgForever My Fellow, 2011

a00mbassadorsfotheotherwordly.jpgAmbassadors of the Otherworldly, 2010

roamerreveriewzN.jpgRoamer of Reverie, 2011

The world they inhabit seems to be as important as the creatures in your paintings. Can you tell us something about this universe? Is it somewhere on Earth? On another planet? A parallel universe? Do men have a place there?

I like having a world where I have the freedom to create anything and that would mean stepping far away from anything too Earthly. Too much reality and not enough magic going on here… and a serious lack of magical creatures and roaming spirits. Too human all around. I like that strange creatures, giants and spirits are known to exist and it’s just a part of life. Though there is a connection to Earth, and humans have stumbled upon it and brought things like guns, whiskey, tweed jackets and crude humor. But any humans end up mutating into some sort of creature after a while. Honesty, I’m pretty horrible at drawing normal human people. Can’t even remember the last time I even attempted it. Even when I was young, I preferred drawing Ninja Turtles and mafia-based comics that involved a gang of animals in suits.

Your world also seem to enjoy an eternal Autumn…

I have a deep connection with Autumn. Not exactly sure why but every year I try to absorb as much of it as I can on every sensory level. But there is a level of melancholy to it as well since as soon as all the bright colors of Autumn appear, they seem to disappear to the cold dark of winter. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the bittersweetness of it all. In any case, Autumn rules in my land and I get to live in it all year long.

Are your creatures happy living in that world?

Well, I’m not certain if everyone is happy living there but they seem to be doing fine. They certainly seem to witness more wonders than I do on a given day… and possibly more horrors. Comes with the package of living in a magical world I guess.

aFreshSOulintheMurederousWaternVzY.jpgA Fresh Soul in the Murderous Wake, 2009

beWaryoftheDarkPlaces.jpgBe Wary of the Dark Places, 2009

How would you feel if you were told that you are not allowed to create and paint characters? Never ever again? Would you still like to be a painter?

That would certainly be tough for me. I love painting the landscapes as much as the characters but I feel like they are very connected and intertwined with each other. It would be hard to separate them. For most of my paintings, I have an idea for character when I start, but it isn’t fully realized yet. I don’t draw very much out before I start or make any preliminary sketches. I like to make the background and landscapes first and let that determine how the character grows into it. I never really have a complete idea how it’ll truly look until it’s finished and I feel like the characters and the world are evolving together along the way. Over the years, my favorite and craziest ideas have come when I broke from the plan and let things happen naturally. Now I just try to not have too much of a plan at all. This allows me to try new things, and lets life influence me the way it will through out the whole creative process. But if it came down to it, I could certainly spend my days painting empty forests and lonely mountains.

ideasFlourishn.jpgIdeas Flourish, 2009

iHumanityReturnsk.jpgHumanity Returns, 2009

Because your paintings evoke fairy tales and mysterious world, i’ve been wondering if you were influenced by artists working in literature but also cinema and music. Do you get to look at the work of artists working in other fields a lot and do you draw inspiration from them? Whose work do you admire?

When I was young, I read a lot of fairy tales and kids books like the Little Golden Books, Hans Christian Anderson, Frog and Toad, etc. I also had a lot of fairy tales on tape so my brother and I spent countless hours sitting around listening to these fantastic tales. Those audio books definitely had an influence on me because it really left my mind free to wander and imagine these lands and characters. I still listen to a lot of audio books now while I paint and a lot of it is still in the same vein. I’m listening to A Game of Thrones and The Bartimaeus Trilogy right now so still on the fantasy kick. I listen to a lot of non-fiction and historical fiction as well, but I always gravitate towards works of high imagination.

Cinema is one of my biggest inspirations. I don’t know if it directly influences my work, but directors like Terrence Malick and Wong Kar Wai have made films that have definitely influenced the themes and mood of my work. Their movies are so beautiful and they have a way of stirring emotions that I really strive for in my work. Miyazaki’s movies are also an inspiration for me in the animation realm. All his movies are so fully realized and creative.

revelintheWildJoy.jpgRevel in the Wild Joy, 2011

walkingWithWisdom.jpgWalking with Wisdom, 2010

Any advice you could give to young artists who would like to be as successful as you are?

I guess one of the big things I can say is to not worry so much about succeeding. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to develop work so focus on ideas that interest you and be patient with it. The last thing you want to do is pander to what’s popular and become a flash in the pan. If your work is genuine and sincere, people will notice. Once people start noticing and opportunities arise, make sure you take full advantage of those opportunities and continue to push yourself.
And internet really helps.

What are you going to show at Pictoplasma?

I’m submitting various works from some recent gallery shows. Of course, they’ll be pieces that are more on the character-centric side.

partingtheDarkness.jpgParting the Darkness, 2010

OnwardAgainMyFriend.jpgOnward Again My Friend, 2010

Any upcoming project you would like to share with us?

I have a show opening at Roq La Rue Gallery next month called, “Arise Feral Night.” It’ll be in Autumn which is perfect and also around Halloween. So the show will be about the coming of night and all strangeness that entails. My sister said the new paintings are kind of scary but I think they’re more on the beautifully spooky end of things. The show opens October 14th.

Thanks Andy!

Previously: Pictoplasma focus – Interview with Joshua Ben Longo and Interview with Geneviève Gauckler.

Don’t miss Pictoplasma NYC. The conference takes place on 4 + 5 November 2011 at Parsons The New School for Design, the exhibition will be open on 3 – 6 November 2011.