Really wonderful collage-influenced acrylic paintings by Andy DeCola are bright and vibrant, drawing from pop culture references and an interest in pattern and hue relationships. Happy to chat with him about his influences as well as staying as productive as possible in the studio! More information at the links following our Q&A!
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First, I'd love to know some more about you! Where are you from, and where are you based now?
Born in the small town of Dundas, Ontario. Currently living in Burlington, Ontario
What first interested you in painting?
Well, in high school my love of art really took off and was something I was really passionate about. I believe for one of my birthdays some friends got me a canvas and some paints and i was hooked.
What has your art education been like (formally or informally)? Is there anything you particularly enjoyed about it? Anything you wish would have done a bit differently?
After high school I went to The Dundas Valley School of Art, which is a small independent school in my hometown. I did a foundation year there and a second year studio year. It was an amazing experience that was very intimate and very hands-on. We had lots of visiting artists come and do classes with us, and it really give us a taste of the art world early in my education. After that, I transferred into the Ontario College of Art and Design, which opened me up to a broader world of ideas and people. I felt it was key for me to be in Toronto to make connections and start my art career.
Can you tell me about your work? Where do you derive your ideas from?
My work over the years has evolved quite a bit into what it is today. I definitely had a lot more painterly elements in my work in the past, and over the last 4 years it's slowly become very clean and flat. I’d say, though, that the subject matter and where my ideas come from have been constant since the early days of art school. My work has always had ideas and images appropriated from popular culture, such as images from fashion, architecture, and lifestyle magazines. This most recent series combined those ideas and images appropriated from magazines, and mixed them with images from my and my wife’s family. The last 2 years have been tough as we’ve had to deal with two big losses and deal with a lot of change. It’s made me refocus my conceptual ideas behind my paintings to be a blend of what's important to me, mixed with ideas from what I surround myself with: music, film, and magazines. I feel they are a reflection of the current mood of my times.
What is your studio space or workspace like?
My current studio is at home. It's not the most ideal space for working in, but I love it! I used to have an amazing space in an artist studio building, in an industrial area in Hamilton, Ontario. The location and my full time job limited me to only being able to go there late at night, and my odd day off from my day job. I really wanted a studio closer to home as I have 2 young boys, and with working full time, somewhere it gets hard juggling it all. It made the most sense to have the studio at home. It made the late studio nights so much easier and cheaper!
What do you like most about your medium?
That everyday I see new paintings that amaze me. A painting can takes minutes to make, or years, and still be powerful and moving. I’m jealous of the ones that takes minutes.
Is there a piece of advice that you've received, which you find yourself coming back to? Have you ever received advice you chose to ignore, and been glad you did?
I honestly can’t pinpoint any particular advice that I’ve received personally, but something I’ve come back to multiple times is the documentary series by PBS, ART:21. They interview multiple artists in all disciplines from all over the art world. This is a series that I’ve watched and listened too multiple times while I work. I say listening to other artists talk about their work is very important, although it could make you not like their work as much anymore! Not all artists are great at talking about their work, me included.
What do you consider to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art seriously?
I’d definitely say the most challenging thing is staying positive and weeding through the bullshit. There is a lot of talk and promises as you navigate through the art world. I’ve learned over the years about new opportunities, possible sales, and connections to not get too excited until it actually happens. As well, the most important thing for me is to make the work for myself and no one else. You really have to gauge what success really is, and don’t always believe what you see on social media. Worry about your career and not what everyone else is doing. These days it's easier than ever to sucked into that way of living through others.
What is the most rewarding aspect?
For me it’s having shows and seeing people enjoy what I’ve done. And even better if someone loves it so much that they buy it!
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?
I’m just getting going on work for 2 solo shows this year. I’ve got one in May at The Assembly Gallery in Hamilton, Ontario. And then in September I’ve got a solo show with Mark Christopher Gallery in Toronto.
Anything else you would like to add?
Making art keeps me sane. Some may disagree with that statement (my beautiful wife Leanne). As well, I’m hoping to connect with some galleries and artists outside Canada to possibly show with to give me a chance to travel more, build new relationships, and add to my CV.
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