Interview with artist and illustrator Crimson City Inc.

Crimson City Inc. is an artist/illustrator based in New Zealand. By working with ballpoint pen and similar traditional media, Crimson City Inc. endeavours to create a visual experience that is both memorable and unique.

Please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I’ve always liked to draw, so I guess you could say I’ve been doing it my whole life. But I’ve only been pursuing it seriously since last year. I never really thought I’d be an „artist” as such, but I definitely have always wanted to do something where I could draw or design.

What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I discovered ballpoint pens as an artistic medium through an artist called Deadness whose influence can definitely be seen in my earlier work especially. From there it’s kind of developed on it’s own and I have kind of picked up influences from all over the place. At the moment I’m loving Camille Rose Garcia’s work in particular.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
It’s hard to say, every day is pretty different. Sometimes I’ll have a picture I’m really enjoying and so I’ll be motivated to spend more time working on it. Other times I will update my websites and respond to emails and so on. Usually it’s not too planned out, I just do whatever I want haha.
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
Like I said, I always loved to draw, so I guess it’s self-taught. My dad is pretty artistic though so I was probably influenced by him.

I did study art for a bit in high school, but I never really enjoyed it – I think art is something that is impossible to teach really because there’s so many different ways of doing it. I also did a graphic design course which helped me particularly with the technical side of things like preparing digital files and dealing with printers and so on. But overall I’d say that an education is not necessary at all.

What fascinates you the most about surrealism, lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
To be honest it’s an art style I’ve only recently learned about. The thing I‘d say I love about surrealism/lowbrow art is that each piece tends to be very unique and maybe even more creative than other styles of art? Or maybe it’s just creative in a different way.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I find it pretty relaxing (usually) and satisfying, and it’s awesome to have the freedom to express thoughts and ideas however you want. I also love hearing people’s thoughts and ideas about my work, it’s really interesting to find out what they see in it.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?
I usually start by writing actually, in order to understand the concept of each drawing better. I like to have only a very loose idea of what the drawing should look like though, it’s more enjoyable to see how it develops itself. I’m not the kind of person that can draw out a million different thumbnails or layouts until it looks perfect. I also like to put in little details or recurring elements that kind of make it interesting for people who study every detail. They’re also kind of personal I guess, so it’s nice to be able to look back on them and remember what motivated me to draw them in the first place.
As for my workflow, I usually start very lightly with pen rather than pencil – it can be pretty scary working this way but it’s taught me not to worry too much about making mistakes and to sort of go with the flow of each picture. I just keep drawing until it all, hopefully, comes together in the end!

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I’m embarassed to say this but I cannot paint at all, that’s something I wish I could do.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
There’s not much to say really, nothing interesting happens up there. It’s basically just a desk and a giant scanner and a bag of pens.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
I think everything can be a challenge if you view it that way, but most of my ‚challenges‘ have just been dumb things like ‚I can’t figure out how to make a website!‘ or the time I emailed my work to a magazine and they replied with ‚what exactly am I looking at here?‘ Those are just little things though, and overall I think the real challenge is figuring out what step to take next.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is just to not worry and enjoy the fact that I have the time and am in a situation where I can pursue this at the moment.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
The best advice I’ve gotten is simply when people tell me to never stop doing what I do. That’s really encouraging and gives me a lot more confidence in my work.
The worst advice is probably from my brother, haha, he told me I should try ‚painting normal things like hills and trees and stuff‘ – that’s probably good advice for someone else but I just don’t think that kind of art would work well for me!
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Like above, I think the hardest thing is figuring out where to go next, what my next step should be.
I don’t find it lonely, because I’m not locked up in my studio all the time, and usually when I am I value having that time to myself to develop new pictures or figuring out what should come next.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
I know this is like the boring, standard answer, but I just want to be able to keep creating works that both appeal to me and appeal to other people too.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
I’m not a good person for giving advice, but I think it’s important to find a style that works well for you, don’t try and do everything - stick to something you know and enjoy and develop it as much as you can. Also I think it’s important not to get hung up on little things, especially mistakes – it’s more important to enjoy what you’re doing.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...
I can’t think of anything inspiring, the only thing that comes to mind is "Just Do It", and that’s from Nike.
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
I’m involved with a voluntary education work that’s really important to me and that takes up a lot of my time. When I do have free time I usually feel guilty that I’m not drawing ;)

Do you have an online portfolio or a blog where we can view your work?
Yes, I’ve got a website, Facebook page, Instagram and Tumblr.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
Just thank you for interviewing me, and thanks so much to everyone who has enjoyed my work so far!

By contributor Linda. September 2014. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.