year of birth: 1988
Q1: When did you start making art?
It’s been my hobby since I was a kid, but I started getting serious about improving my skills in 2008. That was the time I realized I’d like to pursue a career in the arts industry.
Q2: What does inspire you?
Pretty much anything. Music, movies, the work of other artists as well as some random things such as some abandoned house I pass by.
Q3: What are your techniques?
When I was younger I was extensively making highly detailed pencil drawings. However, I hardly enjoy doing that now. In the last years I’ve mainly painted either digitally – in Photoshop and Corel Painter, or traditionally – with acrylics on canvas, tempera on cardboard and occasionally trying my hand at watercolors and charcoal. I enjoy working with acrylics the most.
As for a precise technique which I use for my paintings – it’s best when I have at least some vague idea about what I’d like to paint. I establish the composition first, then work in the values in big blotches and start detailing. I’ve found it’s very important not to get too attached to what you’re painting, because that prevents you from seeing the bigger picture for what it is. For example you’re painting a figure and you really like the way its left arm turned out. Sometimes unconsciously you’ll make it the centerfold of your painting, because you really want to keep the arm the way it is (it’s so good, after all), and you’ll build your painting around it, screwing up the composition, the posture of the figure, etc. Instead, you should try to look at your painting from afar, choosing impartially what is best for it. No part of it could be so good it’s impossible to replicate. After all, you’ve managed to paint it once, you’ll make it again.
Q4: What is the main idea or feeling behind your works?
My whole mindset regarding art was blown away when I first encountered the work of Polish artist Zdzislaw Beksinski. Until that point no work of any art had struck me as hard emotionally as his did. I hadn’t realized that so many feelings could be stuffed onto a canvas. Somewhere at that point I began to think about the paintings that had left the biggest impression on me, the ones that had stuck into my mind the longest. I believe that as a viewer, a person is most impacted by artwork with negative emotions. A lot of paintings bring in feelings of calmness, cosiness, happiness. These feelings, however, are usually quite short-lived, at least for me. On the other hand, a painting that depicts scenes of loneliness, desolation, despair and general misery connects with the viewer on a much more personal level (as we all have our conscious or subconscious fears of various nature), triggering a stronger emotional reaction. This kind of feedback is what I strive to achieve with my work. By creating a physical manifestation of my feelings and fears, which is a fancy phrase meaning painting stuff, I aim to provoke the viewer’s own. It’s an amazing reward when I receive a comment about my work saying that it struck something in that person, that it sparked some emotion. At such times I feel as if I’ve managed to communicate with that person on a personal, emotional level, despite the fact that we don’t know each other and will probably never meet. It’s like I’ve send a message in a bottle and someone found it.
Of course, there are also the paintings that are painted purely for fun, where I’ve focused mainly on what would look cool, or funny. Style over substance all the way.
Q5: What is the main color of your art and why?
I enjoy working in black and white very much. When working with acrylics I mostly use titanium white, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, and occasionally a pop of black. When mixed, they give a nice range of dull browns, blues and cool and warm grays to work with. Regarding color – I don’t have any preferences for particular colors, but perhaps I fancy the cooler and duller ones I little more. I mainly focus on composition, silhouette, values. Color is of lower importance.
Q6: What would you improve about your work and why?
Currently I’m at a phase where I’m really fond of dynamic composition, so I’ve mainly focused on that. I’d like my work to feel fresher. I know the word ‘fresh’ would hardly ever be used to describe any of my paintings, but I actually mean technique and not subject matter. This technique, I think, is the Holy Grail of painting – to be able to make a finished painting look as if it was painted in one fell swoop, with the freshness and energy of a quick sketch sustained.
Q7: Do you have any project for the future?
I’m working on some personal projects right now.
Q8: Describe yourself with 3 words capturing the essence of MyNameIsSwann.
Beaks. Tentacles. Gas Masks.
Q9: Show us (link) your very first work. Describe it from techniques till feelings.
HERE‘s the first piece I did after starting to get serious about my work.
It’s a pencil drawing, that I’ve scanned and added a couple of old paper textures on top in Photoshop. This was also the first work I was quite happy with (and it’s still one of my favorites from back then), as for the first time I managed to make a drawing that captures certain feelings. I believe every viewer is free to interpret an image, so I wouldn’t like to cut off people’s thoughts on a picture by giving “the artist’s interpretation”. I’m really no good when it comes to interpreting most of my work. I rarely put much thought into what each part of an image signifies, or what’s going on in it at all. I focus on conveying some emotion in a painting. I find it much more interesting to read what other people see in my paintings and how they interpret them. I’ve discovered that sometimes a person notices something in a picture that I haven’t noticed myself until they tell me.
Q10: What did change from your first work till now?
A lot in terms of technique and little in terms of subject matter. As I said, my earliest attempts were pencil drawings. Now I much more enjoy working either with paint, or with Corel Painter/ Photoshop.
Q11: What is art for you? Escaping from reality or the essence of life?
Art, as cliche as this sounds, is an inseparable part of my life. It’s the cheapest form of psychotherapy. It’s the easiest way to get out your “demons” – the worried thoughts, the anger, the often irrational fears that lurk inside your head. It’s a great way to entertain yourself. Painting gives you the power to create whole worlds, there is no limit as to what you’ll put on the piece of paper. That might sound scary, but once you’re past the fear of blank paper, the possibilities are endless.