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giovedì 19 febbraio 2009

Interview with Sterling Hundley

q)Please introduce yourself.

a)My name is Sterling Hundley. I have made a living with my illustration work for nearly a decade. I have worked for a number of the major publishers of books and magazines in the United States. My work has been recognized with multiple awards from the Society of Illustrators, New York, and has appeared regularly in the pages of American Illustration, Communication Arts, 3 x 3, and many others.

q)Where do you live and work?

a)I live and work from Richmond, Virginia, on the east coast of the United States.

q)How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?

a)I strive to marry the aesthetic to the idea in my illustrative work.

q)How did you start in the arts? How/when did you realize you were an artist?

a)I have given this a lot of thought, and I can trace back my life as an artist as early as first grade. When I saw my drawing next to the other students in class, I knew that it was better. This wasn't coming from ego- I had no self confidence then. I simply new that it was better. The class and teacher responded in a way that was consistent with what I knew to be true. This one moment was the first time that I remember sharing my work with anyone else, and it was my first memory of excelling at something. I have always had art as a constant in my life. I feel that I've always noticed the things that others seemed to miss.

q)What are your favorite art materials and why?

a)I use everything that I can get to stick to a support including acrylics, watercolor, oils, pencil, tar, collage, wire, plaster, etc. I am currently producing a body of personal work that is created in oils. Oils are currently winning the battle, but I love the fight.

q)What/who influences you most?

a)In the beginning, my appreciation of art was limited to my experience in art- work that allowed me in through things that I aspired to be able to do. As I have become more facile, I am not as easily impressed with how things are done. I find inspiration in why things are done, and I often intellectually appreciate things that are not easy aesthetically.

q)Describe a typical day of art making for you.

a)My mind never stops moving. I am overwhelmed with images of things that I would like to make. I take on too many projects at once (most self imposed), and my days are spent on ideation for illustrations (I prefer to do this at coffee shops, and it is my favorite part of illustration), painting on large canvases for my show, painting the final illustrations, developing my story ideas, drawing comic book characters for stories, etc. I teach two days a week at Virginia Commonwealth University. I avoid starting paintings, but I love them once I have begun, and I hate them when I'm finished. I prefer to work in a clean studio, but I am rarely tidy. I get started when deadlines overwhelm me, or guilt and/or fear prevails. I work for long periods at a time, and I often lose track of time, finishing up in the early hours of the morning. All of these standard artist qualities considered, I feel that I am a balanced person, and I give my time to others when they ask. I equally enjoy my time away from my studio.

q)Do you have goals, specific things you want to achieve with your art or in your career as an artist?

a)Absolutely. Now that I have achieved most of my goals in illustration, I am setting new goals in very different directions. I am trying to do something completely different with my personal work. A friend of mine said that in illustration you serve to many masters. I want to be solely responsible for the successes and failures in my personal work. I also want to create characters, and bring them to life in graphic novels/comics. I enjoy the challenge of writing, and novels may be on the horizon in the future.

q)What contemporary artists or developments in art interest you?

a)I appreciate that technology has given artists new tools in which to pursue their vision. There are some amazing things happening in animation, and video.

Still, I am not a fan of things that are easy. I see too much sameness in art these days. There are individuals who have taken digital art to a new place, and are creating amazing work. But for the most part, digital work omits the human character that is evident through the mistakes that we make. I search now for decisions that masters make in their work. Wether or not Degas laid down a color, and decided to paint over it. Where Bernini felled an errant stroke (he said he never did). There is an honesty to seeing through layers of paint into the mind of an artist.

There are a lot of artists who create bad art "intentionally" without any content or intent. You can look at Picasso's later stick figures and assume that his work is accessible and easy. Can you imagine how difficult it was for an artist that facile to create something that simple? His struggles are well documented, and you can see the effort that he went to analyze his own drawings. That is what interests me. Not to mention the endless lessons that one learns from drawing, painting, composing, and thinking with intent.

I don't appreciate art that intends to draw attention to itself through methods of shock and awe. Poor taste seems to be a new direction in work. What point is there to this, if it doesn't have a point?

Even though much of this work falls into the mediocre, or worse (in my opinion), I still appreciate the new thresholds that are being set by those who are true to their art form.

Images draw me to them, but it is the ideas that stay with me.

q)How long does it typically take you to finish a piece?

a)I try to give a day for ideas, and a long night to paint the piece. My personal work is taking months to develop.

q)Do you enjoy selling your pieces, or are you emotionally attached to them?

a)I do like to have my work in the hands of people who appreciate it. I am emotionally attached to certain pieces. The illustration pieces that I truly love (there are very few), I will never sell. I am creating my personal work with a sense of detachment, and I intend to sell them.

q)Is music important to you? If so, what are some things you're listening to now?

a)I love music, and I wish that I could carry a tune. I don't miss music when it's not there- my mind is always filled to the point of distraction, but I love it when it is there. I listen a lot to public radio, I love anything classical with great violin pieces, and I am currently listening to an alternative acoustic station that I love: Acoustic Alternative


a)I am close to finishing up 'Fountainhead' by Ayn Rand. I am enjoying it, but I feel that there are about 300 pages that were tough to get through. I enjoyed the book "Art and Fear" recently. I am a sucker for self help books.

q)What theories or beliefs do you have regarding creativity or the creative process?

a)That it is a process. Working under deadline forces an illustrator to develop a system for making ideas, as much as there is a system for making pictures. I have many theories, but the constant is that Art is Patience.

My mantra in illustration is "Blue Collar Ethic, White Collar Aesthetic".

q)What do you do (or what do you enjoy doing) when you're not creating?

a)I love being on the water with my wife. I wish that I owned a boat. I am never more at peace. I love the idea of being healthy- I have been at variables in my life, but I'm currently not. I miss playing basketball. I teach.

q)Do you have any projects or shows coming up that you are particularly excited about?

a)Yes, I am showing at the Ghostprint Gallery in Richmond, Virginia on September 4, 2009. This is my first one man show, and I hope that just one piece accomplishes what I am set out to do- find honesty in my work.

q)Do you follow contemporary art scenes? If so, how? What websites, magazines, galleries do you prefer?

a)I look at images, paintings, sculptures, artwork, all the time. I visit Chelsea when I am in New York. I follow illustration through many of the annuals. I am trying to educate myself in the world of contemporary fine art- any suggestions?

My students do a great job of keeping me current, as well.

q)Ask yourself a question you'd like to answer, and answer it.

a)Shouldn't you be working? Soon, I would like to finish this interview first. Are you avoiding starting? Probably- okay, yes. Why? I'm scared of the judgement that comes with each new piece. But don't you know what is wrong with a piece before you show it to anyone? Yes. So start already. Okay...

q)Any advice for aspiring artists?

a)I keep an advice blog: http://advice.sterlinghundley.com/

All are welcome!

q)Where can we see more of your work online?

a) www.sterlinghundley.com





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