Dynamic Artistry —
The Journey Continues

Interview by Eugene Kan
Illustrations by Andy Van Dinh

Interview by Eugene Kan
Illustrations by Andy Van Dinh

When we first caught up with Andy, he was just starting his MFA at Hunter College as MAEKAN was just getting off the ground. At the time, he shared with us, a familiar struggle of leaving behind the comfort and relative peace of the Canadian prairies for New York. In this latest installment of “Dynamic Artistry,” we get an illustrated take on what makes him tick where he responded to some of our questions with drawings. We also get to hear his thoughts on the role of education in finding direction as an artist.

—Who’s the person that’s influenced you the most?—

Andy: “Mom, Michael Jordan, Lousie Bourgeois.”

Describe pre-art school Andy’s personality and what he was like.

I was shy and quiet but was quite ambitious. It always took me a while to get comfortable with breaking rules. I probably did less socializing than the average person, but I also didn’t study as much as I should have. I would say I haven’t changed that. Just a little more outgoing, and a little more rebellious.

What do you think kicked off the biggest change in personality and work?

I think being relocated to New York made me confront things that I would normally try to swerve. I learned not to make art from a place of fearing to fail. For a while I was relying solely on the praise of my skill sets as a way to make work I thought was successful. New York trained me to focus on discovering something rather than honing what I already know.

My works went from tightly rendered, static images to drawings that became an expression of my movement in the studio. I feel like this eventually was mirrored in my personality, I end up being less afraid of trying new things, I try to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no,’ and I can better adapt to changing environments.

The main reason I found my way to the arts is because I felt like at least I could create my own education, and be surrounded by others creating their own as well.This collision of thought experiments was a great way to learn about everything. In a way, it felt like a fight against a one-size-fits-all education. Art can be radical that way.

—What stresses you out?—

Andy: “The views from my bank account. Mo’ money mo’ problems, I guess I don’t got many problems.”

What’s the value of education after going through it?

The majority of education is driven by economics. It’s there to push us towards a job, it’s not necessarily to mold individual minds. The main reason I found my way to the arts is because I felt like at least I could create my own education, and be surrounded by others creating their own as well. This collision of thought experiments was a great way to learn about everything. In a way, it felt like a fight against a one-size-fits-all education. Art can be radical that way.

The students and faculty were always critiquing the critique, and understanding the gears and gizzards of the institution. I really learned how to analyze my environment, and learned the ability to discover through art. It was a great experience, and I met some great friends. That being said, school is not for everyone, so I can only speak from my experience. Art school just helped push me into the direction I felt was right for me.

—What animal best describes you?—

What were the biggest challenges over the course of the last few years?

Besides living in small, crowded places, and being disconnected from nature, and figure out how not to eat dollar slice pizza every day? I felt like I was constantly trying to catch up with my peers. I’m still trying to keep up. I was just a young boy from a small town. I knew nothing about the art world. I had to find a way to be confident amongst a bunch of pros, and I had to prove I belonged there.

Andy: “Cheetah.”

I think not just Hunter but New York clarified some things. I had to quickly find my own definition of success. I knew I didn’t want to be manipulated by the art world and have the market dictate what I make.

—What makes you happy?—

Andy: “Food and bball”

Did art school offer clarity on your future and what you wanted to do as an artist?

I think not just Hunter but New York clarified some things. I had to quickly find my own definition of success. I knew I didn’t want to be manipulated by the art world and have the market dictate what I make. There are so many artists here, what makes me think I could shine so quickly? But really it’s not about that. I just want to make art, and get better at it. Everything else, the exhibition opportunities, the money, possibly the fame, it’s all just a by-product. I’m not worried.

You can go ahead and call all that a cop out. I really don’t care.

—What’s the last thing you do before you sleep?—

What are the next steps for you?

Keep making art, and figure out how I can incorporate my drawings with installation or sculpture. I would also like to spend some time doing artist residencies around the world.

Andy: “I play rain and lightning sounds to help me fall asleep.”

—What’s the inside of your mind look like?—

Andy: “An endless, foggy, forest. A maze passage.”

My works went from tightly rendered, static images to drawings that became an expression of my movement in the studio. I feel like this eventually was mirrored in my personality, I end up being less afraid of trying new things, I try to say 'yes' more than 'no,' and I can better adapt to changing environment.

Andy is an illustrator and artist from Medicine Hat, Alberta. He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. For more on Andy’s work, check out our first story on Dynamic Artistry and his website.

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