Critique Collective

Critique Collective is your source for information and interviews about emerging and established contemporary artists.

Tag: google

Imaginary Creatures by Tony Papesh

Tony Papesh is a painter, illustrator, animator, and director working in San Francisco, California. Papesh’s paintings, which have been seen at the Honey Hive Gallery, are extremely playful, as he renders all kinds of odd creatures from his imagination. Papesh is an accomplished creative in a variety of fields. His animation work has been commissioned by clients such as Google, Youtube, and McAfee Antivirus. Take a look at his website to see his entire portfolio.

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Paul Weiner:
How do you come up with the creatures in your paintings?

Tony Papesh:
I usually pull inspiration from many places, anywhere from old cartoons and video games to heavy metal music and muppets. I just try to make silly and weird creatures that are fun to look at.

Paul Weiner:
Do you have a favorite creature you have painted over the years?

Tony Papesh:
With all the creatures I paint, I tend to make up each one as I paint. I suppose I have painted many similar ones over the years but never took the time to give them names or develop them. In general, I like drawing big, furry, stupid looking creatures. They just seem more fun!

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Paul Weiner:
What materials do you prefer to work with?

Tony Papesh:
Currently, I have been working with a lot of gouache and colored pencil on wood. I do a lot of layering with paints and colored pencil, and the wood seems to take all of the abuse I throw at it. Paper usually curls or wrinkles while traditional canvas feels too fragile.

Paul Weiner:
How do you feel about the rise of conceptual artists on the scene right now? Have you ever found yourself interested or repulsed by theoretical art?

Tony Papesh:
If an artist’s work is worth looking at, it should be seen. I suppose that is just a generic way of saying that I am not quite sure what you are referring to as I am not too hip to the scene at the moment.

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Paul Weiner:
Does the commercial work ever affect your personal art aesthetically?

Tony Papesh:
I would have to say no. The difference between what I do as a commercial artist and my personal work is the difference between night and day. During the day, I am mimicking someone else’s art. I am moving someone else’s text or creating someone else’s ideas. It is a great way to make a living, and you work on some fun projects, but, at the end of the day, nothing excites me more than filling a canvas with my own scribbles, paint, and bad ideas.

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Paul Weiner:
As someone who has worked in multiple creative fields, from animation to fine art, what are some tips for artists who are just getting started?

Tony Papesh:
I have always tried to keep my work and personal art separate. The biggest difference between the two is that when you are working for other people, you are essentially creating their ideas. They have the idea but need someone to make it. When it comes to your own art, you are free to make whatever you want. Don’t get caught up in pleasing an audience. Just please yourself.

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Paul Weiner:
How do you start a new work of art? How does your process vary between fine art and animation or design?

Tony Papesh:
I usually begin with a vague idea in mind. I will have a short phrase, an emotion, or something that I say over and over while painting. It kind of makes me sound like I am some sort of psycho to be repeating the same thing to myself while painting, but, usually, it is just the canvas, myself, and whole lot of time. I tend to get lost in my own head, and before I know it I am wrapping up a painting.

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Paul Weiner:
How did you get involved with making art in a professional way?

Tony Papesh:
I was always drawing, even when I was a little squirt in Illinois. I never really thought too much about doing anything else as a career because I was too focused on art. I always was drawing and painting, but, I guess, I became a professional when someone wanted to start paying me to do it.

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Paul Weiner:
You mentioned growing up in Illinois. How did you end up in San Francisco?

Tony Papesh:
In Illinois, I was always told that if I wanted to be an artist, I would need to move to California or New York. Now, that isn’t entirely true. You can be an artist anywhere, but I kept telling that to myself as I looked for art schools in California. I ended up in San Francisco for a few reasons, but the most appealing to a poor college student was that you could survive without a car.


Please view Tony Papesh’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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Maxwell Coppola Intertwines Innocence and the Digital Age

Maxwell Coppola is an artist who explores the duality between childhood innocence and disturbing images. He recently stumbled into the world of internet-based art with a series of work reliant upon Google image searches. Check out Maxwell’s work online at http://www.maxwellcoppola.com.

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Paul Weiner:
Could you describe the process you went through in order to capture the images in your word searches series?

Maxwell Coppola:
I developed the concept for my word search pieces while looking up references for my paintings. I’m always searching the Internet for images to help formulate my paintings, and I do so much of this through Google’s image search. After doing some more experimental projects, I decided to give the word search series a shot.

To create the pieces, I search for a word or phrase, write down the time and day of the search, and take screenshots of the output. The screenshots are then pieced together to form the piece.

I like how many different concepts these pieces touch upon: pop culture, mass media, the internet, search engines, fair use, copyright, abstract vs. figurative, aesthetics, perception. I think these pieces have a lot of potential talking points.

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Paul Weiner:
This process is intriguing because it points out the extent to which Google informs our perceptions and opinions on ideas, objects, and people. How is it that you determine the compositions for these works? Do you create the compositions intuitively and aesthetically or with rigid conceptual requirements like an algorithm?

Maxwell Coppola:
An image search engine follows an algorithm to determine which images it will display. Google creates the algorithm, but the images themselves are out across the Internet. I think the search offers a sort of current aggregate perception of a word or phrase.

I’m still exploring how I want to continue this process, actually. Searching for a celebrity like Oprah Winfrey is much different than searching for, let’s say, the color blue. The one thing I will always do is write down the search time and date. How different might a search for “World Trade Center” be in 2000 versus 2002?

I try to be conceptual initially, but I certainly think about aesthetics and whether my initial concept will ultimately work as a visual piece. I like your idea of incorporating an algorithm to create the pieces. I could definitely explore that.

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Paul Weiner:
Why have you chosen to create artwork which questions your own identity in reference to child-like and disturbing imagery?

Maxwell Coppola:
I’m not sure I’m really trying to question my identity with these. There are some images within these paintings that relate to my childhood directly, but those are usually thrown in as little Easter eggs to myself.

I’m really influenced by members of my own family and my own experience working with children. My mother works with children aged 2-5; my aunt is a principal at a grade school; I have a lot of young cousins; I have my own history of working as a camp counselor for 5 years. I’m also influenced by pop surrealist artists, who seem to use a lot of children in their artwork. I think the disturbing and twisted imagery makes for good contrast against the innocence of childhood, but that could just be in my own head.

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Paul Weiner:
I’ve noticed that many of your works use stuffed animals as a symbol for childhood. Are the stuffed animals in your images directly related to you or simply made up for the paintings?

Maxwell Coppola:
I remember the characters, and they were a part of my life in some capacity, but the images used as references were taken from the Internet.

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Paul Weiner:
Do you view aestheticism as a chief concern in the creation of your images or is it secondary to the concept?

Maxwell Coppola:
The aesthetics are always a concern for me; however, they are not the first on the list. The concept is always first, but I do my best to make a professional looking piece. I’ve always had the mindset that my paintings should be beautiful from afar, but twisted when you get closer and actually see what’s going on.

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Paul Weiner:
Describe the process you use in beginning a work of art. How does this change when creating photography, conceptual art, and painting?

Maxwell Coppola:
Whether creating photography, conceptual art, or paintings, I start the same way. I’m always trying to generate ideas that are weird, ironic, controversial, funny, unexpected, gross, beautiful, and some mix of all of that. The main test an idea has to pass in my own mind is:

1. Is it interesting?

2. Is this me?

One interesting part about number 2 is that I probably would not have started my word search series if I hadn’t let myself experiment with my mixed media pieces. I started as a painter, and I was planning on working strictly within that medium. I think by allowing myself to explore different media and ideas, it helped me become more open minded about my artwork and who I wanted to be as an artist.

Paul Weiner:
Your Word Search series seems to move away from the theme of childhood. Is that a direction you’re planning on heading in for future work?

Maxwell Coppola:
That’s a good question. I think that I will continue to paint as I am. However, I love exploring new concepts and ideas and working with different materials. Also, you never know what might catch on in the art world.


Please view Maxwell Coppola’s artwork online at http://www.maxwellcoppola.com and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

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