The worlds we create in our heads
Greg is a master storyteller. His paintings are chock full of fascinating little details, his characters are animal / human hybrids, and his technique is evocative of surrealists like Dali. I invite you to get lost in his beautiful work and learn a bit more about his process.
Tell us a bit about your background.
My name is Greg Simkins, sometimes I go by the name Craola which I acquired in 1993 when I picked up a spray can and decided I need a superhero name. I have been making art in some sort of way ever since I was a little kid, 3 or 4 or so. I have always been obsessed with animals and the created world around us as well as imagination and the worlds we create in our heads. Story telling has always been a big part of what I do, even if I don’t often share them in words.
How did you get into the art world?
It just sort of happened. I gravitated towards it. It has always been my go to hobby/passion/time killer/dream career. I didn’t think I’d be doing it for a living, but I couldn’t imagine not doing it. I don’t ever recall saying, I think I want to be an artist. I just think I always was, it’s how I interact with the world.
What are your favorite materials to work with? Why?
Acrylics: They give me a real freedom of expression with their fast dry times, blending and color capabilities and ability to work large or small. Charcoal: I am finding a real sense of discovery as I just let go and allow myself to get messy. Thanks to art superstar Sergio Sanchez, I recently reintroduced this medium into my toolbox and don’t see it ever going away, I love charcoals. Ink: I am a huge fan of lines and what can be done with weights and hatching. Pencil, it all started here for me.
Spray Paint: I enjoy nothing better than the occasional chance I get these days to freestyle some graffiti letters on a wall. It’s its own sport and I realize that it’s not for everyone, but I still dream about letter schemes and color palettes and nothing beats a shelf full of colorful cans to stuff into a back pack before the adventure begins.
Describe your creative process – how do you come up with an idea for a new piece?
I keep a 5″x7″ sketchbook with me at all times and put down any thought or loose sketch that may pop into my head. I later flip through the book and add notes and mark the ones I’m really into. I later scan or photo the good ideas into my computer and resize them and print them out to redraw them and add to them.
I then gather photo reference of details I would need to inform textures and patterns, transfer the line work to canvas or panel and start painting. Sometimes I get so anxious to paint, I just start painting and allow the sketches I have been working on the books to inform where the piece goes.
Can you tell us about a piece / project that you worked on recently that you’re particularly proud / fond of.
“Good Knight” is a 8’x6′ piece that I recently did for an exhibition of the same name. It was a journey into the world I create every time I paint called “The Outside”. My hero Ralf, all grown up as the “White Knight” has found himself some armor in his quest to save his hearts desire. It was a very long process but enjoyable the entire time. Its content and idea evolved very naturally from sketchbook to canvas and it was hard to see it go.
Where do you see yourself in a year? in five years?
A year? Unveiling the stop-motion short film my team and I have created called “I’m Scared The Movie”. It has been a labor of love and everyone who has worked on this piece is a true talent. I am excited to have this little movie out there for everyone to see! 5 years: Hopefully writing more and developing interesting projects on top of painting solo exhibitions. I’ll definitely be yelling at my kids to “get off the wall, you’re going to kill yourself!” and “Clean your room!” and “Stop hitting your brother”, both 1 year and 5 years from now.
INTERVIEW BY CHARLIE CLARK
He is a creative coder living in Brooklyn. He keep himself busy pushing pixels at B-Reel, building interactive data visualizations and curating WAVA.