AG: Post-Painterly Abstract Set Design. – Yikes. That sounds so heady… but, I think it’s correct. In the 60’s there were painters like Frank Stella, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly… all inspired by the Abstract expressionists and the history of painting, but they were able to clean it up a bit, keep everything in order, their work was very conceptual and loaded with thought and history. I feel like I use the history of building, set design, illustration and painting all in one to make these sets while cleaning it up and making my own aesthetic.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
AG: Inspiration comes from everywhere, sometimes it’s a new material I find in the fashion district near my studio. It could come from a walk I take; I see how a piece of architecture is painted and how that color rests against the sky and boom! there’s two colors that will end up in a set. I pull color colors from everywhere. Other times, inspiration comes when I’m sleeping… I dream and build a lot of my sets in my mind while asleep. So, it’s a subconscious thing, pulling from the archives of visual memory.
A lot of inspiration comes from art history. Be it sculpture from the 60’s, prints from the soviet union era, weird biblical illuminated manuscripts, Mughal miniatures, Sister Corita’s serigraphs or Matisse’s cutouts. Going to the museum always brings new ideas to my work. I don’t have a preference of time or style, it’s all useful in some way.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
AG: Yea! I collaborate heavily with the photographers I’m working with. It starts with that. When me and JUCO work together, we send imagery back and forth until there’s one image that is SO right we can’t get it out of our brains. Then, we twist it around, magnify what’s important to our story and go from there. Color is really important, it tells so much of the story. One set will have absolute brights and another will have the same shade of red but the value will change for a moodier feeling…. And, of course, at night, I come up with the solutions to problems while I dream, which is always funny to wake up and tell my boyfriend, “I figured out how I’m going to paint the flowers!”.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
AG: Yes, I would like people to be inspired by the materials I use. From carpet to carving foam, marbled paper, large painted backgrounds, fabric, faux stone, paper mache, wood, plants, playdough… it’s always something new. It’s always an experiment and it’s important to have the change consistent with every project. I push for trying new things, and it keeps my eyes and brain fresh.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
AG: Ohhh.. it’s mostly work. I work with my friends, so we spend all day together and then we hang out at night and talk about the projects we’re all doing on the side. But, I make time for going on tiny trips, getting naked at the Korean spa for 8 hours with my friend Julia, cooking at home, smooching my boyfriend and getting my nails done with my roommate. But, mostly, it’s work, work, work.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
AG: For me, it’s always about the story. I need to have some narrative to make an image for. Be it the product we are making a commercial for, let’s say Sony.. or the idea that I’m trying to tell the viewers about. I’m working on a project about work right now… so, I’m thinking a lot about the first project I ever used my hands on and the growth of creativity.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
AG: Being a business lady is just as important as being an art lady. Also, stay positive and mentally grounded.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
AG: Yes. Definitely. I always remind myself “Adi, what do you think is cool?” because, that’s all that matters. What is hip is not always cool for me, and if I’m spending so much time making things I have to be stoked about them.
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
AG: Balancing life and work. I get really bummed sometimes when I miss out on family time or friend time. Sometimes I can’t be there for people, and that is the absolute worst. It makes me really sad. I’m like those dads that miss softball games, but it’s me and it’s my girlfriend’s breaking up with their boyfriends or my niece being picked on at school. I try my hardest to be there for everyone, and when I can’t be, that’s what makes it hard to work so hard.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
AG: Making a living while making things. I literally don’t have to do anything else. I used to clean houses, my hands were literally bare and I’d scrub the insides of stranger’s toilets…. I’m really really happy I don’t have to do that anymore.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
AG: Matisse. For his color, his line and his confidence to make an image simply. Also, the entire Bauhaus school for their focus on the handmade craft, the intention of materials and simplicity in design.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
AG: Oh! I couldn’t do this without a computer or the internet. I draw my sets by hand at first, and need to be able to draw on the fly for a sit down meeting with a client, but I use 3d rendering to illustrate spaces before we build. Also, the internet, though it will never be as nice as the library, it gives me so many ideas everyday, there are so many images to riff off of and to glean from.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
AG: Oh, definitely. We get to really look everyday. I have a hard time having conversations with people because of the wall behind them, the way the light from a hallway makes their fuzzy hairs show up on their chin, how trim is nailed to a wall, how a surface is reflective.. it’s pretty funny, but I can’t stop looking, and I think all creatives have this problem.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
AG: I love travelling. I went to Paris and London this fall to visit my old teacher and I go on mini trips around California as much as possible. I call them research trips and I try to get new ideas. Though, my favorite place to go is Chicago. It’s where my people are. It’s where all the heart comes back to me.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
AG: I just finished Bruno Munari’s book, “Design as Art.” The dude can spell out a few things, I’ll tell ya that.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
AG: There’s always a lot of collaboration happening, I want to get back to a solo art practice. Not always, but for fun. I love collaborating, and most of the time feel stronger and smarter when working with Eric, my lead man and JUCO my main collaborators.. but I think it’s important and healthy for me to take time to make some work where I’m the only author. That’s my plan, it’s a hard one to get to though.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
AG: Being an artist for me is not only making the image, but facilitating a community around the studio that is healthy, happy and inspiring. I think the best artists are the ones who are able to share their knowledge and who are totally approachable.
CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?
AG: It’s forever changing!
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