You use many different styles of drawing within each piece; is there one style with which you're more comfortable?
I really enjoy texture and doing the main character in a piece first. I really labor over it and I think that I need to almost have a break because I get caught up in the tedious little parts. I was trained as a painter, so I really like texture and volume.
You start most pieces with a central animal character, but how do you pick that main figure?
I find the main character in a piece through something happening in my life or something happening in the world, and I get the general gist of the metaphor I'd like to recreate in the drawing. I find animals really interesting to use because they're not so personal as a human figure. Especially with wild animals that we really don't know so much, it's easier to use their physical attributes and their characteristics as a metaphor. So I'll figure out the feeling and sometimes even the name of the drawing first and then kind of fill in the blanks.
When you choose to draw an animal do you consider its art historical symbolism?
Definitely more its primal symbolism, what we all view it as: a carnivore, a big animal or a small animal. Not so much where they stand in art historical contexts and more just your gut understanding of what we think that animal exists as. I find it a lot easier to convey a thought using an animal than an inanimate object or a human.
Many of your works evoke paintings and, at least from a distance, collage; is there another medium you're interested in exploring or are you committed to drawing?
I'm pretty committed to drawing right now. I moved into this space to work out of my home, so I stopped painting for a while until I could get a studio where it wasn't so toxic, and I just fell in love with drawing. I feel like I have more control whereas painting was more restrictive in a way. I want to stick with drawing for a while, but for my next body of work I'm interested in getting into flat acrylic color fields, and more color, and less graphite. I love using pencil and graphite. I love the feel of it and I love working with it, but I think I might explore and open up new possibilities using acrylic.
In addition to blending animals, architecture, man-made objects and landscapes, you often mix colorful, black and white, and single-tone monochrome figures in your work; what effect are you trying to create through this juxtaposition of color palettes?
I'm really into creating different times in a single image, so I find that by using monochrome and line work it can create a different time within the environment. I like the idea of drawings within drawings and creating different worlds within a single image.
Though they're incredibly detailed, there's also a sense of chance and unpredictability in your drawings; how carefully do you plan a piece before starting to work on it?
Well, about halfway through the previous drawing I start thinking about what I'm going to do. I don't do any sketches, I don't really prepare more than mentally, because I really like to embrace the randomness and I feel like the subject matter is very chaotic so the randomness lends itself well to chaos.
Do you work from photographs?
I do, yes. I work from photographs. I take my own photographs, I research in books and on the internet. I start basically with a main character, like in this piece a bison. The main image kind of sets the stage for the rest of the drawing. It is random, a lot of stream-of-conscience. I don't do much preparing, except for getting images to be more precise about what I'm going to do.