We interviewed Alexey Andreev, a Russian artist “usually classified as surrealist“. Alexey sent us some of his most recent works: scenographies of a dimension halfway between dream and reality, snapshots of a submerged unconsciousness, where the artist goes to find the creative spark.
Alex, where do you get your inspiration?
I am usually classified as surrealist. I don`t disagree and give my artworks relevant tags. Although I have never particularly cared about the classification, it can be said that the method of getting ideas for my work is similar to the methods used by classics of surrealism.
The closest description of creative process is given, in my opinion, in the book of Carlos Castaneda’s “Power of Silence“: “.. the nagual Elias went to his dreaming journeys the way a wild animal prowls for food… visited, let’s say, the junkyard of infinity… and copied whatever he saw, but never knew what those things were used for, or their source.” For me creativity has never been and will not be associated with the products of the intelligence. I find the images for my artworks in the border states of my consciousness. For this I use several techniques like lucid dreaming, concentration on visual images in the moment of falling asleep, writing my dreams on and so on. I’m not trying to analyze consciously the images that have been observed in such states. Consciousness is a thin surface of the bottomless ocean of unconscious. Therefore, any attempts to reduce everything to a simple and direct associations are useless. As a rule, I can truly understand the inner meanind of my artworks by showing them to someone else, rather than by myself. But, of course, those areas of virtual space where I’m looking for ideas , generally lie in the half-forgotten childhood memories, in the small town where I was born: the railway, forest, river, plants, houses, sky of incredible beauty. I also love flying. Heaven for me is a completely native environment, where I can place a lot of the important ideas and feelings.
This environment impressed me on my first flight when I was a kid. Sunsets, sunrises, fantastically beautiful clouds, the incredible expanse, night cities looking like islands of the light, changing the scale of perception when you see yourself like something huge, but all what happens at the bottom, seems quite unimportant. Fear of takeoff, delight of the sun bursting into the cabin when the plane pierces the clouds. Your shadow on the clouds below. Color of the air, which is dense and opaque on the horizon. Feeling of a strange peace and security there. It’s hard not to draw it all.
Creativity for me is the fixation of certain states of consciousness. My creative objective is to convey these conditions with minimal interference, minimal distortion. This is important, it excites. This is the bang. This is the essence and the cause of what I do. I spend more time drawing than I exactly need just because I stop from time to time to look at what I transfered to the canvas. At that moment I am there, in that world.
Which is the reletioship and influence beetween your cultural background (country, studies, etc.) and your artworks?
You certainly can`t forget you home town. Most vibrant imperssions are from childhood, and I reimagine them by placing fantastic events in a familiar environment. During my childhood I was exposed mainly to SF literature, and by the time I became interested in history, culture or philosophy, I could acquire information from all around the world, not only Russia. Nevertheless, I`m deeply in love with USSR literature, music and movies. I can even claim than I`m enamored by the aesthetics of soviet period. That was an interesting time, now long gone, and endless space for ideas. I couldn`t care less about politics, though — it doesn`t concern me.
What are you much focused in?
Now I strongly feel that I do not have enough strong skills to represent the human body. So I am trying to constantly draw the human body to improve these skills.
Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art/freelance career?
I worked in an creative and advertising agencies for a long time as art director, but it was not quite what I really liked. But at last I made up my mind and became a freelancer. The most difficult thing was to make that decision – it’s difficult thing when you have a family and children. But now I feel much more confident than when I worked in the agency.
Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learnt from your profession?
Initially, I was educated as a graphic artist. And for a long time I was doing traditional graphics, but fail, however, fully meet the results.
Digital painting is interesting for me because it hasn’t any influence of technology, as paradoxical as it may sound. Why this is happening? The influence of technology was overwhelming for me in traditional fine arts, it’s limited my freedom – limitations and styling in the graphic arts, a long period of the oil paints drying, and so on. In addition, oil painting needs a separate workshop, sessions etching – too, besides the acid is harmful to health. A lot of various troubles, wich distracting me from the doing the creative tasks. If I do not see immediately the result of my work, the snapshot of consciousness simply does not happen.
But in digital painting I’m just taking the stylus, drive them on the my wacom and immediately, here and now, can see the results of my work. In Adobe Photoshop I can not see any technology at all, I can not pay attention to it, and for me it is – the most suitable, almost perfect technique. Many of my friends — traditional artists can’t agree with me. At one time, we argued with them about it until they were hoarse. Well, everyone – his own. For some, it is important to feel alive paper, scrape, smell of oil paints and so on. I’m interested to see how the future slowly coming around.
Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?
Of course, it’s discipline. I am never completely satisfied with results of my work. Usually my satisfaction lasts a limited time, and next time I start work on painting aiming to surpass results I achieved in past. And the cycle repeats, I think it`s pretty normal for an artist.
Are you currently work on new projects?
Now I intensively studied three-dimensional modeling apps. I met with a few and chose for me 3d Coat and Blender. Blender is very convenient, more comfortable than 3DS Max, I once studied. It is possible to work very quickly in Blender, especially if you use hotkeys. 3D Coat is very suitable for sculpting. In addition, it is very suitable for the artists, it is incredibly comfortable for texturing, you do not need to worry about complicated things. There is the realtime rendering in both apps, which is fundamentally important for me, because I need to see the results of my work here and now. Furthermore, 3D Coat is very inexpensive, Blender is free. In the last few years the way interaction between the user and the program greatly changed. This method has become much friendlier for artists who want to see results immediately, rather than waiting for a long visualization and then again for a long time to redo everything. Now the process has become fast, convenient and effective. For me, these recent changes are fundamental, and perhaps I will be given more and more attention to 3D modeling.
Now I’m doing concept art for a few projects – in Russia and the United States. They are movies, TV show and solo performance (I create a multimedia scenery for it). In accordance with the agreements, I can not disclose the details of that projects. I can only say that some of them linked to the screen adaptations of my favorite writers – Stanislaw Lem and the Strugatsky brothers.
“The method of getting ideas for my work
is similar to the methods used by classics of surrealism“
“As a rule, I can truly understand the inner meanind of my artworks by showing them to someone else, rather than by myself”
Artist Website > alexandreev.com
Facebook > www.facebook.com/alexandreevart/
Twitter > @alexandreev
Instagram > @alexandreevart
Behance > www.behance.net/alexandreev
ArtStation > www.artstation.com/alexandreev