The US-based artist has a colourful exhibition currently ongoing in Amsterdam. Called Here and Now, it is showing at the Andeken Gallery in Westerpark until 24 July 2015 and is a portrayal of his current state of mind. The show incorporates elements of woodworking, hand-drawn typography and colourful geometric design. He also likes to intrigue and confuse with his hidden messages. We caught up with him at the opening to get some insights into his ways of working.
Typography, woodworking, geometric patterns, puzzles, phrases – there’s a lot going on. How do you describe your work?
I have a background in graphic design, so a lot of my work tends to incorporate different design elements and principles, like typography, colour-blocking, simplified shapes and forms, etc. Typography has played a larger part in my work over the years, but more recently I’ve been distancing myself from it or exploring new ways of abstracting the characters to create different visual languages.
The works themselves tend to be inspired by situations happening with both myself and my friends and family. I use the work as a way to process these situations and also in some ways act as a reminder for myself in the future.
What’s your artistic process like?
I approach certain pieces differently than others but for the most part, I start from a very basic point of writing journal-style entries in my sketchbook. It helps me clear my head, focus and just get some initial thoughts, feelings and moods down on paper. From there, I extract some of the larger ideas to elaborate on and then distill them into lists I can work through. At any given point I have 2–4+ lists in my studio of potential pieces and series to work on. It can be a little disorganised at times, but it’s a constant process of writing and adding and revising.
Do you have a preference about which medium you like to work in?
I really enjoy working with wood, but I try not to get too comfortable with one medium. I like to let the piece I’m creating help dictate how it should be made. Being able to move between mediums feels good to me versus being pinned into one style or direction.
How did the Here and Now exhibition come about – both the ideas for the pieces, and the decision to show it in Amsterdam?
As I was making work for this show, I started finding a lot of inspiration for the pieces from these bigger shifts and moments of change happening around me. My wife and I have been discussing things like changing of jobs, potentially moving across country, starting a family and I was also seeing some of our friends go through changes of their own, like marriages and divorces, having children, changing careers, etc.
The work in the show is meant to highlight and speak to these situations in varying degrees – from coping with the unknown to recognising the opportunity of a situation. The title for the show, Here and Now, is meant to frame the collection to be mindful and focus on the present. It’s my feeling that change is always going to happen, and the best way to cope or deal with it, is to embrace it as it comes.
In terms of showing in Amsterdam, I wanted to share the work in a new city, somewhere I hadn’t been before. I had been following Andenken Gallery for awhile (starting back when they were in Colorado) and I had shown some work in group shows alongside the gallery owner, Hyland Mather, who is an amazing artist as well as curator. When I reached out to see if he might be interested in the show, it turned out there was a more recent opening in their programme, which ultimately lead to sharing the collection there.
Have you always been intrigued by hidden messages? The phrases in some of your pieces might actually be 'invisible' to certain people, if they don’t know it’s there. Is that intentional?
I enjoy finding new ways to communicate with people. For me the hidden messages aren’t so much about hiding things but creating new visual languages. After sharing this newer series with people, it’s been interesting for me to watch or hear people’s reactions. Most people start by observing the shapes and the patterns in the pieces, and then once they discover it’s a system and ultimately a message, I think they connect with the piece on a different level because they're unpacking and discovering things, which is very different from simply reading the piece right away.
Your colour palette seems to have a retro feel. Is that the idea?
Not intentionally but it may be more of a subconscious or environmental thing for me. I definitely tend to collect more retro/vintage things that find their way into my studio, and I also use some older found materials in my work that have certain colour palettes to them. Both of those things are constantly around and I’m sure influence me and my work without me realising.
Do you have a favourite piece in this exhibition?
I think they all hold different contexts for me, so I like certain ones for different reasons. The 'Future is Forever' is might be my favourite, but that whole series has been fun to dig into and see people react to it.
The 'Companions' set is also one of my favorites from the show. There’s a functional element to it that when placed together, the two raised triangles on each of the hands lock & hold the set in place. But I also just like the sentiment of two individual elements that come together and rely on each other to make something new.
What are you planning to work on next?
I have a few shows coming up later this year and next that I’m making work for, and I'm also looking to start doing more mural and outdoor work. I have few pieces I’m looking forward to translating into a larger format which will be a new venture for me.
City of Residence: Brooklyn, NY
Education: Associates degree in graphic design, Art Institute of Philadelphia
Motto: Expect nothing, give everything
Best tip for artists: Keep going
First artist that inspired you: My dad, Robert Albrecht
Best advice received: Don't wear the shirt of the band you're going to see
Newest addition to your studio:
I got this awesome little wooden figurine, called a Noggin at a flea market while we were in Amsterdam. I didn't know what it was when I got it. I just thought it was a fun, weird little guy but apparently it was part of pretty popular Danish figurine series from the 70s.
Three things every artist needs:
• A good soundtrack
'The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have' – Thomas Jefferson
The exhibition continues until 24 July 2015 at . Pazzanistraat 17, 1014 DB Amsterdam.