Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Artist of the Week

Alex Noriega

The beauty of the internet in 2007 for someone who appreciates creative outlets is the overwhelming availability of resources you can use to find art or literature or really whatever you are interested in. The resources for art (i.e. flickr, The Little Chimp Society, The eXTra finGer, Deviant Art, Thumbtack Press, and many more) can lead you in so many artistic directions, and more importantly to many different countries. You can easily enjoy and then purchase art from nearly any country in world, whether it is Spain or Australia or China, the art speaks for itself and everything is shown side by side. A young artist who has been producing some amazing pieces, and making his art very accessible to purchase, is Alex Noriega of Barcelona, Spain. At the age of 25, Alex has already released three series of minipaintings (the 3rd was just released on 4/1/07, see below "Slow is the new fast), and has many other products coming out this year.
Recently, Alex answered a few of our questions regarding his style and his future.

Orange Alert (OA): I really enjoy how the colors in your painting are more muted and tend overlap, Can you explain the process you go through to achieve this look?
Alex Noriega (AN): I basically paint a base "mess" of colors with acrylics on paper or wood (lately) and draw using all kinds of pens and pencils on it afterwards. I like to let my hand and mind flow as I draw, so most of my pieces could be defined as random. But somehow they all make sense in my mind. The funny thing is that I´m not really aware of what I´m drawing until some months later when I see it and realize of why that house, mountain or cloud is there. They all make sense and mean something about my life, about whatever had any impact on me that day. It might be a song, a conversation with a friend or even a chat that I heard on the train back home.

OA: How would you define your work?
AN: Well, that´s a tough one. I would say my work is a naive mess of whimsical elements that you would find in a cityscape. Sometimes it's meaningless or random and sometimes is ironic.

OA: Who are some of your biggest influences artistically?
AN: My grandfather got me into painting and drawing, so I guess he would be my first inspiration. I love Miro, Picasso, Chagall, Basquiat, Philip Guston, David Hockney... But the list is impossible to fill properly or even finish. I feel inspired every day by new artist on the web. It's amazing how the internet has changed the artistic community lately. I can feel inspired by someone that draws portraits of his dogs in China, for instance, or by more established illustrators that work for the newyorker. I have a creative daytime job, so I must be very aware of the latest graphic trends everywhere. I really enjoy it, and I really love illustration, painting and whatever visual art I can get my eyes on. I believe that if you´re going to try to succeed in art, you have to "consume" art. That means training and getting yourself used to see, research and love it. I´m always in the chase of new graphical ideas and solutions.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? If yes, who are some of your favorite while painting and who are your favorites in general?
AN: Ofcourse! I'm always playing something while painting or working. I have tones of music and I love to discover new bands. I listen to everything having the quality and/or mood that fits me at the time. I´m listening to a lot of Pedro the lion lately. Also The Arcade fire are a great band. But as I said I like very different styles and bands. I like The flaming lips, Cat power, Death cab for cutie, Hip Hop, Jazz, techno, New age, old moog music, Classical. Everything!

OA: When did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?
AN: I think I have always known I would become an artist. I've been drawing since a very early age. I remember being 5 and thinking "Man! that drawing is awesome... I need to do something like that" and then pick a pencil and try to copy it. Most of the first things I got into were comic books. Even though I was a good student and I probably could have studied any other thing that would interest me, I have always had a special spot in my heart for art. There have been times where I had my doubts about the reliability of the art business. Questions like " Is it really possible to make a living out of this?" would come to my mind often. But, now I know for sure it is. It is possible if your passion is big enough to believe blindly in it. You only have to do it and not forget that you must work and think like a company even though art seems to be exactly the opposite sometimes. You, and only you are the director, the designer, the marketing department and even the janitor. You have to be a good artist and good businessman.

OA: What is next for Alex Noriega (i.e. exhibitions, events, products, etc)
AN: My work will be on many more products this year. I can't talk much about it, but I can say it looks great :)... I plan on painting more and more and getting more involved with the gallery world. It´s hard to make some money there but it really is a great exposure. Also, I will be selling prints and paintings through my site. I like that people can buy my paintings directly from me. It ends up being a lot cheaper for the costumer and a lot more gratifying for everyone. I´d also love to quit my daytime job sometime soon and work fully on my paintings and illustrations, but it is paying the bills till I'm still hoping it will be soon, though. I'm also working on some new work to suit the editorial illustration world and on some children books that my girlfriend Eva and I are writing at the moment.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee, and what is your favorite place to drink coffee?
AN: Yes please! I love strong coffee with milk. I can have 4-5 cups a day. Let´s say I love all kinds of coffee and that I would have it even in the shower.

OA: What is the last book you read?
AN: "The Innocent Anthropologist" by Nigel Barley. It´s an hilarious fieldwork essay about this newbie anthropologist that goes to a small village in Cameroon to study their culture. Ofcourse, he ends up having all kinds of unexpected problems with police, people and language. Very recommendable even to the non familiar with anthropology but willing to read some unusual humorous/adventures novel... even though it´s an essay.

For more information on Alex Noriega visit his new website or his sketchblog. Again to purchase one of his new minipaintings (they are selling fast) visit his store.