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Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Interview with Stephen Tompkins

q)Lets start with the basics; what's your full name, where do you live, and how old are you?

a)Stephen Tompkins, Southern California, 35

q) Do you have any formal training?

a)I studied art and music theory at Cleveland State University for a year and electronic music composition under the late composer Rudolph Bubalo. I have a degree in Philosophy from Bowling Green State University and post-graduate work in Phenomenology and Semiotics. I am primarily a self-taught artist despite my range of studies in the arts and humanities.

q) Did the place you grew up in influence your image making?

a)My uncle was a big influence to me. He taught at the Cleveland Art Institute and my grandfather became a wood sculptor later in life. He made dulcimers too. Craftsmanship and attention to detail was something I picked up on early on. My grandfather taught me some basic wood sculpture techniques. My early paintings were based more on the concept of 'cutting away' like one would sculpt. Negative space is still a primary factor in my image making. Most artists forget this and deal with 'presence' and what's being put down as opposed to how a negative could shape something just as effectively.

q) How do you come up with your concepts?

a)My work is born conceptually out of the process and 'discovered'. I may have a loose idea beforehand, but generally I am more interested in accidental discovery. It reveals more than say, knowing what you want to do and listening to an internal editor to arrive at what you think you wanted. That's boring to me. I am in constant dialogue with my works and it's ongoing. Fleshing out a concept that already exists is also boring. I am interested in things which could possibly have no precedent, new meanings, inceptions...If I like the outcome of a work, it's because it's redefined something that nobody has dreamt up before.

q) Describe your creations in a clear, concise and understandable sentence. What do you call them?

a)Instant compositions.

q)What other mediums would you like to explore in your image making?

a)I am beginning work on sculpture and some oozing materials that could be quite exciting if I get the material concoction right. I'm an experimenter and I don't want to just go and make another sculpture...that goes for painting, animation, etc...how to push the envelope is more important.

q)What is the best time in the day for you to work on a project? Is there one, or is it more about the environment -- maybe the right mood?

a)Evening in my studio(s).

q) What are your artistic influences?...and …generally who or what influences you the most?

a)Influence comes from many different places so it would be a very long answer here.


q) Who are some of your favourite artists/designers/photographers?

a)I've liked many artists, but I'm on my own trip now and I try to remember that they were on their trip and what's important to that artist may not be so for me. My reasons for making art are a dissertation or book length..someday a memoir.

q) What is your next project?Exhibition?Collaboration?

a)I'm going to be working with a few galleries, one gallery, Jack Fischer Gallery is an exciting one, and I'm really looking forward to working with Jack Fischer on some upcoming exhibitions. I'm also collaborating with Bill Dunlap on a few shows - we promise it will be extraordinary. A clip from one of my animations is appearing in a movie called "Freakout in Cucamonga" about Frank Zappa and showing at the Zappanale festival in Germany this year in August. I'm happy Weird Al Yankovic is interviewed in the film. He is one of my all time favorite personas - I can't believe something I've done is in the same flick as Weird Al - SUCCESS!

q)What are your plans for the future?

a)I hope to keep making art and hope my family is healthy and happy.

q)Are there some web sites that You would like to recomend? Artists, art communities, xxx,...!?
a) coasttocoastam.com - I love the radio show and the freedom of the dialogue even though some calls are totally out there, it's very entertaining and so is the website. I like when they do 'alien' life shows.
q)What sort of music do you listen to?
a)I love orchestral music - but not traditional like Carl Stalling, Zappa, Varese, Ligeti, etc...
q)Do you collect anything?If so what?
a)I collect art, comics, unusual animation cels, knick knacks including gumball machine crap.
q)What do you do for fun?
a)Sleep and hopefully 'dream-mare' of something that inspires me to create.

q)Any advice you can pass onto aspiring artists/designers?
a)Be yourself until the end and try not to be an asshole to those who care about you and if Claudio interviews you. Thank him. Thank you Claudio.
q)Your contacts…

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