Andrew Scott, conceptual artist from the United States. Photo © Courtesy of the artist
Tell us what you do and your beginnings.
I currently specialize in unique artwork that “breaks the fourth wall”. This is an expression borrowed from the theater in which the character will directly address the audience or acknowledge the camera or viewer.
Much like this style of theater, my work portrays characters interacting with the frames containing them. Whether through burning, breaking, or bending, each of my characters affects the frames in surprising ways.
Creativity has always been part of my life, but the forms in which they have taken shape have changed over the years. From 4 years old to 13 years old I drew nonstop. It was a stress reliever, a way to escape into a different world. As a child, I struggled to make friends and be part of the group. The drawing was my safe place.
However, around 13 years old, I began to take up running as a new escape. It was an area that I excelled in. And my art fell by the wayside.
Eventually, I went to college to be a writer. I knew I wanted to be creative in some capacity, and I had determined art was not a viable career path. So writing it was. When I graduated, I worked in advertising as a copywriter for 10 years. But these 10 years proved to be very challenging.
The job never felt quite right. I worked alongside illustrators and I always envied their jobs. After all, they got to draw for a living. But I felt like I had made my choice and was trapped in my role as a copywriter. Corporate America was soulless. And I struggled to find fulfillment. Deep down I knew that art was my true calling, but I had abandoned drawing so long ago and now I had bills to pay.
Then COVID hit. I lost my advertising job and went on unemployment. It was at this moment that I decided to rekindle my artistic flame. I had failed at a job I didn’t even want so why not chase my dream job?
It took about 3-4 years to find my style. I started as an editorial illustrator, creating artwork to accompany editorial work. But this proved just as soulless as copywriting. So, I decided to just make art. My early work always included a visual plot twist of some kind. I loved to subvert symbols or combine symbolism to create new meanings.
When I started to explore altering the frames containing my work, I found an area of art that was exciting to me and felt meaningful.
What does your work aim to say?
My current frame alterations are a manifestation of my emotional state of all the years I had abandoned art and felt trapped in a job and a world that didn’t bring me fulfillment. I had always just floated through life. I never felt like I had a say in things. Wherever the wind was blowing is where I would drift.
When I began to pursue art again, I felt like I was taking control of my life. I was making a decision to become an artist and escape the corporate grind. Much like the characters in my frames, I was finally breaking out of the box that had closed in around me. It’s not surprising that most of my frames are focused on escape and breaking out of your comfort zone.
A lot of them are also focused on childlike fascination and wonder. I look back on my childhood with nostalgia about a time when I had curiosity and dreams. When I lived in the moment. I try to capture that in many of my pieces, showing children playing with the frames and exploring their small worlds. Overall, I want my work to be simple and accessible metaphors about the human experience, the good and the bad.
Where do you find inspiration for your art?
Everything is an inspiration. I write down ideas throughout the day as they come to me. You never know when inspiration will hit. Sometimes I’m on a walk and a broken piece of sidewalk will spark something. Sometimes I see a photo that inspires me. Sometimes I just marinate on an idea that I haven’t cracked yet but I know there’s something to it.
Sometimes an idea will come seemingly out of nowhere. My favorite source of inspiration comes from simply experimenting with frames and seeing where things go.
Could you give us some insight into your creative process?
I have a catalog of hundreds of half-baked ideas jotted down. Whichever idea I’m most excited about is the one I decide to work on next.
It starts with 3-4 sketches to determine the best pose for the characters. I will photoshop the frame sometimes to get a sense if it works or not. But I never know if it will truly work until I create the drawings and alter the physical frames.
I consider all my work experimental. I call them my frame experiments as that is truly what they are. I’m not sure if they will work out the way I imagine. Sometimes they do and some fall flat. It is definitely a letdown to work on an illustration for days just to have the finished piece not come together the way I envisioned.
I have two primary guiding principles as an artist:
- There needs to be a visual plot twist (whether that’s altering the frame subverting a symbol or juxtaposing two similar but very different things).
- It needs to be simple.
Simplicity is so important to me. It’s why I don’t draw backgrounds or use many colors. I want to strip out all the unnecessary elements needed to communicate. Just like in writing. You start with a long-winded sentence and then strip out all the fluff until just the essential elements for communication remain. That’s how I approach my work.
What are your future projects?
I plan to continue exploring my frame art for quite a while. I’ve been experimenting with changing the shapes of the frames lately. Bending them or creating new shapes, instead of breaking them. Much of my earlier framework relied on destruction. I’m interested in the idea of construction.
I’ve also begun to bring my characters into the real world as graffiti stickers. Instead of the characters interacting with frames, I enjoy seeing how I can have them interact with the urban environment.
I’m currently focused on creating a body of work for another online show with Stowe Gallery next summer. I’m experimenting weekly with new ideas, curating the best experiments for one show.