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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Interview with Peter Lewis

1)First of all,..can you present yourself..?
1)I’m Peter Lewis, a surreal collage artist from New Zealand. I build intricate little worlds from pop culture leftovers and Victorian illustrations. I’ve been making the colour works since about 1991, and the black & white / Victorian ones since about 1999.

2)Do you think of yourself as an artist,or what?
2)Yes, I certainly do. I’d like to be working on art fulltime, but that’s not possible at the moment.

3)What is creativity?
3)For me it’s something that flows naturally in an almost unstoppable way. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t have a creative project on the go – I hope that time never comes!

4)Does your environment influence your art,either in style/format or interference?
4)Not greatly, because my art is based around recycling and reconfiguring printed images so it’s quite an introspective and self-contained artform. Having said that, I do find my environment inspiring, it just doesn’t obviously influence my art.

5)What are some of your influences and inspirations?
5)Collage artists like Winston Smith -
Hannah Hoch -
Max Ernst and
Wilfred Satty -
as well as “low brow” painters like Mark Ryden –
Todd Schorr -
and Robert Williams -
.Any number of commercial illustrators from the 1950s / 1960s also.

6)What’s your favourite mediums(pen,charcoal,paint,canvas,etc…)to work in/on?
6)I basically just do collage. I’ve been experimenting with collaging onto painted canvases recently, with good results.

7)Who are some of your favourite painters/artists?
7)See question 5. I also love the sensuality of the pre-Raphaelites, though I wouldn’t say I’m strongly influenced by them, except perhaps for a mutual appreciation of beauty.

8)How long does it normally take you to complete a piece of your artwork?
8)I would estimate between 3 and 10 ten hours, not including painting the canvas. They’re not usually created all in one go though, I often leave them half-finished for a day or two.

9)What else are you interested in besides visual arts?
9)I enjoy creating and listening to electronic music; music of all sorts excites me actually. I’m also becoming a parent for the first time in November and I’m excited about that!

10)Got any new projects planned?
10)I’m in the process of applying for funding to go to Toronto next year to work on a project using Victorian collage images over photos of the city; a kind of marriage of the past and present.

11)How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?
11)Surreal worlds full of wonderful and impossible places and creatures, built from a wide range of pop-culture imagery.

12)What other talent would most like to have?
12)The ability to play an instrument really well, or the ability to master any instrument I picked up.

13)What are your most beloved items?
13)My cats, but I don’t think they’d approve of me referring to them as mere “items”. I’m also quite attached to my collection of Ramones LPs.

14)Favourite books?
14)“Fuel-Injected Dreams” – James Robert Baker -
“Boy Wonder” – James Robert Baker –
“The Anubis Gates” – Tim Powers –
“American Tabloid” – James Ellroy –

15)Do you remember the first draw you made?
15)Unfortunately not. My mother has a photo of me painting something on an easel when I was four or five and the look of concentration on my face is classic!

16)What kind of music do you like and do you listen…And is the music importan for your art…?
16)I like to listen to quite a few different types of music: ambient electronica, punk, 80s hair metal, new-new wave, instrumental guitar rock.
I don’t think the music I listen to has a distinct effect on the way a piece turns out, but it’s definitely important to me to be listening to good music while I’m creating. Often my works are named after song titles or lyrics.

17)Any advice do you have for artists?
17)Do it for the love of it! Making great work is the main thing, exhibitions and opportunities come from that.

18)Your contacts…E-mail….Links…
My colour collages:
Black and white:


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