Interview with Martin Azevedo
1. What does your work day look like?
My work day dramatically changes based off of the time of year/where I am. As an educator, during the academic year, much of my studio practice occurs during the moments between, before, and after teaching. I find that most often my creative practice comes in bursts in the gaps between semesters.
I recently took on the role of Chair of the Art Department at my institution. I took on this role in Spring of 2020 right before the pandemic took hold of the world and on top of teaching in the new reality, I had to navigate running an Art Department during an educational, financial, and global crisis. I have spent the majority of this year sitting behind a computer screen. I am just now starting to feel like I am able to return to my studio practice with some focus.
I also think it is important to understand your working habits as an artist and I learned that my prime time in the studio is somewhere in the 8PM-2AM range. This is when I am most productive and focused. If I attempt to work in the morning I spend half the time re-arranging and moving items around rather than being truly productive.
2. How do you find your inspiration for your work?
My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. A good portion of my thoughts and ideas comes from an active sketchbook and an ART FOOD Folder I keep on my Macbook. I can’t stress enough how important I find regular drawing and sketching or documenting my thoughts and ideas. My sketchbooks follow me around and are my outlet for ideas and drawing when larger iterations of those ideas might not be possible. The sketchbook becomes something that I can return to and pull from when I have more dedicated time and energy to put into more refined versions of those ideas. The ART FOOD folder is full of found images and photos I have taken. I am not always sure why these images make it into the folder but typically there is something about an object, a composition, a figurative pose, color, light and shadow that strikes me as important to save for later. These images may never be referenced or used but become an important source for my visual language
Reading is also important source of inspiration for me. A few books that have recently had an impact on my thoughts and ideas are The Myth of the Eternal Return by Mircea Eliade, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and I am currently working on Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. The concepts and ideas presented in these books reinforce ideas and prompt new reflection on the production of my studio work.
3. Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
It is quite difficult for me to narrow down my inspiration to just one person in the artworld. As a printmaker I admire a lot of other artists who used or use prints as the foundation of their studio practice. Printmakers such as Jose Guadalupe Posada, Kathe Kollwitz, Jiri Anderle, Kathryn Polk, Michael Barnes, Tom Huck, and Sean Caulfield to name a few.
Other artist that I find myself drawn to in no particular order are Kara Walker, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Bosch, Bruegel, Kerry James Marshall, Jeff Wall, Gregory Crewdson, Joel Sternfeld, Phillip Guston, and Francis Bacon.
All of these artists have unique ways of approaching narrative in their work which I find inspirational.
4. What concepts does your work address, and how do you address them?
My work has always revolved around man and his flawed nature. The work explores concepts of masculinity, power, greed, religion, death and the follies and flaws that come along with being human.
I address these concepts in my own visual narratives through prints, drawings, photographs, video etc. How I work through those ideas changes depending on what medium I am using.
5. How has your art changed over time?
I think that ideas present in my work have always been of interest to me but the production of that work and modes of production have shifted. I used to have some tunnel vision and thought my ideas could only be expressed via prints, specifically lithography. I think the biggest change is my ability to see an ideas potential in a medium outside of print. If the idea is more appropriate as a photograph, a drawing or a painting I allow the idea to dictate the medium rather than allowing the medium to constrict the idea.
At some point in time once some of the technical mysteries of printmaking no longer felt like such a challenge I became interested in how the use of the multiple would allow me to take a medium I loved and use it in way that allowed for more development of the image and responsive drawing rather than pre-planning and execution of work from start from finish in a methodical way. I think when I was able to make that switch it had big implications for my practice and was the most impactful in shifting my use of print and other mediums.