You know that one guy you hated at university because he was so darn good at everything? Well meet the multi-hyphenate and all round great guy, Elliot Lewis (academic-chemical engineer-jock-artist)! Jokes aside, Elliot is an accomplished artist with First Class Honours in Chemical Engineering. His oeuvre includes diverse work, from topical and witty cartoons, to more serious, mathematically inspired portraits. Here is COLLAGE’S interview with him!
Q: Hello Elliot! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
A: I’m Elliot Lewis, and I’m on the precipice of real life. I am on the border of student life and real working life. I am on the border of leaving home/Australia and continuing to be insignificant to the world somewhere else. I am on the border of quirky and attention seeking. I am on the border of First Class Honours in Chemical Engineering and getting drunk on the bank of the Torrens. Life is weird, but dilligaf (Editor’s note: this stands for “do I look like I give a f**k?”)?
Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?
A: My father’s youngest cousin was my first inspiration (or plagiarism, however you see it). He is a proper professional graphic designer, just Google “Poke Something that Bites”. My next inspiration is procrastination, closely followed by the green number next to the screenshot icon on Snapchat stories. When art goes in and out of my life, it is usually pulled back in by something as simple as the YouTube channel, The Drawfee Channel, where I sit and watch a bunch of comedians draw things. This usually sparks some sort of drawing bender.
Q: What has been your preferred medium?
A: 2010 – watercolour and inking
2011 – lino and inking
2012 – lab/experiment diary book
2013 – Adobe Illustrator and Snapchat (iOS)
2014 – Snapchat (android)
2015 – Sakura’s Pigma Micron pens on paper
A peek inside Elliot’s Snapchat history
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Whatever goes! I go a bit cartoon-y after not “art’ing” for a while. Black and white, variable width line work, and silly. Then once I’m in the groove of “art’ing” again, I’ll grab charcoal or really rough sketching. Usually it all ends up looking unpolished and dark (because dark things cover mistakes), and this has developed into a moody looking style with massive negative spaces.
Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?
A: It always starts with seeing something that I like. When I see art styles that I like and/or inspires me, I try to mock the style. For example, scribble art blew my mind! A single line, continuous scribbled line, which defines no edges. Via line density alone creates gradients. So I tried it out, failed miserably, but worked out how to scribble, then I tried again and drew a face with nothing but rough directional scratches.
Elliot’s tribute to Van Gogh
Another process I’ve taken recently is a little less impressive. Showing off to the On Dit editors (to be) produced some of my best work. I did a little mathematical sketchy thing (Amira).
Early sketches of Amira
This had to be scanned and digitised for the magazine, which opened many doors for photoshop nightmares.
Digitised copy of Amira
Photoshop is an excellent platform for messing with things. The ability to jump down a rabbit hole of ridiculousness with no fear of ruining your work makes for endless creative confidence. As mentioned previously, when I see styles I like, I take it and run. This skull face thing then took a drastic turn after seeing Andy Warhol’s works: Marilyn Monroe, II.31; Mao, II.98; Joseph Beuys, II.244 (State III).
Hindsight makes me cynical, and looking back almost a year ago, the next iteration seems to be the curse of 2015 and filters. But the final iteration was just supposed to be a colour tweak and a bit of texture.
Amira in earthy tones
Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?
A: It will always be something that keeps me sane. Looking back, I always draw most through exam periods and whenever I need to procrastinate. To me, it’s therapeutic and calming.
Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be, and why?
A: I am in no position to recommend an artist. I’ve never followed sports, yet I play team and individual sports all the time. I don’t pay a great deal of attention to artists or exhibitions, yet I keep developing long term arty things. The only artists I have an intimate understanding about are the ones I personally know. So, my recommendation would have to be my first inspiration, Cohen Gum.
Q: What is your favourite gallery and why?
A: The Urban Cow – because what’s better than supporting local art? I may be biased, but galleries like this promote people and people are the best at promoting art culture.
Elliot’s favourite gallery, Urban Cow Studio
Q: Where can we find more of your work?
A: Instagram @ elliotmartinlewis (occasional drawings and the best of Snapchat)
Vine @ Elliot Lewis (because art can be 6 second videos)
Snapchat @ elliotmlewis (there’s nothing but drawings)
Q: What would your final supper be?
A: Eggplant parmigiana and some appropriated version of a Greek salad with rum and raisin ice cream after.