Today, we are joined by one of Momentum Gallery's treasured artists: Asheville resident Andy Farkas.
Andy shares his journey with us, discussing what concepts inspire his work and his thoughts on the thriving North Carolina art scene.
Momentum Gallery (MG) Andy, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to join us today. We appreciate it!
Andy Farkas (AF) Absolutely my pleasure.
MG So, let's start at the very beginning. What led you to becoming an artist?
AF Well, you know, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly, but I was very lucky to have received the right guidance and support to become an artist. Not everyone has that. I'd always been interested in the natural world so the two things have come together. Of course, being an artist is only one aspect of my life, and as such, my work is influenced in turn by every other experience, such as my family and my daily life.
MG What inspired you to work in mokuhanga? [Mokuhanga is the traditional Japanese style of woodblock printmaking.]
AF So at school, I completed a degree in printmaking. What drew me to printmaking was the idea of working in a medium that produced multiples to be able to share the work with more people. - the accessibility really appealed to me. I began to write stories and books, creating artist's editions where I'd print them and bind them myself. I then had the good fortune to learn from a Master Printer who taught me the craft of mokuhanga. As a description of mokuhanga I'd say it was a classic Japanese woodblock printmaking process using water based pigments. That's really what sets it apart. Traditionally there was text in some of those images but I wouldn't say it was a defining factor of mokuhanga. I always liked working with water-based inks and I just fell in love with the process really. It's a great match.
MG How have traditional Japanese artists responded/reacted to your work?
AF A few years ago, when I had the privilege of speaking at the International Mokuhanga Conference in Tokyo, Japan, I spoke to people who commented that my work reminded them that mokuhanga¸years ago, was really "media for the masses." I like that idea.
MG Along your own journey, what was the biggest thing you've learned so far?
AF I always feel I have more to learn. My work is very personal, and what I create is also the thing that I need or needed to learn.
MG Your work is technical as well as creative. How do you achieve the perfect balance?
AF Well, I try to keep things as open as possible. By that I mean, when I sketch the first draft, I make it very loose, not super detailed at all. Anything that looks forced tends to end up looking stilted, fake. This way, it allows me freedom. I then redraw onto the block, rather than copying, I make decisions as I go, including not pre-mixing colours. I love seeing the piece develop as I go - I can never imagine the finished result better than how it actually ends up.
MG Great statement! How do you personally achieve a 'quiet mind'?
AF (Laughs). Not very often! With a busy family life, a job, pets, quiet time is rare to be honest, but I try to grab little pockets where I can. I find that observing the natural world helps to quiet my mind. As we speak, I'm sitting here, seeing how the natural world behaves, and watching the snow fall onto the trees. Things are taking place but no effort is being made. It's just happening. There's a beauty in that.
MG What defines happiness for you?
AF Contentment. And not having so many expectations of life. Gratitude is really important also but it must be sincere, otherwise, as an artist, that's going to come out in your work. Check your motives before starting!
MG Has there been a stand-out moment for you, so far, in your career? What have you been most proud of?
AF I think there have been a few little moments, normally instigated by others, that have really stuck in my mind. The first was after telling a teacher that everything would be ok, and that I would always be an artist, being advised that I should set goals and take responsibility. That stuck! The second was being let go from gainful employment. That was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
MG What inspires you?
AF I love having peers. It inspires you. I see people doing things better than me, and that's helpful. It helps me keep things in perspective and of course, it's always good to have humility. I find the journey is the most important part of the process, rather than the end goal, and having peers help you to move along that journey.
MG Do you have any advice you'd like to share for budding artists?
AF Anyone can be an artist. Actually everyone should be! Creative expression should be part of one's existence. Of course, it's not easy to be a professional artist, it can be difficult, so just remember to keep your expectations in check.
MG As a gallery, we are thrilled to have you join our opening roster at such an exciting time for Momentum and the Asheville art scene as a whole, today. What's exciting you the most right now?
AF I am really excited to be represented by Momentum. From the moment I arrived in Asheville, Jordan brought me into the local art scene and supported me, truly and sincerely. That is so valuable for an artist.
To be honest, I'm just flattered that people would want to be there for me and appreciate my work. And of course, being in Asheville is just wonderful. There is such a wealth of local talent, appreciated by people who love art and come here to enjoy it; it is a real boon to the area.
MG Andy, as ever, thank you for being part of the Momentum Gallery family. We look forward to a wonderful year ahead together.
Andy's work can be viewed at the gallery or by visiting https://momentumgallery.com/artists/38-andy-farkas/works/