March 16, 2011

You're Going to Heart This Art!

An interview with Thomas Fuchs

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to agrandir'nate

Thomas, you’re now plying your trade in the teeming streets and concrete valleys of New York City. As I’ve asked other of your contemporaries from your home region, including
Stefan Sagmeister and as mentioned Christoph Niemann – both of whom also eventually landed in the Big Apple :
What hints of your Deutsche Wurzeln (German roots) can one find in your works? For example, I found your
illustrations for an article about ‘perceptions, influences and impacts of German(ness) in the world’ to be quite insightful! Do you think your background helps differentiate your work if at all from other "native" colleagues in New York?
I'm not sure if there is all that much difference in how German or American artists approach things.

I mean, sure, traditionally, since illustration does not have such a vivid history and as big a cache in Europe as it does in the States, and since most illustration students study Graphic Design as well, maybe the approach to illustration for a German-educated person is a tad more design-oriented. I don’t know, maybe there's not as much purely decorative stuff there.
Still, I think that difference – if it even really exists, now or in the past – has become kind of blurred with the advent of the Internet which has resulted in a much more heightened awareness of what people in other countries are doing.

On the other hand, do you think that being in New York affects your ability to get business with German or other European clients?
As far as working with clients in the ‘old country’, being here in New York has never really been a problem for me. Today, you can really work from anywhere as an illustrator. You don't have to be living around the corner from where the clients are anymore, since most of the work is, at least for me, commissioned per email and delivered digitally.

Looking at your ‘endurance art’ project ‘A Heart A Day’ : I’ve met several artists who have also attempted similar approaches, in large part to either train themselves or to increase their exposure. What was your motivation or even targets for undertaking this Herculean task?
I've actually never really planned for this project to go on for this long! It started out as a bunch of heart-based ideas for a job. But then I realised just how much one could probably manipulate this shape into, and I just kept going.
I've always approached it very loosely, and just for fun, just doing them as long as the ideas came easily... which I guess has been quite a while now.

With projects like this there's always fun things happening almost accidentally, like creating a series within the series. I keep coming up with little visual stories that develop, things like that. Most importantly: it hasn't gotten boring yet. And since there weren't really any specific goals or targets when I started out, I’ve definitely succeeded in doing whatever it is I’m doing with it! :)
It seems though that people respond to the dark/light nature of these images, and of course the heart shape helps. In addition, some of this is starting to get picked up for clothing, decals, skins and other licensing, which is nice.

What was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far from the ‘Hearts’ project?
Well, I've done several similar projects like this before. I knew that sticking with a rather limited topic for a while would force me to come up with rather interesting things, ideas that I might not have come up with otherwise. Overall, it's a good exercise, I guess.
Speaking of very interesting projects, how did you get involved with GOP100-Deconstructing Dumbo? I believe that you eventually self-published a book of this collection, correct?
Yeah, that was done in collaboration with my pal, designer/illustrator extraordinaire
Felix Sockwell.

He's the most violently liberal Texan you'll ever meet, and I'm not exactly a right-winger either! Once we heard that the Republican National Convention would set up shop in New York City in 2004, we created this series as our little response to it.
Felix even sold copies of the book out of the back of his rikshaw for a few days!!
You offer so many fantastic ‘services’, from paintings, digital works, portraits, as well as logos, icons, tee-shirts and much more. Do you ever feel like you have too much on your plate because of so many different focal areas? And if you could work on particular area more than you do today, what would it be and why?
I actually love the varied nature of what I do, as I do get bored pathetically easily and have the attention span of a damsel fly. So yeah, the more different things I can work on, the better.
In terms of what I'd like to do more, hm... well, I haven't really done any fine art paintings for myself in a while, so it'd be nice to find a little more time for that. Other than that, the art licensing thing that's starting to happen is exciting. I do have a few ideas for products as well. I guess we'll see what happens.
Oh, and chain-saw sculpture.

I asked earlier if there were any aspects of your work that you felt make your work seem ‘Germanic’ in some way. Thinking along these same lines, what would you say makes your work distinctly ‘Thomas Fuchs’ in its style, delivery or other aspects?
I don't know if there actually is a distinct ‘Fuchsian’ style per se.

I try to keep my options open in terms of what my work should look like. But having said that, I do hope that since all of this comes from the same (however limited) mind that there is something that connects it all in some sort of quantum physical, vibrating-at-the-same-frequency kind of thing!!
And finally, what’s coming up in the next months for Thomas Fuchs?
It’s really all up in the air ... just how I like it!! :)
Welcome to the end of the interview where we’re probably including some bits that you’ve already learned – if you’ve read this far (if you haven’t, that’s cheating! Shame on you!!).

Thomas Fuchs – as many Germans have done before him – was born and raised in Germany. After finishing his studies in Graphic Design and Illustration at the Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart with an MfA in '97, he moved to New York in November of the same year, where he still lives and works today, plying his trade as a self-professed ‘freelance illustrator-slash-designer-slash-artist’. And with all this slashing going on, maybe we should all start to get worried about his chain-saw project...

Thomas’ work has received accolades and awards galore from professional societies and his peers alike. He’s been honoured, for example, by The Society of Illustrators (Gold Medal, Advertising and Institutional Category), American Illustration, Communication Arts, Print, SPD, The Art Directors Club NY and Germany (of which he is a member) and SND (Silver Medal). His list of clients and other forums for his unique brand of eclectic work is extensive, ranging from just about every magazine or other publication covering all aspects of life (e.g. Architectural Digest, ESPN, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and Time, Rolling Stone and many more!).

Most recently he’s done a great piece and logo, too, for the 2011
NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and if you hurry, you can catch some of his paintings that are on display at ‘The 12th Annual Dog Show’ presented by Mascot Studio in New York! And naturally, you can check out his great heart-shaped images and more via his on-going bloggy thoughts and musings!! Hey, we did say his work is varied!!

Thanks again to Thomas and all the great support he provided in getting this interview up and running!

All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Thomas Fuchs, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). EXCEPTION: the final bio pic shown above was borrowed from
this link (photograph by Ethan Hill from ‘How to Wear White Without Looking Like Colonel Sanders’).

No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. In all cases, we invite you to visit the artist’s site(s) for more!

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