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Artist Monthly From the Editors

April Artist – Andy Bates (Pencil Artist)

Randi Turkin April 2, 2019

Andy Bates is our selected artist for April! ArtProfiler’s Artist Monthly highlights one artist per month for exceptional work in his or her chosen medium.

Andy went to school for a long time and all he learned was that he didn’t want to spend his life teaching other people’s accomplishments. His artistic apprenticeship was equally long, corrupted by the financially fatal idea of hidden art. Only with the birth of his child did he anchor himself in time and begin to make individual saleable objects. And it all started as an accident: a few portraits for family members, drawn at his kitchen table because he had no studio and no space to work with anything but pencil and paper. Then followed requests from friends. Then strangers. Then he was drawing portraits full-time. Between portraits, he began to draw for himself. And here he is, miles away from where he thought he’d be. It’s just that easy.


Andy Bates Pencil Portraits | Courtesy of Andy Bates

My pencil work developed from a reaction to the near disposable quality of images in the digital world, the loss of objecthood. This is a period of transition for images, much like the early years of photography. One image created or manipulated on a computer can be spread around the world immediately and infinitely. Is there anything more archaic, then, than a drawing on a piece of paper? Can it have any other meaning than as a one of a kind hand-made object?

I’m drawn to the surface of old photographs, the cracks and dots and glare, the areas of undeveloped mystery. My models are collaged, scanned, skewed and scribbled on. From these digital sketches, I create my drawings. The marks of the pencil, as each layer is added over the previous, make patterns of glare and dullness, ridges and valleys, effects which are irreproducible in photographs. This, the shimmering of light and shadow across the surface of the paper, as much as the image depicted, are what give my work meaning: a single hand-crafted object which can only be truly appreciated in person. A work of craft as much as a work of art. Then I photograph it and share it on Instagram because what I really love is irony.


Andy Bates Pencil Portraits | Courtesy of Andy Bates

You can follow Andy on Instagram: andybatesportraits or visit his website: andybatesportraits.com.

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