Artist based in Baltimore, Maryland
Andrew Gray, Portrait of the Artist
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
I grew up in a small town in Connecticut, right outside the city. As a kid, I was really into magic, I used to watch all the magicians who were on TV at the time, Chris Angel, David Blaine. The act of creating a trick that not only amazed people but left them wondering how you did it sparked a creative drive as a child that never really left. I felt that same feeling when I was introduced to old master paintings in museums, I left wondering how in the hell these artists were able to recreate life like that on canvas. I started practicing and studying the techniques of rendering a figure, began growing interest in the process of creating, and haven't stopped since.
A Blue November, 2020, Acrylics on Canvas, 40x40”
"The act of creating a trick that not only amazed people but left them wondering how you did it sparked a creative drive as a child that never really left. I felt that same feeling when I was introduced to old master paintings in museums, I left wondering how in the hell these artists were able to recreate life like that on canvas."
In the studio
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I'm currently working on a body of work for a solo show next March. Being trapped inside all day for almost a year led to me daydreaming of all the traveling I had done prior to the pandemic, I wanted to experience all the outdoor activities I was missing out on! Unintentionally this bled into my paintings, I lost interest in painting the figure in indoor environments and wondered what topics could be sparked with the figure and nature.
Portrait of a Collector, 2020, Acrylics on Canvas, 40x40”
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in an artist's practice. What do you do for inspiration?
I love photos. I surf the web for hours and hours before starting a painting just to get a general vibe of where I see a new idea going. I have folders filled with different portraits and figures that I collage together to help start a painting. However, I make sure these are used for inspirational purposes only.
Books in studio
Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
My baseball coach used to call me space because I'm always looking into space just daydreaming. That's kind of where everything begins, whether it's a skier, motorcyclist, or police officer I just imagine what the figure would look like along with the ideal setting he/she is in. I then ask myself what its purpose and why I'm pursuing this idea.
Artist in the studio working on Pearl
How do you make your work? Where do you start and how does the process evolve?
I start by making a variety of different digital collages. These act as a foundation to start a painting. The process was inspired by my background in graphic design. I studied graphic design and fine art during college, I incorporate pieces of each field into my process as an artist.
Pearl, 2021, Acrylics & Glitter on Canvas, 72x60”
Many artists live by their creative routines, do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?
I have a part-time job at a museum so to be as efficient as possible I work on my art before and after I go to my job, which ensures around 40hrs a week in personal work.
Who are your biggest influences?
Kerry James Marshall, Amy Sherald, Toyin Odutola, Kent Williams.
Museum Guard, 2020, Acrylics on Canvas, 72x42”
How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?
The exposure will help with my upcoming show, and the funds will help with the making and shipment of works 🙂
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Not every opportunity is a good opportunity.
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
EXPERIMENT! FAIL! Trust me, as long as you study your mistakes and find your strengths you will be great.