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Interview: Andrew Pommier

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 06 Sep 2007

Interview by Isaac McKay-Randozzi

There are many things you can say about an artist's work but what is most important is how it makes you feel. Does it make you smile? If so, how does it make you smile? In a creeped out introspective way? Or a generally amusing way? Maybe the work is cute and you get a sort of "Hello Kitty" giggle out of it. Whatever the reason, it is the gut feeling that the imagery evokes that will hold your attention.

It is in that vein that I introduce you to Mr. Andrew Pommier, an illustrator and painter whose work focuses on the human figure and portraiture. His imagery featured here is a mixture of realistic fantasy and subtle social commentary. The simplicity in his soft and even lines give a warming effect on the eyes, drawing them in to look deeper to pay attention to each brush stroke and pen line. His characters exude a tragic calm that tells a story but doesn't give away the ending. They inspire the imagination to ask questions about the subjects like why is he wearing a tree costume? How did the deer's antlers get broken and who is shooting it with an arrow? Good art is supposed to challenge and inspire the mind, Mr. Pommier's does so and very well too I must add.

Your basic info (location, age, personal grooming habits, shoe size and choice of meat):
Right now I'm living in Vancouver, BC, but that will change in the next few months. I'm going nomad at the end of November. Got the traveling jones. I'm 33 but that will change soon as well. I shave and brush my teeth everyday and wear a size 12. No meat, that is gross.

What does your breakfast consist of?
Mostly a Bodum of black coffee, I'm not a big breakfast guy.

Ever work an office job?
Hell no. I don't even know what people do in offices.

What would you consider a punk?
I guess I have more of a punk attitude. I did the Mohawk and boots thing in high school but never took it too far. Kinda a wuss.

Do you know any punks?
For sure.

Why do you draw punks? Secret envy? Always wanted a nose ring but could never follow through with it?
I don't think I draw punks really. Do I? I have to say there has never been a fear of nose rings the pain thing is no big deal it is more that I didn't think the nose ring would work with glasses. I don't like to have clutter in and around the face area.

What was the worst thing you did as a kid?
I hit my best friend in the head with a rock when I was six.

I understand that in Vancouver you can call a number and a bike courier will deliver to you various kinds of weed and hash. Is that true?
You would know more about that then me. You got more info on Vancouver in a week than I have after living here for 3 years. I have been downtown maybe 10 times since living here. Serious homebody.

So what's the 1s and 2s of how you got into art? Any higher artistic education in the Canadian educational system?
A lot of luck, a lot of love of art, the willingness to fail. Being focused and always working. Meeting nice people who give you a chance. There are a lot of post-high school art schools in this country. I went to the one in Toronto. I got lucky with art school it sucked most of the time, but I have to give it a lot of credit as well.

Is this guy, Dave Beckett, a personal hero of yours?
He's a national hero.

Is there a specific purpose to your art or do you just do it to do it?
I just do it to do it.

Does most of your commercial work come from the US?
I do some stuff for American companies but that has been due to the skate world being based in California. A lot of my commercial stuff these days is overseas which is great. I like it when the audience for my work isn't in my backyard. I can keep an arms length from it.

Some artists differ their personal and their commercial work, you don't. Why?
I sometimes worry about they are too closely linked. Both practices come from the same hand. It is hard to split my output to differ one from the other. Each side of my works supports the other. I wouldn't know how to divide them

Who or what are your current musical and visual inspirations?
I have been listening too French rock tunes and Texas Gangster Rap. Visual inspiration is harder to pin down. These days it is pretty across the board. I love the work of drawers you know like Travis Millad and Thomas Campbell and on and on.You know the list.

You've work with RVCA clothing how has that been going? Do you get to pick the fabric and fit? Or did they just want your images?
RVCA is great; so far the work is zero pressure. If I have an idea for a t-shirt I do it and send it down and it gets thrown into the pile to be considered for the next season. I don't do anything else like pick the colours or fit. I am more than happy to let them sort out all that. They do a really good job with clothes at that company. I have wanted to do some specific clothing with them but I dropped the ball. I'm easily distracted I can tell you what.

You recently had a show with Andy Jenkins and Andy Mueller, how did that come together? Had you worked with them before or was it just a show of talented Andys?
Yeah that was good. The whole thing came about when I flew down to LA last year for the 4star 10-year anniversary show. Freddi came by the show and off the cuff pitch the idea to us of a three Andy show. I have done stuff with The Art Dump, Girl and Fourstar and have known Jenkins for a few years so it wasn't anything new working with those dudes but it was the first time where it was just us together as artists.

Mueller doesn't get out much since his son was born, did he get wasted at the after party?
I kinda lost track of Mueller at the bar, but I'm sure he had a good time.

Do you do much collaboration work with other artists? Is it something you're interested in?
I have done a little bit, specifically with my friend Derrick Hodgson. We did a series of collaborative paintings for the last show we had at Anti-Social ( Working collaboratively is great because it makes you think about imagery and technique differently. You have to make the final piece work together even when it is done by two different hands. It is a challenge but a good challenge.

Without reading this question, how many Rs are in dumb?
I don't drink milk so I always get too much water in my americanos because when they ask if I want room for cream I always say no, I should say yes because I don't have to put the cream in and leaving room will help me avoid getting watered down coffee. I'm slowly learning that.

Do you have favored types of pen and paper that you like to work with?
I mostly use Faber Castell pens. Their brush pen is hands down the best one on the market and I think one of the cheapest. For sketchbooks, I have been drawing in the same brand of sketchbooks for years. They are hand-produced and could only be found in one art store in NYC. I used to buy as many as I could whenever I went down there. When I learned that the man who made them was very old and was stopping production, I just loaded up. At my current rate of production, I have enough sketchbooks for 7-ish years. I don't know what is going to happen when I hit the end.

Do you illustrate more than you paint?
Right now it is 50-50. I would love to be painting full time, but commercial work pays most of the bills.

What venue do you like to see your work in? Print, on clothing, postcards, framed and on a wall?
Postcards mostly, that's where all the best work ends up.

Why did the British lose control of their North American territories, in your opinion?
The 1840 Act of Union merged The Canadas into a United Province of Canada. French and English Canadians would work together in the Assembly to reinstate French rights. They later established responsible government in 1849, as would all British North American colonies.

What's your opinion of the London Olympics logo?
That logo is already dated. It is about as interesting as Fido Dido.

Are the Canadians the British of North America?
I guess Canadians have closer ties to Britain then Americans, but I wouldn't say we are British.

Both you and your brother Scott do arty type jobs, do you're parents come from an artistic background or are you two the only slackers?
Our dad is a good draftsman, technically solid. That is to say he can draw among other artistic pursuits, like carpentry and playing the guitar. Our mom is very crafty is a good sewer and does allot of cross-stitching. On our family trips we would check out artesians and galleries so there was a descent appreciation of the arts in our house.

Have you ever had a bad experience with a gallery?
Not really that bad. Mostly having to do with getting money owed, but I think that is par for the course.

What's your favorite part of a movie?
I like a good montage

What are you working on today?
I just finished a t-shirt design and I'm painting away for an upcoming show this fall.

Any future projects you'd like to comment on?
Trying to get away from future projects at the moment, but I'm part of a show traveling around right now it's a show called "It's a Beautiful World" it's going to allot of American cities in the next few months so have a look out for it. There are allot of kick ass artist in it Jeff Soto, Michael Sieben, Mike Giant and so on.

Closing comment or thanks?
Not really.

Portrait of the artist by Isaac McKay-Randozzi

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