Featured Artist: RB Resident Andy Thomas
"No one can teach you dedication and determination, I am a firm believer in the phrase, 'the harder I work the luckier I become.'"
Andy Thomas creates stunning works that are inspired by the interactions between nature in technology. After wrapping up his stint as one of Redbubble’s first artists-in-residence with “Made in House,” an exhibition showing off the work he made while working from our Melbourne offices, Andy is working hard to build his portfolio with more nature-based work while further establishing his career as a unique voice in the art and design world.
We caught up with Andy to chat about the inspiration behind his art, his RB residency, and the one thing he hopes people will take from his work.
How did you become an artist?
I was born an artist for sure, my drawing skills in primary school were pretty damn good, and as such, all the other kids used to look up to my art skills. This continued on into high school. I had some great art teachers in the later years at high school, and studying graphic design at university taught me about design fundamentals and marketing. I taught myself most of my computer skills over a few decades. No one can teach you dedication and determination, I am a firm believer in the phrase, “the harder I work the luckier I become.”
Once I had a solid understanding of computers, I started designing rave flyers in the ’90s and gradually moved away from the commercial world one year at a time. I now make 80% of my income from selling artwork, with the goal of it being completely self-sustaining eventually.
What’s been the best thing about the Redbubble residency for you? Has it helped you grow as an artist?
Yes it has. I think it has improved my social networking skills, however that is something I still need to work at. It has also helped my time management skills, which is always a challenge.
"Nature and technology contradict one another, and that is precisely why I use computers to create nature-based artwork. I like the idea of something natural being corrupted and filtered through technology."
Where do you get your inspiration?
The natural world has a hidden language woven through it, it’s called self-similarity. It’s about patterns repeating on all levels of scale. Nature Fractals. A simple example being the fact that a head of broccoli looks like a tree, or a bunch of moss can look like a forest. With this theory in mind, I make a conscious effort to blend together images of moss and forests, coral and crystals, and many other natural forms, it is amazing how well they blend together when montaged in Photoshop.
What’s been the biggest technical skill that you’ve nailed?
Knowing how to integrate photography with 3D art.
Most of your work is inspired by nature, yet you use technology to create it. Do you find that nature and technology contradict one another?
Nature and technology contradict one another, and that is precisely why I use computers to create nature-based artwork. I like the idea of something natural being corrupted and filtered through technology. I think it speaks volumes as to what is happening here on planet Earth. We live our lives without perspective of the bigger picture. If we were to look at the direction planet Earth has taken in the past 200 years, compared to its entire life, it is but a blip in the ocean of time. And look how much has changed because of us humans and our intelligence. It now seems fitting to me that the only thing that can save us from our own destruction is the technology that is helping to destroy us. We need to get so smart and so clever that we are able to make technological advancements integrate into the economy so we see a growth of self-sustaining consumption and environmental management. Most people look at my art and see it as a celebration of beauty, which it certainly is, however, I like to comment on environmental issues in a very subtle way. I don’t mind if people get my messages or not, as long as it inspires them to love nature.
"Most people look at my art and see it as a celebration of beauty, which it certainly is, however, I like to comment on environmental issues in a very subtle way. I don't mind if people get my messages or not, as long as it inspires them to love nature."
Your work has been featured at a lot of outdoor festivals and raves. Do you get inspiration from that type of music?
Yes, I certainly do get inspiration from all types of electronic music, in fact it is one of my biggest inspirations. I think that it sinks into my artwork on a subtle level rather than direct inspiration.
Name one pet peeve when it comes to your creative practice?
Being stuck on a computer all the time. Every now and then I’ll take my laptop or sketchbook out into nature.
If you could gain any artistic skill overnight, what would it be?
Glassblowing or 3D printing, or both mixed together. And I would love to make my work into sculptures somehow.