Interview with Drew Merritt for “Slaying Idols” Opening Friday, May 4th.

Thinkspace is proud to present Drew Merritt’s solo exhibition ‘Slaying Idols’ in our project room. Merritt’s hyperreal rendering and darkly stylized
painting’s aim to evoke emotion from the viewer while being an emotional journal and catharsis for the artist. In anticipation of Merritt’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Drew Merritt to discuss his latest body of work, in-studio diet, and his greatest fear.

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

DM: Slaying idols for me is the concept of basically removing my idols and most of their influence from my life and work. It’s sort of an acknowledgment of a transitional time to move forward creatively. Since my work is all so personal and basically connected to my thoughts and emotions of whats going on in my personal life, it’s not only creative growth but also spiritual and mental growth as well. The pieces as also a small bit interactive as they were meant to be shown together. Each painting is a node to the other. Personal experiences tie the pieces together, but the subject content separates them. I’m sure a few look out of place without explanation or context behind them but I really like that about this series and with one of the paintings that I won’t name ( so the viewer finds their own meaning and connection id rather not ruin ) is the whole point behind the piece itself.

SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

DM: The more I go inward in my own work and personal growth I try to stay uninfluenced by art websites and social media, which is so difficult nowadays because there are so many amazing artists and art blogs that are at your fingertips. Does Netflix and music blogs count?

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

DM: I really like expression. I don’t know why I feel the need to express visually my emotions and feelings but I like the idea of empathy and people connecting and impacting their lives positively through my work. I like the idea of taking something sad, negative, or melancholy and turning it into something visually pleasing and through that connecting with people and hopefully making their lives a little less melancholy.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

DM: Time. Time is my biggest enemy right now. I’ve done the math of how long it takes to create my work and I know around the number of paintings I’ll leave behind when I’m dead. And it’s not enough. The scariest feeling in the world to me is not being enough. and that is frustrating as hell.

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us.

DM: Wake up the next day with a bigger cup of coffee and start painting again.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

DM: Mostly they start with rough contour drawings and sketches in my moleskins. They are mainly just scribbles that are illegible and don’t look representation until I find something that interests me. Then I think about what I want to say or express, or not express with the subject and start casting models or actors/actresses that I think could convey the emotions properly. Mostly I try to work with people I know or am close to subject wise so I’m comfortable with telling them the meanings behind it since its basically like a big journal. As for the smaller work in portrait format, I end up slightly off centering just because it makes it a little different or uncomfortable. I have a bad habit of thinking a little too big, so smaller work is a challenge for me because compositionally it feels like I cut off 90% of the other parts of the work which, in of itself also catches my attention and interest.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts or work and then long periods of not working?

DM: I’m in the studio every day unless I’m working on a wall project. Every day varies a little because living gets in the way of work. Right now I’m doing around 17 hours a day painting/working if I could average.

SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

DM: This one hurts a little to answer honestly. When I’m working on a show I wake up and get a 5 shot espresso latte and try to jump into painting fast because I know I only have so much natural light during the day. Mostly on a fast food and delivery diet. And if I’m being 100% honest I either skip meals to save time or forget to eat all together. Embarrassing but real.

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?

DM: Vince Staples. Aesop Rock. Tom Waits. Any of those would be pretty epic to work with in my opinion. There are a lot but I think those would probably be the top three in no specific order.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

DM: So many I don’t even know where to start. Its been a constant evolution for as long as I can remember, but I have to say the main ones are the haters. It’s funny how the people telling you how you won’t amount to anything or that you won’t be successful light a fire under you.

SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?

DM: I’ve got a variety of brands of oil paints. I don’t stick to just one brand because I like different hues of the same color with each brand. So I mix and match and mix up my own colors with them so I can be more precise with the colors I want to use. As for brushes, I treat them like shit so I go through them much faster than I should. I’m really feeling rosemary brushes lately. What I wish was in my studio? Gigi Hadid.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do?

DM: If It was just to observe I think I’d go back to watch the crucifixion of Christ. or better yet, the resurrection of Christ.

Join us for the opening of “Slaying Idols”, Friday, May 4th from 6 to 9 pm.