We here at A Lep Is A Ball are proud to present the ALIAB Weapon Of Choice! Designed and created by artist Ash Anderson, our fresh new sidearm fuckin owns all. Check out the gallery below, as well as an exclusive interview with the artist himself.

ALIAB: Where did you grow up?

AA: I grew up in Sandersville and Tennille, GA. The two cities are so close they’re basically one in the same; Walmart is likely the agreed landmark of demarcation between the two. Sandersville is the Kaolin Capitol of the World and we have a festival and parade every year celebrating that. It’s also the birthplace of Elijah Muhammad, the second leader of the Nation of Islam; however, we don’t have any festivals or parades for him, go figure.

ALIAB: What do your parents do?

AA: My dad worked for the Department of Family and Children services and my mom was the program coordinator for the truck driving school at Sandersville Technical College. I also have a stepmom who is a pharmacist and a Scrabble badass! My parents are retired; dad farms and raises Brittany spaniels and mom works part time and gardens. Both of my folks are also excellent cooks.

ALIAB: What or who got you interested in art?

AA: I believe dad gets credit here. I was a not at all shy child and when my family went out to eat I’d get bored waiting on the food and would go around talking to our neighboring tables. In an effort to keep me seated, dad started challenging me to drawing contests on our placemats. Not too long after that I started carrying a notebook around with me everywhere, drawing whatever I fancied at the moment. That was around the age of 5 or 6, and I have every sketchpad I’ve used since; that’s a lot of sketchpads ;)

ALIAB: What inspires you to create, and what keeps you motivated?

AA: Other artists chiefly inspire me. I get what I guess you could call strong synesthesia from looking at other people’s paintings and drawings and sculpture and thinking about how pleasurable laying down this stroke of paint or drawing that line would feel. I start thinking about why I’m not at home doing it, you know? I give myself a bit of a complex because I love to make things, but I also love looking at things and thinking about how fun they must have been to make, so I end up thinking I’m not doing enough. I just have to figure out how to best parse my time between looking and doing.

As far as sustaining inspiration, I view my creative time as a good time to listen to music, sort of a carrot for the stick? I really enjoy listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn when I’m cutting wood and sanding. Adam Green, X, Kraftwerk, “Paul’s Boutique”, Lovage, John Cleese’s reading of the Screwtape Letters, “The Dark Side of the Moon”, REM, and stand up comedy by Bill Hicks, Woody Allen, and Maria Bamford are some of my favorites.

I’m also motivated by the intense need to avoid wasting my time and ideas. I gotta get this stuff out of my head!

ALIAB: Any famous influences?

AA: I’m realizing lately I’m pretty stuck on early modernism, but I love plenty outside of that. Makoto Aida is a big one; he works in so many different media and all of it is fantastic! I especially love his Edible Mimi-chan series. Similarly Tim Hawkinson’s versatility is very inspiring, but there’s also a wonderful curiosity in his work that has equally impacted me. Part of his work seems about repeating a simple premise or process to cultivate richness. I like that, not to mention it’s borne Tim some serious fruit!

I used to not care too much for Roy Lichtenstein’s work, partly because I was ignorant of the larger arc of his work and partly because my work attracted (in my mind)superficial comparisons to his, but I recently bought a absolutely fantastic book of his work with an essay by Lawrence Alloway that just blew my mind and made me love Roy’s stuff. I’m currently reading the National Gallery of Art’s book about Jasper Johns, “The Allegory of Painting”, which is really opening up Johns’ symbolism to me. Plus Johns’ target drawings and “Folly Beach” are just gorgeous independent of context or meaning.

Kerry James Marshall is a great inspiration because his career is a testament to working hard in the art world and making it happen. His work is amazingly good, but if you want an extra treat seek out any podcasts or interviews with him and just listen to him speak; welcome back to school ,everyone, the professor’s here! Richard Serra also did a great interview on the Charlie Rose show that I suggest to all artists out there.

Basically I am big into people who work around the clock in a wide range of media and can intelligently speak about their work.

ALIAB: What was your thought process leading up to your pixel art? Aside from too much game play.

AA: Hah! That is an excellent way to frame the question because playing video games has less to do with it than would seem. I hope I’m not letting y’all down too much here!

I rediscovered early video games around the time I was really getting into painting and philosophy at Georgia Southern. I realized the images and stories in games could be used in stories from Greek myths, the Bible, etc. For example, I painted the character Lakitu from Super Mario Bros. as a representation of Jehovah (man on a cloud) and then made a triptych depicting the holy trinity by painting the same image 3 different ways and basing their arrangement on Rublev’s Ikon of the Trinity. 

I’ve been working with the pixellated imagery for almost 8 years and my use of the imagery has changed significantly. I’ve moved away from readily identifiable images to more mundane objects to avoid pop culture references. Many of the images I use now are pulled from downloaded screenshots instead of playing the games to get the images, so my mind is a little freer to associate the games with other ideas. I’ve widened the range of sources for the pixellated imagery to include message boards, desktops, cell phone menus, even facebook! This is because my interest always been about seeing the beauty in pixellation, beyond any kind of nostalgia or kitsch, as well as the pixellated image’s ability to address ideas outside of its realm, such as race, ontology, or art history.

My understanding of the pixel imagery has streamlined as well. At first I was using the imagery as an unusual, tongue-in-cheek way of depicting mythology. In recent years I’m more interested in using the pixel to explore issues of perception in terms of our physical sensory apparatus as well as the ways in which our visual understanding of the world is structured or conventionalized. Pixels are also an analogue(hah!) for the way artworks are understood via visual memory and projection, but since the source and structure of my imagery is digital, it’s invested in the present age of information while still being grounded in traditional materials. Aside from conceptual concerns, creating the images demands a keen understanding of color as well as a steady hand.

Though I started out using the pixel imagery in paintings I’ve also explored the images in drawings, digital collages, and simple sculptures, which brings us to the guns! I made the guns for Beep Beep Gallery’s second annual Artlantis festival here in Atlanta. I wanted to do something at least a little unusual and it dawned on me: I could make my booth into an item shop! I combed my vast collection of game imagery for weapons and after a little mathematical conversion I purchased wood and set to it. In short, the guns have been a hit both near and far, I’m pleased to say; I’ve shipped them as far as England!. I’d like to expand to M-16′s and rocket launchers this year, but it’ll take a bit of figuring on account of the greater length of the pieces.

I’d like to make a pixel sculpture of a potted plant sometime, but I think it would stay pretty flat the way the guns are. Making something pixellated fully in the round seems a bit heavy-handed and ugly looking, perhaps untrue to the source imagery, so maybe the potted plant would look more like several layered plants? This kind of problem solving is the meat of the process…

So gaming was less a driving interest and more of a weird seed planted in odd soil.

ALIAB: Hmmm, do you have any favorite game titles?

AA: I love Konami’s Parodius series. There’re a lot of in-jokes in the games, but the variety of art history references really impressed me as. Quarth is a fun game, maybe not that well known, also by Konami. Capcom’s Alien vs. Predator and Battle Circuit are canon beat’em ups and 19XX is a wonderful shooter; God bless the CPS III. Metal Slug X is great, especially when you get the Metal Slug on top of the Slug Flyer in level 3; try it, it’s amazing!

ALIAB: What are your favorite mediums to work with?

AA: Oil pastels are great because they tread the line between drawing and painting very easily. Quill and ink rules because it’s so antiquated yet the line quality is unmatched by any fancy pen or marker, plus bottled ink is more resistant to erasure. Getting down and dirty with a chunk of graphite is always a good time. Acrylics are great, but I miss oils and hope to be able to afford it soon! Ink wash is great, too. I think the question here is what mediums do I not like!

ALIAB: Where have you shown your art?

AA: I’ve shown a lot here in Atlanta at the MINT Gallery, Beep Beep Gallery, Youngblood, Eyedrum, and WonderRoot. I’ve also been fortunate to show work in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia in recent years. I’m looking forward to sending work to Portland’s Benjamin Benjamin Gallery in September! I also have 2 more awesome shirt designs being printed by 2K Tshirts
I’ve found that staying busy bears its own fruit. “The diligent shall prosper”, right?

ALIAB: What advice would you give artist just starting out?

AA: Just because you graduated doesn’t mean school’s over. It’s never over. Read all you can about other artists, volunteer at your local gallery or contemporary art center, meet new people, mess with ideas or media you haven’t or wouldn’t, learn to manage your time, learn to say no when you need to, eat well, learn to cook to eat better, learn to manage your money wisely, draw every day, read, read, read, think about what you are doing and how it relates to art that has come before, learn about color.

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For more information on Ash’s current projects and art, check out the links below.

Flickr | Blog | 2K Tshirts