“You can’t schedule inspiration”
Allow us to introduce you to April’s featured artist – Andrei Cojocaru – a smart and inspired collage artist with a sense of humor living and working in Paris who appears to create through happenstance and inspired moments mostly with his hands to give us new images and inventive arrangements of shapes, patterns, colors, letters and numbers. In May some of his work will be part of the Playing with a Full Deck group show at the 12×16 gallery in Portland, a show organized by Liz Cohn, who collaborated with 175 artists from all over the world to create 1400 collaborative collages on playing cards.
Originally from Bucharest, Romania, his parents’ work led the family to Paris for several years leading to attending high school and university there and eventually landing as an account executive at an advertising agency (a job he describes as “serious but with a fun, dynamic, creative side”). His first experience with making art came as a graffiti artist back in Bucharest at the age of 14 and lasting for 4 years, although he never felt particularly good or prolific. In-between his current job and earlier education, he found himself at law school, feeling bored and disappointed and looking for an outlet, something that would allow him to “escape reality to a world where he could create his own rules”. A fortuitous encounter with DeviantArt (an online community of user-made artwork) led him to being inspired by great collage artists whose work he saw there, and he started making his own.
We asked if he sticks to a disciplined schedule of creating around a demanding day job and his answer was that he does it when he has time and in the mood, going through periods where he makes nothing for 2 to 3 weeks but then suddenly gets into a collage frenzy until 3 in the morning. As he sees it, “You can’t schedule inspiration.” His playful and colorful style of work led us to wonder whether he is aiming to communicate a bigger idea or does he create simply for the visual delight of it all and he described it this way -
“Well, it’s a bit of both really. At first my creations were essentially random, I just tried to cut or tear images, mix them and put them back together in a different way. I basically still do that, but I’ve actually realized that there is more than just randomness behind my pieces, they’re actually a reflection of my mood, of how I feel when I create them and I am also influenced by the things I see or hear around me during the day – could be a piece of trivia or a random fact or the lyrics of a song. But these things get filtered in a weird way inside my brain and they come out in a distorted way which is almost impossible for others to decipher. I see these things as an inside joke between myself and I. However, I do want to make my style evolve towards something less abstract, I want to try to illustrate concepts or ideas or messages in a more accessible, obvious way, do things that for example would work as editorial illustrations.”
His process typically consists of collecting tons of newspapers, magazines and brochures and then sitting down on the floor when the mood strikes and surrounding himself with “hundreds of photos, magazine pages, cutouts, lots of pieces of paper, some clean cut, others just torn and I just start putting things together, moving them around, trying different layouts, cutting and tearing some more, and when I’m satisfied, glue everything and that’s it! Moving on to the next piece!”
His process in creating E/R was similarly a creation of “happy accident” -
“This collage was more or less an “accident”. I was at my parents’ house in Bucharest for a little break and I started to work on a collage that I wanted to submit to a competition. One evening I was kind of lacking inspiration, I wasn’t really happy with how that particular piece was going and I had a few beers, waiting for inspiration to strike. After the 4th or 5th beer, things got a bit blurry but I remember picking up a large piece of paper and starting doodling on it with the spongy inside of a red marker, making wide, messy streaks.
I then picked up a few pieces of an advertising poster from the Paris subway, a shape from the inside of an envelope and two cutouts from a Polish book from the 60s or 70s that I had bought a few days before from a guy selling books on the street in front of the University of Bucharest.
I don’t even remember going to sleep, that must have happened around 5 or 6 in the morning. I woke up the next day around noon with a horrible headache and I was surprised to discover this collage that I barely remembered making!”
We find it revealing and quite apt that his favorite films have always been spy films. As he puts it, “I’ve always been fascinated by these men and women who work behind the scenes, where things are never black or white, but multiple shades of gray, doing things that affect our lives without us even knowing it! I’ve actually been thinking about doing a series of collages on this theme, maybe even a zine.”
An artist in progress with plenty of ideas for the future, we are pleased to showcase Andrei as he moves toward whatever comes next as he readies himself for inspiration to strike.