Interview conducted by Zac Breitbach
Zac Breitbach: You’re a transfer student, right? From Ohio University? What made you want to transfer?
Griffin Allman: Yeah, I’m a transfer student. Two things made me want to transfer: the faculty and homesickness. I have a lot of good friends I keep in touch with from OU, and the overall community is absolutely fantastic, but the bottom line is that my education is priority, and I just did not like the academic programs at OU. The faculty was very unenthusiastic and pessimistic and the school did not make me want to attend class at all. Plus, Kent is just closer, more accessible and the art program here is fantastic.
ZB: What kind of artist would you consider yourself? What genre(s) do you work in?
GA: All in all, I’m basically a visual artist. I am absolutely in love with contemporary art, and I would consider myself mostly an abstract and contemporary painter. I try and get myself as involved with the painting as possible by throwing the paint, smearing it with my hands and overall trying to engage myself with the supplies that I’m using. Art is an active experience, not a passive one, and nobody seems to think about it like that. I also have done a lot of cartoon and animation work in high school. I’ve always been interested in cartoons and have a wide portfolio of caricature and cartoon work.
ZB: What kind of emotions do you try to tap into when you start to paint something? What makes you say to yourself, “I need to put this down on canvas?”
GA: Well, painting is a very active experience, so I try to emulate that type of active environment to the best of my abilities. I usually play some music, maybe take a look at a few paintings that I’ve been really into online, but other than that, I just kind of do what I feel, attacking the canvas head on. The thing about all my work is there (is) an insane amount of layers that you can’t see on the finished product, like I’ll just take an industrial marker or something and draw on the canvas like 100 times or write a word over and over again or something. Then I’ll just paint a solid color over it and I only can manage to get the colors on the final product if I have those types of layers mixing. So I’m not doing anything special, I’m just very patient. Art is an interactive process that you can’t rush, and different layers with different elements like color scheme, line, etc. eventually build off one another. Some paintings take 30 seconds, some 30 days—(it’s) just when I feel like it’s balanced, I feel something with what I’ve made, and I just eventually say it’s done.
ZB: You’re an art education major. If you could teach someone one thing about art, what would it be?
GA: Forever ago, drawing used to be taught as a foundation analytical learning skill and was treated as important as learning how to read, write and do basic math. It was considered that those who understand art are noble or whatever, like in Rome and Greece and all that. Honestly, anybody can draw. You have to train your brain, (but) anybody with dedication can do it. So, I honestly wish that could be a thing again, making drawing parallel to English and math in our school systems—as well as connecting kids with art and the activity of making art, and making them realize that it is a very powerful active experience that can benefit you for life. Art therapy is a thing, after all.