An Interview with Grey Cross
Experimental artist Grey Cross talks about working as an artist, digital media and his relationship with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei
I am re-publishing this post in hopes to draw more attention to a worth cause. Grey Cross and his partner Billy are in need of some support.
Always approach your art with a warriors spirit and a saints heart.- Grey cross Studios
Visit the Immortal Artist website and you will experience the world of experimental Artist Grey Cross. Grey’s works span a wide range of mediums:Painting, sculpting,body art, digital art and photography
A person can learn a lot about someone from their works and social media accounts but its the specific questions and dive deep into their mindset.
I sent Grey thirteen questions, here is what he had to say. Enjoy
(Note: I asked Grey’s permission prior to sending the questions.)
In a crowded marketplace, fitting in can lead to failure. What do you do to stand out from the crowd?
I am a firm believer that you need to stand out when your representing your work. An example: When I was a fashion photographer I attend a lot of fashion shows. This meant that I was usually in a photography pool that had anywhere from 10–50 other photographers present. Most of the other photographers were dressed in street clothes. I never did so. I always dressed in bright colors and rivaled some of the fashion models. On one occasion I had an intern with me who asked me why I dressed up so much and wouldn’t it make more sense to dress in loose clothing that made it easier to shoot. I told the intern to just watch. We entered and strode into the press area like we owned the place. There was a certain mystique to the dress that made other photographers fade back a bit. The intern suddenly realized why dress was important. But it wasn’t just about gravitas. It was about standing out and making an impression to those attending the event. It was hard to forget me. The coordinators remembered me and often invited me back because I did not blend into the press pool. I stood out from it. Some people dress to impress themselves. Its important to keep ego out of it and realize that dress serves other purposes.
What recommendation would you give to a struggling artist early in their career when they are just finding their voice/style?
What I tell new artists, or creatives of any kind, is to stop worrying about making sales and instead focus on reputation and voice. Skills come over time and so do sales, but creating a name for yourself is all about reputation and about putting your name and your work out there in every way you can. Finding your voice is harder but just as essential. If you don’t know what you stand for as an artist then all your going to do is paint trees and beach scenes. Find your voice and people will listen.
What is the worst crime — destroying art or not creating it?
Not creating it. At least you shared something with the world even if it was destroyed later. Without it there is only void. Even an echo is better than total silence.
It has been said that — Where there is a map, there is not original art. In what way(s) do you forge your own map as an artist?
Everything was original at one time. If you keep that in mind then its easier to realize that you can in turn create something original also. For example, there are a million copycat artists who create portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Not very original, or thought provoking now. Its merely mimicking a well known face. But when the first artist painted her image, it was original. So if your going to paint her, give her one eyebrow or a horn sticking out of her forehead and you have something original once again. Otherwise its just copying. If your doing it to make a buck, then your not original. If your doing something for the shear joy of finding something new in your art, then it is original.
What stifles your creativity?
Stress. I can work through almost anything except stress. It destroys my focus and my confidence in myself. Even physical ailments are do not bar me from creating. They only force me to use a different medium. On days I can’t lift a hundred pound sculpture, I do digital art.
How has the digital medium affected your art?
Its evolutionized it. As a photographer I was limited. My creativity was not used because I was photographing what others wanted me to photograph. As a result I set my camera aside and went into real art because I wanted to focus on something I created with my hands, not just the camera. But when I brought my art skills together with my photographic skills it was time to pick the camera back up. My skills as a digital artist are just as crucial to my work as my skills with sculpting or painting. Its just one part of having multiple skill sets.
What kind of stories do you tell about your art?
Honestly, not many. I like to let the viewer make the story up themselves. That does not mean there are not stories and perhaps I’ll share some of them in future shows, but for the most part, the audience makes their own. The only exception to this is if I am working on a series, then there is often a pointed direction I want the viewer to be aimed. The most important aspect of any piece of art is its title. A good title is like a direction sign pointing you towards the story. From there you can make up the rest.
Financial difficulties can be a challenge for someone who makes their living from their art. Has there ever been a time where you felt the need to compromise your art to make ends meet?
Compromise usually comes in the form of not having the right supplies to be able to create the visions I see. If I can’t afford the right colored paint for example, then the vision is compromised and I usually move on to something else until I can do it properly.
Some ideas or concepts take years to catch on. Has there been any aspect of your work that, despite tying, did not take off?
Well I think that concepts are something that take years and lifetimes to really create. So I don’t take it too hard if someone doesn’t grasp a direction I am going. My biggest goal is in Assimilation Art. I want it to become an Art Movement someday, just as Expressionism and Impressionism did at the turn of the last century. But I am not foolish enough to think it will happen quickly or even in my lifetime. That doesn’t stop me from working on the concept though and adding to my notes on it. History will decide.
The vast openness of the internet has giving a voice to anyone who wants it. Do you see this as competition or inspiration?
Voices are often just noise. To stand out anywhere, including the internet your voice has to have meaning and direction and make others open their eyes. Otherwise its just babble.
Do you think that your art forces people to stop and pay attention when viewed for the first time?
I would like to think so, but I guess only the viewer can answer that for sure. Series like the Politics & Power of Street Art are meant to be in your face art and make you think. All we can do as artists is try to share our visions and hope others see it. I think of art like this: There are five people going to a museum. They all walk past the first piece of art and barely take notice. On the second piece, one stops and stares and gasps at what he/she sees, but the other four move on. Later the same thing happens with another of the five and so on until they leave the museum. But they’ve all come away with a glimpse of something that only they saw. Those who didn’t see it, weren’t meant to.
If you could no longer create art, what would you do instead?
Is there anything you would like to add that was not addressed with the above questions?
I want to mention my relationship with the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei because there is a lot of speculation about it. About three years ago, I was fortunate enough to be followed by this amazing artist on Twitter. At that time I started daily following any story about Weiwei and tagging him on it if I thought the story was well done and informative. The result was a pattern of posting 3–5 stories a day about him and because he was tagged he would retweet any of them that he liked. Over time this has become sort of a pet project for me. I have expanded to subjects that have importance to Weiwei’s work in both the art and the human rights arena. This is very special to me because I know that his schedule does not always allow him the opportunity to follow a great many stories that go on daily. It helps him and it helps me to understand human rights issues around the world and how art interrelates to him.
I can say with surety that it is because of this that I realized one day that I had gone from being just an artist to being a “climate artist”. Where Ai Weiwei’s focus is on Refugees, my focus had moved towards Climate Change and Climate Refugees. While I do a great many other types of art, this has given my career a focus I never had before and I owe it to that man.
But there is also a bit of controversy involved in my relationship with him. His work with refugees and mine with climate place us both on the firing line from the AltRight and internet trolls world wide. I’ve been accused of being a schill for him and in some cases that I am not even real, but merely a fictitious person that is actually Ai Weiwei or his staff.
This does not bother me in the least. I find it challenging and I find that while I have never met the man personally, I consider him a friend and a mentor to the work I do. I take joy in following his journey and hope it continues into the future. We all need other creatives who we can take joy in and learn from. While Ai Weiwei has more of a direct daily impact on my life than others, it teaches me a lot and allows me to in turn teach it to others. This is how the art world should be.
Artist Grey Cross is dedicated to exploring all aspects of experimental art and photography, creating new and innovative techniques which other artists can use to strengthen their own work.
Grey Cross Studios:
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share any questions or comments below.