Monday, December 3, 2012

Adrienne from Afro Triangle Designs: An Interview with one of the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafter I. A.dmire)

If you follow SweetShop Creations on Facebook, you’ll know that I often post about a select group of  awesome artists, crafters, and designers that I like to call the SweetShop C.I.A.(C.rafters I. A.dmire.) Usually my admiration extends to a reblog, a Facebook photo of an incredible piece of work that they've done, and sometimes a reciprocal “like” from the object of my obsession admiration, but that’s it.

So you can imagine how excited I was I got the chance to actually meet up with Adrienne Norris of Afro Triangle Designs and talk shop. I’ve known Adrienne for a few years—we swing through a few of the same social circles in Denver and have a few mutual friends--but we’ve never really gotten a chance to talk art and business in depth before.

I’m a firm believer in networking and promoting other people's brilliance, so I asked Adrienne if I could share an interview with her here at the SweetShop blog and she agreed. So, without further ado, SweetShoppers, I present to you...Adrienne Norris of Afro Triangle Designs!

Image courtesy of Adrienne Norris. Shirt available for purchase here

Welcome Adrienne! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, where are you now, where are you going, that sort of thing?

Well, I was born on the island of Barbados (which is in the Caribbean, for those who don’t know) and came to the US when I was 5. I lived in New York with my mom, grandmother and brothers until I was about 12, when we moved to New Mexico to live on the international school campus my dad taught at, the Armand Hammer United World College. So I’m Bajan by birth, but American by culture.

When I was 17, I had the opportunity to attend the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, which is part of the family of international schools I grew up in. What should have been a two year experience turned into only one, though. I mean, it was Italy and I was 17. Studying just wasn't a priority. So I had a chance to start over at the school in New Mexico where I graduated with my International Baccalaureate degree.

After that, I joined the Marines to be an Arabic linguist and spent 5 years doing what people told me (sort of) and translating “things” from Arabic to English. Sorry, if I gave you more details, I’d have to kill you. ;)

These days, I’m working as a freelance artist here in Denver, designing t-shirts, business cards, logos, as well as drawing and painting portraits when I can. I would love for portrait painting to be my primary source of income.

Can you tell us a little bit about how your life inspires your art?

People fascinate me. I think that’s why I love drawing faces so much. We all have the same five features – two eyes, a nose, a mouth – but they can be configured in so many different ways to make each face we see so incredibly unique that even twins who share almost identical genes, can look different from one another.

I am also amazed by what the human body is capable of whether it’s pull-ups, hand stands, or flips. That we can use our muscles to create enough momentum to launch ourselves into the air is astounding to me.
(Blogger's note; Adrienne hasn't mentioned this, but she's also a very capable capoeira  practioner!)

And tell us about the art, too. What are you working on now? What is your artistic background? What's your medium?

I would say that a lot of what I love creating most, the portraits, is self-taught. I remember sitting for hours on guard duty sketching faces from magazines, photographs, even military ID cards in an effort to master capturing a likeness. That doesn't mean I didn't have formal training, though.

I took a number of art classes during my early school years, and after leaving the Service, I attended the Art Institute of Colorado for my degree in Media Arts and Animation. This opened the doors of the digital art world and has allowed me to earn money as a graphic designer.

As far as medium goes, I love pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint, each for different reasons. I call ink drawing the strategic placement of lines. I love the challenge of creating depth in an image using lines alone, though there is no such thing as a line in nature.

I love the delicacy of watercolor, a medium that has a mind of its own, that lends a certain brightness to your subject when you’re done.

And I love the traditional look I can achieve with acrylic. The thicker medium calls to mind most peoples’ idea of what a painting “should” look like. 
An Afro-Triangle original watercolor portrait. Find out more here.

Do you feel your art connects the different cultural and social influences in your life? Can you tell us more about how if it does?

I think it does. My tendency is to draw or paint realistically, so most of my work is based on photographs. Most of these have been photos I have taken myself, of friends or of people in a place I happened to be.

I think I also capture the universality of what it is to be human. I love painting expression and no matter where you are in the world, what your cultural background, our expressions hold the same meanings. A frown means you’re unhappy about something, a smile expresses joy. We are all working with the same five features.

What's your favorite work of art(either by yourself or someone else)?

It’s so hard to pin down one specific piece… Yeah, I’m gonna have to pass.

Can you tell us a little about your etsy shop? What kinds of items are available there?(Quick note, SweetShoppers...etsy is an online craft and design bazaar. If you don't know about it, you should!)

I am very new to Etsy, so my shop is still growing. Portraits are the main listing right now. I offer custom portraits in a variety of media, as well as a series of what I call Geek-tastic celebrity portraits in which I have drawn characters from my favorite sci-fi/fantasy television shows and movies. There are also a few of the t-shirts I have designed and printed so far.
Any Supernatural fans in the house? Purchase this one and more like it here

Have you got any live exhibitions coming up soon? Can you tell us anything about that?

Glad you asked! I have a show starting on January 1st at  Love Sick Ink, a tattoo parlor off Broadway and Iliff.  It runs until January 31st and it would be great to see new people there. Keep an eye on the Afro Triangle Facebook page and website for more information.

So there you have it, SweetShoppers--hope you enjoyed being introduced to Adrienne as much as I enjoyed doing the interview. If you want to know more, check out the official Afro Triangle Designs website HERE and like and follow on Facebook HERE. If you want to purchase your very own Afro Triangle Designs shirt or portrait, check out the etsy shop HERE. There's also some very cool shirts available to purchase only on the official site. Many thanks to Adrienne for your time and best of luck with your future art and business!

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