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Artist's Corner: Anthony Lewellen

Local artist Anthony Lewellen is the mastermind behind the newest art installation in the Hard Rock Alley for this week’s ACTIVATE. Before you head over to “SMELL” what we’ve cooked up this Thursday, find out a little bit more about Anthony and his work.

What were your biggest creative influences when you were growing up?

My earliest creative influences would be cartoons and comic books. For the most part, this is because it was the most accessible to me. Later on, comics became bigger than cartoons, but as someone who had natural inclinations to drawing anything where drawing was involved I was interested. I think some of that still shows in my work.

What creative mind, living or dead, would you most want to spend a lunch with?

I tend to be very interested in the process of art making. It involves a unique set of problem-solving skills. When I see someone creating work and I don’t understand their process it is intriguing to me. Right now there is a Korean artist by the name of Kim Jung Gi whose process pretty much astounds me. He is able to draw the most amazingly intricate things without any initial sketching, with no mistakes, and usually with something black and permanent. I would love to talk to him about what is happening inside his head and how that works for him.

If you could give one piece of advice to young artists today, what would it be?

I read somewhere that all advice is advice that someone wished they had been told. The best advice I can give a young artist is pretty simple in principle, but a bit more challenging in practice, especially in the long-term and that is to consistently create work and consistently find ways to share that work with people. In the process of consistently making work, you will become a better artist. In the process of consistently sharing your work, you will find an audience and just as importantly they will find you.

What keeps you interested in creating?

I’ve yet to come to the point of exhausting all the things I want to do as an artist. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface in terms of what I would like to be doing. It’s not a magic formula.  When you work at something you get better at it and I have not found a cap to that. I have yet to stop becoming better at what I do the more I work at it. That keeps me wanting to move forward to keep working. I want to know what my best is.

What’s the next thing you’re most excited for creating? Any big projects in the works?

I’m currently in my 4th month of a year-long project titled “The 12 Month Project.” With this project, I am creating one 3-foot by 4-foot piece every month for a year based on my memories growing up in Chicago. These pieces are unlike anything I’ve ever created before so it is exciting and challenging to see what develops. I’m excited to be working with The School of The Art Institute this summer, and I’m also pretty excited about a few upcoming mural projects that are in the planning stages at the moment.

(Photo: Anthony Lewellen)


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