Briefly describe the work you do.
Piles of discarded paintings, decorative paper, and photographs from nature books sit on a table in my studio. I cut out shapes from these materials, rearrange them at random to create new images, and photograph the results. I repeat this process several times, occasionally cutting up the photographed assemblages to rearrange them further. These spontaneous collages are the inspirations for the mysterious, colorful figures in my paintings.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
There isn’t anything in my background – personal, professional, or other – that has had an influence on my work and on me as an artist. My career as an artist didn’t begin until my third year in college. My full-time profession is an IT consultant. I keep that profession separate from my life as an artist.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio practice doesn’t differ from the traditional notions. I spend most of my art-making time in the studio, while some preliminary work is done at home. I find it that the preliminary work is best done at home and not the studio, as there is less clutter and – consequently – less distraction at home.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
The role of the “businessman”. I never thought I’d see myself in this role, as I always thought — naively, when I was younger — that one never mixed art with business. As I now actively promote my work, I find that this role is necessary.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
The best times are nights and the weekends. I’m very diligent about setting aside a specific time block to go to the studio.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Five years ago, I was interested primarily in animal-like figures. Over time, the figures have become more abstract. My color selection has remained the same, despite some minor variations. Recently, I have experimented with different media, such as acrylic paint and acrylic paint pen on plexiglass.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
I listen to music while I work — The Residents, Captain Beefheart, early Duke Ellington, the Monks, Beethoven — but I don’t think it has a major impact on my work. Listening to music keep me from rationalizing and analyzing too much about what I’m doing while I’m working. I have a long list of artists whose work I admire — Phillip Guston, Karel Appel, James Ensor — but I leave the art books at home. I don’t bring them into the studio, because I don’t want their influence to seep into my work.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I have thought about becoming a filmmaker, but I have not reached a point in my life where I want to drop everything to become a filmmaker. My other interests include reading and long-distance running.
Craig Moran was born in Washington, DC, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Studio Art at the University of Virginia (UVA). He received a fifth-year arts fellowship at UVA, and completed a Post-Baccalaureate in Painting and Drawing at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Mr. Moran has lived in San Francisco and Chicago, as well as various parts of Virginia. He currently resides in Washington, DC and has a studio in Takoma Park.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.