In this in-depth interview, Andy Vible tells us about messages from his childhood, the deep connection he has with the work of Salvador Dali, and the importance of putting what makes you different in the spotlight.

Bio:
Andy Vible was born and raised in Wilmington Delaware. In 2012 he earned his BFA in General Fine Arts with a concentration in Printmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD.  He makes works in sculpture, collage, painting, drawing, mural, and a variety of printmaking methods. He also enjoys collaborating with other visual artists and musicians. He has exhibited nationally on both the East and West Coasts. Andy currently lives and works in his studio in Wilmington, Delaware.

Image description: A painting by Andy Vible of a person chopping a tree with a kite to the right of the tree.
© Andy Vible

What initially brought you to art?

When I was in high school I received a letter from myself that I wrote in 4th grade. In the letter it said that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I started drawing at age six and I think I just always intuitively knew that I would be an artist. I solidified my commitment to art by going to Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. That’s where I pretty much learned how to make art. The environment was constantly stimulating with creativity. I graduated MICA in 2012 and have been making artwork ever since.

You seem to draw your inspiration from a large range of sources. Where would you say you find the most inspiration? What imagery interests you the most and why?

It’s usually difficult for me to pick one answer for questions like “favorite” or “most”. There are many, but some of the significant ones include pairs of opposites. One opposite in particular is macrocosm in relation to microcosm and vice versa. Like an atom in relation to a human in relation to the universe. Humor is big one. Also imagery that hints at a truth hidden in plain sight.

I understand that you create two-dimensional paintings as well as three-dimensional sculptures. Which mode of creating came first? Do these two forms of art feed into one another?

When I went to MICA, I learned how to paint and sculpt and a lot of other stuff at the same time. They both kind of started simultaneously, but I would say I was satisfied with my sculptural work well before my paintings. I started my first series of sculptures at MICA--I’ll just call them the “headless” series. Many people responded well to those. After I graduated I started painting canvases more. I’ve been painting for a while since then and I feel that I’m slowly starting to “get” it, and I’m getting more satisfied with the results. I still make sculptures and I have a few more from the “headless” series that I want to make. The two forms feed into one another in the sense that I’m just always creating. I usually pick the medium based on what I think is the best way to express an idea I have.

Image description: A photo of a sculptural piece by Andy Vible. The sculpture is of a person upside down with a wheel for a head. They are holding onto a treadmill.
© Andy Vible

What impact has the surreal (or the work of the Surrealists) had on your artwork?

When I was six years old one of my first art memories was going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a school trip and my art teacher pointing out various pieces to me, including a Salvador Dali painting. She pointed to it and said, "Look, that painting is called soft construction with boiled beans" and right as she said "boiled beans" I looked at the beans at the bottom of the painting. The memories from that day stuck with me throughout my life and in 2005 when I was a freshman in high school my art teacher encouraged me to go on a field trip to the PMA while they were having their major Salvador Dali retrospective exhibition. I went and my mind was transformed. The museum superimposed a huge image of Dali over the famous Rocky Balboa staircase, literally presenting him in this larger than life superhero art star. I saw the “boiled beans” piece. I knew about the melting clocks, but I don’t think I had realized that was the same guy from my memory at age six. I had a deep connection to the work because its portrayal of seemingly intentionally bizarre subject matter was executed with the utmost technical skill. I was attending an all-male Catholic high school at the time and I knew I was different from most of the other students, but this show demonstrated to me that being different and going against the grain could be captivating if done with the proper awareness. You can put the things that make you different in the spotlight and if you do it in the right way it can impact people in a powerful way. I was also particularly drawn to the collage elements that Dali would sometimes incorporate in his paintings. Seeing that show confirmed the idea in my head that I wanted to go to art college to pursue art as a career. I do think the original surrealists focused too much on Freud. While he had plenty of worthwhile things to say, I really think that Carl Jung has more valuable insight into the world of psychology and the unconscious and the human mind. Jung is also a low-profile artist. He is a huge influence and I could see myself maybe becoming some sort of Jungian surrealist--perhaps that could turn into a thing.

Image description: A painting by Andy Vible of an interior scene with lots of people drinking and talking.
© Andy Vible

What is one thing about yourself that at first may not seem related to your art practice, but actually is?

For 6 years I haven’t consumed any drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or nicotine. In my first year of sobriety I took up running and I started running at least 3 miles a day. It eventually turned into a streak and I ran at least 3 miles every day for 4 years from September 30, 2016 to September 30, 2020. About three years into the streak I started to end my runs at a hiking trail in the park and walk down to a secluded area in the woods and meditate. Right away when I started doing this I got a rush of creative ideas and I would run home and write everything down. I did this for many months until I created an epic tale that connected all my art that I had made to many new ideas or ideas that I had knocking around in my head already. My art and these ideas all linked together like constellations of my personal iconography creating one free flowing narrative of my psyche. Much of the art that I have already made and much of the art that I plan on making is part of this narrative. I just recently started the process of storyboarding the whole thing because I’m not yet sure what the final creation will look like, but it has become a life goal to complete. None of this would be possible and much of the art that I’ve made over the past 6 years wouldn’t exist if I was not sober. My new lifestyle is incredible and it’s amazing living life with a clear head as a default. I don’t mind if people want to use substances, but in my opinion reality is already pretty trippy and the aid of a substance isn’t needed to enhance the experience.

Image description: A collage of a colorful TV by Andy Vible.
© Andy Vible

What emotion do you feel shows up in your artwork?

Timeless subtle clever mind fuck. It also ranges to not so subtle, even blatant. It is slowly shifting towards “harnessing life’s turbulence”, which isn’t really an emotion but maybe an influence to be conscious of your emotions and turning that knowledge into positivity or something valuable.

What artist do you most admire (contemporary or historical)?

Again, it’s hard to pick one answer to these kinds of questions, and the answer is bound to change, but right now I’m really influenced by Horst Janssen and Leonard Baskin. They are both remarkable draftsmen and both have this style where the mark making is very loose but also very precise. In a lot of my own work, my approach is similar to Magritte in the sense that I’m presenting an image in a straightforward and distinct way. It’s a good way to get your idea across but I would really like to start experimenting more with style. Like repaint or redraw the same ideas but in many different styles, like for instance both very loose and precise.

Is there anything coming up that you’d like to share with us?

I’ve been curating shows at Chris White Gallery in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, so keep an eye out for our upcoming shows. I might have some murals coming up in Wilmington as well. Also, other artists might be able to relate to this, but my creativity feels like a fractal and the work I have presented on social media and my website is
really just scratching the surface to my plans for my portfolio. In my head and in my sketchbooks I’m already lightyears ahead of what I have currently shown the world. It’s really a matter of figuring out the best way to continue to manifest my creativity in a way that keeps up with its exponential and perpetual nature. So that’s the stage I’m at right now and it feels like anything is possible.

Image description: A photo by Andy Vible of a bunch of colorful grafitti.
© Andy Vible