Interview with artist Adam Craemer

Born in Durban South Africa, Adam Craemer immigrated to Western Australia with his wife in the early 2000s and emerged as an artist shortly thereafter. His main training and influences come from the graffiti art culture in Cape Town and the UK; living and traveling around Europe and Asia; as well as his parents who are both artists back in his native South Africa. Having a graffiti background has heavily influenced his use of aerosol cans in his work, and his use of them can be seen in almost every piece he creates. We have conducted an interview with him.

Artist: Adam Craemer

What were the challenges you faced (if any) when crossing over from painting walls on the streets to painting on canvas in a studio?

The major challenge for me is scale. Going from larger surface areas to areas less than a third in size, and still trying to maintain the ‘street’ element isn’t particularly easy for me to achieve in some instances. I have had to abandon some techniques, but at the same time, have acquired some new ones during the process of change.

Another challenge is the rigidity of a wall versus canvas. There is a lot more play on pushing against canvas than walls obviously, so again some of my techniques are now either harder to achieve, or not possible.

I plan to do a few wooden substrate pieces in the future. It will be an opportunity for me to play around with more techniques and styles.

Who influences you the most in your art styles? What would be a way to highlight and describe in words as your style?

I like most art styles ranging from renaissance portraiture, through to abstract art. I find elements of all art I see to be engaging and, in some ways influential - from the fine, hard, neat lines of cartoony pop art, to the ridged mark making of certain abstract works. I take influence from all styles I see and I particularly enjoy developing and playing with them. If they end up suiting my process, I’ll include them at some point in a piece or series of works. If I find myself moving in another direction that requires more growth or updates to my style, I’ll read up and study some works of artists I love, and try to incorporate elements into my work.

I am currently working on a commission and the client likes Klimt’s works. So now I am incorporating elements of his work into mine and adjusting it to suit my street style. There’s going to be loads of gold leaf in this artwork, which I haven’t worked with before but I’m game! I like to challenge myself. If the gold leaf works out nicely, I may use it in my new body of work which is currently in the planning stages.

If I was to describe my style in words it would be: Urban Pop.

“I am currently working on a commission and the client likes Klimt’s works. So now I am incorporating elements of his work into mine and adjusting it to suit my street style.” ~ Adam Craemer

How do you show dynamism in your work? Which techniques are you using to achieve it?

My work is a product of spontaneous mark making and aerosol can work. I’ll often listen to music to help with the mood I am looking to achieve in the piece or layer of work I’m focussing on at that time. My newer works are heavily textured compared to my previous pieces, and I am looking to use any techniques possible to achieve the desired effect. I’m employing the services of Plaster of Paris, knives, my hand-held sander, and my belt sander in my current body of work. All of these tools help create the texture and depth in my art that I strive for.

Adam Craemer – Portraits, 2014-2017

What affects you?

What affects me… with respect to my art and the beginning of my journey, artists like Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg initially made me want to become an artist. I loved the idea of being able to apply super bold, bright colours to a painting, as well as including elements in collage. In more recent times, artists such as Hush and Shepard Fairey are top of mind in terms of excellent work and interesting techniques. These artists, including some gratifying trips to galleries around Europe, affected me positively to at least give art a chance. I’m fortunate that my day job affords me the freedom to work in my studio when necessary.

A selection of Adam’s favourite works by Shepard Fairey, Robert Rauschenberg, HUSH and Roy Lichtenstein

What is something that you do differently when creating your artwork?

I use a lot of water in creating my pieces. I am painting on, spraying off, painting on, spraying off again and again until I achieve the desired effect. As my studio does not have aircon, I need to time my sprays according to the time of day/year I am working, to achieve the texture I am looking for. After painting multiple layers, I’ll often paint a thin layer of white over the whole piece, and then repeat the process again from scratch. This is my method of achieving greater depth and texture to my works - a ton of water in my spray bottle or with a hosepipe outside the studio.

Studio Work

What is next for Adam Craemer?

Once the large-scale commission piece is complete, I’ll be working through a new layering technique on a series of pieces. The aim is to try and pare back the image further than I have been. The end-vision is to make the subject look like it is poking out from behind some heavy layering which I’ll be placing on top of the image. The series will be titled “Ink’d”.

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