TRENDER: Artists Andy and Veronica Fish
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
How has living in Central Mass played a role in your work?
A: I've been teaching at the Worcester Art Museum since 1999–and in that time I've met countless up and coming and seasoned artists, and made some incredible connections. It's the museum that keeps us here, we are both devoted to the current changes in both the museum and the school there and want to play parts in its new development. Despite being offered a lot more money to relocate we feel we have a real connection with WAM. Worcester actually has a pretty solid art community–and its led to my professorship of Graphic Novel studies and art at Emerson College in Boston and it's close proximity to New York City means we're never that far from our bigger clients and gallery connections.
V: I also teach at WAM, and I've been there since 2006 and feel the same way Andy does. While Andy works with teens and adults I work mostly with teens and I really love doing it. It got us to launch our traveling art workshops which we do all over the state working with kids and adults from all backgrounds. Sometimes it gets crazy–last week we did six workshops in five days all the way from Braintree to Martha's Vineyard, but its so rewarding to connect with a new student.
How did you each get started on your career and how did it take off?
A: I just worked. When I didn't have clients I worked on my own projects–and eventually those works led to paying work. Since my work involves a diverse range from teaching to commercial illustration and design and to graphic novels I'm always busy. I just finished my 17th graphic novel, Dracula's Army for McFarland Press in North Carolina and spending the early summer months trying to decide what my next project will be. With graphic novels you're making a long term commitment so it has to be a project that will hold my interest. With illustration I might spend 3 days or a week on a project, but two years on a graphic novel means I really have to think it through before I start.
V: I've only done one graphic novel and I'm on my second, I have produced quite a number of comic projects but my focus remains more on my teaching and explorations of keeping those classes interesting and engaging to my students. I'm also involved heavily with Gallery 1988 in California which has a great vibe and really fun shows–my work almost always sells right away and that's exciting. A few years ago I guest curated Pop Euphoria here for ArtsWorcester and brought in artists and pieces with a pop culture slant from all over the world–I made some really fantastic connections through that show and had a blast putting it together.
What are both your future dreams as an artist?
A: I would love to get a Graphic Novel program going at either Clark or Worcester State University–everything from the study of the medium as a legitimate art form up to and and including degree centered programs on writing and illustrating. Just waiting for that call!
I'd also love to open an art gallery/bookstore/comic shop like some of the great ones I've seen around the country. There's one in Chicago and another in Austin, Texas that really hits the mark for me–but then again I love books and art. I think Highland Street would be perfect for it.
V: Yes! And it could be open 24 hours like those great Manga stores we saw when we were in Tokyo! (ha!)
I just want to make art for me, and have fun doing it. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the commercial aspects of it and that can take a lot of the joy out of it.
We love to travel and I'm looking forward to doing more of that. We both love Cape Cod too–so that's very likely a spot we could end up in. We were married at a private beach in Wellfleet with just a few close friends and family, and that's a really special area for us.
What are the challenges you face as an artist in Worcester?
A: Well, at the risk of sounding crass–selling original work here in Worcester is not easy. A piece I put in a gallery show here for $100 won't sell, but the same piece will sell for $500 in Boston or $1,000 in New York–Worcester just has that "bargain" mentality sometimes–or its hard to find the right market for "pop art" style work. Clients, too, I work with only two local clients–and both are pretty big institutions, there are just too many people looking for free design work here. Although I think I'm being harsh–I did the Affordable Maids design, and she was great to work with–and its fun to see the work all over the place. So there are good clients here, but the vast majority of the work I do is from outside Worcester.
V: I'd agree with that. I stopped showing work locally because sales were flat or lackluster. I don't think I work with too many local clients either, I have a couple who are great, but most of my work is from elsewhere. Worcester is a great place–if we didn't live here we'd probably be coming here all the time. There are many many opportunities and great events like stART in the Street (even though we don't usually set up) and we're really excited about the changes at WAM and the events at ArtsWorcester lately.
What has been your greatest reward?
A: Meeting Veronica.
V: Aw! Me too!, I mean meeting Andy!
A: And the students, my favorite time of teaching at WAM is during the Summer session which is just about to start. You work with the same students every day for a week or two and you really can see them develop their talents.
V: Yes it's so much more beneficial to meet daily–it's too easy to forget what you've learned when you have a week between classes.
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