10 Questions with Allan Linder

 
Allan Linder is a prolific, award-winning artist with more than thirty years of experience producing a wide range of artwork using multiple mediums and subject matter. His painting titled “Getting There” received critical acclaim when a news story about the accompanying NFT went viral. Linder has nine exhibitions this year, including the Bendheim Art Gallery in Greenwich, CT. He has launched many NFT crypto art collections on Mint Gold Dust, Known Origin, and Foundation. His 2007 art book titled 20th Century and Beyond was re-launched this year.

Allan Linder (1966, California, United States) Began exhibiting his work at the Installations one art gallery in Los Angeles during the 80s. After receiving success with a series of paintings titled “Freedom”, an expose on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and an article in the LA Times, Linder continued to pursue his art career in New York City, when he moved there in 2000. While living in NYC, Linder exhibited at the Artists’ Gallery in Chelsea, opening many doors to international collectors. He has enjoyed exhibiting work alongside the American abstract expressionist painter Robert Goodnough and many others. He has exhibited internationally in Brazil, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. His work is held in private collections throughout the US and internationally. His work is in permanent collections of the Elmira Museum of Art, NY, and The Rochester Contemporary Art Center, NY.

After receiving several awards for his paintings during juried group exhibitions, Linder was interviewed by JAV art and Al-Tiba9 International Art Magazines. His work will be exhibited in many group shows, including work at the Swiss Art Fair in Zürich and the CICA Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea, later this year.

Allan Linder fabricates paintings, drawings, digital artwork, mixed media artworks, and sculptures using various materials and substrates. His recent work Cityscapes are a collection of hand-painted artworks scanned at high resolution and digitally painted. The resulting artwork is a merger of traditional art with digital paint, printed as a giclée on canvas. Then he adds additional acrylic layers again, giving depth and color to the original image. The artist created this systematic process of enhanced prints over many years.


Allan Linder - Portrait in the studio

ARTIST STATEMENT


Allan Linder’s work is an exposition of a shared culture that explores a path through real and digital by creating a language between texture and color. By contesting the division between the realm of digital and the realm of experience, he approaches a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way involving the viewer. His work doesn’t always reference recognizable forms, and the results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. Linder’s focus on digital portraiture is about exploring new ways of painting through digital technology in combination with real-world art tools. He decided to use new fractal design tools to create the essence of the human condition and what that might look like in the future. As we increasingly enter the virtual world, we need a representation of who we are as individuals. The idea of the Supreme Mind as a physical avatar was called to him, and he began a pursuit of finding the essence of human portraits as futuristic digital avatars. A new beginning for his work and a bridge between real and unreal.



INTERVIEW

First of all, why are you an artist, and when did you first decide to become one? I don’t know if anyone ever decides to become an artist. Personally, it was an organic process for me from a very early age. I came from very meager beginnings, and my mother, who is also an artist, would teach my siblings and me to draw for entertainment. Eventually, teachers noticed my artwork was different and encouraged me to be more creative. I followed that path because it was part of my fabric, my soul. I started winning awards for art as a child, and that began my artistic career. What is your personal aim as an artist? Making art for me is a process that I use to build on my last creative experience. Each new piece I create adds another layer of knowledge to my approach, and my goal is to challenge myself out of my comfort zone. Some artists are content with using one or two overall techniques to create their art. I am never satisfied with doing things in just one way. Over the years, I have created artwork using a wide range of materials, including stone, leather, metal, fabric, plastic, paper, electronics, digital technology, and more. Most of these processes were not taught to me but learned through trial and error. That is what makes things interesting.


Selma, Acrylic on Canvas, 36x36 in, 2022 © Allan Linder

How did your practice evolve over the years? And how would you define yourself as an artist today? Years ago, I started making art with materials that were available and familiar to me. I used pencil, pen, ink, paint, ceramic clay, and wood, and I didn’t deviate too much from that until my first art gallery show. From that point on, everything changed. That show was a pivotal experience that introduced me to a wide range of materials, colors, subject matters, and more.

For many years, I tried to place myself into an artistic category, as an oil painter and illustrator, but I never felt fully comfortable explaining this to someone in a gallery setting because I did so much more. I felt like I was short-changing myself to be stuck in one category.

Shouldn’t the very nature of being an artist be about change? Today, I seek out new materials and techniques to experiment with. In my new work, I am generating artwork using music, animatronics, film, animation, artificial intelligence, digital painting, and fractal design. The fractal portraits are of particular interest to me right now. They were created through infinitely complex patterns driven by recursion through applied digital paint layers. For now, I am simply an artist, I will let the critics decide what category I fit into. You work with painting and digital art. What are the aspects that you prefer about both techniques? And how do you blend them together? It is an interesting question, one that I have struggled with since the early 90s. All artists today stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before us, and back then, they didn’t have a digital option. I didn’t always embrace digital artwork as a true medium, as a matter of fact, I tried very hard to emulate how the masters created paintings the traditional way for most of my early career.

Traditional painting has an immediate tactile response to it. I can pick up a large canvas and throw paint at it if I want to. You can’t do that with digital art on an iPad or screen. Yes, I know that with immersive VR technology you can actually throw paint on a virtual canvas. But, I think you get my meaning. Now, I enjoy both of these creative processes and they both have a place and time in my art studio.

In the 90s, I did a lot of freelance work for different animation studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. Sometimes I was creating storyboards, and other times I designed characters for animated TV shows and films. Most of that work was traditional, not digital. All of it was a great learning experience for me to understand new techniques and styles that can be applied to my work today.

During that time, I began working on a Commodore computer, Windows 95 PC, and an early Mac Plus computer. I explored software such as Lightwave 3D, Bryce, Poser, Photoshop, and many others. My early options for combing the two processes were, first, making digital art, then printing it out on paper, and then drawing on top of it, or using it as a jumping-off point for different compositions.

Today digital technology has become incredible. Now, I begin with a traditional painting of my own design, I scan the artwork using a high-resolution flatbed scanner. Now I use my original work as a jumping-off point for new creations that include adding multiple layers of digital fractal work, motion animation, and more. After I have played with a painting long enough, I might have one hundred or more layers of digital artwork on top of a traditional painting. It is a very unique process.

I have developed a method that I can stabilize animated layers and then flatten everything to 8k resolution, I then print it out on a canvas as a giclée print and then begin again. The entire process takes weeks sometimes, but the end result is stunning with hundreds of layers of both digital and real paint added to the final piece. My interests in traditional and digital art continue to grow with new materials, digital painting tools, animation, artificial intelligence, and the NFT renaissance.


Stonewall, Acrylic on Canvas, 36x36 in, 2022 © Allan Linder


What is your creative process like? And how did you evolve this way of working?

It all starts with coffee! LOL, not really. That kind of gets my brain going in the morning. I usually start off with some morning sketches of familiar things, our dogs, clouds, the room, etc. These are warm-ups that get the creative mojo going. If I am working on a new series of paintings or digital works, I usually just dive right back in, starting with assessing how good or how bad everything turned out the day before.

I am always working on multiple projects at the same time. I have created a system of workstations in my studio with all of the necessary tools in each area for a particular style or type of work being done so I don’t have to waste time moving tools around to each project. For instance, I have an electronics station where I am working on building an animatronic sculpture for an upcoming exhibition. All of the electronic components, adhesives, soldering, and testing equipment must be separated for ease of the build.

On the table next to that is my drawing workstation, where I am designing my fourth graphic novel. In this area, I have a light table, storyboard sheets, pencils, markers, all manner of drawing implements, and working pages, along with my reference material for that project.
Next to that is my easel with my newest painting, palette, brushes, and canvas. 

This organization process allows me to pick up right where I left off without searching for a specific brush, or pencil that I put down somewhere else in my studio. The main reason for this is that each project or series needs time to either dry or cure, depending on the type of materials I’m using or marinating in my brain a little longer because of the unique challenges involved with the type of art that I am making.


Roe, Acrylic on Canvas, 36x36 in, 2022 © Allan Linder

You mention in your statement, “By contesting the division between the realm of digital and the realm of experience, he approaches a wide scale of subjects in a multi-layered way involving the viewer.” What are the main themes behind your work?

The current state of the world is a mess, maybe it always has been, and I just wasn’t paying attention. I just finished a new series of paintings titled “Hues of Freedom,” which feeds the roots of what makes this country free, the people who demand freedom, and the people that fight for freedom so that the next generation can benefit from their hard work and sacrifices.
Starting with non-traditional colors for these paintings, I worked on the essence of what each of these moments in time was, what these generations went through, and their message along with the conviction to their cause.

I’ve also recently exhibited a series of paintings titled “Manifest No War,” which deals with the war in Ukraine. It is a series of mixed media collage artwork using woven fabric patterns passed down from the Ukrainian people, their national currency, and news clippings along with cast plastic sculptures of average hard-working people. Being strong in the face of adversity is, to say the least, challenging. Many of the pieces evoke notions of freedom, solidarity, and resilience to help those affected by the war in Ukraine. This series of paintings are currently exhibited at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, in New York.

My focus on digital portraiture is about exploring the essence of the human condition and what that might look like in the future. As we enter the virtual world more and more, we will need a representation of who we are as individuals in this space. The idea of a Supreme Mind as a physical avatar called to me, and I began a pursuit of finding the essence of human portraits as futuristic digital avatars. This is a new beginning for my artwork, and a bridge between real and unreal.


ASTOUNDING DREAM, Digital, 30x30 in, 2022 © Allan Linder

What aspect of your work do you pay particular attention to?

My artwork has always been about a deeper meaning in the details. I like to make artwork that a viewer can return to and see something new each time they view a piece. Imagine watching a film and liking it the first time you see it, and then several years go by and someone points out something in the picture that no one saw before, which makes you want to go back and watch it again. This same principle applies to my artwork. I try to imagine having a single stationary piece of artwork on a wall, you might pass it many times a day either at work or at home, how cool would it be to be able to see something new in that piece each time you look at it?

What do you think about the art community and market? And how did your perception change over the last years?

I love the art community. More often than not, artists are kind people and try to help each other when they need it. If you follow various visual artists on Instagram right now, you’ll find that many artists are sharing their techniques and creative processes with everyone. That is pretty amazing when you think about the level of competition in visual arts. There are tons of collaborations too, which actually makes a lot of sense. Most art making of the past was quite a solo endeavor; it seems that there is a shift in the way people make art today.

I honestly think that the art market is still trying to catch up. On one hand, you have a very old tradition of buying and selling art through galleries and auction houses. That still exists, but things are shifting with new companies that allow collectors to buy an incremental share of one piece of artwork instead of the whole painting.

During the pandemic, NFT crypto art changed the art market forever, creating a renaissance for artists to sell their work directly to anyone in the world willing to buy. For me, this technology changed everything. For years, I have gone through traditional methods of gallery representation, art dealers, art consultants, etc. NFTs brought art into your home anywhere in the world.

STOP WAR, Mixed Media, 6x4 in, 2022 © Allan Linder

Did you participate in any online exhibitions or art fairs? And what are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of digital art and art exhibitions?

I embrace every part of the artistic process, good and bad. I have done several online exhibitions this year with positive results, but some online galleries seem to take advantage of artists. Unfortunately, with art and ever-changing technology, online exhibitions can go either way. The main thing is to do the upfront research to determine if it’s worthwhile to spend my time doing the online thing. If I find a reputable gallery that has good feedback, it might be a great opportunity to showcase my work.

I exhibited some of my new digital portraits from the “Eternal Energy” series at the Swiss Art Expo in Zürich this year. It was very exciting to see the positive reaction to the work. I think every artist should make the time to do art fairs at least once because they can be beneficial to an artist’s career. The whole thing is experience and getting your feet wet, as they say. You don’t know until you try it. Art fairs are hard and not really my specialty, but they can be a fun experience to interact with people that appreciate what you make.
Digital art is here to stay. As new technological processes are created, artists that embrace them early, are adding these new tools to their repertoire to create something new, and everyone loves to see something new. As for online galleries, they, too, are here to stay.

And lastly, what are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future? Anything exciting you can tell us about?

I have been working on a new series of animated, digital paintings for more than a year titled “Transmutation”. These digital paintings are something from a psychedelic dream or a visit to another world. Each piece is unlike anything you’ve seen before. There are hundreds of layers of color, line art, moving elements, environmental factors, and effects, along with an original music score for each one. This series is on schedule to be released after my museum show in South Korea later this year, or early next year.

My fourth graphic novel is nearing completion after months of research and intense illustration to get it right. I am probably over excited, but It looks like it will be ready for my publisher in 2023.

Read the Full Interview on ALTIBA9