Craig Ford's bold and brilliant paintings of everyday objects and mixed-media collages capture the spirit of pop art and Americana. He is a career graphic artist who recently rediscovered his love for oil painting. We sat down with Ford and discussed how he started, what keeps him going, and what's next.
How did you get started in the visual arts?
I didn’t choose art, art chose me. I’ve been drawing and making objects about as far back as I can remember. My first awareness that you can have a job making art was probably second grade when I discovered comic books and was amazed at the drawings I saw in the super heroes comics. Whenever I was able to utilized drawing or photography in various class projects/presentations, I felt that it gave me a better chance at succeeding. Then the year before graduating high school, I was accepted into that year’s state wide group of Governor’s Honor Program for scholastic excellence and at that point was determined to go to college and major in art.
How did you get to where you are now?
Once I got to college and into the fine arts program, I chose graphic design as my major with an emphasis in drawing and painting. I worked in the graphic design/advertising industry for over twenty-five years and decided to get back to oil painting. I joined a local artist group (the Atlanta Artist Center), which allowed me to start exhibiting my paintings in various juried group exhibitions. Now six years later, I’ve got work in two different galleries, do commission work when available, keep painting and setting up solo shows. And when I’m not making art I teach art classes at a local art center.
How would you describe your work?
I paint in a realistic, representational way creating still life, allegorical and pop art centric images. My goal is to capture a sense of light and color regardless the subject matter. I like painting things that are highly reflective and shiny, as well as everyday objects one might find around the house or at a grocery store. I’ve recently begun to incorporate hand colored vintage photos as part of a painted scene, so my work is becoming a bit mixed media.
Who else’s work has influenced or inspired your work?
I am strongly influenced by the painters David Hockney, James Rosenquist, Wayne Thiebaud, Fairfield Porter and Bridget Riley. I find filmmaker David Lynch and the band Talking Heads influential in that they often take common everyday items and elevate the ordinary to extraordinary.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
I look for things that can inspire me to come up with interesting compositions that I hope will engage the eye as well as engage the mind thru some concept that may have a story to it or some nostalgic element viewers can relate to and often have a hint of fun/humor in the image. I also tend to get a little bored with one subject matter (i.e. still-life), so I’ll switch gears and paint a couple of mixed media pieces before jumping back into the current series I may be working on.
Where do you find the photos that you use in your mixed media paintings?
The photos I incorporate directly into my paintings are images that either I’ve taken or some friend/family member took many years ago. Some of my early allegorical paintings had painted images that were based on portions of old news photos of locations or celebrities.
What areas of your work are you hoping to explore further?
I want to get to where I use a minimum of brushstrokes to define the plane of forms but still keep the images easy to identify. The more I think I’m understanding light and color, the more I realize I still have a long way to go.