Graham Fuller is an Advanced Art student who works on his art passionately and tirelessly. In this interview, he reflects on his style of art and the mediums that interest him.
You previously went to Roosevelt. Did you take any art classes there?
Not one actually. That was the part of the reason I switched. I wasn’t motivated there because they didn’t have that good of an art program. So I just never thought to do any types of art like acting or visual arts. I just never got into it at Roosevelt.
What kinds of visual art do you make?
I do a lot with ceramics and clay. A lot of drawing. I’ve been starting to get into colored pencil work and painting.
What’s your favorite medium of art?
I’d say clay because it’s just so fun to work with. You really get to sculpt something and it’s just so hands-on. It’s also very therapeutic. I can just work for hours on one thing. I like to make 3D faces out of clay because it’s really fun to try to mold a person’s face.
Is that the type of art that you make the most?
I probably draw the most because it’s the most accessible. I can just go to a park and draw to relax. That’s one of the things I do love about drawing; I can just do it anywhere, anytime.
How would you describe your style of art?
Probably more abstract and weird. Last year I did stuff to try to get people’s attention. I did things that stood out or popped or just seemed out of the ordinary. When I first started doing art it was more about “Oh, can I replicate how this person looks?” and drawing celebrities and stuff. I kind of branched out and wanted to do more creative things where I’m not trying to draw any certain thing that already exists, but instead create my own stuff and use it as a way to be creative. I want to feel like I’m actually expressing myself instead of just copying something else. And part of it is an internal thing. I like to change things up for myself and keep it interesting. If I do the same type of work over and over again it becomes repetitive.
When did you realize that you liked making visual art? When did you start doing it a lot more?
Well, I did it a lot when I was a little kid. I was really into both clay and drawing as a little kid and then around high school is when I stopped doing it for a couple years and kind of lost touch of that. Then I took a ceramics class my first trimester back at SAAS and I immediately fell in love with it again. I would stay after class and work through lunches and that’s when I realized, “Why wasn’t I doing this earlier?” I guess I just needed to do it. That’s the thing with me; once I start doing something, I really become passionate about it. I just have to force myself to really start doing it.
So how do you decide what you’re going to make? How does the idea start?
Oh, I don’t. And it’s terrible sometimes because I can spend an hour on a drawing and then realize, “What the hell am I doing?” and not even know. And sometimes it’s for the better. Sometimes I try not to overthink it because I feel like then it’s more creative and more unique. Part of it is based off stuff like dreams or I’ll just get random ideas. This may sound really weird but I keep a journal right by my bed. I’ll get random ideas in the middle of the night and then I’ll wake up and start doing rough sketches, which is really bad because I lose a lot of sleep through it. And they look like third grader sketches. They’re really bad, but then it’ll remind me and I can create it later. I still have 10 to 13 third-grader-looking drawings I keep. It’s also fun to see how that then changes into the actual piece of art.
What piece are you most proud of?
There’s two. The one I’m working on right now which is a ceramic face. I’ve spent the most time on it out of a lot of my projects because I’m now really trying to focus on detail and not rushing my projects. I’m focusing on every little wrinkle, every little crevice. And I think it makes my work a lot better and makes me appreciate it a lot more when I’ve really put in the time. It can be hard to really slow down and do a lot of the painstaking work but in the end it definitely pays off. The other one would be the Marilyn Monroe collage because that took hours upon hours to do. But it was so fun when it was done. It was one of the first times I tried a different medium because I’d been doing so much in pencil. It also just felt so rewarding to try something new.
You’re also in Advanced Acting right now. Are there any other art subjects that you’ve dabbled in?
I was really into creative writing and poetry for a while. Acting is something I’ve recently found because I have actually yet to be in a play. I’m trying as many different styles and forms of visual art as possible because it’s fun to mix things up.
Have you tried a certain medium and then learned that you really didn’t want to do it again?
Painting. I really want to do it again but I don’t at the same time because I’m not good at painting. To be honest, I’m one of those people who likes to be naturally good at something and there’s a pretty big learning curve with it where once you get good, then you can do it. That’s one of the reasons that I like pencil so much because you can easily express your ideas. Lily made me do a color wheel as the first thing with painting and I couldn’t make the color purple. I tried for an hour straight and I couldn’t make purple by mixing different colors. I like learning from experience and by figuring things out on my own but that’s hard to do with painting because there’s so much technique involved in it. It’s hard to learn on your own without any help. So at some point I’ll have to force myself to actually sit down and learn how to do it correctly, but I’m putting it off for now.
Is there any good advice you remember hearing about making art?
Don’t overthink. That’s something I hear a lot. And don’t pander to what other people want. That’s something I’m guilty of doing a lot myself. It’s important to do something that’s meaningful to you or that you enjoy even if the final product isn’t amazing. A lot of it has to do with the process and the viewer doesn’t necessarily see the process. Sometimes you just can’t think of it as what the final product will be.