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Interview with Craig Elliott

You are an artist. How is your art style related to the themes in your work?

My style is related to the themes in my work in that I always try to create work that looks like it has been made by some natural process. By hand with real paint or pencils etc. Even if I sometimes have to use the computer to do my work, I am more drawn to a traditional real media look. This desire to use natural media meshes with my interest in nature and things and people that are in their natural state as well.

In what medium can you express yourself the best?

I feel most comfortable with drawing media as well as oils. I like to draw in color because it is so immediate, no set up or clean up after. But in the end, nothing really compares to the look and feel of oils.

You have studied under Burne Hogarth. Can you tell us about him?

Burne was probably the most passionate teacher I have ever seen. He was almost like the Chris Farley of teachers. Maybe not as physically active as Farley, but he really had the mental and verbal energy! Burne was a super intelligent guy, he knew a lot about almost every subject. He wasn’t just an artist in that sense. He was also very interested in word origins for some reason. he would always stop and explain where a word came from and who used it first, and how it evolved over time, etc. All the while he would be doing some fantastic anatomy drawing or giant head in nupastel pastels up at the front of the class. He was also not shy about criticizing the students if they weren’t pulling their weight, being lazy or not grasping the lesson fully. He intimidated quite a few student this way, but he just wanted them to succeed.

Can you tell us about the process of creating jewelry?

My process of creating most of my jewelry pieces starts with drawing on paper. The basic ideas are sketched out and then I move to modeling the forms in Maya a 3D modeling program I have learned from working in the Animation industry for over 20 years. I like to use Maya because many of the natural forms I use in my designs such as flowers and leaves, often repeat a great deal. A program like Maya is great at repeating these things and I can spend more of my time refining the designs rather than sculpting the same petal or leaf 40 times. Once the design is modeled and scaled to a 3D head model it is then sent to be 3D printed in wax.

If I want to make a large number (over one) of a piece I will make molds of the wax master or if I just need one I will give that wax print to the caster and he will burn it out in the casting process so it will be lost. When done in place of the wax is a nice gold or silver piece of jewelry! After casting with the lost wax process the parts are all polished and then soldered together. If there are any stones in the piece they are added last.

What other present day artists, any genre or medium, do you like and why?

Mark Schultz, Greg Hildebrandt and Roger Dean are some of my big inspirations when it comes to living artists. I have had the chance to meet all of them and have become friends with Greg and Mark. I am inspired by these artists in large part due to their enormous raw skill with traditional media. It is always an inspiration to see their work, and I feel like I will never reach their skill level! I also find their imaginations incredibly inspirational as well. Each of them has different strengths in their imagination, but all are true masters!

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