Say hello to the work of Brooklyn artist Anthony (Tony) Cudahy. Lately I’ve been extremely impressed by the amazing illustration pouring out of artist’s Tumblrs. I met Anthony online through him asking me what I thought of 2010’s NY Art Book Fair. After that, I was smitten by his works and have seen him grow since then. He represents just one artist out of the extremely talented recent graduates of Pratt Institute’s illustration program.
I spoke to Anthony recently to get his opinions on some matters floating around in my head. Check it out:
Tell us a bit about your self and what you’re currently doing?
My name is Anthony Cudahy and I’m a 22-year-old artist living in Brooklyn. Right now my focus is making a strong body of work and showing that eventually. I work part-time as a concierge and take the odd freelance job to pay my rent and support my work.
Describe yourself as an artist?
Increasingly interested in experimentation. Not quite a formalist, not interested in realism either. Although I am interested in art history and theory, the most important issue I confront is whether or not the finished piece has a ring of truth to it, which can be almost anti-intellectual.
The paintings focus on ephemerality. There are obscure scenes and forgotten moments. Figures dissipate and faces are obstructed. Too much information or information missing. The drawings, I find, lend themselves to being more narrative or vaguely symbolic. There a big issue is the construct of identity. I’ve been making drawings lately about nature – how we attempt to control what’s beyond our grasp, trying to tame it and the violence inherent in it, under the surface – but those aren’t all online yet.
Want to tell me a bit about how you got started through Pratt?
Back in high school, I went to the pre-college program and had a very good experience which directed my actual college decision. During my time in college, I met many inspiring friends and had some great teachers. I needed the time and focus to figure out why I wanted to make art and what I’m truly interested in. Still figuring that out, but it gave me a strong start.
Where do your inspirations come from, are they usually from the same source?
I use a variety of sources from photographs I take myself to found photographs of my family to images I find on the internet. I’m more concerned with the final image than worrying about the source. I’d say my work is ‘figurative’ in the sense there are people in it, but I don’t really view the paintings to be portraits.
What is your opinion of queer art? Do you identify yourself as a queer artist through your work?
I guess not specifically through my work, but in the way that everything from your life influences you and changes your path. The themes that I’m exploring are universal in nature. The obsessions and paranoias that inspire me to make work are somewhat general ones, I feel. Making work about being gay isn’t something honestly I’ve thought much about, but maybe I will feel compelled to do so one day. But I’m also sure it’s had a profound effect on the way I create, the way I think in general. It’s impossible to say this is where one part of you ends and another begins. It all ties together.
What do you think of the post collegiate art scene in New York? (I see you and artists like Kris Mukai and others through Tumblr existing in this same sort of community where you feature each others work or even remix them.)
While I was in school, I became really good friends with many super talented people. We all realized that we had stumbled into something special and continue to support and work with each other. I’m working on a zine project with Kris Mukai that also features Chris Nosenzo and Bridget Collins. I might be working on some film stuff with Eric Wiley. Maybe a book with Nicole Reber. Many collaborations are coming.
There’s also that very New York experience where artists I’ve known or known of on the internet end up moving here eventually. I’ve been internet friends with Lauren (Lala) Albert since I was in early high school so it’s still crazy to me when I see her in real life.
Outside of that, I am sort of at a loss as to how to navigate the art world. I’m just trying to make work that resonants with and challenges me and trying to get that work out into the world. I hope the rest will fall into place.
What is life like now that you’re out of school?
Strange, strange, strange. Freeing and scary.
I see you’ve been releasing drawings to different publications around NY. What is that process like?
Every publication I’ve been featured in has a direct connection to me simply putting my work out there. I try not to turn down any opportunity unless I think it will misrepresent my art. It’s just about being interested in being a part of the community. I was in Vice because someone saw my work in a show my friend curated. The anthologies I’ve made work for are put together by artists I respect and communicate with online. It’s just about finding people who are on a similar wavelength as you and being excited.
Printed matter will become more and more of a specialty area. Artists and designers interested in the physical experience of having a book will always find a way. There are professional printers who focus of small artist projects and I can’t tell you how many people are buying Risograph printers or finding people who have them to print. I think, optimistically, that a niche market can always survive. Especially one that inspires the fervor that printed matter creates.
What are you going to do today or already did?
Well first I woke up very very late. I don’t have work today so I’m going to try to get some painting done. Maybe record a song I’ve been working on. See a friend and make dinner. Stress out some and go to sleep sounds like the usual.
You can check out his current works and thoughts through his Tumblr.