Artist Interview: Oliver App

Oliver App’s whimsical work began as an aspiring medical illustration student who fell under the spell of printmaking. Drawing from youth, fairy tales, and the dream world, App’s mediums include portraits and painting and often take an interactive role with puppetry and movable 2D. We talk to the Brite feature artist about the transition from medical illustration to current work, the intersection of art and interactivity, and being under the influence of dreams.

Select interviews will be printed in the Premium Guide Book and  CD samplers of  Brite artists are available as a Kickstarter reward. Get them both with the Music Lovers Pack and support Brite Winter on Kickstarter here. // Interview by Nikki Delamotte

“It’s not just about having someone observe the work, I want them to be a part of it and feel like they took something magical home with them. They can develop their own experience and connection.” — Oliver App

You started your studies as a medical illustrator and I know hair, a reoccurring theme in your art, was inspired by muscle fiber. Can you tell a little about how you transitioned from medical illustration to your current work?

It started with a relief printmaking class I took my sophomore year. Although I was still interested in medical illustration, printmaking became sort of an obsession. About a year later, I decided that I wanted my major to be on both printmaking and illustration. At the end of college, I became more interested in movement which is what got me into puppetry.

Much of your work has a whimsical quality that involves childhood fairy tales and dreams. What drew you to use youth and the dream world as an inspiration?

Most of my work involves the dreams I’ve had over the years. I have always kept a dream journal of some sort. My dreams are very involved and detailed. I look to them as a major outlet for myself and how I take in any and all issues that may be going on in my past and present. For me, translating a dream into a story and art is in many ways rewarding.

You use art as a way of being interactive with your work and audience. What drew you to that style?

I think it’s important to involve the viewer. For me, it’s not just about having someone observe the work, I want them to be a part of it and feel like they took something magical home with them. They can develop their own experience and connection. It’s very much about sharing and having fun bringing the work to life!

Can you tell us a little about your work with Brite Winter this year?

The idea this year is about moving forward to better things. The image itself is feathers being scooped up by the wind.

When you’re looking for inspiration, what do you continuously come back to – whether other artists, rituals, styles or techniques?

Most of my ideas come to me when I’m either going to sleep or waking up.

Brite Winter takes place every winter. What’s your favorite thing about the winter season?

The smell of snow!

What’s your favorite thing about Cleveland and/or being an artist in Cleveland?

There is so much love here and so much talent — Cleveland is a force to reckon with and I feel like it has been underestimated far too long!

Visit Oliver App’s official website to view more works by the Cleveland-based artist.