Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
AH: I have been creating since I was a child. When I was young I loved sketching cartoons. I have been on my current journey with spraypaint and custom stencils for about 10 years now. I also love doing digital illustrations using some of my own photography and found images online. Working with wood is another passion of mine, whether it’s building a canvas or making a frame. I love the look and feel of the woodgrain.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I hand build all my wood panel canvases at home with the majority being found materials and leftovers from work. I’m blessed to work for a sign manufacturer that uses a lot of reclaim, so there is always leftovers that I quickly snag out of the recycle bins. My favorite though is to bust apart an old gray pallet and build a canvas out of it. I then get to have fun with the background slinging paint and layering texture stencils. I am somewhat of a perfectionist so in the beginning I wouldn’t consider my work to my liking unless it resembled the photo reference exactly, using many layers. My current work is much more freeing to me in that I don’t really know how it is going to turn out until it is complete. The more chaotic the background the better.
Sometimes a background will sit around for a couple months till I find the subject matter that feels right for the texture and colors I used.
Then I move on to designing and cutting the stencil, sometimes I love the background so much I haven’t put a final stencil on top. I haven’t had enough guts to put those up for sale yet, they just hang on my walls at home.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
My inspiration always starts with music. I love upbeat progressive, trance, and a little trap mixed in every now and then. I want my subject matter to always bring a smile and make people feel good whether it be an iconic musician from the past or an inspirational world leader.
Do you have a specific "beat" you like best - nature, food, profiles etc?
I love texture and contrast, if things match too much it makes me uncomfortable.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
My favorite piece currently is the one of the Dalai Lama. It was the first piece I really let go on the background and didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I actually let go so much that I let my wife sling some paint on the canvas too. She loved having a part in a piece and it was fun. Without her I would probably dislike the majority of my pieces but she is my rock, always there encouraging me to create and telling me how great my creations are, whether I believe her or not.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I spent a lot of time when I was younger deep in thought and always wondering why things were the way they were and a lot of times it would tend to make me sad. I have learned later in life to not take my thoughts too seriously and live life in the present moment. I like to see people smile when they look at my work so I tend to stay on the lighter side of art hoping to conjure up positive good feeling memories people have about my subject matter. Or introduce them to someone they have never heard of that made a positive impact on this world.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
I’m most active on my Instagram account @ahgrafx. Whenever I get a commission piece I like to post process shots for the client. As you’ll see I don’t follow the “traditional” artist profile that only posts their work and nothing personal. Myself I think that people enjoy seeing who this person is behind the artwork and what their story is. I also have an etsy account where you can purchase my work, I don’t keep it as updated as I like but you can find it at www.AddictedToPaint.com. I also have shown my work at a little coffee/wine place in maple valley called Vintage Vino for a few years now. I update what is shown there every two months if you want to see what I’ve been working on in person.
What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
I will continue to free myself from controlling the creation process and letting my art have a life of it’s own instead of forcing it to be how I imagined it at the start.
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I do cold brew with coconut creamer and just a little bit of maple syrup.