K.K. Hi, Remi! Thank you so much for doing this interview with me. To start, can you tell me a bit about yourself, your art, or anything you’d like our readers to know?
RT: Hey, Kai! Thank you for having me! I’m from Oakland, California and I work in San Francisco. My creative passions are painting, writing, drawing, and composite/collage art. I’m also into cooking and cartoons.
KK: When did you start practicing graphic design? Do you have artists or aesthetics that inspire you?
RT: My mom runs a graphic design firm, so I feel like digital and traditional design and art, in general, have always been around. As a kid, I would watch my mom work on Photoshop and Illustrator; she’s taught me a lot. I took graphic design classes in middle school and digital photography classes in high school. I’ve also watched a ton of YouTube tutorials. Very handy. And free.
I started experimenting with composite images and collage-style art in middle school. I was very into Tumblr (duh), and I saw a lot of interesting collages on there. I started with traditional cut and paste collages, but going digital gives you much more freedom to manipulate and maneuver your images and layers.
There are a lot of people who make composite art, and sometimes it’s not particularly easy to tell different artists apart. It’s cool in a way though that all these separate artists are creating pieces that are somehow cohesive. Some people I'd name for collage inspiration are Romare Bearden, Jesse Treece (ig: @jessetreececollage), Deborah Roberts (ig: rdeborah191), @_adizm_ on instagram, Jess Conwell (ig: @chipperjay_creative) and Katy (ig: @collage.garden)
R.T. For aesthetics, a lot of the collage art I like uses vintage images. Old National Geographic pictures are particularly popular. My grandfather left behind a collection of Nat Geos from the 50s to 90s that I use for some of my collages. I’ve become a bit more cautious about cutting up the actual magazines, so I started scanning the photographs. I think a vivid psychedelic, outer-space, even science fiction-style motif is present in a lot of the colleges that inspire me. The medium lends itself to the creation of those zany environments.
KK: Thank you so much for those answers. I had no idea that your grandpa had left those magazines, but now looking at your work, that makes so much sense. I totally see the nature themes in them. So, in “ Tom, Peeping” what themes or images are you playing with? When I saw this, it read to me as being about honoring women and their natural power. The men in this image are small and unattached to nature, while the woman is giant and exquisite. What do you think?
RT: I love that interpretation. The man in the image does seem so small, and perhaps in awe of what he's looking at. To me, he’s out of place, not quite comfortable, whereas the woman is totally at peace. I wanted to have something emerging from the water, and at first I considered things like tentacles or disembodied arms and legs. Both could have worked, but what’s better than having a larger than life woman minding her own business while this creature stares at her: a being so advanced that he can hardly distinguish her from a god? Or at least that’s what was going on in my head.
KK: Totally. That is so interesting, and perhaps he shouldn’t distinguish her from a god. I love the surrealism in “Martini Friday.” It feels more psychedelic than your other pieces. I wonder about the use of escapism and world-building that happens here. Can you tell me more about how you conceptualized this one?
RT: My muse here was straightforward. My family has a tradition of making Martinis on Fridays. I made this during a particularly understimulating day at an old job. I think the escapism aspects come from me wanting to flee the week and swan dive into a pool of vodka and vermouth.
When I started this piece, I knew I wanted a bit of a vanishing point and the Martini glass as the main focus. I usually start with the background. Here, I was searching for images of mountains and sunsets. The flower field seemed like a whimsical add-on that also provided a punch of color. I placed the little people on the road to create a narrative. I hope they reach their destination.
KK: I love that. I was not even thinking of the martini as a mechanism for escape, but now it seems so obvious. I won’t be able to look at this piece again without considering the brutalities of the workweek, and our human desire to reach a better destination. In “Each Glance in the Mirror is a Harrowing reminder of my fleeting youth, but I can't look away” I love texture play ( and, of course, the title.) The tiles and the dimensions in them are so wonderful. When you made this, what was on the forefront of your mind? Was it dimensional play, or the concept of a layered reality?
RT: It was the dimensional play for sure. I was thinking oh shit it would be really cool to have a person emerging from a mirror.
KK: Haha, and I agree! Thank you so much for your time. To end things, can you tell me about what you are excited about right now? Anything else our readers should know?
RT: No, thank YOU! Right now I'm really excited about the apps that I use on my iPad. Particularly Adobe Fresco and Photoshop for iPad. There are free versions of both. I like to communicate between my sketches, my computer, and my iPad to create pieces through a multi-media process. I'm also excited about working more on my writing. I’ve taken an unintentional step away from the creative writing process but it's time to get my fingers typing again.
KK: Awesome, thank you so much, Remi! I am excited to see more art and creative writing from you in the future.