Artist Interview: The Veiny Crow

Fierce Nice's series of artist interviews continues with a freewheeling and very interesting chat with the one and only The Veiny Crow.

Thanks for so much for taking the time for this interview, [REDACTED]. Can I start by asking you to introduce yourself and talk a bit about your background?

Thanks for asking me, Ru. It's a pleasure!

Well, the artist behind The Veiny Crow is a large black cat with a very fluffy tummy. If the art movement Gas C**tism was an inadequately sized cardboard box he would situate himself within it. He is dead - the supreme hallucination. But that doesn't stop him creating shit drawings and paw-cut collage pieces from old books and magazines. He enjoys painting and archery and has a background in theology and hotel management. He speaks about himself in the third person.

Is there any particular reason you work pseudonymously as 'The Veiny Crow' rather than use your real name? And is there a story behind that wonderful moniker?

That's a good question because as you know I’m not a crow but in fact a black fluffy cat. My real name is De Selby, after the philosopher in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman. The name The Veiny Crow came from a Rorschach-style painting I did while trying to create an image of a crow. The paint was so thick it developed veins when opened and thus The Veiny Crow was born. I use the name so I can continue my career in archery, as the archery community are unfortunately very anti-collage and if they were to find out my true identity I would be a laughing stock in their eyes.

Which artists do you most admire? And have they or others influenced your work?

Some of these are people I'm influenced by, some of them I admire and some of them are both: Jack Donovan, Tina Brooks, Modigliani, Wayne Thiebaud, Aretha Franklin, Wu-Tang Clan and The Trout of No Craic.

How would you describe your art and the intent behind it in your own words?

It's a constantly evolving obituary to my life. It's the intersection between my love of fluffy things, my love of light, my enjoyment of sitting down for long periods and my contrarianism.

What does your workspace or studio look like? 

It's pretty modest, to be honest. I float through space and time collecting words and pictures in my popcorn paws.

You make your collages traditionally rather than digitally. Do you think you'll ever go digital, or do you prefer the tactility and rawness of the old-school method of collage making?

Collage is an assemblage of different forms to create a new one. When you work with physical hand-cut pieces there’s no option to minimize, maximize or change the piece in any way so depending on what you are doing it requires a lot of problem-solving. For me, I wouldn’t go digital as it would eliminate the visual problem-solving which is what I find the most fun. I also have a slight aversion to digital as punters would assume all my artwork was digital and not appreciate the time put into it.

I think I've told you this before, but I just love the wildly imaginative titles you give your artworks. Do you generally have a title in mind when you start a piece or do they come to you as you work? 

Thank you! I only name them when finished. It's mostly based on internal rhyming. Similar to the collage process itself I let the words create their own images. You have to be in a state of 'flow' and not thinking about the meaning of the words. It all comes from my love of hip hop and people like Ghostface Killah who create great imagery through internal rhyming and stream of consciousness writing.

Fierce Nice's readers and customers will know you best for your outlandish collages, but you also paint, draw and hand make jewellery. What's your favourite medium to work in and why? 

Collage is definitely my favourite medium as it's a fantastic way to generate ideas and get your story going. I’ve just started painting for the first time. Painting a blank canvas previously intimidated me, but it’s becoming my favourite medium for mixed media. I’m looking at a lot of Limerick-based mixed media painter Jack Donovan's work at the moment.

You're quite active on social media, particularly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. How useful do you find these online platforms in terms of promoting yourself and your work, floating new ideas, networking with other artists/galleries, etc?

I’ve found each site has its own culture, so yes, I love Instagram because it's image-based. Twitter isn’t my thing (it's better for comedians and writers; I’m just not consistently witty enough for it to work promotionally). Facebook is basically dead and not in a fun way, more like purgatory, not a lot of engagement and more so just a landing place for your profile, so I don’t bother with it. The Veiny Crow Facebook page is quite stagnant. I don’t visit him a lot because he just tells me the same stories as the last time I saw him. So I use social media for research and to stay up to date more so than promotion.

There are also some great artists who post the progression of their paintings which has been a useful resource for a beginner painter like myself.

The Veiny Crow Stall

What's been your proudest moment or achievement as an artist to date?

I'm very proud I've finally started painting but I think my proudest moment would be how I felt going home after my first Veiny Crow jewellery stall.

It was at a fashion show in Dublin in late 2015, early 2016. I had earrings of lions licking their balls and shitting dog necklaces. I needed stands to display them so I had the idea to put Trump, Putin and Enda Kenny in drag, cut them out in card, pierce their ears etc, and use them as stands. Unfortunately, due to the demographic of the show's audience, they did not appreciate Putin in such attire. I had a few people come up and shout at me over it. I'm still not sure what the problem was as I thought he looked lovely with pink eyelashes. Anyway, like any true artist, the enjoyment of provocation sparked the idea for my popular ‘Trump Hunzo’ t-shirt (and cards). Not only had I gotten over my fear of standing in front of strangers worrying if they liked what I did, but I realised I enjoyed that they didn't like it! Not so funny once Trump got elected but hey what ya gonna do?

Are you working on any exciting projects or pieces at the moment that you'd like to talk about?

Yes, thank you. Since I began painting I'm building a collection to exhibit. Similar to my collages, animals and domestication are ongoing themes. Donovan is influencing how I approach collage, while Dali's surrealism and some baroque artists are big influences. If they end up reminding people of a fever dream they had where their disapproving pet has their shit more together than them, I’ll be happy.

How do you envision your artistic career progressing and evolving over the next 5 years?

I envision making a living from paintings of dogs in dresses.

That's a wrap! Thanks for giving such a fun and genuinely interesting interview!

An exclusive selection of The Veiny Crow's art is now available to purchase from Fierce Nice at the following link: The Veiny Crow collection

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Ruan Shiels, founder of Fierce Nice