Breaking Down Inspiration and Whistling Along with Local Artist Andrew Tavukciyan

Andrew Tavukciyan is a visual artist and recent graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s industrial design program. Currently focusing on murals and large scale work, his portfolio includes an impressive plethora of canvases, from tabletops to Xboxes, toilet seats to ceramics. He is also the winner of the Vancouver Mural Festival‘s Independent Mural Contest, as voted by the public.

What is your neighbourhood and what makes it home? I’m currently living and working in the basement of my parent’s townhouse in Coal Harbour. My sense of home comes from being around my family, my dog and my studio/room as opposed to anything exterior from the neighbourhood.

Your neighbourhood go-to spot to get inspired? I get more inspiration from just walking around and listening to music, instead of being static in one spot. I’ll usually either walk left towards the Lost Lagoon or right towards the Convention Centre. My go-to spot when I lived in West Van was Caulfield Cov?e — look it up. Actually don’t, it’s my spot.

The most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration that you encountered? I like to break my inspiration down into individual elements. So I’ll focus on specific textures and patterns and forms I see when I’m walking around — like bricks on the facade of an old building or the grate of a sewer drain or a deformed knot on a tree. Collecting the inspiration is the easy part; it’s incorporating those elements into the work in a natural way that’s difficult.

The most beautiful place in the world? I really couldn’t tell you. My travel portfolio isn’t that vast, so I’d be lying if I said I knew. I just hope I get to go there one day.

Your favourite Vancouver building? I really like the Marine Building on Burrard and West Hastings. I’m a sucker for older buildings that look like they have some history.

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Your favourite dish in Vancouver? Whatever my mom makes.

It’s been a long week. What’s your drink of choice? I don’t really drink, but I do enjoy certain herbal activities at the end of a long day.

Your favourite piece of public art? I’m consistently blown away by artists like Aryz, Phlegm, OSGEMEOS and NYCHOS.

The artist you most admire? When I was trying to get through school and was feeling unsure of my direction, I started listening to a show called DVDASA hosted by David Choe, a visual artist whose mindset I really grew to admire. Beneath the layer of extremely crass conversations, the show had a really profound effect on me. And for that, Dave will always be my go-to answer.

A hidden talent? I’m pretty good at whistling. I would whistle so much as a kid that my dad threatened to send me to Whistler. I stopped for a few years after that.

A skill you wished you possessed? I desperately wish I could make music or play the drums.

City or countryside? I’d like to think that I’d pick countryside, but it really depends on the duration and how good the Wi-Fi is.

Your preferred mode of transportation? Walking for sure. I’m obsessively observant and walking allows me to take everything in without having to worry about crashing a car or bike. Also, I hate planes.

Name one thing about Vancouver that you think should change? Just one? That’s tough. It would be pretty cool to be able to even remotely afford somewhere to live as a creative that’s just starting out.

What’s the smallest piece of art you’ve made thus far? And the biggest? I stared making pins recently, those are pretty small. The biggest thing I’ve done as of right now is a mural over at Archive Digital — which was about 170 ft2 — but that’s about to be overtaken by my upcoming wall for the Vancouver Mural Fest, which is around 805 ft2.

If you could have your art on any building, which one would it be? As an Armenian, I think it would be cool to paint a mural on a really old building in Armenia. The contrast between an old wall and a really sharp, graphic mural could be really interesting.

In ten words or less, tell me why you think public art is important. The more people that have access to art, the better.

Is it more important for public art to be provocative or aesthetically pleasing to the masses? I think it’s more important for an artist to stay true to their vision and style. If that vision is provocative, then so be it. I don’t think it’s the artist’s responsibility to worry about what the masses think, their job is to create in their voice. It’s the curator’s responsibility to choose an artist that they think will positively reflect the environment and its community.

How did you want people to feel when they see your mural? I try not to think about eliciting a specific feeling or response out of someone. I find solace in focusing on how I feel when making it because that’s the only thing I can really control. That being said, I’d still much rather someone either love it or hate it as opposed to feeling apathetic towards it.

What did your mural reveal about you? My creative output — whether it’s a small drawing or a huge mural — is the way I choose to communicate with the world. It’s the language I feel most comfortable speaking. From my limited experience, you don’t get to choose what or how you create as an artist. It’s purely instinctual. So by that logic, my creative output is the most honest representation of who I am. More honest than anything I could ever write or say at least.

How much does the concept of ‘permanence’ factor into your mural design? I tend to get really attached to my work and find it hard to relinquish control, but it’s been getting easier the more I do it. It’s a mindset. If I go into a new project knowing that it’s not for me, it’s a lot easier to let go. The adage “hold on tightly, let go lightly” comes to mind, but I’m still working on it.

How would you like to be remembered? I’d like to be remembered as someone that had a vision and stuck with it.

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