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Henry Potter, the last cover artist of this year’s “Summer of Art” project, grew his interest in art by sculpting clay figures as a kindergartener. Potter, 20, would have the figures “fight” each other and would tear them apart to make unique new shapes.
But, he grew tired of that. Potter began playing drums and made his way to drawing. After experimenting with different styles in high school, and eventually deciding his work up until then “made no sense,” he developed a new aesthetic based on his childhood clay figures, which is demonstrated by his piece on the cover.
Where did the monster direction come from?
They’re kind of fun. It’s kind of cute how scary things are, because you think that they’re all soft and smooth and stuff, but then when you use the computer, things will start to fall apart and digital distortion will start happening.
Things will start getting bent and it’ll start looking pretty nasty with these claws coming out. I was thinking, ‘Whoa, these are getting kind of sharper now. These are more like lizard demon things. I’m not sure if they’re as smooth and nice as I thought they used to be.’ So I’ve been drawing, trying to find a balance between the smoothness of the salamander nice guys, and the sharp claws of the lizard demon guys.
What do you mean by ‘smooth?’
Smooth is like, have you seen those Japanese vinyl toys — Kid Robot? It’s so smooth, round and bold. I try to do that in two dimensions. It’s almost digital, but it’s been done with somebody’s hands.
It’s almost like a Chinese character. It’s about the gesture; making this art and then it has this positive energy to it. But when things get hasty, it will get this angle and this edge to it. So it depends on the mood I’m in, where the jagged edges will start to incorporate themselves into the monsters, and it really depends on how I’m feeling at the time.
What’s your process?
For the one that I submitted, I did like six different panels — huge drawings. They’re all freehand — probably two foot by two foot — square drawings with a sharpie marker. I take a picture of the drawing and then uploaded it to Photoshop. So it’s this large image, and then I fill it in.
And because of the lighting of the particular time of day, the fill bucket tool on Photoshop is affected by the gradient of the light. So, depending on the time of day that I take the picture of my drawing, it’ll effect the way that the gradient bucket colors the image on Photoshop. It’s kind of cool how nature affects the way that digital processing colors the image.
What music do you listen to while drawing?
If it’s a conscious decision, like I’m about to put something on literally right now, I’d put on something I’m kind of feeling. Right now it’s house music, because I don’t want to think too hard. Usually that is not the case. Earlier, I was listening to the Velvet Underground, Parquet Courts — rock style, a nice Talking Heads type feel. But for the most part, if I’m trying to just do work and keep going, keep getting stuff done, I just like the kick four on the floor.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m doing a big Art Prize project called ‘Bottles and Cans,’ where I have 2,800 little tiny paintings that people can buy for $1 each at this architecture firm called TowerPinkster in Grand Rapids. It’s an architecture firm and we’re going to fill up the whole ground, bottom floor of that building with a lot of bottles and cans.
Henry Potter’s work can be viewed on his Instagram account, @hennyfreewill.
This week marks the end of the third year of City Pulse’s “Summer of Art” project in cooperation with the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. This year, City Pulse featured original art on its by nine local artists. Their works will be auctioned at the Arts Council’s annual holiday fundraiser in December, with the artists receiving a 30 percent commission. Look for an announcement next spring on the 2019 “Summer of Art.”