Print: MCW x Acoria
Acoria (aka Ash Stevens) is a freelance artist based in Sydney. A self taught creative that merges pop culture with portraiture and social activism in which you find an intense but soft beauty to all her works. We sit down with Acoria to discuss where her ideas stem from, where she seeks her inspiration & motivation from and what her process is when it comes to ‘creating’.
“I think that art is a universal language that I am still learning and teaching myself every day. My creative way is to never stop learning this language, and to never stop developing as a person and artist.”
Acoria (Ash Stevens)
What is your artistic field?
I am a person that doesn’t like to be confined to a particular field. Right now, I am a painter, who paints a lot of portraits. But I also like to draw, I don’t always paint portraits, and I like to experiment.
Where did your love for art begin?
As a child, I always wanted to draw; I actually started out learning to draw horses because I was absolutely obsessed with them as a very young child. After that my dad taught me some techniques as he loves to paint and draw himself. As a very visual person I was always drawn to art and design and throughout high school I tried out different mediums. I’ve definitely strayed from art at times but it’s the one thing I have always come back too, so I’ve decided to no longer ignore that urge.
Where did the name ‘Acoria’ originate from?
The name Acoria came about quite randomly at the time, it is actually a term for the excessive ingestion of food, not from hunger but due to the loss of sensation of satiety. I personally feel it’s a bit of a metaphor for how I think about society. I think we consume too much of everything without really stopping to ask why – we couldn’t possibly be ‘hungry’, we don’t need to consume as much as we do, but we have forgotten how to feel ‘full’. The constant scrolling, mass production and consumption, constantly taking in, but never being satisfied.
What has contributed and shaped your ideas and style of work?
Francoise Neilly was a major influence on me when I was learning to paint and trying to develop my own style. I loved her use of colour and experimented with palette knives after researching her practice. After that, I let art fall to the side a bit as I went to university to study psychology, which I actually graduated from in July this year. Having studied psych and learning about human behaviour and how our brain processes information also influences my style greatly now. It plays an important role in my personal work and concepts (i.e. not so much an influence in my commissioned portraits).
I think my love for psychology and my focus on portraiture, faces and emotions are intertwined. I’m always intrigued by what makes a face recognisable, what features create emotions, how a little tweak here or there can change the emotion portrayed on a person’s face. In addition, the fact that humans perceive faces as a whole, rather processing each part; the nose, the eyes, the mouth. We process all features together. Yet making a small change in the shape of the eyes can make a face unrecognisable. It fascinates me.
I guess the other major contributor was working for a period of time after university for an artist management company who also dipped into commercial advertising. I learnt a lot about large scale works and street art here which I was never really involved in before. Some of my favourite artists to date are street artists because of that. Also, seeing how art and advertising can work together, or not work together, has definitely shaped my opinions on that side of the art industry.
What was the first piece of inspiration or advice that motivated you to ‘create’ art?
I honestly cannot remember, creating has always been a part of my life, sometimes a big part, sometimes a small part. I am always drawn back to the visual, to creating, so in order to feel fulfilled I need to be making something.
Can you briefly step us through your process of creating a painting (from concept development to final product)?
My best works always start with an idea, usually an image in my head of what I want the finished piece to look like and a statement I want that piece to make. It doesn’t always turn out how I initially intended, sometimes I change it along the way. Other times, when I am painting portraits, I just start with an image that inspires me, an interesting face, a nice angle, etc.
From there, I sketch it up, and then start layering paint over the top. I can’t say I always use a particular technique, because I like to change things up and do what feels natural for that particular painting. Lately, I have been largely favouring downwards brush strokes, and that’s something you’ll see reflected in my recent works.
What material do you use for your works?
I switch between oil and acrylic quite frequently! I mostly also paint on canvas; however, I have a bunch of wood blocks and super nice and thick paper at home that I’m waiting to use.
Where do you source/seek your inspiration from?
I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict. Likewise for Instagram, I am always following new artists and gaining creative inspiration that way. Currently, I am really inspired by the murals that Claire Foxton has been pumping out; the scale she achieves is incredible. Seeing work like that makes me want to push myself to do better!
Where do you believe the most inspiring work is coming out of at the moment?
Like I mentioned before, definitely give Claire Foxton (@claire_foxton) a follow. Large scale murals and street art is something that’s really on my radar at the moment. I find that scale so fascinating and impressive and the individual styles of the artists really shine through in my opinion. I’ve also been a HUGE fan of Kum Hyunji @kimkimkimxx for like 2 years now, so there’s that too..
Honestly, with social media these days there is so much out there that it’s really hard to nail this question. My feed is constantly flooded with amazing emerging and established artists.
If you could meet any artist alive/or deceased who would it be and why?
Maybe Van Gogh. There is so many I would want to meet but having the chance to meet and talk with someone as influential yet as troubled as Van Gogh would be very inspiring and humbling, I feel.
What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?
Creativity is an output, it is an output that is new (i.e. not a mere identical copy of something that has been done before), that has value and that is necessary for the creator’s wellbeing. I believe creativity is not just limited to the arts; we see new and innovative ideas across all areas of life. To me, this is creativity.
What motivates (drives) you to ‘create’?
I try as hard as I can to listen to my body and mind. If I want to create, I do, and if I don’t, I don’t force it to happen; instead I listen to the other things I need to nurture to bring my creativity back. I guess thinking about this question in this way you could say my motivation and drive to create comes from within.
Check more of Acoria’s works at:
Instagram – @acoria__
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/acoriaa0