If we’ve learned anything about art and Detroit, it is this: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Think graffiti is art? Then come to Detroit! We’ve got amateur and professional in kind.
And that art is subjective – just because you like it (or don’t like it), hush up because surely someone else does. Take projects like Ice House and Flower House as examples. One used frozen water; one used nature. Both were art.
Finally, have fun with art. Don’t take it too seriously. And that’s where Artsy Fart comes in.
Artsy Fart is an art collaboration between artists Alan Ledford and Alyssa Klash. Meeting by chance, both artists realized they shared a similar illustration style as well as artistic vision. The two decided to combine forces and create Artsy Fart. Artsy Fart talents include but are not limited to: animation, apparel, art, toys, and teaching. It is Artsy Fart’s mission to spread fun, creativity, and bring out the inner kid at heart in everything they create.
Alan Ledford works predominantly in directing and cinematography, but also creates various forms of digital and mixed media illustration and design. Completing his Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in film production from Grand Valley State University 2011, Alan moved across the country for work in Hollywood, California. In LA he gained exposure and national credibility directing and shooting for ZEFR/ Movieclips and Fearless Records. His personal work has been showcased, with accompanying awards, at both the Detroit Institute of Arts and well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Alan’s most internationally recognized directing feat was the world’s largest single shot senior citizen music video in which he created and choreographed. The video featured the music of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good” and gained YouTube top chart status in over 12 countries receiving over 7 million views collectively.
Alyssa Klash an illustrator, designer, animator as well as art instructor at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Graduating from Parsons School of Design in New York City Alyssa received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. While living in NYC she designed for Betsey Johnson and worked for the artist Tara McPherson in her studio as well as her gallery the Cotton Candy Machine. Since moving back to her hometown Alyssa has curated numerous art exhibits all around the City of Detroit. She has painted murals installed along Woodward Ave in downtown Detroit and as well as downtown Grand Rapids for Art Prize. Ms. Klash has also collaborated with several nationally recognized local musicians such as Lightning Love and Alex Winston to create stop-motion animation music videos. Her animations have won local and national awards and have premiered The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Michigan State Theater and festivals across the country. Her artwork has been featured in The Metro Times, Real Detroit Weekly, MyTv20, StereoGum, Critic Car, The Huffington Post, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Here is my Q&A with Alyssa about the Artsy Fart installation and show, which is TONIGHT, Thursday, Oct. 22. Artsy Fart’s premier exhibition “A Midnight Snack,” opens from 6 to 11 p.m. at The StoreFront Gallery at 477 W Marshall Street in Ferndale. It features prints and original work “of what you crave after a hard night of partying.”
Q: The name — it demands an explanation. Is it funny or ironic? What are you going for?
A: Artsy Fart is for the kid at heart! The name is supposed to be funny and ironic but most importantly we wanted it to capture who we are as artists. Our work is fun, weird, cartoony, childlike and we felt the name suited us perfectly. So many artists and patrons take themselves too seriously, our vision is to never let go of that inner kid at heart and always have fun.
A: Working with another artist has been a totally awesome experience. Being able to bounce ideas off once another has really forced us into a new way of creative thinking that also feels really natural. Whenever we collaborate on a piece we never know what to expect. We’ll come up with one idea but by the time we’re done passing the drawing back and forth it is greater than anything we could have imagined. What makes us work so well are our unique backgrounds but we share the same illustrative vision. Alyssa graduated from Parsons School of Design in illustration and has had a lot of great experience with working as an illustrator creating everything from poster designs to character designs. Alan graduated from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids where he studied film production with an emphasis on directing and cinematography. Because of these backgrounds we’re able to look at a piece completely differently but because we share a similar illustration style we’re able to fuse our visions seamlessly.
Q: What has changed about your art because of this experience?
A: The style of our work hasn’t changed too much but because of this experience we’ve been more open to change. Every idea is never the final idea, it’s always susceptible to change and it’s important to be open to that. If we would have let our egos get in the way we would have never been able to create the amazing work we’re creating now, or enjoy the process.
The experience of working together has strengthened us both creatively. We both have unique qualities that work naturally together that have allowed us to open a flood gate of ideas and possibilities with this style of art. Most of all we’re so grateful to have each other so we can share this amazing experience together.
A: We felt as if there was a real need for our style of work. Cartoons today aren’t as weird as the cartoons from the 90’s when we were growing up, and we felt it was our duty to bring back the weird. But more than just sharing our work we want to share how we create with others. We’re in the process of creating our own art curriculum to create Artsy Fart Academy. For now we’re only doing one on one private tutoring but once we’ve raised the funds we’ll have a school and gallery space, which could in the form of a trailer that will travel across the country.