Drew Tetz is an artist in residence at Main Street Arts. He’s working in one of our two studio spaces during the months of March 2017 (you can stop by the gallery to see his studio and works in progress). We asked Drew a few questions about his artwork, life, and more:
Q: To start this off, tell us about your background.
A: I live in Canandaigua, NY, but I’m originally from Silver Spring, MD (right outside of DC.) I got a BFA in Graphic Design at Andrews University before dipping a toe in the freelance life as a designer & professional yo-yoer. Eventually, I moved up to the Finger Lakes to be with my boo, Melissa Huang. I currently work as an elementary classroom aide while keeping up with design clients, personal art, & my hi-fi yo-yo brand.
Q: How would you describe your work?
A: I work with a lot of toys, lasercut wood, & rotating objects. It’s really fun to make art that people can play with, especially if it inspires them to go on & make stuff of their own. For this reason, I’ve been especially drawn to things like papercraft & flatpack design.
My current obsession is a pre-cinema animation toy called “the phenakistoscope.” It’s basically rotating disc using a series of slits to create the illusion of motion, similar to a zoetrope. In this day & age, the flickering can be recreated at home with the help of a turntable, some bright lights, & a camera. The turntable spins the disc at a consistent rate, which blends the frames into a moving image when viewed through the camera’s shutter speed.
The word I hear used to describe my work most often is, for better or worse, “trippy.” I will admit that it is fairly trippy.
Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
A: When creating a phenakistoscope, I generally start by figuring out what subject matter I want & how long I want the loops to be, which determines which speed will work best. I also like to decide early on whether there will be any “tricks” or extra motion in the disc so that I can plan for the varying framerates & processes. This is usually enough to establish a rough mental map of both the final static image & the animation.
From there, I can start in on cropping & chopping the source clips up on laptop before exporting the individual frames into a film strip. Then, using a program like Photoshop, I bend the frames into a connected circle & process the image for maximum legibility. It’s a lot of computer mumbo-jumbo, basically.
I actually wrote a tutorial on phenakistoscopes for Make: magazine about making an original animation from scratch instead of working from video frames. (That article also features a few you can download & print if you’d like to try it at home!)
Q: What are your goals for this residency? Tell us about your current projects.
A: I’ve had an unusually busy month following my animated business cards going slightly viral, so my focus has been unexpectedly widened to accommodate new clients & collaborators. Between these unexpected projects, I’d like to find the time to expand on the printable animated coloring pages, I love them as an interactive project for artists of all ages. (You can try out the Wiener Dog Wiggle Wheel coloring sheet for yourself at the gallery!)
Q: What’s next for you?
A: More animation collaborations with as many artists as I can manage, a few LP labels on real vinyl, slipmats & relief prints… seeing how far I can push this funky medium!
Q: Where else can we find you?
A: My portfolio is up at drewtetz.com, but for a running up-to-date look at my work I’d check out my instagram. (In particular, I try to catalogue my phenakistoscopes with the hashtag #tetzoscope, so check that out for more animated records.) I also run a high-end yo-yo brand called 44RPM.
Are you an artist looking for new opportunities? Apply for a residency at Main Street Arts! Artists in residence will have 24-hour access to a large studio on our second floor (with great natural light), the option to show work in the gallery, and the opportunity to teach paid workshops. Housing is available. Submissions are reviewed and residencies awarded quarterly.