S. Adam Cook’s diversity and ability to mix photography and other mediums is unique on its own. Creating a mystic and twisted tone in his artwork, Cook plays with our imagination. We talked with the Lafayette native about his early influences, his creative process and the obscure atmosphere of his creations
Tell us a little bit about how and when did you start making your own art.
I kind of always dabbled in it since childhood. My grandmother drew and colored on occasion and when she would babysit I’d watch her draw things up. Needless to say I took to it and started doing the same, mainly just recreating cartoon characters I’d seen on TV (shout out to Pikachu and Buzz Lightyear). I didn’t really dive deeper into the craft until I reached high school. There was a lot going on personally, and in the end art was my escape. The art teacher I had recommended I do acrylics over the summer and since then me and art have been inseparable. Photography, my main go-to today, wouldn’t come until I first got into college, and at that point I knew I wanted to study art on a professional level.
During those early years, who were your primary influences?
The earliest of inspirations I can think of are Salvador Dali and Banksy, once again dating back to my high school days. I had a Spanish teacher who was in love with Dali’s work, and one day she showed me a copy of “The Persistence of Memory,” and I thought it was just the coolest thing. I became obsessed with surrealism, and I loved the idea of the bizarre and avant garde. Banksy wouldn’t come until later on around my senior year of high school. My older brother recommended I watch a documentary on graffiti artists called “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” That was my first introduction to current working artists, and the one that really blew my mind at the time was Banksy.
You experiment and use many mediums and styles in your art. Were you always trying to expand your possibilities from the start, or did you started experimenting as you developed your artistic approach and portfolio?
At first for me, it was all about expanding the possibilities. When I first started out I wanted to be everywhere, running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Even as my work began maturing I knew that when I had an idea in my head, there was a certain way to execute it. If there was an idea that required painting I knew I had to paint, and if there was another that felt it required sculpting I’d sculpt, so on and so forth. Later into my college years, when concept started coming into question, I began honing in on photography as my go-to. The primary reason was I found it was the most successful way to execute ideas that I had. I still have a drive for experimentation, but for now my ideas don’t call for it.
Your works have a sort of mysticism in them, the more you look at it you start to notice the hidden elements. Is that something conscious or is it a consequence of the environment of the image?
I’d like to say it’s a conscious decision. The environment’s I shoot in are only a result of my need to create an image that calls for that particular environment. If I find an environment that doesn’t fit my original design, I just adapt it in order for my concept to remain the same. Sometimes, if adaptation is necessary, the end result exceeds the image I had in my head. Everything else, as far as concept is concerned, is preconceived, and therefore remains unchanged.
With so many different mediums and techniques that you use, how does your creative process happen?
I’m sure many if not all would agree that getting into the creative mindset itself usually requires some sort of mental stimulant. In my case, drinking coffee while drawing randomly, jotting down thoughts, or just reading about artists whom interest me are enough to get the juices flowing. From there I dive into what interests me as an artist, the “why” behind my work, and from there comes pen and paper which produce lines that eventually turn into sketches. After the sketches are drawn up, I look for locations that fit the sketches I’ve made, pick a time and date, and shoot.
Whats next for you, any projects in the works?
Currently I’m finishing a project up while also starting up another project that was unintentionally started while working on the previous project. This usually happens when I cook up an image or two that doesn’t fit in the current project at all. I like to call these images orphans because at the time they don’t have a series to belong to, but eventually have a series of their own. While I’m hopping from project to project I’m also working on a portfolio for graduate school, in the hopes of receiving a Masters of Fine Arts.
Find out more about S. Adam Cook work: