Congratulations Andrew, aka Gymdawg, on being our featured artist for Cosmosys’ 12th pack, Resistance. First of all, could you introduce yourself for the guys and gals who don’t know you?
INTERVIEWING – ANDREW GLEESON
EXHIBITION XII – RESISTANCE
Thanks, it’s a real honor. I’m Andrew Gleeson and I am one of the founders of Cosmosys.
Were you surprised to be the featured artist for this pack?
Yes, very. I tend to just sort of submit my poems and hope for the best. I’m always a bit surprised to learn that people actually enjoy them. It’s a huge compliment that the group decided I should be featured.
Now, when it was decided the theme would be Resistance, was your mind already flooding with ideas, or didn’t the inspiration come that quickly?
I wasn’t actually considering the theme when I was writing. I write to help me understand myself, it’s how I relax. I’d just start writing about different things in my life and see what would turn out. Fortunately, each piece ended up fitting the theme in its own way, but it was entirely by accident.
Your use of medium is quite unique in the artgroup scene. You like to express yourself in words rather than graphical art in the digital art scene. Have you always worked with this medium when you started out in this scene, and how did you wind up into this ‘world’ of ours?
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. It’s almost always to the tune of whatever music I’ve been listening to. I started fooling around with forum signatures in middle school and that eventually turned into larger digital pieces. I really liked trying different styles and figuring out what worked for me. That’s where the idea for Cosmosys came from: I wanted to build a place that encouraged people to try lots of different things. In the last few years though I haven’t had much time for painting. I’ve got so many projects going that finding time to get back into practice with painting or photo-manipulating is very hard. Writing just comes naturally to me and I can jot down parts of a poem while I’m working, which is perfect. It’s easy to fit around all of the other things that I want to do. I think one of the best parts about CMS is that someone like me can still fit in.
You do! This pack you’ve contributed with 3 solo pieces, all of which are poems, and one collaboration which is a combination of graphical scenery made by JayTeAre and your poem. Where did you find the inspiration, or rather, who was your inspiration?
Everything I write is personal. It’s sort of how I communicate with my subconscious. I’ll just start writing and see what appears. It tells me a lot about myself. To answer your question, I think my biggest inspiration is my life. I don’t want to say “myself” because I’d look like a narcissist, but I do get most of my ideas simply by looking inward.
The poems seem rather personal indeed. Weren’t you afraid to be so open, and did you experienced some self-censure when writing these poems?
I try not to censor myself. When I was younger I had a tendency to bottle things up. I’d never really talk about things and it usually ended up hurting me and/or the people around me. To combat that, I try to just be open about as much as possible. It’s a little bit cathartic actually.
I’m sure there are things I’ve written that were clearly about a specific person or event that I was sorting out, but I’d rather have it all out in the open and have someone get mad at me for thinking a certain thing than to hide my thoughts like I used to.
Right. That makes sense. So, about the pack: What is your favorite piece in this pack? And also, do you have a personal favorite?
As for the pack favorite, it would be “She Walks From Dusk Till Dawn” by Andres Gallardo Albajar. It’s so simple, but I think it speaks volumes. And it fits the theme in a way that very few other artists managed.
I really like the collab with Jay also. It’s always interesting working with him because he’ll take what I’ve written and focus it around something that I wouldn’t have thought of. He’s really good at creating things that show of both the words I wrote and the painting that he made for them. I think, though, that my favorite personal piece is probably “Steel Castles”.
Reading back over what I wrote in the last few months is always interesting because it’s like this gallery of all the things I’ve been thinking. “Steel Castles” contains some of the thoughts that that I hold most dear. “While You Are Mine” and “Twenty Years” are about relationships, but “Steel Castles” is about being a better man and looking for meaning and I’m really proud of the things I learned about myself while writing it.
Excerpt from “Steel Castles”:
I sit in a big steel house,
its windows a gaping mouth;
a fortress atop the trees,
a keeper of all I see.
This life holds no mystery
or meaning. We build and breach
these castles that cannot keep
us safe from ourselves.
You’ve done some great work for Cosmosys in the past years. Apart from that, do you have a job? Do you have any other projects going on?
I work full time as a software engineer for Microsoft. On top of that, I started my own game development studio with some friends and we’re currently working on our first game. I can’t talk about it much yet, but it’s going to be awesome. And I still try to show up and help out around Cosmosys as often as I can.
Thank you for your time and your words, Andrew. We hope to work more with you in the future. Do you have any last words to say?
Thanks for having me. I’m sure you’ll see plenty more from me in the future. In parting, I’d just like to congratulate all of the amazing artists in CMS. Watching all of the art get finalized for this exhibit has been a real treat, there’s a lot of great stuff in it.