A Conversation with Artist Steve Loya by Lisa Strout

How did you get started making art?

Like most people, I started when I was very young. My first drawing was an attempt at a dinosaur, when I was about three-years-old. My dad brought home a big purple crayon and some big, lined “computer paper”. It was probably my earliest childhood memory, and I still have the drawing.

 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, PA, mostly in a place called Cranberry Township. While it was a very suburban area, we still had lots of woods to explore.

How does that inform your work?

As kids, my brother and I spent a lot of time just playing in a nearby creek. I’d search for small critters like crayfish, leeches, water skimmers, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, etc. That early fascination with nature has stuck with me ever since.

Describe your work in general.

Some of my work can be more realistic, and some of it has more of an imaginary, surreal approach. I sometimes paint in acrylics or work in collage and mixed media, but much of the time you’ll find watercolor and Pigma Micron pen in my art. As far as subject matter, animals and wildlife tends to have a big influence.

How do you choose your subject matter?

It all depends on what captures my interest at the time, and if I feel there’s an urgency to communicate something to others visually.

What inspires you?

Other life forms and animal species and the roles they play on this Earth, and how we humans, as a species, relate to an impact the inhabitants we share (or don’t share) this world with. Music, nature, color and pop culture inspire me as well.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on a two-part series of works called the “Endangered Kingdom”. I’m also wrapping up work on what’s called an Alchemical Vessel for an upcoming exhibit at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery. I’m also working on a monthly collage collaboration project with a friend, inspired by music and mix-tape culture.

I’m familiar with your endangered series. Can you explain it for those who aren’t and tell us how you got the idea?

Every week, for almost a year now, I decided to focus on and draw a portrait of one animal on the Endangered Species list, as a way to educate myself, as well as raise some awareness, in my own small way. Each animal also gets a customized crown that says something about the animal, and brings a sense of importance and dignity to the beast. Each animal also finds itself on an imaginary place I call Splotch Monster Island, which is the more surreal and playful part of a two-pronged effort to inform the public through visual means. I believe we can all make a difference and have a positive impact on our world, in some small way, and art is one avenue for that kind of thing.

What 2 artists (living or dead) inspire you? Why?

My wife Kris, with her humble, gentle and playful approach to drawing and painting. Also, David Hockney, with his zeal, determination and unstoppable sense of curiosity, despite his old age.

What is your favorite color?

Teal

What are you reading?

The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau

If you could invite any 2 people (living or dead) to coffee who would they be? Why?

Sir David Attenborough and Eckhart Tolle, in hopes that some of their wisdom and knowledge might rub off on me.

What do you want people to know about you that isn’t art related?

I’m pretty good at beatboxing.

Where can we see more of your work? (website, FB, etc)

http://asplotchmonsteraday.blogspot.com/, and http://goflyingtrtl.blogspot.com/. New websites to come soon!