Originally Published May 17th, 2017
“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create, or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” -Ansel Adams
When I was a kid I loved reading comics. Back then they were sold at the checkout of the local grocery store. In high school, I would always have a handful of Spider-man issues tucked away in my bag. I even went through a phase where I created my own comic series, “Mr. Squirrel’s Amazing Adventures”. No matter how many times I drew that stupid squirrel, it always looked like some sad mangled road beaver. I cannot draw, I never could. I believe that’s why I’m so excited by artists I meet who can create these fantastic illustrations, paintings, and other works of art by hand.
“Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul, and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” -Leo Tolstoy
I first met Aleks at a local pub where we both had artwork on display. Aleks’ bio immediately caught my attention. It said something about his family being murdered by a giant squid. Now he is on a mission to avenge their death. Senseless humor and unrelenting sarcasm, I knew immediately I would like this guy. The world is full of artists who take themselves too seriously.
“I tried to write simple lines with humor tied in, creation shouldn’t be all that serious.” -Charles Bukowski
While Aleks is equally hilarious in person, he’s also one of the most dedicated artists I’ve met. The amount of time, commitment, and detail he puts into every piece boggles my mind. Aleks’ work is nothing short of genius, and I don’t throw that term around loosely. Call me dense but I can’t imagine how someone does that with their hand and a pen. Kaleidoscopes of floral petals arranged with mathematical precision, adorned by intricately penned skulls. He has an amazing series on his interpretation of the zodiac. His work often has a medieval feel to it, drawing inspiration from his Russian roots; a blend of paganism and eastern orthodox Christianity. Among his influences, 16th century artist Albert Durer and Russian artist/designer Art Lebedev.
“7th Gate @aleks7even”
Fantastic towering Russian architecture, beautiful female faces with ram horns, bearded philosopher creatures and the ever present squid tentacles wrapping around the subjects that fill the Aleks7even Instagram page.
“We are what we repeatedly do.” -Aristotle
Let’s not forget his long running daily mug sketches. How about a good morning machete to the face? Zombie latte? Horror-villain-themed, gnarled porcelain, full of hot espresso. The household utensils have come to life, and they’re out for blood or lust. A pencil makes sweet love to a pencil sharpener. Say what!? Its like I’ve fallen into some deranged nightmare inked madly, black on white. What would a fly on the wall of that mind see? Well, he’s probably drawn that too, intertwined with floral feminine attributes.
After photographing Aleks for an upcoming art-show, he agreed to sit down with me and talk about his creative process. I’m on a mission to pick apart fellow artists’ brains and figure out what drives us to create. It’s been a question that I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. What is it that compels creatives to dedicate themselves to an art-form? We spend years learning, growing, and perfecting our craft. Why? Why create? We all have different reasons, but it’s my goal to find the common threads. In a culture where finding new forms of division has become mainstream, my goal is to use creativity as a uniting principle. My interview with Aleks is my first attempt at gathering this information and telling the story of the artists I know.
“I have to create. Everyday I just have to create something.” -Aleks
“Creativity is a learning process, always continuing to build upon the skills that you have mastered.”
“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” -Ayn Rand
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” -Scott Adam