Welcome back to WorkSpace, a series featuring an inside look at the places where local artists roll up their sleeves and take care of business. For each installment, I’ll bring an interview with a local C-U artist, complete with photographs of their work, to showcase his or her craft and expertise.
Art form: grafiti, acylic paint markers.
Influences: Ben Gregory.
Favorite collaboration: Kids.
Movie: Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Favorite CU spot: Sam’s Cafe, M&M’s.
Thoughts on CU art scene: “The art scene in CU is the only reason I am an artist.”
Allen Creamean (a.k.a. “Neurotik”). Born and raised and in Illinois. His primary courseof study in college was not in the arts but in the psychology, graduating from ISU with a Bachelor’s in psychology, then onto EIU where his Masters in Clinical Psychology. Currently, He practices at The Pavilion Hospital, working with youth and adults in acute psychiatric units. He has lived in Champaign for the past 3 years and have been painting for the past two.
He started using spray paint after having an interest in graffiti, but quickly switched to acrylic paint markers which allow more control in creating a piece on a smaller scale. He has been involved with The Common Mind artist group for the past two years painting at live events as Pop-Up Graffiti Jams at Mike and Molly’s, Art Salon, 40 North Untitled Fundraiser, “Spindependence” DJ music festival, and Taste of Champaign. He has shown his work at Institute 4 Creativity, Fluid Events Center, Exposed at SOMA and have also been selected as one of six chosen artists for the 40 North Sky Gallery. He has designed album artwork for T.R.U.T.H.
Smile Politely: When and how did you decide to become an artist?
Neurotik:I started painting in college here and there but never focused on it as much as I do now. Back then, it was splatter painting and abstract smears; never really saw it as worthwhile, just a thing to do to express myself creatively. It wasn’t until I met my girlfriend Kayla that I was truly inspired to regurgitate my neurotic mind onto canvas; she bought me a set of graffiti markers and away I went. I had the chance to be exposed to my first Boneyard arts festival (2014) where I met Matt Harsh and the common mind crew and was welcomed with open arms to come spray during the festival. Since that time I kept working independently and at live shows.
SP: What or who are your influences?
Neurotik: Ben Gregory. Ben was an artist from New Orleans who created a dark and distorted interpretation of human beings. His paintings often contain exaggerated representations of humans which coincides with the nature of my work in the mental health field. Ben was so influential not only because of the nature of his work, but because of how invested he was in others. I met Ben at an open air market, where he not only explain how he did his work, but he would pull you aside and teach you how to paint, airbrush, and use different materials. Ben has since passed away last year, which was a devastating loss to the art community. Every time Kayla and I would go to New Orleans, we would scour the area to find him to buy a few new prints. It was three months prior to his passing we found him once again at the Frenchman Market where I purchased my first original. That was one of the most memorable moments of my life as an artist. Ben inspired me to feel comfortable bringing out the truth of a neurotic mind on a canvas, but also to encourage and teach others to appreciate their own creativity.
SP: Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
Neurotik: I typically collaborate my larger pieces with kids at art shows. The past few live shows I have had kids have come up to see what I am doing. I give them a can and they get to contribute to the piece. They get so excited to be involved with such a large scale project and it is really fun to see how these young minds create.
Image contributed by Neurotik
SP: Tell us about your workspace.
Neurotik: Well since my workspace is just a room in my house this read may not be the most exciting. It’s nice having such close access to it because you never know when an idea is going to pop up. We just recently moved so the space is still fresh (not much to it) but it will develop over time to become more influential, exciting, and inspiring. I was previously working in our apartment which was a loft downtown. Both spaces are good for my canvas work, but I would have to say the best workspace is the live shows. Live events are great because I have the opportunity to include the audience and squash the thought that many have that “I’m not creative” by just tossing them a marker. They throw up a splatter of paint and you provide some encouragement and then you have planted a seed of creativity.
SP: Choose a piece of your art work and explain it in detail.
Neurotik: “Grief” [below], was created after the passing of my grandmother. In this piece you will notice variations of colors, textures, and detail, with more intricacies on the top layer. This piece was created in steps coinciding with the stages of grief; splatters in anger, smears in depression, and more obscure shapes once acceptance was achieved.
Image contributed by Neurotik
SP: What movie would you recommend to watch and why?
Neurotik: “Exit through the gift shop.” The film follows an artist as they begin their image and throughout their art career. I think it provides inspiration to grow as an artist while telling a story of how one individual brought creativity to the masses.
SP: What is your favorite spot in C-U?
Neurotik: Restaurant: Sam’s Café. Why? They don’t mask quality with the typical distractions; it’s just good food and good service. Bar: Mike and Molly’s. Murph is always a huge supporter of the weird (music, arts). If I’m out on the town, I’m there. There had been several Common Mind spray jams held there, so MnM’s will always be a special place in my creative heart.
SP: What do you think about the art scene in C-U?
Neurotik: The art scene in C-U is the only reason I am an artist. When I walked up off the street to the Common Mind show during Boneyard 2014 and was asked to join, I was blown away. It is easy to be discouraged as an artist when you are in a closed minded community. The C-U art scene is anything but; artist groups I have worked with such as 40 North, Ideal Djs, I4C (Institute for Creativity), and of course Common Mind aim to promote the expansion of creativity and art. I think given the variety of art in this community gives an up and coming artist a sense of hope for inclusion and possibility to combat those fears of rejection we have as new artists. With that hope comes motivation, and later a new creation
SP: Where, when and how can we see your work?
Neurotik: I was at Boneyard 2016 with the Common Mind at the Fluid Events Center. I have a few pieces at Spalding Skatepark as well. Otherwise feel free to check out my Facebook page for upcoming shows, updated projects, process photos, and other news on Neurotik Art. Facebook.com/neurotikart
Jimena is a photographer at Smile Politely. Find more of her work and photographs online: