In Their Element: Craig Morrow

I've been working on a series that I'm really excited to share.  This series will focus on artists and the spaces they create in.  I've always been intrigued by the workspaces that creative people have and I think photographing these spaces is an interesting way to get a behind-the-scenes feel for the artwork that is created.  I feel that, in their own way, these spaces share a bit of the creative process behind the art in a way that words can't.  I have titled this project "In Their Element."  

Today I'm sharing photos of the workspace of my friend, Craig Morrow.  Craig is an incredible illustrator (fun fact: he designed our wedding invitations!) who works in several different media and styles.  Most recently, his work was featured in a collaborative art show called #RuminateCLT alongside the work of Cece Stronach, The Ruminate Project's creator.  Seeing Craig work on his pieces for this show is what initially inspired me to capture artists in their environments as a series, so I think he is a fitting place to begin:

Tell me a little bit about the Ruminate project!

Ruminate is a showcase depicting artistic representations of some of the best restaurants and chefs in Charlotte. Cece Stronach and I teamed up to bring the signature dishes and beverages to life through our various mediums. We reached out to Heirloom in Davidson, The Daily Press in NoDa, Futo Buta in South End and many others and they loved the idea! I look forward to a continued partnership with these amazing culinary magicians somewhere down the road. 

I noticed that many of your drawings are on scrap pieces of paper or on matte boards.  Can you share the reasoning behind some of the paper and surfaces you use?

For the longest time, I was held hostage to the ‘perfect format’. I was always looking for some magic substance that would make me a better artist. Some material that would be able to interpret what my mind’s eye was trying to communicate. The breakthrough moment came when I bought a huge piece of orange mat board to frame a print my wife found for me. I found that drawing on the scraps was liberating. There was no pressure. No expectation. That's the moment that I truly understood that it's a poor craftsman that blames the tools. 

You told me that you always have a copy of The Wild Muir on your drawing desk.  What is the significance of this book to you and your work?

John Muir and his life constantly stand as evidence to me, that if you're going to climb the mountain, weather the storm or fight the bear: You need to abandon the plan sometimes and just make the thing happen. He was a stubborn mule of a man and he answered to his environment. He reminds me that I should adapt to my surroundings instead of asking them to adapt to me. 

One of your daughters (age 7) has turned into quite the little artist herself and even had one of her pieces showcased at the Ruminate show.  How do you find ways as a parent (and an artist!) to support her in her creativity?

Limitation is the greatest inspiration to me. With Lily, I do my best to provide her with a variety of tools at her disposal. I ask her to look for the opportunity in what is in front of her and to never become paralyzed with what she or others say can’t be done. Working with what you have is the key to success and she makes use of everything around her. If everything is a canvas, you are never without tools.        

Your home is one that I could spend hours in, looking at all of the photos, books, projects, and plants.  In what ways does your environment inspire your work?

Our home is curated by many standards. It's critical to the process to keep your vision in front of you. I must keep my projects visible and tangible or I move on. Most time at the peril of my extremely understanding Wife. The photos remind me of what I'm working for. The books are there to fuel and inspire the fire. Whenever I'm stumped and whenever the lines don't make sense, I take a moment and pick things up and rummage through our galleries and after I'm distracted and spend some time elsewhere for a bit am I able to return to my desk and get back to work.

What’s next for you now that Ruminate is over?  Will you continue to draw food or do you have another theme up your sleeve for a series you would like to start next?

I believe I'll always draw food. It's vibrant and elemental and has so much value that I can't ignore it.

That being said, my next project is already in the works. My next gallery will be inspired by the flora and fauna of North and South Carolina, particularly the insects and arachnids that surround us.

I don't know where it will be shown. I'll figure that out later. I just know that I must create it. 

To follow Craig and keep up with his projects (and also his ridiculously cute family), catch up with him on Instagram: @breadczar