I was born and raised in New Orleans, at a young age I took interest in local art and culture, as well as contemporary art in general. Leaving behind engineering scholarships at 19 to fully pursue my art interests, I soon booked my first exhibit in New Orleans showing colored-pencil sketches based on studies of Degas' dancers.
After these Degas studies and many others of great artists, I began pursuing a new, self-taught method that formed into the sculptural-painting and collage techniques I use today. My works using these techniques have been shown in New York, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City galleries.
Drew Cooke is a New Orleans artist living and working Uptown.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Modern, Organic, Engaging
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
I love the visual richness of New Orleans--the trees, the sky, houses both beautiful and pieced-together, the aged features. I like to take pictures as I walk around my neighborhood to use in collages--a pile of broken pipes the city just removed, an abandoned shoe, a beautiful sunset.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
I clear my mind as much as possible, channeling impressions from nature, knowledge of mathematics and music, visions of great artworks. The work begins to guide itself when it finds roots. Other times I don't clear my mind and drive everything out of it through works that are a searching journey into ideas and materials.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from nature's colors and forms, music's rhythmic and tonal structures, and mathematics' clarity and chaos. I find energy in knowing the world around me--exploring it, learning it's history, engaging with many communities, and hearing many debates.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
Southern artists Walter Anderson and George Dunbar have been major influences, as well as broader influences from Edgar Degas, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquait, and Robert Rauschenberg.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
I make music too! I played rock and jazz guitar with bands in New Orleans when growing up, and now record short, alternative albums from a soundproof box I built. But a lyric that might describe my work:
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day and the dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
- Louis Armstrong
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
Recording music, cooking in the kitchen, eating on Freret St, hanging out with my cats, teaching kids math through art projects, and spending time with my lovely wife, Liz Cooke of Lionheart Prints!
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
October is the greatest, especially in New Orleans. The weather cools off and the trees look magical against the sky. The holidays are close and football brings food and friends on the weekends. Plus my birthday is right in the middle. Oh, and Octoberfest.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
My mom calls me "Bad Boy" or "Mr Big Shoulders" sometimes. My close friends like to do imitations of it. Also, I once made a giant cardboard costume for a character I call "The Rapping Pencil", had a pretty tight rap too. Good times!