Q + A with collage artist Sivavis

Collage work often flies under the radar of any art community. But, local waiter turned analog artist, sivavis, has been turning heads in the digital world with their unique style and riveting imagery. PATTERN was able to meet the mysterious artist behind the Instagram account.

Bridget Barbara: How did you get started with collaging?

sivavis: It was really an accident. I just liked art a lot, but I never really made it. One day I was at home surrounded by all these picture books and I thought to myself, ‘What is all this stuff just sitting here? I don’t ever look at it.’ So I started looking at the books and tearing them apart. I found some scissors and fell in love with the process. It felt real. 

BB: How long ago was that?

SV: That was just a year and a half ago. Very recently.

BB: So it was really just stuff lying around, nothing specifically?

SV: No, not really. I’ve always liked surreal art, like Dadaism. Stuff with jarring visuals that make you go, ‘oh, that’s weird.’ That’s where I came from.

BB: What inspired your Instagram handle, sivavisart?

SV: [Laughs] That’s kinda weird too. I started getting into Eastern Mysticism, and I really identified with this Shivavis character. Another way to spell ‘Shivavis” is “Sivavis’. I saw that we’re all just a reflection of this infinite universe, so the name is actually a palindrome. So if you put a line through ‘Sivavis,’ then it’s a reflection. And I just don’t like going by my real name, but rather having this other person who does this thing.

BB: What does Sivavis stand for in Mysticism?

SV: It’s basically ‘the all’, the ultimate mind that we’re all a part of. I know it sounds crazy [laughs].

BB: Oh no, I was really curious because I thought it was ‘siva’ followed by ‘visart’ meaning ‘visual art’.

SV: No, so it’s sivavis and then I just put “art” on it because I think that alone was taken on Instagram.

BB: Why do you gravitate towards collage work as opposed to anything else?

SV: Well I tried painting and I was horrible. I hated everything I painted, but then collage just came to me naturally. I thought it looked good when I first started, so I wanted to keep doing it. I do make electronic music and I use samples, so it’s kinda the same idea. Like taking pieces of something that already exists and re-contextualizing it in my own way.

BB: How do you survive as an analog artist in a digital world?

SV: Oh I don’t know, that’s why I work in a restaurant [laughs]

BB: Very fair, so what are the differences between digital and analog work?

SV: Well basically I had no idea how to do anything digitally. I started doing collages by hand so that’s how I kept doing it. Because it’s cold outside and the spray glue I use freezes in the air, I’m actually teaching myself Photoshop right now. I’ll take pieces and pictures from the real world and then I’ll collage them in Photoshop. I’m learning slowly!

BB: When you work on one piece at a time, or do you have multiple works going at the same time and add to each as you see fit? What’s your process like?

SV: Usually it’s one at a time, but a lot of times I’ll just choose pages at random. I’ve found that it becomes much more interesting for me when I force myself to use certain things and juxtapositions that I wouldn’t normally choose. A lot of times I’ll open a book, and I obviously know what kind of book it is and what kind of stuff is in it, but not exactly the images. So I’ll just take three random pages out and start cutting out pieces. Then, I’ll see what comes together.

BB: Have you ever created one where you had something in mind?

SV: I’ll usually get inspired by the pictures I’m looking at and working with at the time. It’s hard to say, ‘Ok, I need a lady holding a duck,’ because then I’d have to look through all my books for a lady holding a duck. It’s more like I’ll just happen to find a lady holding a duck someday and I’ll just throw it in there.

BB: Do you find meaning or inspiration in the midst of creation?

SV: Well after I started making collages, I realized I had never really seen very much collage art in my life. Occasionally I had maybe seen it on album covers, or here and there in museums, but I never looked into it very much. But then after I started making my own and putting my stuff on Instagram, I saw that there are tons of awesome collage artists out there, and so that has become an influence on me and my work.

BB: What’s your favorite piece?

SV: My favorite is probably the one that I have on Instagram as my profile picture. It’s this ballet lady with eight legs, it’s like this flower star. There’s just something about it. When I first found that picture, I immediately said to myself, ‘I’m saving this dancer lady for the right time.’ So I waited to use it because I loved it so much. It just spoke to me.

BB: How successful are your partnerships with Society6 and Redbubble?

SV: I don’t have sales online very often and you just get a small percentage of whatever the product is that they buy, so it’s just on the side.

BB: I saw that you’ve been putting your images on t-shirts. How does that work?

SV: Oh yeah, that’s just because on Redbubble they offer t-shirts and sweatshirts. So since I’m learning Photoshop, I know how to cut out an image and put it on a transparent background so I can put it on a t-shirt. I just started putting those out maybe a month ago.

BB: Oh nice, have you sold any yet?

SV: My girlfriend bought one [laughs].

BB: Have you always lived in Indianapolis?

SA: I grew up in Greenwood, and then I went to IU Bloomington, but then I came back to Indianapolis. It was easy to transition back here, and then I just got rooted in this place, especially with my family here. I really like where I live because it doesn’t feel like I’m in a city [laughs]. Right now, I don’t really want to be in a busy, crazy city environment, so my little neighborhood area feels nice.

By the way, my art is hanging up at The Foundry Provision. I have to take it down soon because it’s been here since last First Friday. They have a different artist every month. I just emailed them and told them what my Instagram account was and asked if they would spotlight my art on the walls. I actually sold one and it feels good to not have all of these in my house still. I just have way too many of these things all over the place.

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