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ADAM HILLMAN: Ephemeral Formations


“In every piece I try to emphasize the value of the overlooked.”





THE CREATIVE


Profession:

Artist


Location:

Trenton, New Jersey, USA


Introduction:

I’m a multimedia artist specializing in everyday objects such as office supplies and food. I arrange these materials into intricately patterned arrangements and capture them photographically to preserve their ephemeral formations.


Context:

My work has been featured on websites such as BuzzFeed, Things Organized Neatly, My Modern Met, and Colossal. I’ve exhibited my work physically at Story in NYC, and have been featured by Instagram accounts such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Städel Museum, the Tate Museum, and the official Instagram account. I’ve used objects in my work from brands such as Lego, M&M’s, Tic Tac, Crayola, and Jelly Belly. I’ve worked with companies such as Kiehl’s, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Hermes, and American Patchwork and Quilting, and done projects with celebrities like Gigi Hadid.






THE QU & A



What are 3 values that you wish to mediate through your work?


In every piece I try to emphasize the value of the overlooked. Everyday objects such as paper clips and cotton swabs are utilized and produced for their utilitarian functions, and I use their inherent formal and aesthetic properties to reinvent them as tools for picture building. Because of this I hope to transform the everyday for my audience and help them see these overlooked objects in a new light.


Likewise, I hope my audience feels the value of contemplation. The intensive patterns and colors in my work is methodically produced over weeks or even months, and my goal with each piece is to give the viewer a work they can return to and find new surprises in with each viewing. Even though I post these works to social media I am attempting to fight the immediacy of the internet age, and my main goal with each project is to make people stop scrolling and forget the troubles of their life for a little while.


Lastly, and most simply, the value of beauty is of the utmost importance to my work. The colors, textures, and patterns in each piece are meant to please and sometimes even confound the eye, leaving a lasting visual impact regardless of the project’s concept or message.





What are 3 relevant problems that you wish to solve through your work? 

I don’t know if art can solve real world problems, but if it can I’d like people to think about space. In cities and suburbs, the way things come together is pivotal, and in my work I also attempt to solve problems relating to the juxtaposition and compartmentalization of forms through geometry and color. One of the inspirations for this is the way that patterns and textures function on a social level, so I hope that the viewer ruminates on the way the world functions on a spatial level after seeing my work.


Another problem I’d like viewers to contemplate relates to light and how people understand it. Through the juxtaposition of hues and tones, I create optical effects and illusions from the order of simplistic elements, such as color gradients and moiré patterns. I hope that through these devices viewers can start thinking about the way that light functions in their lives and see the wondrous capabilities and mysteries inherent to it.


One of the most obvious problems inherent to most of my work is consumerism. America is fixated on brands, and I specifically reference this by not just including those brands in the photos, but also by using language that specifically riffs on the brand and its logistical purpose. Despite this brand visibility, the way I use products largely subverts the object’s original intent for visual impact, and I hope this inspires people to look outside the confines brands build for us to find more creative and unique ways to interact with the world.






THE CONVERSATION 


VOLUME VIII - ACCENTS


What do you see as your cultural path and how do you articulate it to the world?

I see myself as an American artist who has been defined by a primarily suburban upbringing. I try to convey this by using materials relevant to my life and the suburban experience, and I prefer to shop at grocery stores and office supply stores rather than art supply stores. Likewise, the repetition and geometry of my work relates to the droning repetition of suburban infrastructure and supermarkets, in which bright colorful advertisements vie for consumer attention.






How do you define change, imperfection and focus? How do they define you?

Change

Change is one thing becoming another, but the beauty of it is that you can never capture the actual act. Despite all the intense colors in my work, gray is my favorite because it encapsulates the ephemeral nature of the transitory. I use gradients because they come close to capturing the optical properties of change, and like change, they are delicate in the sense that if you take one color away the illusion crumbles.


Imperfection

Imperfection is visual character in the way that spice is to food. If you have too much of it things can become dangerous, and the visual language can become indistinct and difficult to interpret. A lot of my viewers think my work is a testament to perfection, but I don’t perceive imperfection as negative. Many artists I look up to thrive on imperfection, and many of the most interesting aspects of my work come from accidents that have occurred during the creative process.


Focus

Focus is defined by visual gravity—what element of the piece has the biggest optical pull. When I design a piece, I always think of the way the viewer will focus, whether there is an obvious focal point or a more all-over pattern. I enjoy creating pieces where focusing on a whole piece is simple and easy, but it can also break down when looking at the individual elements, and can become more complicated as the viewer looks at the small details.







What are the ‘accents’ that make your work authentic?

I’ve always been a firm believer in and practitioner of geometric abstraction, and I believe this love for artists such as Piet Mondrian and Agnes Martin is probably the most authentic accent in my work. The color and order inherent throughout my practice seems to be what people gravitate to most, and I get a lot of messages from people showing me photos and works of art they perceive as “Adam Hillman-like” that have these visual qualities. I take this dedication to geometry very seriously, to the point where almost all of my designs taper off at the edges into a rectangle or square.






THE GUEST


Name:

Harold Ordonez


Profession:

Photographer and Musician


Location:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA





Please share a moment of revelation about each other’s character that made you realize something about the world or your belief system. 

Adam Hillman: When I first met Harold Ordonez I believed that art and people could exist in a vacuum, and that I didn’t need anyone else’s influence to continue working and evolving as an artist. However, the interconnectedness exemplified by his many friends and acquaintances showed me the importance of connections, and in some ways he’s the reason I started creating my object arrangements to begin with. 


Before meeting him I hadn’t ever taken photos as art before, and I expressed myself primarily in painting and drawing. As a student I didn’t have as much time to sit down and paint as I used to, and the fact that he shared his photos to Instagram is one of the reasons I was inspired to take photos and post them to Instagram as well. 

Harold also introduced me to a Facebook group called Unedited Smartphone Aesthetic Pics, and the inability to edit was one of the main catalysts for using real-life illusions instead of editing digitally. This group is where I got my start, as well as a whole new style of working, and led to opportunities I hadn’t even anticipated. Thanks to Harold, I now think of artmaking more as a community of influences, even if the people you interact with aren’t always physically present.





Harold Ordonez: The day Adam introduced me to the profound world of abstract art was truly a revelatory experience that changed my perspective forever. With his deeply perceptive nature and boundless appreciation for raw human expression through artistic mediums, Adam opened my eyes to an entirely new dimension I had been blind to before. It began when he took me to a Mark Rothko exhibition—the intensity and depth embedded in those powerful canvases moved me in ways I couldn't articulate, revealing the immense capacity of abstract art to evoke emotions that transcend words.


However, it was Agnes Martin's work at the Guggenheim that solidified this awakening within me. Adam guided me through her minimalist masterpieces, the serene lines and subtle hues a stark contrast to the complex whirlwind of feelings they stirred. Martin's genius was distilling the entire scope of human emotion into pure, tranquil beauty, and Adam's profound ability to see and convey that essence was simply awe-inspiring.


What I admire most about Adam is his unwavering passion and sensitivity toward art that extends far beyond surface aesthetics. His character is defined by an openhearted embrace of experience, of seeking to truly understand the intricacies of emotions that flow through every brushstroke. Through his generous spirit, I was guided on an eye-opening journey where abstract art became a lush tapestry of human depths waiting to be explored and were not merely shapes and colors. Adam's gift is his capacity to chip away at the layers, revealing the raw humanity pulsing through every masterpiece. His perspective is a constant reminder to me of the beauty that can be uncovered when you take the time to go beyond the surface.






THE LEADER


Creative Leaders to look up to:

Please name people who inspire you and would consider them as good examples to follow.


Josie Lewis creates vibrantly colorful abstract paintings and has insightful thoughts on art, art history, and the business of artmaking. In a business that prides itself on taking itself overly serious she stays very down to earth, and is an excellent role model for new artists.

Likewise, Austin Radcliffe, the creator of Things Organized Neatly synthesizes art, design, and many other disciplines into a finely curated blog that offers a fresh take on the way in which organization can transform an object's hidden artistic potential.


I also want to give a shoutout to Keegan Mchargue, one of my favorite painters whose semi-abstract paintings exemplify a seemingly endless visual wit while remaining equally ambiguous and hard to pin down. While inactive, his Tumblr account is one of my favorite websites, and to this day I keep going back to it for inspiration.






# ASK


Are there infinite design possibilities, or are we just repeating the same ones in different ways?




This conversation contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.


Conversation Led by Julia Horvath

Image Courtesy of Adam Hillman

Unedited. Only Formatted.





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