Youngest Academy Instructor, Hyperrealist Painter, Ironworker
How did you become the American Academy of Art’s youngest, full-time instructor? Three words about Anthony Adcock's answer to that question: talent, passion and perseverance.
Anthony graduated from the Academy with high honors just four years ago in 2009.
“Anthony is one of the art world’s rising talents,” stated Richard Otto, the Academy’s President. “We are thrilled to have him back and add him to our faculty.”
A hyperrealist painter, Anthony has won numerous awards, honors, scholarships and had his work featured in more than two-dozen exhibitions. He has also exhibited his work at the Packer Schopf Gallery and Coalition Gallery in Chicago, the M Gallery of Fine Art in Charleston, SC, and the Lovetts Gallery in Tulsa, OK.
Recognizing Anthony for his academic successes and his outstanding skills, the University of Chicago awarded him in 2012 a $49,900 scholarship, which helped him to complete his MFA program in 2013.
Two of Anthony’s oil paintings are also featured in the recent New American Paintings, Midwest Issue, #107.
Born in Chicago, raised most of his childhood in the southwest Chicago suburb of Hickory Hills, Anthony now lives in Bridgeview with his wife and their two dogs.
Anthony’s early artistic inspiration came from enjoying his father’s large comic book collection – 10,000 strong and growing. “I thought I would major in illustration until I discovered oil painting,” Anthony explained.
When he’s not painting, Anthony enjoys going to the movies with his wife, eating at Kuma's Corner, making films (he’s working on one now), watching Breaking Bad and football, playing video games, working out, reading about physics and art theory, and a dozen other pursuits.
(Adcock with his Summer Studio students. 2013)
A conversation with Anthony Adcock…
What’s your favorite thing about teaching at the Academy?
I love the faculty that I teach alongside. They seem more like a family, and are incredibly talented, welcoming and friendly. Also, I like that I can teach a subject that I love… life drawing.
Why did you wish to teach at this stage of your career? Aren’t you now the Academy’s youngest, full-time instructor?
That’s right. I am the youngest instructor at the Academy. I taught a few classes at the University of Chicago as a student teacher. I found that by having to explain the process of creating art to beginners, I was sort of re-teaching myself – and my foundations. The more I taught, the more I learned. So, I figured that by teaching others, not only would I gain satisfaction, but I would also broaden my knowledge of art.
What is your time commitment for teaching?
I plan to teach full-time for as long as possible. The great thing about the Academy is that the schedule allows me time to make my own art.
Why did you select the Academy as the place to teach?
I wanted to teach at a school that taught representational art, a place that functioned more like an Atelier, or workshop. My style borders on hyperrealism, and I figured that I would be able to contribute to some technical aspects of painting and drawing. I also believe that my experience as a graduate of the University of Chicago – a very theoretical/conceptual school – would benefit the Academy and its students.
Would you describe your teaching style in any particular way?
Strict when it comes to the work. The art world can be a harsh place. It has no room for artists who don’t take themselves seriously. Besides laying down the hammer ;), I also collaborate, encourage, demonstrate, and really like to engage my students.
What three accomplishments are you most proud of in your career?
First would be receiving a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Chicago; next is becoming an instructor at the Academy; then followed by my scoring a solo exhibition at the Packer Schopf Gallery for April 2014.
Is it true you’ve also been a Local #1 Ironworker since 2005?
Indeed. I got into ironworking when I was 18. When I began school at the Academy, I was also attending night classes for the Ironworkers apprenticeship. I did this three nights a week for three years.
Every summer I would work fulltime as an ironworker. It’s an extremely difficult and dangerous job. It involves carrying and tying rebar. These heavy bars of steel are tied together with steel tie wire to reinforce concrete. I am actually still a journeyman ironworker and occasionally work in the summers.
What advice do you have for high school students interested in pursuing a degree and career in art?
Work hard. You get out of college what you put into it. The art world is a very competitive place…no one wants to hire the fifth best painter on the street. Do your best to be at the top of your game – and the list.
What advice do you have for current Academy students?
First, learn how to draw. This essential skill makes any job in the art world easier. Second, research and read about art; become well versed in art theory. Learn why artists are making the art that they choose to make.
Artists, critics, and gallery owners are often more concerned with why artists are making what they make, not with how well the paint was handled.
What three things should artists do to help ensure they make a living as artists?
1) Keep making art; 2) Network – it’s never too early; and 3) Start going to more art events like openings; join competitions and group shows; and participate in as many events as possible. Very few artists are discovered. You need to become discovered by your own efforts.
What motivates you most about creating art?
I believe everything in society is closely tied to art. We make money to buy things. Whether a car or a can of pop, these things are designed and often made by artists. When we go to the movies or watch TV, we are experiencing byproducts of other artists. We go to concerts, plays, and countless other forms of entertainment that can be considered art. Even going to a fancy restaurant can be considered an artistic experience.
I also find the extreme amount of art we process every day to be challenging. I believe this volume perhaps weakens the strength of individual images or art pieces. The multitude of artistic production that passes us by so quickly motivates me to create paintings with which I can spend time. I am tired of the endless stream of images that flash before my eyes.
What interests you most about how art is currently evolving?
The “Facebookification” of our culture has led us to a point where everyone is now a photographer. There’s enormous freedom to create and share art.
Artists continue to push the boundaries of what it means to be an artist. In the past, to be considered an artist, it was enough to just make paintings...a person who makes paintings must be an artist. In today's world, artists make many things. In fact, saying, "I am an artist" just confuses people. Artists are musicians, painters, filmmakers, chefs, actors, professors, car mechanics, anything else, and often, artists are a combination of many things. Famous musicians become performers, then actors, and then directors, painters, magicians…you name it.
The artist today has the ability to assume roles of any kind and produce art. It's widely accepted that putting frosting on a cake is art. This ability opens the possibilities of what artists can do. This results in artists who start rebuilding cities as art. The possibilities seem endless.
Learn more about Anthony and his work here: