Massachusetts native Adria Mercuri has astutely learned that distinct nervous lines and a deep trust in oneself are the best ways to develop a personal style and also eventually make great art. Adria’s art combines seriousness with lightness in a very captivating way. Adria’s style can be described as youthful and self-aware with a twist of ethereal freedom. She uses color brilliantly to create a wispy effect that makes her creations float like delicate cirrus clouds on a clear day. It is easy to tell that Adria is on a personal journey that will invariably end quite well.
“I previously thought that to be good, art had to be very serious and …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I grew up in a pretty small town in Massachusetts, the kind of place where the only place to go when you’re a teenager is an empty parking lot or some friend’s basement. I have one younger sister who’s actually studying at the Pratt institute now for Interior Design. She made me this gorgeous lamp for Christmas. Anyway, growing up I wouldn’t say there was anything too distinctive about me. I never had a lot of friends. I spent a lot of time alone and I think it was those countless hours spent drawing that were the biggest factor in getting me to where I am today.
What does your art mean to you?
I feel like the process of making work is the most coherent method I have to translate the external world through myself. It’s like a lens, if that makes sense. It’s very cathartic and sort of selfish, it’s so personal.
How do you describe your form of art?
Delicate and sometimes nervous lines. Soft but with some brambles. Pretty intimate.
Your images are visually stunning and arresting, what tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal style?
That’s very lovely, thank you. I use some pretty bare bones tools, mechanical pencils and an eraser stick. For color I like Windsor Newton Gouache and watercolors. I think that personal style develops on its own; it grows naturally while you strive to try new things. It’s like handwriting, it’s inherent.
When was your last art epiphany and what was it about?
The type of work I appreciated changed pretty drastically a couple of years ago. I previously thought that to be good, art had to be very serious and photo realistic. It’s nice to realize that letting some human mistake or nervousness shine through is better than striving to make an exact, perfect copy.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
I can’t actually remember any really negative critiques (though I had more than a few of them when I was in school). Though you should be flexible and open to criticism, I also think you should trust yourself above others. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t strive to. The best compliment though was once being compared to Egon Schiele.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most? In your view, what defines a great artist?
For classics, J.C. Leyendecker, Egon Schiele and David Hockney still make my knees weak. For contemporaries, both Ryan Humphrey (withapencilinhand.tumblr.com) and Neva Hosking (casperskidsister.tumblr.com) consistently devastate me with their talent. I was really lucky to learn under Jillian Tamaki as well, she was I think the main person to help me understand that making great work is about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and constantly trying new things.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I don’t know if there should be one static definition of what makes a man. Strength maybe, but not in the visceral sense. Internal strength. Also it’s important to look sharp as fuck.
What is your personal life philosophy?
I think it’s important to strive to improve yourself while also accepting and being proud of who you are. Don’t get too down on yourself; there are a lot of different definitions of beauty.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Steve Buscemi or Nan Goldin. Both would be phenomenal and probably different experiences.
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
I have a Tumblr (adriamercuri.tumblr.com) and an Instagram (@adriamercuri) where I post recent progress and work. My Instagram also has a lot of pictures of junk I find in the street if you’re interested in that.
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