Bleached tees, abstract paintings, and, most recently, multimedia collage art. Welcome to the world of Chattanooga, Tennessee artist Noah Kocher. Blending his signature style of squiggle pattern chaos with magazine cutouts, his new pieces are abstract and illustrated, a bit more wild than the majority of current collage art. The layers don’t always connect, are often less seamless and smooth, adding to a level of experimentation and grit that acts as a breath of fresh air. Conversing over email, I spoke with Kocher about his different styles, his upcoming plans, his Polaroid camera, his grandmother’s antique store, and more.
How's 2018 been treating you?
2018 has been a good year so far. My collages have gained some traction just from the short amount of time I've been creating them. (About two months now), I got a promotion at my job, got a little gig to tie dye over 100 shirts for that same job, I'm seeing NYC for the first time in a week, things are aligning, I am happy.
How would you describe your style to a stranger?
It's hard to describe my style. I'm heavily influenced by the 80’s-90's era, a lot of my collages have been made with magazines from that time period. I've always loved old things. When I was younger my grandmother owned an antique shop, I used to always walk around and be fascinated by it all. The story behind all this stuff, my art has a story too. Just still trying to figure out exactly what it is.
From chaotic illustrations to collages and clothing, do you spend weeks at a time on one discipline or do you juggle mediums throughout the week?
I definitely juggle around whatever medium pops up in my head at the moment. I try to always keep my mind stimulated, never have idle hands. Whenever I get bored of collaging I'll bleach some shirts, whenever I get bored of bleaching shirts I'll paint something, I just follow whatever I'm feeling.
Your collage art seems to always include your own backdrops. Is that how the pieces begin? What's the process like for these unique works?
For my personal collaging style, the background is key. I don't see a lot of collage artists utilizing the background the way I do, I like to think that it puts my own little spin on it. The backgrounds from my collages can come from anything. An old drawing I made that I forgot about, a piece of paper I found on the street that I decided to draw on, or something I quickly made because nothing else I already had was working the way I wanted to.
If you could pick one movie (modern or older) where you could provide art direction / design the poster, which movie would you choose?
American Beauty, that movie has always resonated with me and I think my art could accurately depict what that movie is about.
Do you have one particular piece that you hold closer to your heart? A piece of art you're most proud of?
This is such a hard question because I am constantly changing my mind for what my favorite piece is. For right now though, the piece I just recently shared "Close to Home" is very close to my heart. That piece embodies who I am as an artist better than any collage I've made thus far in my opinion. It's the first time I've ever really drawn on top of the magazine page instead of behind it for the background, it's a concept that I plan on experimenting with more in the future.
What's your typical studio setup?
Sadly I'm not at the point where I can afford a studio, so I'm still working in my bedroom. My setup is a little chaotic, I basically have a crate filled with magazine clippings that I think I could utilize. My paints, brushes, and pens are in a separate container. I'm always playing music though, whether it's my record player or Bluetooth speaker, it's a necessity.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
The rest of the year will consist of more art (obviously). Hopefully quitting my job and hopefully more traveling. I'm the kind of person that lives one day at a time so I'm not the best at looking into the future.
Outside of your own art, what else have you been enjoying?
Whenever I'm not making art I'm probably out exploring my city with my Polaroid camera, or staying in the house being lazy playing video games or watching Netflix. All of my books are art-related, so whenever I'm needing some inspiration I have countless options at my fingertips.
If you emptied your pockets right now, what would you find?
Couple pens, headphones, spare change, my clock out stub from work, my cellphone and wallet.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
My advice to any creatives is to always push boundaries for you art. Always experiment and never be afraid of what the product will look like. Also, don't ever make art for the wrong reasons. Make art for the love of making art. No one else is like you. Be authentic, be true, be you.
Do you have any final thoughts / shout-outs?
This shout out is to artists that I follow on Twitter that have influenced me in some way. (In no particular order):