Aidan Koch is an artist who makes comics that often focus on the themes of mood, moments, marks and symbols. Her work has a dream like quality due to her signature of pencil smudges and traces of drawings removed. Born in Seattle, Washington, Aidan Koch currently works from Brooklyn, New York, where she works with a varitety of mediums – often deliberately blurring their conventions. Aidan graduated from the Pacific NW College of Art, BFA; and has gone on to have her work recognised by a series of awards and recognition. These include her Thesis Exhibition Design Award (PNCA), Thesis Award in Illustration (PNCA) and being the recipient of The Xeric Grant in 2012. Aidan Koch’s most recent book, After Nothing Comes, is a collection of her earlier work, allowing the reader to experience her initial development. I really like Aidan’s work, so to talk books with her was an exciting prospect. Please enjoy my interview with Aidan Koch…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I tell them I do art and comics.
I am currently reading Love Among the Butterflies: The Secret Life of a Victorian Lady by Margaret Fountaine.
When you think about your childhood, what book comes to mind?
When I think of my childhood I think of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
While growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian.
What do you think your school aged self would think of the present day you?
I think I’d be generally pleased. I think I would be surprised I’m not more ‘adult’ by now, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t appreciate where I’m at. I’m still the self motivated, confident, productive, androgynous-minded, imaginative child I ever was.
If you could wrap up a single book and gift it to yourself as you left education – which book would it be?
I would gift myself The Dispossessed by Ursula K LeGuin.
Does your reading have routine? Is there a particular time or place that you like to read?
Unfortunately I can’t actually read in New York. I’ve probably finished 5 books there in 2 years. I travel quite often though and that’s when I’m able to squeeze in reading. Planes, buses, and beaches are ideal.
I would say the book that has had the biggest impact on my career is The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles.
Do you have any books that you strongly associate with someone important in your life?
West With The Night by Beryl Markham. It is one of the first books my friend Jenny lent me, and many others, that very much represents a facet of our personalities intrinsically connected to the world and non-traditional identities.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
I’ve passed on Isabella Bird’s travel books to a few people.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Almost exclusively fiction. The only non-fiction I’ve really actively read are travel accounts. I wish I could read non-fiction more fluently, but with so little time to read, I prefer a deeper level of escapism. I also find more inspiration for my own story structure and plot in fiction.
Do you think reading is important?
I believe reading to be essential.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
The best book I’ve read in the last 6 months is The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson.
Do you prefer real books or digital books?
I’ve never finished a digital book. I think being an artist, I need the tactility of a physical object to really relate to and absorb. I like that its a static object that will only really ever contain the same information. You can drop it in the bath or leave it in a hostel and its still the same book, it just takes on new lives.
Name a book that you feel every human should have to read by law.
I would say Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. Ominous.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?
Honestly, I think maybe the first Dinotopia books by James Gurney. I don’t think about them much now, but the combination of incredible draftsmanship, revisionist history, adventure, animal-relations, and fantasy, are all things that I was obsessed with and definitely are having a resurgence in my primary interests and with what I do now as an artist.
I would also add the following books:
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie
All Men are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir
The Delicacy and Strength of Lace by James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko
Collages by Anais Nin
Why Look at Animals? by John Berger.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
Hopefully I’ll get into some ecological and animal behavior based non fiction, but probably more sci-fi.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
I would call it Amidst the Maze.