Spring grad Adrian Coates weighs in on art and life

Home Features Spring grad Adrian Coates weighs in on art and life

Erika Wilhite

Published: April 26, 2006

At the age of three, Adrian Coates knew that he wanted to be an artist.

“[Art] just seemed important – I didn’t know why – when I was a child,” Coates said. “And to this day I still haven’t quite figured out why it’s so important to me except that it gives me the opportunity to amend to the burgeoning culture that is America.”

“My first art lesson, I was 8, I was hanging out with my cousin who is two years older than me. There was a scribble on the wall, and he was explaining to me how anything can be art; it just matters how you look at it. Learning that lesson at 8 years old kind of shaped my life. Being a designer now, I see the art in everything.”

Coates is graduating from PJC this semester with a degree in graphic design. To pay for college and put food on the table, he works in the art department as a gallery guard, waits tables, and does freelance graphic design.

On Art

“Art is. perception with a conscience? It’s tough to say, it really is.

“As I’ve matured as an artist I’ve realized that one of the main things behind creation is responsibility. I always think of Basquiat; he was kind of reckless, but his responsibility was to his art.”

On His Fianc‚e

Coates lives with his fiance and their small daughter. He met his fianc‚e at a party more than six years ago.

“[She’s] the closest thing to a high school sweetheart I could get, ’cause I dropped out,” Coates said. “She got dragged out [to the party] by a bunch of her friends. I basically abducted her; we talked all evening and I think I succeeded in thoroughly freaking her out.  We were friends for like four years. Then we were older and a little bit more mature – ‘all growed up’, as I like to say – and we got together, and that’s all she wrote. And now we have a little one. Wild, wild.”

On His Family

Growing up, Coates and his two brothers moved around the country with their parents. He describes his father as an accomplished “jack of all trades” and his mother as a nurturer who encouraged her sons to read and explore.

“I was shy. I was ludicrously shy, more so because of the fact that my older brother was a real extrovert and my younger brother was a like a devil-may-cry, do-anything-you-ask-me-to type of person.

“I thought [they were] amazing and I all I had was my art. So I really didn’t know how to share that with people. I just drew, and I was really quiet, and I started studying art a lot as a child. I didn’t create a whole lot of close bonds with people, so I felt at home with a book.

“All three of us have this really inquisitive nature – we like to dig around in things that interest us.

“My mom read constantly – as much as somebody can read, she read. It didn’t matter what it was – encyclopedias, romance novels, science fiction. It really had a big ef

fect on me. I always have a book with me.”

“I can’t talk about my mom without talking about my dad. They’re this dynamic duo, similar to me and my fianc‚e. My dad was the star jock and my mom was this quiet, shy chick. They hooked up when they were young and they were together for a long, long time.”

On His Ambitions

While he does enjoy graphic design, Coates said that he wants to pursue illustration – namely, a graphic novel he’s been thinking about for awhile – and work to promote other artists.

“My goal as an artist it to publish other artists; if I help other people get their message out there, then my message is much more valid; it goes back to that responsibility thing.

“We create our own world through our perception, so we have to be responsible to our world through our perception.”