An extraordinary visit with Andrew Markey to the insect kingdom

From the Heart by Andrew Markey - Insect art

Today, I would like to welcome insect enthusiast Andrew Markey to CreativInn. He dedicates his life to promote the beauty of Insects and encourages us to explore the Nature. Insects have been used as an art subject in many cultures. Their shape and colors are often an instant inspiration to artists even in the olden times.

Andrew Markey, welcome to CreativInn, please tell us a bit about yourself and your passion?

Hello, thank you having me at CreativInn. My name is Andrew and I am obsessed with bugs! I’ve had a passion for insects for as long as I could remember. While every other kid was playing on the Nintendo, I was outside looking under rotten logs for beetles. My neighborhood friends would always call me Bug Boy because I was often seen catching insects in meadows and hedgerows. The name stuck with me ever since, hence my handle on Instagram, where I share photos of the many different kinds of bugs in hopes to show others that insects and spiders aren’t as bad as people make them out to be. I also use them to promote conservation, scientific research, educational outreach, and to inspire artists and other creatives. 

A collection always has to start somewhere. Do you remember your very first piece?

I have always been fascinated with insects since I was really little, but it wasn’t until this one time I observed a rather large grasshopper in my backyard when I really started getting an interest in them. I was so intrigued by it. I was in fourth grade at the time when I spoke to my teacher about the grasshopper and that’s when I learned what entomology was — the study of insects. He appointed me to specific field guides and books about insects and encouraged me to continue pursuing this area of interest. Some of those books illustrated how to collect, preserve, and display insects.

You have over 30 displays of bugs. Where do you exhibit them?

Throughout the years of pursuing this passion, I have formed good relationships with many people and community organizations like elementary schools, zoos, and Girl Scouts. I have attended trade shows, private birthday parties and county fairs, exhibiting my bugs and educating the public about them.

Last year I had my insects exhibited at the Eastern Michigan State Fair in Imlay City, Michigan as well as the Volksläufe (The People’s Race) event in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Unhappily, due to Covid-19, all events and plans this year with exhibits have been cancelled or postponed.

I have also a website to showcases my private entomological collection. I originally used it as a personal database but I decided to make the information public to help everybody discover this fantastic insect kingdom.

What are currently your main compositional challenges?

When it comes to presenting non-living insects artistically, finding new ways to be creative with them is always a challenge. Look at butterflies, for example. They are the most beautiful of all insects, admittingly, and I want them to look appealing in their display cases, but it takes a certain skill to spread their wings and ensure that they are perpendicular and in uniform, something that even the most experienced entomologist can still struggle with.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? Do you define yourself as an Artist?

In many ways I am an artist, and although most of my specimens are used for science and education, there are many that are mounted specifically to display as artwork. When you step into a museum and see a beautiful display of butterflies on the wall, it looks visually stunning. It is truly a natural work of art by Mother Nature and I would like to produce such work for others to bring to their home and enjoy.

Tell us about your creative process and the way you brainstorm ideas? What do you usually start with when creating a new set of bugs?

I like all of the insects in their displays to be symmetrical and together within the same taxonomic orders and families, so I start with that. Insects with wings are always spread to reveal their hidden beauty. I’m proud to say that none of my insects are dyed, painted, stained, altered or fabricated in any way, shape, or form. Their colors and patterns are exactly as they are in nature. I think it’s also important to have them not overlap one another. With artistic displays, I tend to have the larger pieces at the bottom, sort of like a pyramid, to compare their sizes.

Insects have been used as an art subject in many cultures. How do you promote the relationship between your collections and other forms of art – such as painting, photography, sculpture? How do you see this relationship yourself?

What is something all of those forms of art have in common? They all are found in museums, and each piece of artwork has a story. It is the same with insects, whether alive or dead, they too have a history behind it.

Andrew Markey, how do you inspire the younger generation with your bugs?

On Instagram, I regularly receive messages and comments from many individuals, including artists, thanking me for their inspiration. In the classroom where I work, I like to occasionally bring in some critters and let the kids see them up close. One of my most adored and favorite students saw my Instagram profile and became really intrigued with the bug collection, and so I brought in a live insect for her to hold. Without hesitation she wanted to pick it up, and now she often asks me to bring in more critters. This is what fuels my passion for teaching because getting children interested in bugs at an early age is crucial to dismiss the myths that surround these misunderstood creatures, and showing the even slightest amount of curiosity in bugs is an achievement and could be a stepping stone on a path toward a future career choice for the children.

Thanks again for the opportunity to interview you for Creativinn! Are there any final thoughts or words of advice you have for our readers, in particular for the ones who would like to follow your way?

Get outside and explore. Observe some of nature’s most underrated creatures with your kids and let them step into the fascinating world of bugs and outdoor adventure. Appreciate them from a comfortable distance. Give me a follow on Instagram. I am always happy to meet new people and answer any questions that you may have. And please, feel free to share your creative works with me. Thank you CreativInn, for this fun opportunity to speak to your audience!

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