Thursday, 21 December 2006

Interview with Patrick Williams

Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

A)Patrick Williams, 28, and let’s see what else, I’m from southern California growing up in the little costal town of Seal Beach which is at the north most portion of Orange County before you run into Long Beach and LA County.

Q)How did you get started making art?

A)I don’t remember it ever starting, me making things has always been part of the deal, for me to have started, there would have had to been a time when I wasn’t making art first. To be honest, I think it was a way for me to survive school which was not suited to the younger me. When I hit High School, I was accepted in to the Orange County High School of the Arts which was and is a magnet arts school. It was there that stuff started making sense.

Q)How would you describe your art?

A)I’d prefer not to. But I always have to so here goes: I make art that is about civilization, and how it intersects with it’s history, ideas, and nature.

Q)Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related

A)I suppose the biggest influence all around would be my parents, as far as art influence, I’ve had a lot of teachers over the years that have been wonderful, and generous so it would be really tough to pick out just one. One of my dad’s long time friends Phil Miller, is an artist and though our works differ greatly, he’s always had great advice about the process and the emotional/mental connection to making art. Because I’ve known him my whole life I think he’s had a strong affect at the way I look at the art thing.

Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?

A)It depends, sometimes while my mind is wandering, I’ll be thinking about something, anything or perhaps even nothing and I’ll just mentally stumble onto an image or idea which in this case requires little in the way of revisions to get to the point of a finished piece, I think it’s a form of mental sketching, but it’s harder to keep track of an idea if I’m not in a position to draw it out. More often than not though, I will work through an image in my sketchbook which might take one drawing and it might take a month or drawings before I have something I want to paint. Then I sit down and paint, making more revisions usually medium specific as I go, and trying out little technical experiments.

Q) What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?

A)Right now, polymer acrylic, I think it more than any other medium can be altered to create different effects and textures. Plus it dries fast (but not fast enough) it’s easy to clean up, and doesn’t smell too bad. Also, I’ve been using it long enough that I’m very confident with it and feel like I have great control over the medium.

Q) What is your favourite art related web site?

A)It was, I got lost in the links section for a week but that one no longer exists. I guess I’m still in the market for a new favourite site. There are a few I like is pretty awesome.

Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?A)It’s all hand done, at this point. There may come a day where a computer’s abilities are required for a project but I’m a fan of stuff I can touch and that has a texture, I like manipulating objects and chemicals and stuff, not just the light emitted from a screen.

Q) What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?
A)Presumably a museum would be the best place, the lighting is great, they have staff around to keep an eye on it, but artwork still gets ripped off or stolen from museums so who knows, and some museums are better than others. The worst place to exhibit work would be the either the hood or the underside of a car for obvious reasons, or maybe on the side of a small insect… who knows?

Q) I'm always interested in where an artist finds their inspiration. Where do you find yours?

A)It’s everyplace, and everything I experience. I think it’s all just a matter of turning on the brain and opening it up to examination of the world. My work draws heavily on the suburban landscape where I grew up, and the relationships of the people that reside there, even though it might be hidden under a few layers of metaphor and stylization. Often All I need is to look out the window or go for a walk and the ideas are there. I am also interested in myths and stories, be they systems of explaining the intangible or bedtime stories for kids. I’m interested in the way that symbols and metaphors have changed over the course of human history and how a painting of one object say an apple can exist on so many different levels of meaning at once.

Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)On average they are great, though they can run the gamut from love to hate. I guess it all depends on who is looking at it and whatever they’re expectations and preconceived notions are.

Q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?A)I sleep, eat and exercise too. I enjoy backpacking, hiking, handball, and surfing among many other things, often though while engaged in something else entirely I’ll still be thinking about art. It’s kind of like an addiction.

Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?

A)Survival, plane and simple, or some version of it: If you have a regular job that pays the bills it’s hard to find the energy and time to make art work, if all you do is paint, you have to worry about what’s going to sell or how to promote and get rid of your paintings. It’s tough to find that balance and I think it’s going to be different for everyone. Other than that, there are a ton of problems that artists need to deal with and I think they change depending on where in their career they happen to be.

Q) Do you believe that a person is born with a talent to produce art or can anyone can be taught?

A)This is really a hot topic for me, I find it dismissive of all the time and effort I’ve put in to my process and work over the years to shrug it off as talent or say that I’ve got some gift when it was a lot of toil and sacrifice. But I guess it depends how you define talent. I think anyone can be taught to paint a reasonably good looking bowl of fruit; the technical part is relatively easy. Then however, we’re talking craft and not art, which would explain why paintings of bowls of fruit are generally boring. Perhaps the talent is in staying interested and driven over years and years, or in figuring out how to make the work move beyond a nicely painted bowl of fruit into something that has meaning.

Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favourites?

A)Every time I start a new piece it’s my favourite until I start another one. The standouts are the ones where I either figured something out technically so they are a triumph of sorts, or they are rich in metaphor and hold a lot of meaning to me personally. My sketchbooks if viewed as a whole might be my absolute favourite, it’s a continually expanding body of work that no one really gets to see and it’s also a short hand diary of my artistic progress, ideas, and just about every piece I’ve ever made. I’m up to 193 of them so far, and that doesn’t even count my car-pads (I sketch while stuck in traffic) which I think I have 20 filled so far.

Q) What are some current/upcoming projects you are working on or excited about?A)I have a bunch of shows, solo and otherwise lined up for 2007 and I am in the process of gearing up to make a lot of new work, the prospect of painting some new pieces is always exciting. In May of 06’ I made my first site specific installation piece and I am very excited about making tangible objects or environments right now and am enthralled at the direction that might go. I also have a couple secret projects I continue to work on that are very interesting, that perhaps will also see the light of day in ’07.

Q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

A)Don’t be a jerk. Oh, and this: Figure out what you want, figure out how to get it, and they put in the effort to get it, and then repeat as necessary.

Q) Who are your favourite artists & your favourite galleries?
A)That’s a rough question, there are so many, and I hesitate to start because I’m going to leave out a bunch. But here are a few of my current favourites: Edwin Ushiro ( is a good friend of mine and a great guy all around, who does great work, it’s a little confusing but amazingly crafted. Adam Janes ( creates these great pieces that are collage, drawing, painting and who knows what else, he manages to put together stuff that i wouldn’t think of mixing and the result is great. Myrna Sonyou I’m not even going to talk about it, it’s that good. Taylor McKimens ( is a guy i went to school with but have kind of lost touch with. His stuff is really exploding right now and it’s been easy to keep up with what he’s been up to. Then there are a bunch of others Charles Glaubbitz, Audry Kawasaki, Jeff Soto who seems to be another genuinely nice guy. I’m going to stop there because I could go on for days about the artists who are doing amazing work right now. As for spaces I like... wow, everyone I’ve worked with has been super cool so those have to be at the top of my list, Copro/Nason in Santamonica, Skeleton Art/Feral gallery in Santa Fe, Toyroom in Sacramento, Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, TAG in Nashville, Alcove in Atlanta, any one else on the shows page of my website. Then there are all the spaces I’m still hoping to work with that always seem to have amazing work on the walls, and there are tons of those too!

Q) Do you need others to tell you they like it before you feel validated?

A)Um…I do this for me primarily, I paint what I want to see and what I feel compelled to make so the opinions of others don’t carry that much weight. It’s nice when folks like what I do, it’s even nicer when they buy stuff. As far as people not liking my stuff go, it’s become kind of funny to me and I have to fight back the urge to laugh at people.

Q)Tell us a little about some of the different types of jobs you've had over the years, before/while doing what you do now. For someone who is starting out in art, how would you recommend they go about making a career out of it?

A)I teach art related stuff occasionally, bookbinding, drawing, painting, even animation. Both of my parents are teachers so it’s like the family business and it comes easy. I’ve taught everything from pre-k kids to seniors(adults)and I really like it, its rewarding because I get to share my experiences and watch the students have little epiphanies as they discover and learn new things. I’ve also worked at a couple art supply stores. Working retail is a real drag but I’ve learned a hell of a lot about the properties of art materials which has made my work better and there’s always the discount on supplies. Shouts out to Daniel Smith Artist’s Materials in Seattle and Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster. As for the career advice thing, I am still a work in progress and do not have the whole thing figured out yet by any means so I hesitate to give advice, I guess, do whatever you have to do in order to do what you need to do, and keep asking yourself those lofty questions.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…links



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