In July of 2012 Chaos Magazine approached me about doing an interview for their art spotlight feature. Using a combination of magnetic poetry and black coffee I managed to squeeze out some insightful and profanity filled answers to 10 questions about my work and inspirations. Writing is a struggle for me and I was proud of my wordsmithing. However, Chaos Magazine has never published my interview.
Do not fret my fellow mutants and madmen, I have decided to post said interview on my blog for your hungry eyes and minds. I hope all of you enjoy reading the interview.
1. Just to get a bit of background information, how did you get involved with art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always been an artist and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t identify myself as an artist. I have always created things. As a child I illustrated comic books, made construction paper collages and constructed sculptures using found materials. I was always doing something creative and it was always an instinctual action. It was never a conscious decision. I never said “I want to be an artist.” I honestly didn’t know what that meant. I wasn’t aware of Picasso or Van Gogh or anything outside of Transformers cartoons and Spider-Man comics. I created drawings and paintings because I felt the impulse to create those things and not because I aspired to do those things.
2. Briefly describe your style as an artist. What are the common mediums you use? Which mediums do you like working with the most?
I always paint with acrylic paint on a wood substrate. I am a terrible carpenter but I have a friend that builds my cradle boxes using door skin plywood. I apply paint with brushes, my hands, rubber brayers, sticks, palette knives and spray bottles. I often incorporate cut paper collage in my work. I like to use maps, old books, sheet music, comic books, blueprints, car manuals, anatomical drawings and crossword puzzles. I have also been known to use stencils and spray paint on occasion. I like to use power tools whenever possible. My favorite tool in my arsenal is a Deco Color paint marker.
I work in a painterly style. I love expressive brushstrokes and texture and drips and splatters. I love the physical properties of paint. Paint is an unpredictable creature and I love giving the paint opportunities to surprise me. Working in a more expressive and haphazard way allows those happy accidents to happen. It allows the paint to surprise me. I see painting as a constant process of creation and destruction, addition and subtraction. I meticulously build layers of paint only to remove them with belt sanders and razor blades and metal combs. I build it and then tear it down. Nothing is sacred. You have to be willing to destroy your creation to make it better.
I take the same philosophical and stylistic approach when constructing my digital paintings. All of my digital paintings are created using Adobe Photoshop. I construct the digital paintings the same way I would construct a traditional painting. The tools are drastically different but the way I use them is very similar.
3. It is clear that you are a very accomplished artist, but what sort of obstacles or challenges did you have to face to get to where you are today?
The biggest obstacle is myself. My ego. My doubts. My fears. My lack of focus. I am my own worst enemy. I constantly second guess myself and my work often suffers because I spend too much time thinking and not enough time creating. The older I get the more difficult it becomes to shut off my brain and allow my creativity to run wild.
4. Have your compositions and overall style changed over the years? If so, explain your progression.
No, I mostly paint “mug shot” style portraits or “floating heads” and I usually place the subject dead center in the composition. I don’t get very adventurous with my compositions. A good example would be “A Colorful Death,” a digital painting of a skull faced man holding a flower. The subject is dead center but I tried to position his arms in a way that would lead the eye around the composition. There are also some stripes and starbursts and other design elements to help keep the eye moving around. So I am somewhat conscious of composition but I don’t put too much thought behind it.
I would argue that my approach to painting hasn’t changed much over the years. If anything, my work has become more painterly and more colorful. When I first started painting I would create large drawings using china markers or charcoal pencils and then paint over the drawings. I worked with a limited palette. The paintings were mostly black, white, and yellow ochre. The paintings were not painterly at all. I would argue that they didn’t really qualify as paintings. They were really drawings that happened to have paint on them. The drawings were rough and sketchy. They looked like something you might see Ashley Wood do.
Over time my work became more and more painterly and more and more colorful.
5. Do you feel as if you are headed in the right direction?
The honest answer would be “I have no fucking clue.”
6. Who/what is your biggest inspiration? (doesn’t necessarily have to be art related)
Comic Books have always been a huge inspiration throughout my creative journey. I first started reading comic books in the early 90’s and I was a huge fan of artists like Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Mark Texeira, and Jae Lee to name a few. I was always a fan of traditional superhero comics like Batman, Spider-man and X-men. I taught myself how to draw by copying the art of my favorite comic book artists and illustrating my own comic books.
Later on I discovered David Mack’s Kabuki series and that completely blew my mind. Comic book artists like David Mack, Dave Mckean and Bill Sienkiewicz influenced me to start painting and that lead to me discovering artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kieth Haring, Alice Neel, Francis Bacon and all sorts of other amazing artists. Comic Books were my gateway drug.
And my current work is heavily influenced by comic book art and themes.
7. Are there any artists that you identity with the most or have influenced your work?
I think Tony Scherman and Jenny Saville are probably the two painters that have the most direct influence on how I paint.
8. What has been your biggest accomplishment?
I have been a professional graphic designer and illustrator for over a decade and I think it is super awesome that people pay me to make art.
9. Would you mind sharing your future goals or talking about any upcoming projects you are working on?
My main focus is building my freelance graphic design and illustration business – Dustin Parker Arts, LLC. I would like to work on more high profile projects. I would like to model my career after design studios like Methane Studios, Aesthetic Apparatus, and Modern Dog Design Co. That is the type of work and clientele that I am hungry for.
10. Lastly, why do you do what you do? What about art do you love so much?
I was born with a compulsion to create art that is similar to a zombie’s compulsion to eat brains. It is embedded in my DNA. It is part of my animal brain. I don’t feel that I have a choice. Art chose me and now I have to serve my master.
If I was honest, I would say I don’t always love art. Sometimes art is a motherfucker. Art isn’t always a source of happiness and rainbows. But creating art and experiencing art makes life more fulfilling and richer and more interesting.
I Hope you enjoyed the interview.