Interview with Anthony Clarkson for “Trail of Wandering Thoughts”

Anthony Clarkson Interview

Thinkspace is proud to present Anthony Clarkson’s latest body of work ‘Trail of Wandering Thoughts’ in our project room on view now through February 25th. The Los Angeles-based artist departed from acrylics and pushed his technique with oils in his latest body of work continuing to create surreal – dreamlike meanderings through eerily cast dimensions.  In anticipation of Clarkson’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Anthony Clarkson to discuss his creative process, growing as an artist, and sources of inspiration.

SH: Can you elaborate on the inspiration for this latest body of work and themes you’ve been exploring?
AC: This is the first group of works I’ve done not really centered around a theme. This time I just painted images that came to mind without really questioning what their meaning was, or trying to say a specific thing with them. I did find it very freeing. I think I’ve always felt in the past I really had to plan out the meaning behind each piece and have them convey a specific idea. I don’t know if I’ll keep conceiving images this way from now on or if I’ll go back to more theme-based works in the future, but I definitely feel some sort of creative wall has been torn down for me mentally.

SH: You’re a full-time artist in the fine art and digital art space? Do these mediums influence each other, are you able to explore or test ideas in one field that is adopted into a different piece?
AC: Yeah, I do both painted and digital art. I tend to keep them pretty separate in my mind, but I do sometimes come up with neat effects in my digital work that I wonder If I’d be able to replicate the look in paint.

SH: In a 2015 interview you shared that you would begin painting more with oils, will we see being seeing a lot more oils in this new body of work? What’s the differences in your ability to express yourself creatively when it comes to using acrylics versus oils?
AC: This is my first show where most everything is in oil. There has been a big learning curve with oils, but I do like them. I feel like I’m just starting to get a grasp on them, so I’m really excited to see what I’m able to do with them on future works. Some of the layering techniques I’m starting to learn are really cool that I think will allow me to do some great lighting effects and create more of a mood.

SH: Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
AC: On a typical day I usually wake up around 10 or so in the morning, and after several cups of coffee and checking e-mails, I start sketching out new painting ideas or jump right into painting if I have pieces already in the works. I usually work until about 7-8pm then take a break for dinner and relax with an hour or two of TV. Around 9pm I jump back into working and it usually goes late into the night. I tend to find I get a lot of my best work done between around 11pm-3am, when the rest of the world has gone to bed. It just feels a lot more peaceful and easier to fall into a natural creative state.

SH: What inspires you creatively? When you’re not painting what are you doing?
AC: Music has always been the biggest inspiration on my art. I can listen to a song and have images and colors come to mind that influence a lot of my paintings. I also love relaxing while watching movies both old and new. Being able to fall into different story narratives than I would have maybe normally come up with on my own can spark a lot of new ideas I can pull into my work.

SH: What would be your dream collaboration? (It can be any art form)
AC: I think it would be really cool to see my art animated and put to music in some way. Since I saw the short piece “Destino” by Salvador Dali in collaboration with Disney I’ve always thought something like that would be really great. I think my art would work for something in that vein really well too.

SH: If your artwork was a food item on a menu, how would it be described?
AC: I have no idea how it would be described, but I’m pretty sure it would be on the 99 cent menu.

SH: What were you listening to during this latest body of work, podcast? Playlist? Netflix?
AC: In the mornings I usually listen to a few different podcasts throughout the week such as Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave, Smodcast, Fat Man on Batman, The Nerdist, WTF, The Eddie Trunk Podcast.
In the afternoons I listen to music most of the time. I love heavy metal and listen to a lot of classic bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Dio, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Slayer, Black Sabbath, and Pantera. Also various other bands like Katatonia, Anathema, Tiamat, Ulver, and always some Depeche Mode and The Cure

In the evenings after dinner, I put on movies in the background. When painting I almost always play movies I’ve seen several times so I can just let the story wash over me and don’t have to focus on a new story. Just a few of the regulars that keep getting plays while I paint are Taxi Driver, Dr. Strangelove, American Beauty, Boogie Nights, Adaptation, Holy Mountain, Lost in Translation, A Clockwork Orange, and anything Alfred Hitchcock. Along with lots of old Twilight Zone episodes.

SH: What elements of other art inspires you? What artists are you fawning over right now?
AC: I tend to be drawn to artists that use really dynamic shadows and lighting. That’s always something I want to get a lot better at and get more depth and dynamics from my paintings. Also, artists who do an image design from a different view or angle than I would have thought of and is able to bring out more dynamics in the image that way.
There are so many artists I’m into right now, but I tend to be drawn to seeing works by people who do vastly different styles than my own because I can almost always find a technique or something in them that I can try to incorporate into my own works in my own way.
Right now I am really looking forward to the new show from Marco Mazzoni coming up. I love what he does with colored pencils. Back in high school, I was going through a big colored pencil phase when I was moving on from pen and ink work. I would go through boxes of Prismacolors trying to get a very painted look with them. So seeing what he does is really cool to me, like seeing the kind of thing I might have done had I kept working in that medium.

SH: You’ve been showing with Thinkspace for the last ten years. As an artist, how do you push yourself artistically without compromising your unique style?
AC: I think as far as the “world” I’ve been creating and trying to dive deeper into with my images I know where I’m going. It’s just about keeping going down that path. For me, the pushing myself comes from learning new techniques or using new mediums, like going from acrylic to oil paints. Overall I think I know what my grand vision for my art is that I’m trying to achieve, it’s just experimenting to find the best ways of pulling it off and putting in the hours of work to get better at creating that vision.

View all available works from ‘Trail of Wandering Thoughts‘ on the Thinkspace Gallery website.

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