What makes a good art? I always thought that a good artist it's a person who got a good background, know the masters of his craft, but also have an eye on tomorrow, watching the news and getting involved with latest trends. This is how I envision Shawn Huckins, a new talent we had the pleasure to talk to.
You can reach Shawn on the following links:
1) First of all I would like to thank you for doing this interview, it's an honor for us to present more about you to our readers. I would like to start asking you about when your interest for illustration and painting started?
Thanks for having me. My interest in the arts, like most artists, started at a young age. For me, I was in elementary school on the way home sitting with a big kid on the bus. He showed me his sketch book of characters that he had drawn and I was fascinated by all of it. From then I started sketching in my own books - mostly of Disney and video game characters. I was introduced to painting when my Grandmother passed away and I was given her oil painting kit. I was age nine. I remember being very frustrated with the whole process as I didn’t know how the medium worked. I returned back to drawing and did not get into hardcore painting again until college.
2) Which artists do you use as reference?
I’m influenced by a lot of old American masters such John Singleton Copley and George Bingham. From studying and replicating their work, I basically taught myself to paint portraits - a subject that was extremely intimating to me. And for recent contemporary artists, Ed Ruscha and David Hockey, for composition techniques. And lastly, Wayne Thiebaud for his immaculate use of color.
3) Your style is quite influenced by classic art / internet memes. How did you develop this style and how would you describe it?
Like I mentioned before, painting the figure was incredibly difficult for me - so difficult that I avoided it all together. Chatting one night with my cousin about my work, he noted that I’m a skilled painter, but couldn’t paint figures and he sort of teased me about it. To prove him wrong, I went home and started replicating 18th century American artists (i.e., Copley) and began to teach myself the portrait. I never studied portraiture in college (one thing I regret), so learning how to paint flesh tones and getting the eyes just right was a huge challenge. One of my rejected paintings slipped underneath a piece of trace paper with the acronym LOL. I saw the face behind the text and found the juxtaposition to be amazing. And the rest is history.
4) Describe us a bit about your creative process while creating a piece
It begins by finding text and researching museum public domain American paintings. Both separate at this point. When I find a painting I want to replicate, I have no idea of what text I will marry it with and when I find the text, I have no idea which painting it will go with. Once I find the right text and painting that will work together, I compose several compositions on the computer to get placement of text just right. From there, the image and text is drawn out onto canvas, letters are masked off with tape, and the under painting is started. Once the painting is completed and glazes are dry, I peel off the tape exposing the letters. Letters get a quick touch-up from paint that seeped underneath the tape and it’s signed, photographed, and varnished.
5) What would you consider the best moment on your career till now?
It’s not a precise moment, although I’ve had a lot of accomplishments that I’m proud of, but I would say that I can paint everyday and make a living off it. No one looking over me, no one to answer to..I’m very lucky and privileged to be able to do this. So I suppose my best moment was leaving my day job to go full-time artist.
6) How do you describe your daily routine?
I have a pretty mundane routine. Wake up, gym, breakfast, and in the studio by 9. Work from 9-5 while listening to NPR. Fiddle lesson from 5-6. Repeat next day.
7) Being a multimedia artist, please tell us what's your favorite media to work with? Why?
I’m not a multimedia artist. My work is completely done in paint. People are often mistaken that I use Photoshop to compose these images, but rather, these are original acrylic on canvas paintings. And of course painting is my favorite media. It’s messy, it smells, and it’s perfect.
8) Tell us five lessons you believe are really important for every artist.
A.) Persistence is key. If you want to be good (at anything really), you have to stick with it. Even during frustrating and overwhelming moments, those moments make you better.
B.) Learn from other artists and study their work up close. If possible, ask the artist about it and their process.
C.) Color is super important and very tricky. I would recommend spending time learning about color alone and the science behind it. Subject matter can come later.
D.) Know what your good at and know what your not good at. Emphasize your strengths while working on your weaknesses.
E.) Stay motivated. Surround yourself with art or whatever inspires you. If you lose your inspiration and motivation, then your work becomes meaningless to you and your viewers will see that.
9) Tell us five websites that you like to visit.
I’m always browsing my Tumblr feed, as I follow a lot of awesome art blogs and artists. Second, would be Hi-Fructose. Third, Juxtapoz. Fourth, NPR. Fifth, Supersonic Electronic.
10) Thanks again for your time, please leave a final message for the ones who are starting out on this kind of business.
I’ve said it once before and I’ll say it again…if you want to be in this business, you need to know your stuff. Without determination and motivation, you won’t get very far.