Name: Aaron Wooten
Location: Chicago, IL
Brief artists statement:
My work strives for the absurd. From political cartoons to erotica, I think humour is best and the most powerful way to display a message.
How did you become an artist? Did you always dream of a life in the art-world?
Through trial and error. Art for me is plan B. Plan A didn’t work out right, but art is definitely more exciting.
How has your education helped your career?
It hasn’t. My education via institution is only a bill arriving in the mail at the end of the month and nothing more.
Do you work as an artist full-time? Describe your typical day. Do you have a routine?
I do not. It was at first a hobby that gradually picked up over time to where it eventually paid for itself, but I am a bit too conservative to try to live entirely from it. I’m afraid to see what might happen. I am a bit too destructive and careless to run a legit business.
Which historical and contemporary artists do you refer to most often? How are you influenced by their work?
Molly Crabapple, Jack Levine, Thomas Harte Benton, Rockwell, Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. These artists pull me in all sorts of directions. Staying in one direction with one style can be tedious and boring, so I like to mix it up whenever I can. I will say that historically it seems that fifteenth century art from northern Europe has much in common with what you see today. It is amazing how colourful and independent these artists are.
What are the other influences on your work?
Shel Silverstein has always been a Chicago favourite. I have a Silverstein tattoo about an arrow that misses an apple and hits the forehead. It is very foretelling of my life.
What was the last exhibition you visited?
The last descent exhibition I went to was at the Art Institute of Chicago. There was an exhibition on Russian artists during World War II. Although this art was quite amazing it also showed a negative impact that art can have on citizens and society.
What is your favourite art gallery?
The Musee d’Orsay. It is the best museum in Paris and I was fortunate to spend a good deal of time there. Everything you ever desired to see is in there.
What are your experiences of the ‘art-world’ and the business of art?
It’s very hit or miss. I could spend a fortune on galleries or on agents and not sell a thing or sell quite a few out of a local coffee shop. It can be frustrating at times. Persistence is key. Knowing who your crowd is also very important.
Do you have any tips or advice you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Starting out small and working your way into it. Finding what works and what doesn’t is very important. I wasted some cash back in the day on things that weren’t necessary. I wish I could redo it. Oh well.
Do you have a quotation that you keep coming back to and that keep you going? Have you a motto that gets you through?
‘When the spirit wanes, the form shines.’ Charles Bukowski wrote this.
I think it shows the chaos in creativity. It would work well in Melville’s Moby Dick. It is kind of an Apollo/Dionysian mixture of nature and discipline by the eye. At times when art seems difficult I think of it. Maybe standing back and letting the mind break is the best thing. Maybe a beer is the best thing.
Which historical artist do you think is over-rated? Why?
Picasso and cubism. I’ve seen his work on a number of occasions and I never feel impressed. I hope the cubist revival that I’ve seen a bit of lately is a failure. I just don’t get it. Although I do think Picasso’s earlier work and blue pieces have something to say. Warhol is another over-rated bit. Too much thought. Too much theory. Not enough emotion.
Do you or would you use assistants to make your work?
No, my work can take a while sometimes. I use photographs. They do just as well. My wife would be upset if I used assistants anyhow.
Do you use social networks? if so, how and which ones do you find most useful?
Bluecanvas.com is great. Juxtapoz is another good one. Facebook is good for locals as well. These networks seem to have their acts together.
Which artist should we all look up immediately? What art magazines, blogs or sites should art lovers be looking at?
Damien James. He’s a local Chicagoan artist with an interesting style. Kinda like Ralph Steadman. Everyone should look him up.
Finish this limerick: There once was an artist from…
…Diddly-doo. She had so much alcohol she didn’t know what to do.
Until one day they decided to lock her up in a zoo.
Poor little Sue.