Name: Steven Wagner
Brief artists statement:
Folks say all sorts of things. The other day someone asked me the question every artist dreads: Where do you get your ideas? So I sez, the archetypes welling forth. The Cave. God. Angels, yes, angels. And the chick leaves me alone.
How did you become an artist? Did you always dream of a life in the art-world?
I got to be an artist by drawing lines of fire for my fellow soldiers.
How has your education helped your career?
Everything I know about art I learned in kindergarten.
Do you work as an artist full-time? Describe your typical day. Do you have a routine?
I work full time, everyday, often all night. Except for someone insisting that I do this interview, I would be working.
Which historical and contemporary artists do you refer to most often? How are you influenced by their work?
Jackson, Vincent, Picasso. I refer most to the wikipedia list of the world’s most expensive paintings, abase myself, forget my feeling or inspiration or anything absurd like that and then try to paint paintings like the top ten because money is all that matters, isn’t it?
What are the other influences on your work?
If you eliminate the decorative artists and the photorealists from the race, there really aren’t that many people left to beat.
What was the last exhibition you visited?
A local library’s show, Catawampus in Northbrook Illinois. Better stuff than in most galleries.
What is your favourite art gallery?
Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago: www.hammergallery.com
What are your experiences of the ‘art-world’ and the business of art?
It all came to a crashing halt in 2007 or so, didn’t it? In Chicago more galleries closed than opened. No one is taking any risks anymore, are they? The suits fear artists, that’s for sure, and have done their damndest to shut the arts down worldwide. I think they’ve succeeded for the time being. Too many artists now are trying to band together and do political shit, which is just what it is, isn’t it? The so-called democracies have fumbled the ball. Islam’s answer is Bamiyan. But the ball is made in China now any way, so the Chinese control the art field, don’t they?
Do you have any tips or advice you wish you had known earlier in your career?
The artist with any self-respect should stay as far away from anyone in the business as possible. Find some way to support the art, that’s best. Forget begging. Work in silence. Don’t get into collectives or group-think. That’s what I’ve learned. Sure, learn Chinese. Expect to get shut down and shut up some more in the future. But artists have always been saints, martyrs, the bloodiest kind, vermillion red.
Do you have a quotation that you keep coming back to and that keep you going? Have you a motto that gets you through?
Never let them see you starve.
Which historical artist do you think is over-rated? Why?
Matisse. Merely decorative.
Do you or would you use assistants to make your work?
Naw. Too many legalities. Only the individual working alone has every done anything.
Do you use social networks? if so, how and which ones do you find most useful?
No, no, no to social networks! Social networks are just another distraction. Social networks are the 21st Century’s Plague.
Which artist should we all look up immediately? What art magazines, blogs or sites should art lovers be looking at?
Patrick Pike in the U.K. is doing some interesting motif work as far as non-figurative stuff is concerned: http://www.catholicartists.co.uk/patrick_pike_thumbs.htm. Other than folks doing abstract stuff, I see that most everyone is too afraid these days to do non-photorealism, so everything’s been quite mediocre since the explosion of all the artist sites. It’s probably best to recommend that everyone stay off the internet. Everyone’s hiding anyway, aren’t you? Age of concentration? Maybe. Age of expansion yet to come. Perhaps, a big perhaps.
Finish this limerick:
There once was an artist from… Earth./Who knew what creation was worth./So he went up to God/Who gave him the nod/And ripped out his heart so that he too would know the gift of pain known only by woman giving birth.