The eXTra finGer

...''He was counting on his fingers.One two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven.Eleven?Had he been born with an extra finger?''...

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Location: Italy

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Interview with Angie Mason

q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

a)Hello, My name is Angie Mason I am 33 and I live with my husband Lyle Briggs and our cat Mr. Nervil NerverBurger in an old house which was built in 1925 in Northern New Jersey. I have my studio in my house so I do all my artwork there. My art gets to travel around the world as I am lucky enough to take part in many art exhibits. I was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey to factory working parents, my mother who was a weaver at an artistic label loom factory and my father who was a cookie dough dumper in a cookie factory. I was uprooted quite often during my younger years, growing up all over New Jersey and in other places such as Puerto Rico and Florida. I have three sisters one older and two younger.? I always had a deep connection with making art since I was young. I decided to make it official and began studies at Parsons School Of Design when I was 18. While I was there I spent some time in the Fine Art Department then transferring for my final years in the Illustration Department graduating in 1997 with a BFA. I have worked within the design art community since graduating.

q)How did you get started making art?

a)I started making art When I was a young child as most children I loved to make drawings and paintings and really anything I could make art with would make me happy. Sometimes this strong need to make visual marks would get me in big trouble as this desire to make images was so strong if I didn’t have the correct art tools I would use what ever I could find to express myself...As a for instance once I found myself uncontrollably making markings, carving them into my mothers favorite wooden furniture piece with a metal nail file she had laying around. We were considered poor when I was growing up so for me to make my markings on one of her few valued possessions this did not go over well. In any case I still continued to draw and paint and just spew my visions with whatever was available to me at the time which sometimes might just be a bottle of chocolate milk to splash on the wall or if I was really lucky some crayons and paint. Luckily early on in elementary school I was placed in a special art program for gifted children which opened my parents eyes to the seriousness of my need for art supplies as if my messing up my mothers favorite furniture piece wasn't incentive enough for them to get me some basic art supplies. In any case being introverted as a child? I think I always found a refuge in the creation of worlds through art . In my work there was always a strong since of color and existence of characters dwelling within them. Its been a definite natural progression to where I am presently with my artwork.

q)How would you describe your art…?

a)My work is a funny, whimsical, dark and tragic view at the wonderful mess of life as I live it.
I like to utilize characters as a way to paint truths about our human experience. I think in life we tend to make connections to animals, objects and a range of things that are not human yet we impose human traits on them in order to comfort ourselves in some way.I feel that by portraying characters within different emotional situations which we as humans can go through makes the emotion more universal and can connect with more people by being a character rather than a literal portrait of a person. I like presenting situations and characters that can both make you laugh or make you sad all at the same time. I like the balance of opposites that are the perfect recipe of cute and creepy that tug at each other creating this balance or a tug of war between good and evil, hope and despair that are both sweet and sour at the same time. We all have to face demons in our lives and in my paintings my characters are sometimes facing theirs or are in fact the demon themselves.

q)Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

a)I am inspired in my work by many different things in life. I do see my characters as extensions of myself but they are also others I know as well. I deal with situations that have been tragic in my life and create my playground so to speak where my characters can act out whatever emotions it is I am dealing with at that time. However my reasons are not always from a dark side I do like to incorporate lightness and humor into my work to create a balance of opposites. I also like to incorporate playfulness and nonsense and will paint something simply because I drew this character from my head and fell in love with it. I believe paying attention to nonsense has its powers. Aside from personal life influences, my inspiration comes in many forms ranging from animals, imagination such as memories and dreams to fairy tales and folklore, music, design, surrealism and travel. I surround myself with obscure, fantastic information, odd objects and loads of imagery including Folk and Visionary art, the occult, old antique found-objects, pseudo-science, nature, mythology, carnival images, toys, art and comics. Having a wide scope of personal interests only deepens my artistic vision allowing me to utilize and personalize knowledge within my own work.

q)What are you working on now?

a)Presently I am working on a new body of work for my solo show in Berlin at Strychnin Gallery in 2007 as well as some other small group shows I have coming up through the end of this year into 2007.I am very excited to be working with Strychnin Gallery. Yasha Young, who owns the gallery, is just wonderful, super smart and so full of excitement I am very happy knowing her. Some other projects that are coming up are ornament shows and toy shows at ArtStar Gallery and MF Gallery , Operation Fragmentation show with customized vinyl figures more info on that can be found at , Everything Nice a fantastic group show curated by artist Kim Scott will be showing at Toyroom Gallery this October then traveling to Thinkspace Gallery in December. In December I have some work in the Don't Wake Daddy Group show curated by Heiko Mueller at Feinkunst KrGalerie in Hamburg Germany. Basically I am staying quite busy.?

q)Are there some web sites that you would like to recomend? Artists, art communities,???? xxx,...!?

a) Strychnin Gallery Official Site? ( This is an old side project website that I had done which I still enjoy the ideas that it is based on).
I think this an amazing blog with lots of beautiful inspiring artworks from various? points in history.
This is one of my all time favorite museums to visit I love it there.
Art Dorks are cool
Blah Blah Gallery
Incredible Music I love them so much.

q) What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?

a)Painting primarily in acrylics is my first love although drawing is a close second. While creating I don’t allow myself to be held back by setting rules and boundaries of only focusing on one thing. I felt it would be more beneficial for me to explore all facets of creating to see where it led me and it would also be more exciting. That experience of not knowing fully what is going to come out in the end makes it exciting to me. A lot of my creative process is about discovery on many different levels whether it’s about technique or personal. I do feel through all that exploration it led me to realize my love of painting so these days my energies are focused on painting. And I stick with acrylics because they are in between the world of water color and oil I can make them look like either one which I quite like and I don't get sick like I used to when I did use oils.

q) What advice would you give to younger up and coming artist?

a)It is important as an artist to always be honest with yourself and not try to please others. Make art that is pure and true to you and the rest really should follow. Sure the path is a longer and harder road but so much more fulfilling. The way I personally see it, is if you have a strong emotional reaction or connection to a piece you are making and being that we are all humans chances are there will be others who have the same feeling as you and will be moved by the work.
Realize that there will be people who will always try to shoot you down and reject what you do but never let that stop you from doing what you love and matters most to you. In life you should first make artwork for you and not think of money, success or galleries etc... that stuff can come as a bonus later on for all your hard work but really make art you believe in. The other stuff fame, galleries, money it's all fleeting. Realize that too and I think you will enjoy those things more when they come to you.
In the end stay in your art that is what matters most. Also I recommend the book Art and Fear. I think all artists should read this book as well as the book. Interviews With Francis Bacon: The Brutality of Fact. I read both books when I was in my late teens early twenties and found them both really helpful and inspiring and they are still great reads as well.

q) What is your personal definition of life and art and everything else in between?

a)In life art is a the thumbprint of my existence that I leave on the universe.
The visual journey is a necessary one, for existing in the physical world without such deviations all meaning would be lost on all the in between stuff. Having the imaginative world be accessible is the key to discovering and experiencing happiness in my life.

q) Take us inside your process a little bit. How do you begin a piece? What inspires the concept?

a)The inspiration for each piece varies as far as concepts go. Its most likely some sort of life driven, dream driven, or emotional driven concept that sets the work in motion. I work in my journal sketchbooks to work out my ideas and from there I can find a piece and take it to a finished painted version. I work in mostly acrylics and the process is certainly fueled by my moods. A piece can take years to finish or it can take me a much shorter time to finish something depending on how inspired I am in the moments I am working on something. I am also now forced to take more breaks when working since back in 2004 I had someone break my left hand thumb and since that accident it's made creating artwork more of a challenge since I am Left hand dominant. I have to deal with real physical pain from nerve damage though I am extremely driven and have a strong desire to make artwork I overcome and learn ways to cope with the pain.

q) What are your artistic influences?

a)Growing up it came from an internal reaction to my surroundings which were at times harsh and lonely ...I grew up quite poor so there were times I was so hungry I would faint and black out spending so much time in the hospital also when I was young influenced a lot of my work. My upbringing has shaped my visual language as well as relationships with people I have known or know in my life. Nature influences me as well as art history and my existing peers I know who are also artists. Really everything I come in contact with music, words, weather everything matters and influences me somehow.

q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

a)The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive which is really awesome. I love how the internet has allows for people all over the world to see my work. It feels in those moments when connecting with someone the world is small and can be really wonderful even during all the violence and upheaval around us. I would have to say some of my favorite people to hear from are the young kids in high school their letters are usually most open in explaining how they connect to the work which are full of wonder and innocence. Its always a really nice reward to get those kind of notes. It gives my work more meaning knowing its not just touching my life but wow someone somewhere so far away is moved by something I made just amazes me and makes me smile every single time.

q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?

a)When I am not actually making art I am thinking of making art but also being in nature especially in the mountains and near water, gardening, traveling,swinging on swings, running around in circles,goofing off,dreaming, photographing and filming stuff, taking road trips,drinking tea,memory diving, automatic writing, making my cat do tricks, computing,chatting, family, friends,taking deep breaths, star gazing, allowing myself to get lost in order to be found, making and destroying things.... you know,the art of living.

q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?

a)A big challenge for an artist I would imagine in any time is not making art because of fear of survival. We all have to deal with financial obligations in order to eat and live....Don't not make art just because you have to work some day job you hate and you don't think of yourself as an artist. I have heard this story over and over how people don't consider themselves artists because they don't work full time as one. Don't let insecurities in yourself and from others hold you back from making art. I think a challenge everyone deals with in life not just artists is negativity it can be a strong force that eats away and gnaws at your self and if you allow it you can succumb to its horrible ways. I think staying positive or somehow channeling your negativity into your work is important to allow yourself to keep growing making stuff rather than letting negativity cripple you. Don't let fear of failing or succeeding get in your way. Really in the end just make art.

q) What is freedom to you as an artist?

a)Freedom as an artist to me is being able to release any inner fears and create artwork that you believe in not caring what anyone else thinks or believes but you believe in your work and feel completely connected to the work as if it were an extension of yourself. Freedom as an artist is not being controlled like a puppet by someone else harvesting your skills for their own means. Purely making the work first and foremost for you and no one else though others can enjoy and connect with it but during the process of creation no outside forces can tap in trying to control or change your original intentions and directions.

q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

a)Its hard for me to pick out and praise my works as I really feel close to all of them. However I do enjoy those moments when working on a piece and I discover something whether its on an emotional level or skill/technique level. My newer works are probably closest to me since I just spent so much time with them.

q) Last Books you read?

a)Funny thing is if I answer this question honestly which I am going to it would be one I wrote a while back which I tend to end up reading quite a bit to children who come into my life such as my niece Sasha and nephew Billy who both constantly ask me to read them the book which is Titled 'Fish In My Belly'. I wrote and did the art work for this book and put it together as it's quite a little sculpture in itself and is the only book of it's kind in existence as it's never been published. Its a funny little story about being shy.
Aside from that bit of silliness some favorite books of mine that come to mind right now which have great characters and are visually rich are Geek Love and Cruddy both two of my favorites.?

q) Last records you bought?

a)The Last actual record I bought was so long ago since now I switched to mp3s ^____^ It was some sort of new wave, punk or hardcore record I am sure. As for recently purchased mp3's I would say...
Sunset Rubdown,Single Frame and Beethoven's 9th Symphony in D minor

q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

a)Strychnin Gallery in Berlin and NYC... and all the other galleries I show at are my favorite for very selfish reasons ^____^ I have a great affection for many of the original surreal artists from the mid 1900's including Remedios Varos, Leonora Carrington, Unica Zurn, Hans Bellmer, Dorthea Tanning and so many others. I also love so much of the visionary folk outsider art such as Adolf Wolfli, Paul Laffoley and Henry Darger. There are also so many great contemporary artists making work now which is exciting to feel apart of art history in the making not just fine art but illustration as well. My friends are some of my personal favorites as well such as Lori Earley and Christina Graf having known them for years and seeing all of our growth process progress first hand is really great to share with eachother.

q) Which do you think make good art good? originality, or style? And, why?

a) I think work that is someone's personal vision or story mixed with a personalized technique is always a great combination. I think as an artist you have to both explore our inner self and the world we live in as well as explore the physical materials we work with. The artist that really pushes and explores both of those boundaries will most likely make meaningful exciting work that will affect someone other than the person who made it.

q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?

a)In order to make meaningful work you have to get attached to your work You go through so much together you have a relationship with the work in the deepest sense. I miss my work when it is gone yet I also feel proud of the work going off into the world spreading my visions disease....I actually like to think of my artwork as visual germs infecting the world it makes it easier for me to spread my work around and every time I sell a work to someone I laugh in mad scientist kind of laugh as my plans are all going accordingly.

q)Your contacts?.E-mail?links

a) - Official Art Site - Fan page on Myspace - My Blog


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool Angie, Love to hear your views. The show at Toyroom looks great, so many positive comments, everyone I talked to said it was one of the best shows they had seen in a while. Thanks again, kim

8:50 PM  
Blogger John Lytle Wilson said...

Wow. I enjoyed this interview and the blog overall! Keep 'em coming.

5:21 PM  

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