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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Interview with Dana Carlson

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

A)I’m 35. I grew up in Iowa but I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the last 10 years or so.

Q)How did you get started making art?

A)I was REALLY into finger paint and lite brite as a kid. My parents enrolled me in an adult drawing class at a hobby and craft store when I was in second grade. There I learned to draw from magazine and calendar cutouts – puppies in paper bags, kittens in a basket, that kind of thing. It was all about shading.

Q)How would you describe your art?

A)Painting. Hybrid-paintings? Dreamy absurd poetic dorky.

Q)Who is your biggest influence, both art and non-art related

A)I don’t really know how to answer this. Influences come and go. When I was younger my art professors were a huge influence – mostly in making sense of how to be an artist, how to think. I spent a winter at an isolated art residency with a group of artists and writers right after undergraduate school when I was very young. That experience was very influential – the friends I made and what we talked about, watching their approaches to art-making, living the artist-life (whatever that means). The other artists there were a little older and wiser and I took a lot from that time.

Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?

A)I work in a very spur of the moment way and I try not to get too hung up about “ideas.” I just need a general starting point and/or a vague outline of what I want to do. If it stays to the plan is beside the point. I just keep going.

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

A)I’m really into combining materials so I can’t say I have a favorite - but acrylic ink is really nice.

Q) What is your favourite art related web site?

A) http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com
http://Paintersnyc.blogspot.com



Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?

A)Hand done all the way.

Q)What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?

A)Besides gallery venues I really enjoy going to see other artists’ work in their studios or seeing it as part of a collection in somebody’s apartment or home.
Seeing artwork at an art fair can be really depressing – like products at a high-end Target or something.

Q) I'm always interested in where an artist finds their inspiration. Where do you find yours?

A)I don’t know if it’s really about inspiration per se for me. It’s more about making the next thing, refining the questions and looking for a different solution. You know, trying to find out something new and not be boring.

Q)How are the reactions to your work in general?

A)Some people can’t deal with the crafty stuff and I have a particular way of putting things together that’s a little spastic. I have heard that it can take some getting used to. Little kids usually like it a lot.



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

A)Ugh. Working to make money! Doing life stuff – going out – art and non-art related stuff, lots of concerts, openings, reading, yoga. I’m really into my garden too.

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

A)Art vs. work vs. life. It’s hard to make it all work. Also, strangely, I think it can be hard for some artists to find their community. There are so many artists out there but most of us work day jobs and are so busy that it can get isolating. At 35 I feel like only in the last 5 years have I really found my own art community. It took a long time.

Q) Do you believe that a person is born with a talent to produce art or can anyone be taught?

A)It’s less about talent and more about will. A person that needs to make art will make it. Anyone can be taught - but drive and ambition have to be there to keep it going.

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

A)Oh I don’t know. The last thing I made is usually the favorite.



Q) What are some current/upcoming projects you are working on or excited about?

A)I’m going to be in a couple of group shows coming up in December and February both of which I am looking forward to. Also I’m working on a commissioned piece for a band’s new album coming out soon.

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

A)Look at art. Be super honest with yourself – ask hard questions. From my own experience I had to realize not to work so hard (at art). I had to learn to lighten up. Grace is involved, you know?

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

A)I feel lucky to know so many amazing artists here in the city that my list would be way too long naming them all. Let’s see… from art history: Philip Guston, Van Gogh, Florine Stettheimer, Egon Scheile, Titian, Tiepolo, William Blake, deKooning, Kandinsky. (I could go on and on here as well)
The last Albert Oehlen show at L.Augustine was amazing.



Q) Do you need others to tell you they like it before you feel validated?

A)Everyone needs some validation – but it can come in lots of ways – not just from sales or reveiws. You have to be pretty tough to continue to make work so the less validation you need the better… I’ve certainly gotten a lot tougher and have put the whole art endeavor into perspective as I’ve gotten older.

Q)Tell us a little about some of the different types of jobs you've had over the years, before/while doing what you do now. For someone who is starting out in art, how would you recommend they go about making a career out of it?

A)Don’t make a career out of it - -Unless you are really built for self-promotion or independently wealthy. (sorry) To be lucky enough to have art be your full means of support is amazing but I think it’s best to not expect that going in. Make art for the art. If you get to live off your work that’s great. Aim high but for the right reasons. Making good work is the most important thing.
I was a waitress for years. I’ve worked for artists a little too. These days I do freelance web production work, coding and such. I prefer to do something not art-world related for money so that my time in the studio is like a different world.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…links

A) http://danacarlson.com









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