Wednesday, June 30, 2010

artist spotlight: richard bailey

Whew, kind of late, I know, but well worth the wait, 'cause the GFT! Artist Spotlight for the month of June goes to Richard Bailey, though fans of his music know him by his Proem alias. You can say it's been Proem week at this blog, with featured videos, music and now art from Mr. Bailey, who is now a resident of Houston, Texas. It was a real pleasure having him take some time out to share some of his art and some insight into his work. Enjoy!

1. Q: Your visual work, much like your music, conveys a deep, atmospheric quality. Do you find any parallels between your visual and audio art and would you call them intentional or not?

A: There are parallels... intentional yes, but nowhere near deliberate. You could say I'm stuck in a little box of my own design. Its wooden, probably pine and usually buried under six feet of earth. It's a chore to dig myself out. I've tried for ages to claw my way out and back up to the surface. After years of digging with my bare hands,... cleaning out the dirt under my fingernails seems like more effort than its worth. Best to just carry on and make the best of it.

2. Q: What are some of your preferred mediums when working in the visual realm?

A: Even though a lot of the work I have online is either watercolors or digital, I have a love hate relationship with both. In the case of watercolors, they aren't the most comfortable medium for me to work in. I want to love them and master them but when thinking of the application of paint, my brain tends to think in dark to light rather than light to dark. Which is only a little ironic considering my subject matter. I do love the little details and random artifacts you can achieve using watercolors. That being said, there is nothing worse than spending a few hundred hours on a project only to have it rip in half when you are pulling the masking tape off. I tend to oversaturate the paper to the point of it bowing quite awfully. Thus I am no master of watercolors. I suppose that could really be more about confidence than skill at this point. A great deal of the watercolor work I've done more recently has been largely paint marker / watercolor pencil and very little water.

On the digital side I have a 3 step proces: 1) scan at 600dpi. 2) load into artrage, play around till something catches my eye 3) either finish the piece in photoshop/painter. I like to use the digital side of things as a fail safe and not a crutch. I try to quickly prototype ideas or color shifts run through the process and then go back with an idea or two that i wouldnt dare try without a plan of attack. I love the freedom of digital painting but hate the lack of tactile sensation,... even with a pen tablet nothing beats the feeling of bristles on a surface.

What I love working in is large scale acryllic on wood. The larger the scale the better.

3. Q: For lack of a better word, much of the subject matter in your art takes on a darker, almost nightmarish quality. Are you drawn to the spookier side of things?

A: Drawn, outlined, painted and screen printed that way. I dont think it makes me special or different either. Humans are the one true darkness. I'm fairly certain we invented the concept. Some of us just package it and sell it better.

4. Q: Any plans for future projects merging your visual with your audio work at all?

A: Well, I've always done the art and layout for all of my records.... I'd love to do an animation project or actually finish the graphic novel I've been working on for the last 4 years. But I cant seem to find the time or focus or extra talent it would take to pull either of those off.

5. Q: Whose art are you into these days? Any names we should know?

A: The short list of people I would cross the street to cut myself in front of are:
Ben Templesmith
James Jean
Eric Powell
Eric Lacombe
Emmanuel Malin
Brian Wood
Renee Lawter
Mike Mignola

And Yes before anyone says anything, most of them are comic artists. Which is where I think the only interesting figurative art is happening these days,... well since the cubist and surrealist movements. And not to get all art history on you but the Dadaists and absurdists really screwed things up for the art world...

Also, you know who's mind blowingly awesome? Jean Michel Basquiat. When the traveling Basquiat exhibit hit the Menil back in the mid 90's it just shattered the way I looked at art. All that hand written text and franticly painted imagery, the immediacy of the work, Mark Rothko is another one that just rocked my world. The first time I stepped into the Rothko chapel, i didn't make it any more than 10 steps in before I was moved to tears. It was the first time I felt there was a presence of a higher power.

6. Q: How about music? Who are you tuned into lately?

A: I am way into math core and death metal bands actually. To name a few:
carbomb (these guys are the most disjointed and complex metal ive ever heard)
the dillinger escape plan
ion dissonance
as for the electronic side of things:
ben frost
the new deceptikon record is fantastic (the art aint half bad either!)
squarepusher ( though i didnt care much for the last one)

7. Q: As a dad, web developer and musician, where or how do you make time for your personal visual artwork?

A: Like everyone else on the planet at the end of the day I wonder where all the hours went. It's either sleep less or relent to the clock. Either way someone or something takes the hit. The trick is to not let it be the same thing every time. I havent figured out how to do that just yet. I'm getting close. Mostly I go through cycles where I spend my freetime making music or I spend it painting and drawing. Though having children has rekindled a lot of the drawing and painting urges in me. It's way too much fun to draw in a little group than by yourself sometimes. Especially when that group hangs on your every word because you can draw a frog or a penguin or an octopus.

8. Q: How would you describe the art and music scene in Austin as of late?

A: I wouldn't know. I havent lived there in awhile. But I was never one for the "art scene". Not that I dont have truck loads of the pretense that permeates the art world... I find it tedious and difficult to play the "arthouse" game, and by that I mean actually being able to buy and sell paintings. Which is sort of important if you plan to truly support a scene. Artists have to eat too.

9. Q: As an artist, what do you find most frustrating or challenging perhaps?

A: All of the above.

10. Q: Godzilla or Gammera - if the two had to battle, who would come out on top?

A: I have three words for you. Giant. Robot. Lizard. Yea thats right I went there.

For more of Richard's work, please drop by these links!: - discography - design portfolio - ranting - work in progress / audio experiments - flickery things