Austin Eddy’s works are fascinated with magic, from the faux-scrying joke shop tool of the “Magic 8-ball,” to (seemingly Michael Jackson’s) magician’s sequined gloves, personified wizard hats or rainbow dust emitting bongs/flutes. Multiple painting processes abound, from (real!) glitter, spraypaint and beyond to cast comedic spells of play and fancy. Read the full interview after the jump.
How did you get into making art?
My story is I guess rather run of the mill as far as me getting started on the path of making art. I drew all the time as a kid and then I started to paint more later on, it was a real organic evolution from point a to point b. But really I think the seeds of a decision to be a “serious” art maker happened later on in life like in high school my senior year. That is what got me going to art school then when there that’s when I really decided I was capable of being a maker of things.
Many of your paintings combine spray paint and acrylic on panel…can you talk about your technique of creating these works, and how you started working this way?
It all really happened by accident you could say; I just sort of got bored working with just paintbrushes and other typical tools of making paintings (not to say spray paint is not typical, its still paint). It was also a rather conscious decision in that previously I found myself relying on cool moves too much, almost like a crutch to my image making process, and that kinda just did not cut it as far as satisfying that weird itch. Being dissatisfied with that I tried to throw things out and set my self up with a new handful of problems, finding my self rather stuck in a rut now of not being able to make cool splatters and sweet fuzzy light orbs I turned to the first thing that seemed more capable than I in making these illusions happen. This mode of working is also rather rooted in my interest in making these seemingly “crappy” materials sing just as well as the traditional tools of the trade. I mean all god’s critters have a place in the choir, and well all tings are open when making paintings and there’s a place for imagination and possibilities.
Many of your works seem to include magical elements in the vein of joke-shop tricks or faux-mysticism, like tuxedo wearing magicians, spells, fortune telling (via a magic 8-ball!), wands…..or, heavier references in pieces with titles such as “the power of the blood of the stars” or alchemy….where does your interest lie in this kind of magic imagery?
My interest in most of this imagery stems from Harry Potter and those Lord of the Ring movies and books. I remember reading those books (lord of the rings) as a kid and being totally infatuated with the awesome quest and totally rad use of magic. Later in life after those things were put away Harry Potter came on the scene and re sparked my interest in those things. From there I started to look into more mystical uses of magic and found myself looking at alchemy and all that stuff Aelister Crowley talked about. Eventually I Realized I was less interested in the idea of magic in the sense of summoning the power of the world, but much more interested in the magic of illusions and how powerful that can be. Though I still turn to the Oiji board, mood ring, or Magic 8 ball when I am faced with those really tough questions…
What role do you think magic plays in our current society?
Magick much like religion and any other form of spirituality seems to exist on a similar plain in the sense that they are all there and functioning as some sort of forum for escapism to take place. I would say that currently there is an ever growing need for escapism, not to say things are all doom and gloom, cause that’s far from true, but things were getting dark in the world. Not saying that things haven’t always seemed to be getting dark. But my personal take on things is that things were getting bad and who doesn’t love the idea of making things better by casting a spell or something like that. As far as magic playing a role in current society I would say it plays a really important role. Though its not really referred to as magic any more but science.
One of my favorite paintings is “The Dream,” kind of simultaneously a bong/magic flute…amazing arms coming down that could be curtains, a rainbow portal, or arms (more obviously)….can you talk about what’s going on in this image and your inspiration behind it?
I mean that’s kind of what’s up. I meant it to be rather open and just kind of function as this wild scenario. But the arms are meant to be masked as curtains and a framing device allowing the magic flute be the main character of the image, a portrait of an inanimate object with a come to life spell cast on it. I was rather captivated with the idea as the images as a stage where objects can exist. As far as inspiration for my painting there is a painting by Henri Rousseau that is titled the dream, I really liked that painting and thought it would be a good idea to take that image and more so my favorite part of that painting, the little black boy hiding in the woods playing a flute and make it new. It is all really magical so I just took that boy cropped him and made it, instead of hiding in the woods he is hiding in the colors.
Some of your paintings seem to reference the psychedelia of 60′s counter-culture, leading up to new-age ideals….with titles such as “memorial to the space sisters spiritual retreat” you could almost be dealing with cults or something along those lines….what draws you to this “spiritual” vernacular?
I was originally drawn to the dark arts through movies: like Willow, Labyrinth, Harry Potter and The Craft, from there I started looking into Alchemy and its uses practical as well as more fantastical. That sort of transitioned into researching more occult things like Thelema and voodoo and other sorts of cult, pagan and wicket rituals. In the end I was far more fascinated with the imagery of these spiritual practices be they the rituals or the actual objects used, similarly the imagery of 60′s counter culture was more engaging than any of the actual ideologies or practices. I guess what draws me to this all you could say is that I just vibed with how it all looked.
There’s also a definite sense of humor, in the personified magic wizard caps, the oddly cropped hands, incorporated glitter…..how do you approach humor in your works? Do they ever make you laugh?
I think laughter is important to being a happier person so I try to incorporate a sense of humor as often as possible. Plus in a way the humor is a type of escapism, much like the idea of magic, that allows for a distraction from the less lovely side to life that pops up more often than not. I think it would be hard to laugh at my own work I guess, cause I live with it so long, its like living with a good joke long enough you may forget why you thought it was funny in the first place, though every time you tell it to someone else they can’t help but laugh. I think that’s a good thing. Keeps it all-fresh in a way.
What do you use for references in your paintings- is it strictly from imagination, or do you draw from source material ever?
A lot of the starting places for these images are art historical, though they are hardly ever-obvious references to the original works. Being an artist I feel like we are endowed with a really rich history of awesome images, and a wildly extensive vocabulary of painting moves, so why not borrow and make it yours. So I would say that the imagination and source material play an equal part in my process. I’ll take the source material and put it through the imagination machine in my brain and have it come out as what I would ideally like to paint.
What are some of your favorite influences that manifest themselves in your work, whether spiritual, ideological, visionary, mundane, astrological….
I find myself really influenced by Birthday parties, and more importantly the ones where magicians come. I think this is cause I never went to one and now looking back wish I had been. I also am rather drawn to party goods, like streamers and piñatas; I guess they sort of represent this physical manifestation of fun and good times where things are great. I try to let dreams play a roll in my work and life; I find that the subconscious and dreams are good place to start when figuring things out. In my practice I am trying just to get this feeling of positive vibes and good times, so really I really get into anything related to positive connection between people.
What projects are you working on currently?
Well, I currently have quite a few projects in the works and a few more on the back burners. Though, foremost on my agenda is defeating Gannon, closing the portal to the dark world and bring peace and happiness to the light world. Other than that I am currently working on a new body of paintings in a similar vein to the previous group of work but now I am focusing more on painting people and opening doors with in my mode of working. And well I mean there is always that ever-present project of self-improvement and search for understanding type project as well.
If you could cast any magic spell, what would it be?
Jeez, I mean there are quite a few that would be cool spells to cast, but I think that my spell of choice would be to speak as eloquently as Honest Abe.
For more info on Austin Eddy, visit: austineddy.com