Monday, July 7, 2008

Interview with Joseph Larkin

q)What is your name?

a)Joseph Larkin.

q) Where do you live and work?

a)I live and work in Edmonds, Washington in the United States. It's a small suburb of Seattle. I share an apartment with the artist Grace Willard, and we share a studio here in the basement. It gets a little cramped sometimes but it's a good environment to construct new visions and contort my perception of reality.

q)What is your creative process like?

a) Almost completely arbitrary, it seems sometimes...Inspiration seems infectious and intense rather than constant and flowing so I tend to do my best work in spurts rather than on a steady stream. I usually have anywhere from 3 to 15 pieces going at a time in different stages of completion and I work on each one as the mood grabs me. I also engage in many smaller short term projects for more instant gratification, like sketches and small drawings. Some days it's hard to get into the groove because I get easily distracted, but when I find my wave I ride it as far as it will take me.

q)What is your favorite medium?

a)It varies a bit, as I like to work in several different media. I think my favorites are oils, acrylics and pen & ink. Each requires a different technique, each has its own set of rules. jumping back and forth between them is a great challenge, and I also like to break it up with work in watercolors, color pencil, sculpture and charcoal. Pencil too is a lot of fun. Lately I've been working fiber arts into 2 dimensional compositions as well. I guess I'll try anything.

q)What is your current favorite subject?

a)Mostly animal forms and human form.Also variations in between, like Medusa (human and snakes), Baphomet (human and goat), and the ancient Egyptian gods, particularly those with animal heads like Anubis, Sobek, and Ra. I've been combining other forms too lately, like ghosts that sprout flowers multi headed turtles and weird variations of human anatomy. I love painting eyes. I love drawing rabbits too, wonderful animals.

q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

a) It varies so much- some pieces I can complete in a day or two and others will require several months to complete. It all depends on how involved it is; how much detail goes into it and how many layers I have to glaze it over with. Oils and Acrylics tend to take the longest out of all the media I use, but they also look the best in my opinion.

q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

a)There are a few pieces I'm particularly happy with- "onward into the night", "one last chance", and "crazy Mary" are a few of my favorites. I'm always trying to top my older work, though, on a technical and conceptual basis. I always try to be a little more inventive than I have been in the past too, though I love to work on archetype renovations and reinvent classical/mythological motifs.

q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

a)Too many to mention here! a few of my favorites are Chad Savage, Sam Raffa, Kolaboy, Deborah Valentine, Bernard Dumaine, Jon Beinart, Christophe "Shroomer" Ennis, Inge Vandormael, Amy Kollar Anderson, Fatima Asimova, Sal Hunter...These are in no particular order and I could go on and on. There are so many great artists working in so many different styles these days. Looking on is a great way to find them...My page there is

q)Can we buy your art anywhere?

a) Absolutely! I have work available at galleries here in Seattle and I am in shows sporadically in lots of other places too...It is hard to keep up because there's such a turnover but I'm exhibiting monthly at Art/Not Terminal Gallery in Seattle and I'll have work available for August's Horrorfind Weekend near Baltimore, MA. I guess the best way to purchase my work is to contact me through my website at and ask about the availability of a particular piece that interests you. A lot of it's sold, but I do have quite a bit that can still be purchased.
q)Anything that people should know about that we don't??

a)Hmmm, probably not. I tend to try to live a quiet life there days...the most interesting thing about me really IS the artwork. I spend a lot of time in study of my subjects and quiet reflection to try to center myself so that I can do my best work. It's not very exciting, I know, but I try to leave my wild and wooly fast living days behind me. It's just more conducive to the creative process.

q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise intheir level of artistry?

a)That's an easy one: study and practice. learn as much as you can about materials and technique. You can do it at art school or on your own. Draw and paint lots of still life, human figure and use your imagination. Draw what's inside and don't be afraid to probe your inner demons forsubject matter, they'll keep you busy with it. It's a great way toexplore one's self and sublimate your darker and more destructiveattributes without doing any real damage.

q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?

a) I guess it's just the knowledge that I really have nothing better to do. there are days I am low on inspiration, and self confidence and drive are all but gone.But an artist is what I am, if I had to define myself with any one word that would be it. It isn't my job- it's my nature and the substance from which I am made.It's painful to be disconnected from that. So I try to do SOME kind of work even when I am having an off day or a dry spell or even an extended artists block. It may not be my best work every time, but time spent in the creative process is never a waste. If you can't paint at your highest level of achievement then you canat least do some sketches. Who knows, maybe you'll produce somethingnew and beautiful even at your lowest point.

q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?

a)In a word- Eclectic. I'm well versed in the darker stanzas of the human psyche's chaotic song, but there's a lot of joy and sweetness in it too. I have lots of interests so there are lots of subjects. I like the surreal, the mysterious.

q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your currentlevel of artistry?

a)I attended Onondoga Community College in Syracuse, NY. The instructors there were very helpful in building a good solid foundation. since then I have just continued study, research and practice in an effort to consistently improve my vision in the studio. It's helpful to have feedback from other artists too to get an outside perspective. They can be more objective about your work than you can, and give you input that you cannot find within yourself sometimes. Grace does that for me pretty regularly, and I try to do it for her too. That's been a big help. It's good to have at least one extra set of eyes.

q)Who are your influences?

a)There are many- I love the stark yet quiet formality of Byzantine art and Ancient Egyptian tomb painting, the dramatic chiaroscuro of the Italian and Dutch Renaissance, the Pre-Raphaelites' attention to detail and research/reinvention of the classical subjects of literature and mythology and the color interpretations of the Impressionists. There's so much wealth to be had throughout art history and it's being built upon every day.

q)What inspires you to create?

a)The inability to do anything else. Art sustains me.

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