Whether in a loose oil bar or on an intricately detailed canvas, Feral Child creates portraits and abstracted scenes that draw from folk and native patterns in fresh new ways. His precisely placed lines and contrasting colors turn some of the most simple compositions into complex harbors of a secret knowledge that is inviting their viewers to look just a little deeper. Even his most abstract work displays a sense of enthusiasm that bursts from the images. Whether hung on a white gallery wall or wheat pasted in a dirty alley, Feral’s work is sure to make you stop to imagine where these figures may have been or may be going next. —Ronnie Wrest / The Citrus Report
What kind of music do you listen to while you paint?
Lately I’ve been listening to a pretty wide variety of music when I’m painting, ranging from stuff like Wooden Wand, to Manu Chao, to The Suicide File. I think changing the music up helps keep my mind fresh and the paintings balanced.
Have you been drawing since a young age and have you ever studied art formally?
Actually no. I mean, I drew a lot when I was a little kid, but I never really started drawing seriously until after high school. I never went to art school or took art classes or anything like that. I’m pretty much completely self taught.
Do you tend to work more indoors or out and what kind of a balance do keep between the two, if any?
I go back and forth as far as what I am focusing more on at any given time. When I’m traveling, I basically focus 100% on making outdoor work. I love exploring new places, finding spots to paint, meeting people, etc. When I’m home, I tend to put more energy into indoor work and other projects, but it is super important for me to do both in order to stay centered.
Do you plan much when you find a spot you want to paint or are you pretty spontaneous with your outdoor work?
It really depends on the the spot. For the most part it is pretty spontaneous. Lately, I have been doing a lot of oil bar drawings on freight trains, which lends itself to spontaneity and pushes me to try out new things. On the other hand, if I’m painting a big permission wall or something I usually try to plan the piece out and bring a reference photo or something. I’ve realized no matter how much you plan what you are going to paint, it always turns out differently then you expected. There are so many different variables that you have to work with when painting outside, which is also one of the reasons why it is so much fun.
You work with a lot of different media. Do enjoy trying new things or do you just like to have a change of pace?
I don’t really want to be limited by pigeonholing myself into any specific category. Working in various media gets me thinking in different ways and allows me to push my work in other directions. It’s also fun just to collaborate with friends on a large variety of projects that I probably wouldn’t pursue on my own.
There is not always a clear distinction between your indoor and outdoor work, do the the two tend to overlap completely?
It depends. Sometimes I will use my indoor work as reference for the outdoor work, or vice versa, I actually get a lot of ideas for indoor paintings from random drawings I have done on trains. Overall though, I would say 90% of the outdoor work I do is really quick and impulsive, so it tends to be very different than the indoor paintings, although there are a lot of common elements that I use in both.
You were just out in Atlanta for Living Walls. How was that conference?
Atlanta was incredible. Any time you put 25+ artists in two rooms you know it is going to be a great time. I swear wall painters are the coolest breed of people on earth. It was really inspirational to hang out and with everyone and get to watch them paint.
Was there a lot of support from the community out there?
Definitely. It’s so cool to be outside painting walls every day and get to meet people in the neighborhood who are so stoked on what you are doing. There is also a super tight community of wonderful, passionate, creative people out there and they definitely showed us that Southern hospitality.
Was there anyone specific you were really stoked to meet or work with on this trip?
Wow, pretty much everyone involved, it would be a super long list. I’ve been a huge fan of artists like Labrona and Sam3 for a long time now, so meeting and hanging out with those dudes was really awesome. Also, having a chance to kick it and paint with friends like Russia, Doodles, Gaia, Ola Bad and Over Under is always a pleasure.
Between the MOCA show, hype around Banksy’s movie and Saber drawing serious media attention to public art recently, this has been a big year for the movement. Do you see all this helping gain some acceptance from the art world?
I don’t know. I really don’t think public art is anything new to the art world. Graffiti has been in galleries since the 80′s. If anything it is coming to the point where it is almost being cheapened by everyone who is now trying to cash in on it. At the same time though I think it’s great that the general population is recognizing public art as an important and legitimate art movement, especially if that means more opportunities and more paint on the walls.
There are references to nature and a kind of Native American feel to some of your work. Does this come from any particular influence?
I tend to think a lot about the state of the world today and how globalization and the rapid spread of technology and information has left it in a way homogenized. I fantasize that paradigm just collapsed, and I think about what it would look like if my friends and I were living in a rewilded world, as these feral humans, creating their own unique cultures and traditions. A lot of what I paint is sort of a manifestation of this idea.
I know you have traveled a lot. Is there a particular place you would want to live or stay…. if you’re not already there?
I would love to be able to spend more time in Latin America. There is a ton of really inspirational art coming from that part of the world, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Buenos Aires, it sounds like a street painters paradise.
Any plans for the rest of this year?
I have a show lined up in the beginning of 2012 with some friends over at Old Crow in Oakland, so I’m focusing on making a bunch of new work for that. Aside from that I’m gonna be working a short film project with my friend George Trimm, and illustrating a book of short stories. I’m also planning out a new project/journey that incorporates travel, writing, and photography, that I will hopefully start sometime next year.
More on Feral Child’s Flickr.
From The Citrus Report
Posted By The Citrus Report