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Artist Spotlight: David Birkey

Foursided is obsessed with David Birkey's Illinois State Maze prints at our stores! His work runs the full gambit of media and style. Check out his portfolio at: davidbirkey.com! We had the chance to dig a little deeper into his creative psyche in this exclusive interview:

Your work has a very large range in subject and theme, what inspires you?

The act of creating something can be intoxicating all on its own, but what really inspires me to keep making images are the myriad challenges that permeate the process from start to finish.  Every piece is its own universe and offers endless opportunities for experimentation and improvement - whether in color, form, motion, theme, technique… etc.

Is there one medium between illustration, murals, painting that stands out to you and why?

Honestly, I just enjoy the process of applying pigment to various surfaces.  Working on large murals can be fun… small detailed portraits, too.  At the same time, I really like working graphically on illustrations, lettering and more recently - hand drawn mazes.  Still, it’s probably most satisfying to work in the studio painting my own ideas. 

Are there any particular artists, musicians, authors that have affected the growth of your style over time?

I’ve been looking closely at Salvador Dali’s work since I was very young and saw some paintings in a book.  His phenomenal skill combined with his wit and his willingness to subvert convention make for potent images that reward ongoing investigation.

A musician who I find endlessly inspiring is Robert Pollard (also of the band Guided by Voices).  As if his prodigious output of sublime left-field rock and roll wasn’t enough of an inspiration (literally hundreds of songs with various collaborators since the 90s), he also makes a huge number of strange and wonderful cut/torn paper collages.

An author who has directly affected my work is Philip K. Dick. Having read more than a dozen of his visionary novels, I can say that he has definitely reinforced my interest in finding ways to visualize overlapping/intersecting realities, and perhaps helped validate paranoia as a rational response to an insane world.

Does your environment in Indiana affect the representation of nature in your pieces?

I was born and raised in Indiana so I’m sure there are aspects of the great lakes region in many of my landscapes, even when I’m trying to imagine other more dramatic vistas.  I do love drawing and painting deciduous trees and include some in almost every piece,  though I often struggle to make them look right.

Is there anything in your workspace that you simply couldn’t do without?

Other than some pencils, paper and paint… I would say that a stereo and speakers would be most missed.  Like many artists, I think of music as a fuel for art-making and I choose what to listen to in the studio very carefully depending on what I’m working on.  (No iTunes on random or radio grab-bag for me, please).  This last long winter I probably listened to the first 3 albums by Oneohtrix Point Never more than anything else.

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