As I've said before, when career creatives take a step back from the traditional approach to their industry, great things happen. This is the case with Art Foundango, the blog of assemblage artist Randy Hill. I've been fascinated with his work for quite a while and had the pleasure of sending him some interview questions so that others could learn more about this talented artist and his work.
1. Before I ask you about the incredible assemblage art that you create, how did you get your start in the visual arts?
First, thank you for this interview, I really appreciate it.
Like so many other people, I was first interested in art as a child. My earliest memory of drawing took place in elementary school. I can remember studying and sketching the ear of the student sitting in front of me in class when I should have been studying. That was just the beginning of a lot of bad grades in school and my interest in art.
In my teens I did a lot of ink and charcoal drawings and pointillism. I especially loved to draw old classic cars and anything having to do with cowboys, Indians and the civil war.
I had a huge love of music growing up and I became a drummer in my early teens. In a round about way it started me on the road to designing band logos, media kits, album covers and things of that nature. It eventually grew into an over 30 year career in graphic design.
2. Could you elaborate on the following excerpt from your artist statement..."My passion for creating this kind of art reaches back into a childhood that was rich with the vision and imagination that is naturally found in my home state of Texas."
First, I consider myself very fortunate that I grew up in the great state of Texas where you are brainwashed as soon as you start first grade.
As a child you are drilled with facts and trivia on your knowledge about everything Texas. "What is the state bird? State song? State rock?" In addition, you have this vast colorful history of Texas, the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto and the fight for independence from Mexico. Then to top it all off, Texas becomes the Republic of Texas – its own country. It's a very romantic story, full of myth, legend and a little bit of truth.
I am struck with the immensity of state pride that people who live in Texas have, especially now that I have lived in other states and countries over the years. I have yet to find a state here in the U.S. that comes close to matching the pride that Texans have. I mean, we put the Texas flag and the state shape on everything!
Probably the largest influence comes from growing up on a farm in central Texas in the middle of a melting pot of cultures; German, Mexican, Czech, French and all the foods, music and traditions that go with each of them. Combine that with the fascinating array of farm implements, tools and everyday living sorts of objects I grew up with, it had to have had an influence on the way I look at things.
3. Who are some of your influences in the assemblage art world?
Michael DeMeng is someone who really fanned the spark of assemblage creation for me. It was through finding a book that featured his works that I realized that what I had been creating all along actually had a name and was actually considered art. Since then there are others that I really admire; James Michael Starr who is another fellow Texan, Christopher Conte who produces absolutely amazing assemblages and assemblage clockmaker, Roger Wood.
4. How do you get that first spark of inspiration when starting a new piece? What is your process for creating a typical piece?
That is a very difficult question to answer. Frequently the assemblage I am working on just evolves as I start looking at the various objects that I have to pick from in my collection. It also makes a difference whether I'm just doing the piece for myself or if it is a commissioned piece.
I would say though, that my childhood and the era I grew up in had a huge influence on my artwork. I was born in 1955 and grew up during an amazing period of time. The race to the moon…the Beatles and all the amazing music that was created during the 1960s all had an influence. Movies I was exposed to as a kid like, "The Time Machine" and "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea," "First Men In The Moon" and "Journey To The Center of the Eath" fired my imagination even more.
I always joke that the Twilight Zone TV series back in the 1960s totally messed up my mind. What was lacking in any special effects we had at the time was made up for in creative writing and storytelling of which the Twilight Zone is a great example.
5. What do you find most challenging about assemblage art and how do you successfully move past that challenge?
The hardest part for me sometimes is the initial idea. Is it creative? Is it forced? I pretty much know by now when I'm forcing an idea that doesn't fit and when I'm genuinely inspired. There's nothing like that feeling of excitement when everything is clicking and the artwork is growing and changing as I work on it.
Little happy accidents are always welcome too. The guitar piece that I did titled "I Saw The Light" was one of those little accidents. My son-in-law was going to throw out his broken guitar from his childhood and I asked him if I could have it because I thought I could make something cool out of it. I made a tribute to Hank Williams with it, due in part to my love for old classic country music. It was only a couple of years later that I realized that it was the same brand (Silvertone) guitar that Hank Williams played. That was cool.
6. Have you ever considered creating assemblage portraits of people? Would you consider creating a self-portrait assemblage piece?
The closest I've come to doing an assemblage portrait is when recently a couple asked me to do an assemblage to represent their love for each other. That one will be an interesting challenge. As far as creating an assemblage self portrait? I might go crazy just trying to get started on that one. My whole life has been an assemblage.
Here are two examples of his work:
Title: "This One Wants To Be A Blues Guitar"
If you're like me, you're already interested in what he's going to create next! Having said that, check out http://artfoundango.blogspot.com for updates and new work. Thanks, Randy, for a great interview and continued inspiration!