Like most artists, I am often asked who has influenced me the most. It’s an interesting question, and one that, at least for me, changes all the time. No one works in a vacuum, and no one is entirely self made. We’ve all been inspired by others one way or another, whether you are a gallerist, painter, sculptor, filmmaker, installation artist, NFT coder, dancer, or anyone else in this multiverse of creativity. For painters, it might be a specific brushstroke, or color harmony, or subject matter, or more elusively and possibly most importantly, how a particular artist’s work makes you feel. That we can study all of art history with a few keystrokes, or take the pulse of what’s being made right now with a few random thumb swipes on a phone, means that influence as a concept has changed dramatically. It also means that we are all part of this real-time artistic ecosystem, and our own effect as influencers has greatly increased. It is so easy to drown in this sea of amazingness, to be overwhelmed by it all, that cultivating a curatorial eye, being picky and critical, is more important than ever. Some creatives are inspired only once, by one incredible thing and work from it their entire lives. Others don’t analyze, or even acknowledge their influences, regardless of how obvious they are to the rest of us.
We take these inspirations and knead them into our own dough and through hard work, and some anguish, maybe the wild yeasts rise into something surprising and relatively unique. Unfortunately if you want to be taken seriously, there is a lot of pressure to be unique. In some ways the stress is ridiculous. Unless you are a master art forger, your own voice will always be there. In other ways it is a futile exercise. Painting, the mechanics of it, the processes, have all been done before. This is caveman technology, possibly even the oldest recorded human activity. Subject matter, the images (or lack thereof) that are on the surface, the stories being told, these ebb and flow throughout history, coming into and out of fashion, changing slightly each time relative to the culture, or where the money to pay the artists is coming from. This is as true for NFTs as it is for oils on canvas.
So which artists are my biggest influences? There are way too many to itemize, and I won’t list the more contemporary influencers of these same concepts. Also some of these are nagging voices that I often fail to listen to, but here’s the shortlist that make up the bulk of my sourdough starter. I learned from John Singer Sargent and Fairfield Porter when to stop painting; from Lucian Freud and Edward Hopper when to keep going; from David Hockney and Medieval art that observation is only a starting place; from Pollock and Van Gogh that it’s all about the paint; from Morandi and Alice Neel that deep dives are important; and from Picasso and Warhol to have fun and give no f*cks.