Join our Monthly Magazine to receive Premium Subscriber Only Content and a Free Download of our book, "The Encyclopedia of Online Arts Marketing Resources For Professional Artists"

An Interview with William Hessian: I am an Artist

William Hessian
26 year old artist from Minneapolis
I have performed 11 public art hunts and 11 art battles across the country
I want to be immortal
blog: www.beardedbunnyblog.

"Many intelligent people have accepted the false idea that accuracy in representing visual facts is a sign of progress in art. Such imitation of superficial effects has nothing to do with art, which is and always has been the making of mental concepts. Even the scientist is interested in effects only as a phenomena from which to deduce order in life." ... "'Looks like' is not the test of a good painting. It indicates merely visual similarity and shows that the artist has not put his brain to work. " *

Discuss this statements relevance to your own artistic philosophy

I completely agree with John Sloan's quote. I do however feel, with any subject, there is always an attempt to master the craft of the subject, even though it does not serve the end purpose it exemplifies a mastery of said subject. Photo realism is a waste a time ever since cameras were invented, unless the realism stands for something much more in the context of the works. I strongly believe that artists should be predicting the future. The mind of artist has to be extremely open and intelligent and their artistic skills need to be able to communicate this thought. Artists should create the future with their art.

Have you always been an artist, as a boy were you drawn to the act of creation?
What are your earliest memories of art?

my earliest memories are a series drawings on small construction paper I did, drawing various he-man action figures. I remember my mom asking me which character one of the drawings was (which was just scribbles) and then her writing in the names so we would remember later. Buzz-Off was the best. I was 4 years old.

What have been some positive influences in your development as an artist?

I had extremely supportive parents. I spent my childhood trying to convince everyone to draw with me, and the fact that people obliged me on a regular basis also made a big difference in my life. This happened from my brother, to my relatives, to classmates. I spent a good deal of my childhood drawing my own trading cards to sell to my neighbors for change, or more likely for 'Billy Money' which I created solely for the purpose of buying my drawings.

Do you have a favorite artist, or school of art?

Francis Bacon, although I do not seem to understand why I enjoy his works so deeply. They are moody and creepy, and so is Francis Bacon....but it works. His work seems important to me.

Did you receive a formal education in arts, if not how did you learn to use the materials and mediums that you choose?

Yes. BA in studio arts from Winona State University.
What is your opinion of arts education? Is an artist born or made - or both?

I think anyone can be an artist, and I do not really think the education system does any good in helping anyone decide this. I hate our school system, I think it hurts our ability to learn and challenge. Everyone is born an artist, it is simply what happens next that matters.
What do you feel most influences your current attitude/style in painting/media.

i.e. Do you find reference and inspiration from pop culture, philosophy, the human body, wonderful vistas etc.

I find myself drooling over the Juxtapoz culture of art. I love this graffiti style, and Japanese influenced custom toy markets, video game art, and these type of works. Going back to the Sloan quote however, I do think that while most of the Juxtapoz culture is very appealing I do not think that artists are putting their attention where it should be. I would like to know what Luke Chuh, Aaron Kraten, and Mark Ryden think about the future of humanity and how they think we should solve the problems that face this world. This is what their new works should be addressing.

Has your passion for art detracted from your success in other areas (i.e. have you had to "suffer" to do what you love)

yes. I do not find joy in success in other areas. I choose careers that will work with my art, and choose schedules that give me able time to create new work. I had starting a custom airbrushing business, and in one year basically decided that it was hindering my artistic creation and therefore I only airbrush on rare occasions now.

If someone asks you "what do you do", how do you respond?

I am an artist.
What are you currently working on, how is it different from past works.? (12/08)

I am working on predicting the future with my art. Designing concepts, challenging beliefs and trying to understand what we need to do as human beings to save the earth and save ourselves. I want to know if we are the villians of the earth, or an infection, and see if we cant reverse our effect of the planet.

Do you feel you evolve as an artist?

Every single day. I feel mentally I have evolved into understanding a lot of new concepts and ideas as a person, and part of that comes from challenging myself as an artist. I want to understand how everything works. I feel I am evolving for better or worse at a very high rate. I can look back at a drawing I did a few months ago and know that I was in a completely different place artistically when I created that. This seems to change in me hour by hour. Line quality, subject matter, size, force, composition flows in and out of me and changes dramatically with each project.
Describe a day in the life of you, the artist:

My life is constantly changing day to day, but here was yesterday: i woke up at 1pm, responded to emails, packaged up some artwork that needed to be sent out as prizes awarded to winners of my Minneapolis art hunt. I then went to the library to scan in a set of drawings, research a few graphic novels, and print off some of my own custom stickers. I called a residency back in Minnesota about visiting and teaching their kids. I went out to teach a LEGOs class in an after school program. I came back to eat dinner with my girlfriend, and watch a few documentaries I rented from the library. Then starting from 1am-5am I created two mazes and drew out a bunch of ideas for future paintings in my sketchbook for my immortality series all while listening to Coast to Coast AM.

How important is the company of other artists and creative individuals to your well being and creative output.

I find it can be distracting at times. I do not need contact with other artists, or if I do, I can usually do so through email or myspace. I have a competitiveness with other artists automatically, I always want to be creating. It only takes about 5 minutes around any working artists to feel the itch to create my own work. I suppose if I hit a creative wall, or a crossroads in how to respond to the world, then I would need to be around artists, but otherwise I do not really think it is a benefit. Unless they are really awesome people, which a few of them are, and in that case I would strive to make friends out of them.
Then again, there are a few art relationships that everyone SHOULD have. I value my friendship with artist Matt Semke as a very amazing one. Since 2004 we have done 10 Art Battles, ranging from live ax chopping, painting with ten foot poles, solving free energy, and rule based competitions. Together we try to make an interactive experience in which no art project is complete unless the audience takes part, we call this: endeavorism. I consider him a close friend and a person which i feed off artistically. Finding a relationship like this is unusual but extremely exciting as an artist. I think collaborations are very important from time to time.
Do you dislike/disdain the works of other artists?

I usually like something about everyone's work, and I usually dislike something about everyones work too. Same with each work I create myself. I do compare how I would have conveyed my message differently, or in a different style. I do also try to understand the process and contemplate how successful it is.
Do you display your works? If so, where have you displayed.

A show my work all over Minnesota, North Dakota, and have been all over the country doing miniature art hunts. The best places to learn where I have been is by observing my online resume at

Do you have any words of wisdom for artists trying to "break out" and begin to learn the business of art.

I think struggling and rejection is a part of the process. You need to be tested. There will be period of time where you ask yourself, "do i really want to do this?" and if you are still standing there creating work and hacking away at the business of art, then you will eventually realize you have made it. If you give up, lose focus, go a different direction then it simply isnt your time to be an artist. Try again when you feel the drive.

Do you find that the practical aspects of selling,promoting and marketing yourself as an artist detracts from your creative process.

Absolutely. I wish every single day that I had an assistant to do all the little things that I hate doing. I want a secretary, public relations person, photographer, grant writer, framer, manager, and a bunch of interns to help me. Maybe one day I will get there.

What is the goal of art!

To express oneself. I think it is literally that simple. Everyone is an artist in some way, most average people are horrible artists, but they are still artists all the same.
What are your goals as an artist. ?

To express myself. I want to transcend craft, and truly making decisions based on how I feel and what I want to portray. I want to have some influence and make art matter. I want to make art an interaction with the audience, and make is special again. I want kids to love art, and crave art. I want the world to understand the importance of creation, beyond just aesthetics. I cannot do this myself however, and will be trying to get everyone to come along for the ride.

We are more than what we make, what other activities do you enjoy.?

I play basketball. I enjoy documentaries. I like board games a lot. I am a tea enthusiast, when i can afford it (good tea is expensive).
What do you do to get over the visual equivalent of "writers block" ?

I have never had visual writers block, and I have never been bored. However, I do have a big problem with finishing things I start. I lose interest and move on to nine different projects. I have learned how to focus, and at least finish one out of ten projects I start, which has been a big step for my career as an artist.
In 20 years, what are your aspirations, what would you like to achieve ?
I hope to have been many places, and have create works that change the world, even in a small way. I would love to have people waiting and anticipating my next move, wanting to see what I do next.
Have you done any commercial, public or commissioned work ?

I get commissions all the time. Most of them I am too nice to turn down, which is something in 20 years I wish to have gotten better at (referring to last question). I create public art hunts, and offer my art to anyone that wants to look for it. Commercially I do not find much work.

If so, how do you feel about your vision being directed by third parties ?

I do not like it. This was my biggest problem with my airbrushing shop. I knew I could do whatever the customer wanted, I just did not want to do it. I am very opposed to repetition, and if I have to airbrush one more flag, skull or eagle I may go insane. I do not mind doing smaller commissioned drawings, because its quicker and I simply enjoy drawing more than I enjoy airbrushing.

Do you have any opportunities to offer other artists (collaborations, gallery space, friendship etc.) ?

I always want to collaborate. I run a Sketchbook of Doom series, which is a traveling sketchbook for artists to contribute to. I used to run a gallery, with the airbrush shop, and was very interested in showing new work. I do not run it any longer, but I do always challenge any artists to collaborate or visually respond to my works. I also like to trade links, or write blogs about artists around the world or locally here in Minnesota. My art blog (www. beardedbunnyblog. blogspot. com) is a place where I want artists to come, enjoy and be exposed to new things. Any artist that wants to be featured on my blog simply needs to send me an email explaining why they should be featured, and send me a few artworks to display.

Favorite writer, favorite song, favorite inspiration ?

I like Chuck Palahnuik and Dr. Suess for writers. I like 'Power of Love' by Huey Lewis and the news for song. Nature is my inspiration.
What is the most beautiful thing in the world?
green olives.

What is beauty?
a word to describe green olives.
How has the internet changed your promotional activities. ?

The internet has given me a ground to stand on. I had a hard time socially walking into a gallery, or calling people on the phone. I was nervous and lacked confidence. E-mails and websites have allowed for me to build my confidence and understand how to interact with the art world around. It seemed very daunting in the beginning, and now I feel like I could walk into any room and feel like I matter. I love writing blogs, sending e-mails, making videos and corresponding through e-mails. The internet has a much better memory than I do, and I can always reference answers. Without the internet I do not know how long it would have taken me to break out into the art world at the level I have now.
I also strongly enjoy immediate gratification. I can finish a work, photo it, and upload the thing within a few minutes with paint still wet and send it out to thousands of people. By the next day I can get feedback on this work, and what people think of it. If I really love the work, I can create a digital business card and put the image all over the internet in a few hours. I try not to do this too frequently, because it can be a turn off and numb the viewers to my work.
Do you have any favorite resources you would like to share?

If you are looking for work, or a side job I like craigslist a lot. If you want to sell your work online I strongly suggest etsy. com . If you want a grant or scholarship I recommend Springboard for the Arts. And if you are just starting out and do not have a website you should start at MNartists. org. Keep in mind, the last two answers are very Minnesota specific.

Where can one view your work online?
www. williamhessian. com is the best place. However, you can find my on jumpcut, youtube, myspace, facebook, deviant art, art wanted, saachi gallery, my blogs, and cafepress.

Tell the truth, do artists make better lovers?
actually lovers make better artists.
Do you Like this story..?

Get Notified of New Postings

Follow us!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Subscribe Now: