1)First of all, can you present yourself?
David Aronson is an artistic psychonaut,
an explorer of the personal and collective underworld; a shamanistic
naturalist, recording the flora and fauna of the places in the
heart and mind where the sun refuses to shine. His disturbing,
atavistic images give a voice to the shadow; to mute suffering
and twisted emotions long-denied.
Or, if all this is too artsy-fartsy for you, he just likes to draw weird, creepy shit.
2)Do you think of yourself as an artist, or what?
I don't really understand this question. Of course I consider myself an artist... what else would I be? Perhaps there are people who would consider only those who make certain types of art to be "artists." I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, if you make art, you're an artist. Whether or not you're a good artist is a matter of ever-changing opinion. Whether one is committed to their art or a dilettante or poser is another matter entirely.
3)What is creativity?
Wow--now we're getting into some heavy philosophy. There have been entire books written on this. Ummm... I guess to me being creative means putting things together in new and unexpected ways.
4)Does your environment influence your art, either in style/format or interference?
Only to the degree that it impacts me psychologically or emotionally, since my work is inner and visionary and not landscapes or cityscapes, etc.
5)What are some of your influences and inspirations?
When I was a kid, these were some of the things that fascinated me: The insides of the human body, muscles, bones, organs, etc.; Microscopic organisms; Insanity and the art of the insane; Surrealism and psychological art. My father had a subscription to Psychology Today magazine, which in the late 60s/early 70s featured some really amazing and surreal illustrations which I would tear out and pin to my bedroom wall; Ghost stories; Superheroes of course, especially Marvel comics; Monsters, especially the rubber kind you could buy at the grocery store; Evolution. My parents bought me the Life Nature Library series of books and the first volume, Evolution, was always my favorite; Puppets and marionettes; Higglety Pigglety Pop by Maurice Sendak; Animated cartoons; The natural world. Although I lived in the city, I would spend hours studying bugs that I had captured and put in jars; Playboy magazine; The art of other children; Peanuts by Charles Schultz; Cheap plastic toys; The Beatles and the Rolling Stones; Childcraft--a wonderful illustrated children's encyclopedia which I spent hours poring over; Alice Through the Looking Glass; Dinosaurs--my first love.
6)What are your favourite mediums (pen, charcoal, paint, canvas, etc)to work in/on?
I used to love oil painting. I'm not currently using this medium since it requires large uninterrupted blocks of time which I just don't have. I hope to get back to it eventually. Although I often wonder if there's still a part of me that feels like I'm not a real "artiste" unless I paint or use some other "fine art" medium. Maybe I won't ever paint with oils again, and why should I? We'll see... I do all my art these days as a combination of traditional drawing materials, specifically graphite and ink, and digital rendering and manipulation with photoshop. I have experimented with putting these things together in various ways and will probably continue to do so. It's a very satisfying way of working for me, since it allows maximum time devoted to the inspiration/conceptualization/composition phases and minimum time to the tedious, monotonous aspects of the work. Plus it's really easy to correct mistakes ad infinitum, as opposed to say, watercolor, which I used to work with a lot, where you're pretty much committed to whatever you put down on the paper first shot out of the box.
7)Who are some of your favourite painters/artists?
Oh god---amazingly long list. I like just about every artist that could be called visionary, fantastic or surreal. I like just about all renaissance art. I really like art from just about every school and time period as long as it's genuine. I don't like art that's designed to hang over sofas. I appreciate art that is fearlessly honest and reveals the soul of the artist (to risk sounding corny). And I like art that shows the artist's deep sensitivity to beauty, or the artist's unique perspective on life and existence. There's very little that I don't like actually... In terms of impact at the time in my artistic development that I discovered them, I would have to say Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dali, Alex Gray, Robert Crumb, Albrecht Durer, Joel-Peter Witkin, Joe Coleman, Jan Van Eyck. The list is really just way too long...
8)How long does it normally take you to complete a piece of your artwork?
It really depends on what it is. There's no general time frame and I don't pay attention to the time anyway when I'm working. It could be anywhere from a day to several weeks.
9)What else are you interested in besides visual arts?
I'm interested in all the arts really. I love music! I have about 6000 albums, if you add up cds, tapes, vinyl and mp3s. I like film and theatre, literature and poetry (I write poetry as well). I'm also involved in what I guess could be referred to as "the occult." What I'm really interested in are tools for self-understanding, healing and transformation. The healing modalities I work in personally are reiki, integrated energy therapy, and hypnotherapy, for which I am a certified professional. Some other "occult" subjects I'm interested in and have studied include: astrology (which I practice semi-professionally), tarot, kabbalah, chaos magick, hatha and kundalini yoga, zen, Jungian psychology, dreamwork, lucid dreaming and obe, western ritual magick, witchcraft, taoism, tantra, and quantum physics. As I said, these things are used as tools for psychological and spiritual self-awareness and transformation, not superstition or fluffy new-agey woowoo. And of course, I have always been fascinated by and continue to study (as an autodidact) psychology. There's only one other thing I could see myself doing with my life besides art and that's being a psychotherapist. In fact, I started to go back to school a couple of times for a degree in psychology, but art is a jealous mistress and always seduced me back.
10)Got any new projects planned?
I'm currently finishing up a collaborative book project with my friend, writer/poet Leslie Powell, entitled Shadows in Heaven. The images can be seen at: http://www.alchemicalwedding.com/drawings/shadows.htm We will soon be seeking a publisher, so if anybody has any suggestions, please write me... I'm also finishing up an animated video for a band called Commander. The song is entitled Coils of Medusa. At the end of August I'm supposed to be doing the cover of a graphic novel entitled Chasing the Wish 2. And I'm also planning on doing a series of erotic illustrations for a friend's chapbook.
11)How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?
In response to this question, I'd like
to cut and paste my reply to a woman who asked me what it meant
to me to be a "visionary artist." So here it is:
I call my work "visionary" because I paint and draw what I see and experience internally and my work documents my own spiritual evolution, growth and unfolding self-awareness, and yes, this is messy--dark as well as light. No dolphins, rainbows and unicorns here. I chose the term visionary after reading Laurence Caruana's manifesto and speaking with him about visionary art. His definition of visionary is the one that resonated with me--I am not really aware of any others. My art is about the awakening of consciousness. It's visionary because it's about my psychology, my emotions, my spirituality--I'm not painting landscapes or still lifes, not documenting the physical world with my eye like a camera. I agree with you that art should open doors. I'm not interested in being part of any "movement" and I actually dislike needing to label myself, but most people need you to categorize your work in order to approach it. I suppose different aspects of my work could also loosely fit into the categories surrealism, dark art, gothic art, symbolism, and lowbrow or pop surrealism. My art is me and I draw from many sources at the dictates of my muse. I have no desire to limit myself so that my work can be more easily digested. In other words, I don't make art to fit into any categories or movements, visionary or otherwise. Short of coining my own word for what my art is (which I may do someday) visionary seems to sum it up best.
12)What other talent would most like to have?
I come from a family with musicians in it as well as artists, and although I have a pretty good ear, I don't really have any musical talent to speak of. But I often wish I could sing really powerfully and intensely, because that seems like a much more visceral and immediate release of emotion and energy than visual art. I try to make art and poetry that will move people the way a concert with a really amazing emotionally raw singer would.
13)What are your most beloved items?
I don't really have any sentimental attachments to any objects per se.
Again--way too many... Here are some favorite authors: Irvine Welsh, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Hermann Hesse, Tom Wolfe, Philip K. Dick, Philip Roth, William Burroughs.
15)Do you remember the first drawing you made?
No--it was probably made as soon as I could grasp a writing implement. I do remember the first time I made a drawing which I attached an aesthetic value to. I must have been about five and I gave a drawing of a man with a checkered shirt I had done to my father and then asked him to give it back because I wanted to contemplate it further.
16)What kind of music do you like and do you listen to? And is the music important for your art?
I like pretty much every genre and sub-genre of rock music. The list of bands and artists I'm into would fill pages. I also like many types of folk music, medieval music, avant-garde music and sound collage, some jazz and some classical. I really can't say how much music has influenced my art. Music has been a major part of my life since childhood, so I'm sure it's in there somehow, I just can't say how.
17)Do you have any advice for artists?
Be persistent. This is the hardest lesson
I've had to learn. Being an artist as a vocation is usually pretty
difficult. You'll probably experience a lot of rejection and indifference.
But if your art is genuine, eventually people will see that and
respond to it. So, if art is your true calling, don't give up--have
faith and persist...