Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Conversation between Patrick Wilkins and Olivia Ramos.
RAMOS: Hi Patrick - thank you for joining me
WILKINS: Thanks for having me! I'm excited to have this chance to talk.
How did you final reviews go?
It was the most supportive critique I've had at school yet.
For the first time the faculty seemed to be behind what I was doing in a big way.
That's encouraging... i always got ripped apart in my reviews - but somehow it is what i needed.
so what were they on board with exactly?
Basically they enjoyed my larger drawings that were a cluster of images that come together in a cacophony.
I usually describe it as brain vomit.
One of the faculty used those exact words when he was talking about it and I got pretty excited.
I just felt like he totally understood.
I had an artist friend of mine call my drawings spiritual garbage heaps. I like that too.
Spiritual garbage is an oxymoron no?
I don't think so.
I'm not a religious person.
Religion and spirituality are not one in the same.
I was raised catholic and I can get those two things crossed pretty easily.
I'm sure religious people do.
I've seen it plenty of times.
I too enjoy your brain vomits
I wonder... then, what do you feed your brain?
Really though I enjoy cartoons and video games
They both make their way in there.
Music is one of the bigger elements to my work though.
I see most of them in terms of sound.
I love seeing them as either symphony or cacophony.
OK allow me to digest a bit here
there are a few things going on.... 1. feeding your brain stuff, in this case video games, cartoons, etc..
and 2. using music as some kind of structural element, even if it is gestural, as in how you apply concepts on the page
Yes. There are a bunch of other things that creep in there. As well. The video games, not as much, but cartoons and music are huge.
Is music part of the content or part of the application?
The fact that I listen to it while I'm making things 90% of the time, but also what I'm listening to affects what and how I apply things to a surface.
My mind is usually moving about 10% faster than I can move, so music helps me focus. Sometimes I just listen to radio static when I paint.
The application is clear... lets discuss the content
What is it about cartoons and video games that are intriguing to you?
Eh, the video games just keep my mind busy. They aren't important in my practice.
Cartoons on the other hand I feel are unfairly looked down upon in the art world.
They are better at conveying emotion or feeling than people sometimes.
But they are just s small part of what I'm making. They are just on the surface.
What is behind it then?
For example I was a butcher for a few year in between undergrad and grad school. I cut meat, but more importantly I made sausages for months on end. And it was at a Whole Foods in a nice neighborhood in Denver.
There was this weird combination of working a trade, dealing with occasionally very entitled people, cutting and grinding up animals, and just accepting it that was surreal now when I look back on it.
Before that I work in the parks dept in my hometown.
And I did a bunch of landscaping and construction and odd jobs. I even cleaned graffiti.
But I guess where I'm going is...
There are these odd experiences and people that you meet who shape you.
My work is all me and my relationships with people I meet.
The large brain vomit pieces cover my table.
and I have my life all over the table
I have food, and supplies and a computer, and drinks, and whatever all literally on top of the work when I'm making things.
The nonstop "stuff" in my life is strewn across the table dictating the composition of the day.
Haha sorry, that was a lot.
But that's a facet of how I work.
Brain vomit, and now I've subjected you to word vomit.
I guess I can get a bit on a roll sometimes.
Would you say your practice is a form of catharsis?
I'd agree with that.
Then in a way the work is just for you?
I see it as reaching out to other people. I just don't know if it is successful in that way.
I have quite a few ways of making though.
Like my paintings of just words.
Wait.. it is successful in that way - i look at it and identify with the clutter and the many disparate emotions stitched by your process.
It is an honest mirror to the monkey brain.
I'm glad to hear that. I think I'm finally getting to a point where it's starting to do it finally.
Even lizard brain for that matter.
For me that's an entirely different thing. What do you mean by it?
The eat and stay alive part.
I've always had it described to me as lizard, monkey and human parts of the brain.
Yes - lizard brain has to do with the amygdala
Like Freud (despite him be way out there sometimes) Ego, Sub Ego, and Id
Do you think you are drawing the ego? or is the ego doing the drawing?
haha that's a funny question.
I see it as a collision of ego and id sometimes
There is a band called Ponytail that is a wonderful cacophony. The singer doesn't even use words usually, just mouth sounds really. They have an album called, "Do Whatever You Want All The Time." They have stuck with me.
I try to capture a small bit of that in my work.
Which is why I think It's good to have a lot of different avenues for making things.
Tell me about something that you are really passionate about.
I'm not sure.
I like using my hands to make things.
Doubly so if I can help someone.
One of my proudest moments was creating an odd little pulley system for a really awful light switch in my bedroom.
Talking to people is usually one of the highlights of my day.
But typing is difficult for me as the flow of conversation is not intuitive for me (I'm sorry)
I'm just wondering .. so you are this talented organic apparatus that can create beautiful mirrors of the mind. And depending what is fed to your mind, the reflected image will alter.
Have you thought about experimenting with what gets fed?
It crosses my mind from time to time. I'm a creature of habit though.
I need to read more. I need to find a good book for winter break.
Do you have any recommendations?
It doesn't have to be a book ... if you want to read, it can be the newspaper, blogs, there are many avenues. But it doesn't have to be a studious thing. It can be content from the web.
haha well i get plenty of that stuff. And my professors have wonderful things to read sometimes.
For me its more productive to go on a long drive, and listen to opera.
What i meant was something else. What if it was focused?
Then I make work that is more focused.
I have the word paintings I mentioned. Or simpler smaller pieces. Simple little "useless" machines.
I sew on sweatshirts that I see at paintings. I have wearable sculptures that I make.
I can allow myself to be more well rounded that way I guess engaging with focus and intention with some work while letting go of everything in other work.
haha that's awesome
That's a wearable sculpture I made maybe five years ago.
Let me just throw something out there
I can see how your work is very focused in the making of it.
And it is extremely focused in the content as well.... for example the brain vomits are clearly coming from an intake of cartoon and video games as discussed.
That is a focus - cartoon and video games
I'm saying what if the focus was... hunger and perversion or laughter and light
my point is.. you have an amazing structure in the application and effective delivery of content. What if the content had different focuses... that's what I'm asking
I think that can make its way into the work.
Of course it can... it just depends on what you are passionate about.
Which is why I asked in the first place
I'm struggling with how to phrase this.
In the jobs I've always had you have you leave your personality at the door. Like customer service and construction. Hell even sport in high school.
You put your head down and work.. You don't thump your chest or look for praise. I've kind of had that mentality when I work. Head down, shut up.
Art has been letting me slowly peel that away.
I think my work is becoming more and more honest as I progress. I think that passion and focus and drive has been popping out more and more.
So I guess my interests and personality are coming through more and more.