I met Garvin online, on Facebook, through his art. I found it fascinating and in direct connection with the unconscious, which is one of the parts of the human psyche I most love because it holds the keys for knowledge and change. Because I like to share what touches and changes me with others, it only seemed natural to contact and interview him.
Irina: First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to be a part of this interview. Tell me a bit about who Garvin Tieseler is and does.
Garvin: I guess the best way to answer that is to focus on the creative aspects of my life. For 30 plus years, aside from drawing and painting, I was more into writing music, especially using electronic synthesizers, designing new noises and translating feeling into music. Drawing and music both come to me from the same place and the process for making each is in reverse of each other. When I write music I see the emotion in my head as 3-D sonic architecture, so it’s my job to translate that into sound. When I draw the elements for a picture they come in my head as an audible narrative often and my job then is to render the drama the story tells me to. I spend most my time working on something creative daily. I feel somewhat like a translator for an unseen world that wants to materialize in different forms. I guess that is my current job in life.
Irina: Very interesting description of your creative process. I also think that as artists we are as vessels for emotions and our goal is to transform our emotions and thoughts into art and then put them out there because, in the same way, that it transformed us when we created, they will also transform the world that sees them.
You create mostly by digital painting as I have seen. How does it feel for you to create digital and how does it feel when you do it in an analog way?
What made you choose this medium of creation – the digital one?
Garvin: I just got a new laptop in the summer of this year. Its a Microsoft Surfacebook 2 with drawing pen. After getting it I have been pushing myself to go all digital for a while to see how I can make art differently. Last year I was drawing everything with pencils or painting it, then scanning drawings and paintings i used for backgrounds. I would digitally resize drawings of characters and digitally paint them. I also sometimes would go out and take pictures to incorporate into backgrounds of a piece. The only thing i miss about drawing everything with my pencil is the tension of the lead on the paper the scans would pick up. Up close a lead pencil across paper is never consistent, its fragmented due to the texture of the paper. I don’t get that same analog effect in the digital drawings.
This piece titled Sleep Paralysis is all pencil drawn, oil paints , and then digital color painted on top and then color graded for a consistent look. Its many more steps than a piece that starts and ends as a digital work.
Title: Headspace – this is another piece with all pencil then digital color added after.
Irina: These are amazing! Headspace is one of my favorites too. I really relate to it personally. The first thing that came to my mind when I discovered your art was: Holy shit, this is amazing, very in tune with the unconscious! Do you create based on your dreams and visions? How do you get in contact with your characters in order to allow them to speak through what you create?
Garvin: I allow myself when working on art to be in kind of a trance state of mind. I trust my body knows what to do as I allow the story in my head to use my body as its pencil. Some stories do come from my dreams. I have only had nightmares my whole life. It’s sadly the only kind of dreams I have. However, they often hold messages I can extract from when I reflect on what I experienced in the dream. Other times I get a concept or feeling that pushes me to render it. Prior to all this, my mind and the story/concept wanting to be depicted come to an agreement of sorts.
Irina: Could you tell me a personal story of one of your creations, how did it come to life and what impact it had on you and others? I believe each act of creation is illuminating and therapeutical.
Garvin: Headspace was triggered by a friend that saw my art and said: “God, I’m glad I don’t live inside your head!” I thought about how every person has a complex mind and all the chaos and characters we allowed to live in our head by being real or a fantasy. So what did my head look like? Headspace was the answer and I think people can identify with it due to the fact that we all feel overwhelmed by the heavy things going on in the bizarre circus of our minds.
Irina: Yes, you are right and that was one of the reasons why I related so much to it. My thinking has been a coping mechanism for emotions that I could not process, so this piece spoke to me in that way, showing the sometimes circus in my head that gets overwhelming.
Garvin: That’s great. That makes me happy
Irina: Yes, i think it’s important for us artists to hear from others what type of impact our art had.
Do you live full time as an artist or do you also have another job?
Garvin: I wish i could live doing art. All the times people are fascinated by the Art I do when it’s at the gallery, however, they think that it’s too dark energetically although they may be attracted to a truth they feel it resonates, but it doesn’t match their “normal looking” household or match their couch or drapes. So I do sell work but not enough to live on. My day job is being a maid/housekeeping for private clients homes.
Irina: I understand and i can relate to it. But I think that the whole purpose of art is to disturb and ask questions, so this only shows that us, as a society are living in fear of the unknown, of ourselves actually. Then we have the issue of not seeing art like any other job and that our work has value and we deserve to be paid for it. Art is not for free, and i think that if we shift that perception and see things for what they truley are, the world would realize that artists are valuable and not some people who can work for free or randomly just because we create as we breathe.
I always imagined that the USA has a better market for artists, unlike the country i live in, Romania. What are the biggests issues you experience by being an artist today? Except for the one you just told me about, that your art is too dark.
Garvin: I think that’s about the only issue really. My biggest roadblock has been my style. Some people love, it the majority of people fear it because as you stated they see dark things in it. They see dark things in themselves… and they don’t want to have to question Society or they don’t have to question their inner values. Art that challenges people’s psychology in America is not all that popular. The majority of times when I go into someone’s house I see prints on the wall that are from Target or Walmart that are not offensive, not challenging, and that says nothing……and yes, they are completely boring.
Irina: My art targets important issues as well and some not easily digestible because this is the reality of life today. We need to accept that uncomfortable zone because it can help us grow as individuals. Questioning society and values are, I think, the engine of knowledge and self-discovery.
I think in the end it all comes back to this comfort zone that some are too scared to get out of. I am not judgemental, I understand where they come from.
Title – Spectators of Internal Warfare
This is an example of a popular piece in the gallery that drew a lot of attention but everybody was horrified and nobody took it home.
Irina: Since you told me you only had nightmares, let me ask you about your daydreams, as in a sort of goal and hope. What do you dream of when you think about your freedom as an artist and individual?
Garvin: I don’t have fantasies about being rich. I have fantasies about not having to clean a toilet. Being realistic that’s about where my goals are at right now.
Irina: Have you had exhibitions only in the States or abroad as well?
Garvin: Only in my state of California.
Irina: If i was at the exhibition and had money to buy it, i would. I value honesty, even in the rawest form, and your art is like that, dark or not, it shows very well truths that most people run away from.
Garvin: Thank you. I’m most grateful when somebody can actually see a work for what it is and it makes them feel something or challenge their psychological roadblocks… I find value in it, that is better than money. I think almost every picture I’ve done is asking the viewer a question.
Irina: Do you have another exhibition planned in the near future?
Garvin: No, i declined. The last one I was involved in happened during October this year. I’m now trying to focus on sales at my online store more than work to produce content for galleries.
Irina: Can you please give us the link to your website where people can buy your art?
Irina: Do you have a message for the people that will read this interview?
Garvin: Just that each person has a unique authenticity… honor it! Never run from it for the sake of “normalcy”. I wish that is what society will nurture in children into adulthood: their unique differences.
Irina: Thank you, Garvin, for your words and the art that you create. It was a pleasure talking to you!
Garvin: Thank you for thinking of me for this. It was a pleasure.
You can find Garvin on Facebook
and on his website
where he also sells his art.
Interview by Irina Gache
, writer and visual artist down the rabbit hole into a combination of reality and surrealism
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Irina Gache is a visual artist and writer from Bucharest, Romania. Her main preoccupation is photography but she also loves to give life to images through other media like paintings and collages. When she writes she does it in a surrealist way and allures the reader into the text by making it very visual and with riddle-like challenges. "I like my text to move like a motion picture in the reader's mind where he/she can project himself/herself into. When I write I see a whole movie being created".