Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Mark WilhelmThis week we get up-close and personal with our newest artist-in-residence, Mark Wilhelm. If this interview leaves you wanting more, make sure to stop by Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday afternoons and ask him your own questions!


dino scarfWhat are your biggest sources of inspiration?
A lot of what inspires me is the juxtaposing of two opposing things. Sometimes I simply think to myself “I would like to draw a barrel.” And I think to myself, “if I was a barrel, what is the last thing that I would want to happen to me?” or “what would be the coolest thing that could happen to me?”
If Aliens invaded Danville, what would be your 3-step action plan?
Step 1: store up food—I get grouchy when I don’t get to eat.
Step 2: download a bunch of shows onto my ipad to entertain myself.
Step 3: Since aliens are always evil, I would attempt to subvert their belief system by continuing to make weird mind-altering paintings, hopefully making the aliens loathe themselves so much they’d go back to their own planet!

probe droidDo you have a favorite medium?
The most effortless for me is sculpture and clay. It’s the most relaxing, Mr. Miyagi-style wax-on-wax-off medium that I do. I enjoy oil painting, but it’s a little more challenging for me.

Favorite food?
Fried. You can fry just about anything and I’ll eat it. I’ve just now started liking food. I never used to care what I ate—I was one of those people who would be totally fine with one food-pill a day.

sculpture Mark WilhelmMany of your paintings and sculptures portray a very distinctive elongated face. What keeps you coming back to this image?
It goes back to the art lessons I had when I was younger. I had a breakthrough lesson, the second lesson. I wanted to get the biggest canvas I could, so I got a four foot by four foot canvas and started drawing a face. It started filling up the entire canvas, and it was long and narrow like the ones I make now. That moment was the genesis of everything I’ve done since. Even when I started sculpting, I would go back to that same headspace of what it was like to learn originally. That was the most exciting part of art—the breakthrough moment. I wanted to go back to that with sculpting. The artistic moment that I like is the breakthrough moment, when I decide what the drawing is going to be. The actual creation of the art, especially digitally, is more of an exercise than a creative process. If I could have an art army, I would. I would come up with the ideas and then my art army would actually make the art for me.

NYC-Skateboarding-2 largeIf you could travel back in time, where would you stop?
I would travel back to the 1960s when skateboarding was in its infancy. I would go back with the very marginal skills that I have now and to them I would be a magician. If I went back to medieval times or something I’d get my butt kicked or have to play a lute. As a skateboarder you can be wimpy and short and it’s okay.
Coffee Table Books for webYou have participatory group art in your studio—what do you hope to accomplish with this?
I get asked the question “if I can’t draw, is there any hope for me?” or people tell me “I can’t draw. That’s it.” They don’t consider that they ever could learn. I hope that people off the street will come in and give it a shot and see what other people have done…it’s a low-pressure gateway drug for people that aren’t artists! If all you can do is a stickman, own it, make that stick man do interesting things. Use what you’ve got. The group art is a low-pressure way to see what people are up to and get people involved.

edward norton death to smoochyIn an alternate universe, who would star in your Oscar-winning biopic?
Edward Norton.

Newest artistic direction or endeavor?
I put ‘pottery’ on my door, but I don’t actually have any pottery! I want to quickly do some pottery and see how it goes. I’ll have to learn that. My plan is to sculpt some mugs or something. I have a technique already made–that’s the part I like most. I’m going to make a mug/pot and then stamp it with things. I’m making some of my own stamps out of stuff I find in the trash. I’m interested in making all-over prints that cover the entire piece. The two stamps I’ve made are a skull and a heart. I’m interested in opposites—like tidy whities and boxers, skulls and hearts, etc.

Want to hear more about Mark in his own words? Check out his blog and his Instagram!