Sunday, December 19, 2010

Life and Work: Finn Wild

I know I'm a couple days late (sorry!), but it's time for our next artist interview! This time we're checking in with Finn Wild. Finn has spent a lot of time living on the road and/or off the grid, which I think gives her a unique artistic perspective. Like me, she paints, writes, and photographs, choosing a medium to match the inspiration. I'm quite pleased to introduce her to you!

Side note: as many of you know, I'm a professional proofreader and self-proclaimed grammar snob. I have an ongoing feud with my best friend at work because we disagree on serial commas. However, Finn has a particular grammatical-visual writing style that I think is very important, so I've made sure to carefully preserve it here. Enjoy!

How do you describe yourself as an artist?

i'm a writer & a visual artist. i do nature-inspired abstract paintings & drawings. i make zines, i wrote a novel, i take photos. i like being creative in general, in everything i do.

How do you react to the terms "visionary artist" or "folk artist," which are two of the most common descriptors for artists without formal training? Do you like them as identifiers?

i could see how they'd be useful sometimes, but in general i don't like them. as soon as you add more qualifiers you lessen the amount of people you're simply calling an artist. you narrow the definition. & i think anyone can be an artist.

What are your art-making rituals? What keeps you dedicated and in shape?

i'm an incredibly lazy artist. i find it really hard to motivate myself. i go through cycles—sometimes all i do is paint & draw, sometimes all i do is write. i tend to create a lot of work really quickly & then not make anything again for weeks. my lack of output really bothers me, & is one of the reasons i often don't feel like a "real" artist—like one needs all these mountains of things to prove it.

i try to just drop everything when inspiration/motivation hits, & treasure those times.

What are you working on now?

i started a series of paintings & drawings based on the magnified cell structure of different types of wood, & from there began making up my own cell patterns. i'm also very in love with maps & geological layers right now, & have done a few things based on those images. i take photos almost every day. lately they've been of joshua tree national park & the surrounding desert towns 'cause that's where i am. i'm writing mostly for myself right now, working through the events of the last few months, which were really intense for me.

Tell us about your background/education.

i'm self-taught, for the most part. i couldn't afford to go to college after high school, & even now i don't think going to art school would be my first choice. i sometimes feel like i would be a better artist if i had more understanding of technique & mediums, but usually i think i'd rather just make stuff than worry about learning how to do it "correctly" first. i find beauty in what just happens, what naturally comes out of people, their innate creativity & first inspirations.

Where do you get inspiration when things get tough?

for visual art: nature. i take slow walks & look at things closely. then all i want to do is draw. also, looking at other people's work that i like. with writing, it's all about reading a lot.

What does your creative space look like? Where is it? Do you share it?

i've been traveling & living in temporary situations for a while now, so i don't have a dedicated creative space. this definitely hinders my art because ideally i like to have a place where everything can be spread out & always ready.

How has the decision to live on the road affected your art work, in terms of both output and focus/subject matter?

i do less painting when i'm traveling, but i take more photos & have more to write about. i'm very inspired by plants & rocks & natural patterns, & traveling has introduced me to so many different regions with new & exciting vegetation & terrain. you can definitely look through my sketchbook & tell what region of the country i was in at the time.

whenever i'm traveling i feel incredibly inspired to make art, but feel like i don't have the time or space to do it. Then, when i'm still somewhere, i realize that that inspiration was keeping my creative life going, & even though i might have the time & space finally, i feel less motivated.

Despite the relative isolation inherent in your lifestyle, you still emphasize the importance of looking at others' work, reading a lot, etc. I've been told a lot that "you can't create art in a vacuum" and these outside influences are vital to successful art. How do you feel about this?

i'm not sure that you have to be exposed to a lot of art in order to make it, but i find it helpful. i'd also
be really curious to see what art i would make in a vacuum, though. sometimes i wish i knew what i would create without so much influence, & without thinking about the audience or finished product.

What was the darkest time for your work? How’d you get out of it?

the first couple years after high school i hardly made any visual art at all. my art teacher was very into having us copy photographs. she only encouraged us/allowed us to make very photorealistic art, which is when i found out i had some talent, & i made some decent things. after school I didn't really have the motivation or desire to sit for long periods of time simply copying an already existing image. i thought i wasn't a creative person & could only copy things, & even being good at that didn't seem very interesting or special to me.

one of my friends always carried around a little sketchbook with her, & i looked through it often. she makes really great abstract art. so then, just because i liked the idea of carrying a sketchbook around with me, i bought one & started doodling in it. it was the first time i liked images i was inventing. so i started making art again, & started loving more abstract stuff, & found my own style.

What are your current goals? Where do you see your work going in the future? Do you think you’ll try to support yourself with your craft at some point, and if so, how?

i want to focus more on painting. i want to try to keep myself motivated—i want to paint a lot, a lot, a lot. enough that i can try to start selling some work. i want to keep making zines. i'm not sure that i could ever support myself entirely with art, but i would like to get my work out there more & at least try selling things.

i also want to start weaving rugs again, which is something i did for years when i was younger, & hopefully sell them. & take more film pictures.

i thought this answer would be more focused—just paint!—but i'm not a very focused person. i want to keep making all kinds of art, & crafts, & write. i just want to do more of it, all the time.



  1. Does the talented Miss Finn have a website or any of her work online? Artwork based on the cell structure of wood sounds mighty interesting!!

  2. Great interview with one of my favorite people in the world. Finn, I learned things I never knew! Thank you for sharing. :)

  3. Hey Katherine, this just in: here's a link to some of Finn's work.