From the depths of dreams, imagination and creativity lies the artist named Souther Salazar. Familiar with a variety of techniques and materials, Salazar has created a fairytale world, where nothing is off limits and everything is breezy, beautiful and untamed. Thus far, his work has been unveiled in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo. With his go-with-the-flow attitude, Salazar has created fantastic illustrations, sculptures, and installations that have captured a throng of peopleâ€™s curiosities and kept them glued to his visual stories, wondering what is next to come.
â€œIâ€™m just a guy who likes to make stuffâ€
Format: Would you consider yourself a fantasy artist? Why or why not?
Souther Salazar: No. To be honest, I donâ€™t even consider myself an artist most days. Itâ€™s too weird to think about. Iâ€™m just a guy who likes to make stuff; I never know what will come out.
Format: A large extent of your work is childlike and playful. Where does this vibrant, visual playground effect come from?
SS: I just love to experiment and jump in and let my imagination go, and use lots of colors and tell stories. I think people relate it to childhood because that was the time when most of us did stuff like that. I feel lucky that itâ€™s my job to still do it.
Format: Your work ranges from simple, undiluted illustrations to elaborate, busy portraits. Please shed some light on your artistic development.
SS: Sometimes I realize the piece will be stronger if I stop sooner and let it be a simpler image. Other times I give in to the urge to cover every inch. Itâ€™s sort of a struggle between mood and purpose; I never know which will win.
Format: On your website, there is a tab dedicated to ‘Narratives’ — can you describe what we can look forward to under this tab?
SS: That was an old version of my website that you found. I was going to put all the comics and stories and drawings that had words and captions there. My site is mostly really old work; I always forget it even exists. I should put up a new one. There are newer images on some other gallery websites, like Jonathan Levineâ€™s.
Format: In a past interview you mentioned that you enjoy drawing animals more so than drawing people. Why is that?
SS: I did? Oh, I donâ€™t remember that. I guess thereâ€™s more room for invention with animals. I feel like I can just have fun and make things up without referencing anything and it can still be true to the strange variety of the animal world. But ultimately I think animals, humans, buildings, plantsâ€¦ they donâ€™t necessarily represent themselves. They are all just things that come out of my mind so theyâ€™re me and my imagination and my memories of people and places, all mixed up and regurgitated. A cat could be a girl, a hill could be an old man, a rock could be my house.
Format: What exactly is a â€˜zine,â€™ and how did you get involved in creating them?
SS: I grew up in a really rural part of California, before the internet zines, which were one of the coolest ways to share ideas, art and discoveries. Basically a zine back then was just a homemade little magazine, usually a few sheets of 8×11 paper xeroxed, folded in half and stapled. I started making my own and trading with other artists through the mail in the mid â€˜90s. These days a lot of people treat zines more like a little art book or handmade treasure, with lots of printmaking and cool papers and binding techniques.
Format: Some of your work exudes apparent, intricate underlying stories. Is there always a literary context to your work?
SS: Not always, but pretty often. I can rarely stay on one train of thought, so throughout the process of making a piece other ideas and story-lines enter in. Sometimes I begin by writing a paragraph, or thinking about a song or story Iâ€™ve been obsessed with, but usually it strays quickly from there.
Format: There are plenty of earthy tones are depicted in your drawings, paintings and illustrations. Is this intentional?
SS: I just like the Earth and things on the Earth.
Format: Your work exhibits everything from paintings, sculpture, installation and more using a variety of media like ink, paper mÃ¢chÃ©, clay and crayons. What is the connection between subject matter and the technique used?
SS: Usually the materials give me an idea of what to make. Even if I have an idea of a certain direction I want to go in, once I roll the clay in my hand I get a feel for what it might become instead. When I pick up a crayon something bold will be added, and when I have a tiny pen, I think about details for a few hours. I jump around on a lot of pieces at once, so whatever I have in my hand I add a layer to everything around me. I love having a variety of materials to choose from and experiment with.
Format: Where can we catch your latest showing?
SS: Iâ€™m working on a large solo show that opens May 16, 2009 at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC.
More Info: http://www.southersalazar.net
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