September 9th, 2020
The artwork that Win Wallace creates is amazingly detailed and the imagery is so perfectly balanced with dark and macabre and beautiful and happy themes. It resonates well with viewers with mental health issues, his work really helps put images to what they feel and can’t put words too. His pieces are insanely detailed, and one can spend so much time just pouring over every inch of the artwork observing every detail. The line work and shading especially just put you in complete awe.
Where are you from?
Born in South Carolina and grew up in Georgia, but have been living in Austin, Texas, for a long time now.
How did you get interested in art?
I've been drawing ever since I can remember, but specifically my mother sent my sister and I to art classes at a local community center when we were 7 or 8. One day my teacher sat in a wicker chair and put on a shawl and large sun hat. She then instructed us to draw her for the entire class. I'd never done anything like that, and getting lost in the folds of the fabric and the hands and face was so memorable. Art before that had just been finger painting or playing with clay, this seemed different.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
Probably sounds cliche, but everywhere, nature, conversations, passages from books, music and art history. I try to keep myself open for images that resonate. That little space just before falling a sleep or just after waking up are sometimes pretty fruitful.
How would you describe your style?
Figurative. Feel like it should be left to others to define in art terms. My influences run all over from classical, traditional baroque, the psychological potential of expressionism and allegorical possibilities of symbolism are all important. However, I don't want to confine anyone's experience of a drawing with too many classifications. I just make drawings.
When you sleep, what do you dream of?
I've been having a recurring dream lately, it may have to do with some of the current conditions because of the pandemic and the extra isolation resulting. The setting changes, but what I can remember most clearly is stepping outside sometimes from my house, sometimes out onto a random street corner and I look up to see a torrent of car crashes filling the road like a hurricane or rushing river. I stumble and my left hand reaches out to steady my fall and pierces into the column of violent metal and glass shearing off just a few fingers sometimes, but sometimes taking off my whole arm. There isn't really blood that I can remember and I usually wake up immediately trying to catch my breath. The other details pretty much begin to fade as soon as I try to consciously hold on to them.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so what are you grooving to these days?
Music is so important to all aspects of life and definitely while making art. Usually when drawing I like longer drawn out mostly instrumental music because sometimes verses and choruses can be distracting. Some of my favorites are Earth(especially Extracapsular Extraction), Miles Davis (Live Evil and Tribute to Jack Johnson are favorites), Sleep, Fela Kuti. There is a great local Austin band Tia Carrera whose records are good to draw to.
What materials do you use for your work?
Pretty simple ones. Paper and pencils, charcoal and Conte crayons or pen and inks. I like the directness of drawing more than anything else.
How many pieces do you make on average per year?
The amount of work sometimes depends on what my deadlines are. Last year I had two solo shows so I really had to dig in and made 17 large portraits. The pen and inks go a lot quicker.
Do you do commissions? If so what are your favourite type to do?
I do commissions sometimes and have done lots of record covers and show posters, but am trying to be more selective these days. My favorite ones though are when folks don't get too overly specific. My mind tends to shut down when I am given too many specific parameters.
What's the biggest piece you've done? What is the smallest?
My biggest single drawing was 8' x 4'. It can be difficult to move around, store and ship really large work, but my portraits still tend to be life size. I kind of like the feeling of interacting with a character that has a natural real life scale. The smallest is probably just 8 1/2"x11". Don't really work small often, but maybe that could be fun to try in the future.
What do you need right now more than anything?
Probably what everyone needs, an end to this pandemic; a vaccine so life can go back to "normal" or something close. The current President and the Governor here in Texas really don't seem to care about anyone's health and safety, but its not really surprising unfortunately.
What's the worst job you've ever had and why was that?
I've had many bad jobs. Cleaning whole chickens in a restaurant ranks pretty high up there. I haven't eaten meat since I was 13, but was the only job I could find at the time. It also sucked because of all the bone splinters you would get in your fingers while doing it.
What do you think your artwork says about you?
Hopefully that I like details. Mostly though I would like my drawings to have their own life not unburdened by being tied too much to me as an individual. Art as a thing is so much more important than the artist that makes it.
How have you improved since you first started to now? What would you like to be more proficient at?
Hopefully I have gotten better at all aspects of it and will continue to get better. Its kind of a relative question because I see very glaringly the things I could have done better in every piece as soon as its finished. I think all artists have to remain vigilant in constantly trying to improve the craft, otherwise what is left.
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
Probably neither. I like the oatmeal cookies with pecans that my neighbor across the street brings me sometimes.