Interview with San Francisco Artist, David Ball

22 Jul, 2012

To view more of David Ball’s work visit his website at: www.david.ball.net

Artist David Ball in studio - Harum Scarum at 111 Minna

Dig In Magazine interviews San Francisco-based artist David Ball before his show Harum Scarum on February 2 – 25, 2012 at San Francisco’s 111 Minna. We caught up with David and spoke about his artistic process which begins “abstractly (with acrylic generally)” and then goes toward collage: “In the Harum Scarum images, I started from a random abstract base and let the imagery build from there. Beyond this, I have to make myself see the collage material something other than what it really is as I look for elements that I build the image with. As each image is used as a structural resource, I am still aware of the true nature of the elements that I am using. The relationship of those components also conceptually develops in a slowly unfurling, unconscious way.” Read more. [Interviewed on January 12, 2012]

Dig In Magazine: What is the subject matter of your upcoming show, Harum Scarum, at 111 Minna in San Francisco, California, and when is the opening?

David Ball: The images are of the adaptive, environmentally altered creatures but conceptually the subject matter is focused on their behavior and relationship to the environment and others. Ideas of loneliness, contentment, longing, fear, dominance and submission come into play. In subtext (the collage material itself), elements of industry, decay, unrest, colonization, and material excess make up many of the elemental components.
The show will be opening February 2, 5pm-Late. Show runs 2/2- 2/25

DIM: How did you get into art and when did you know that you wanted to be an artist?

DB: I think my initial inclinations towards art were the same as most but I suspect that my father, who was an art director, encouraged this development somewhat early on. My first instincts were more towards music though or at least that is where I was pushed. I studied violin privately and played in a local youth symphony. I had an ear for it but I hated it. I doodled like anyone, but I did not get that into it until I was around 7th grade. At that point, my dad noticed that there might be something there so he sprung for a weekly art tutor for a while. Mainly, I enjoy solving problems. I suppose I knew I wanted to be an artist is probably some time in art school, as I sat at a desk trying to imagine what skills were needed to translate the ideas in my head onto paper.

David Ball Art Harum Scarum 111 Minna

DIM: What type of artist are you?

DB: One who bounces between aimless muddling and fussy tweaking.

I like to keep this definition open to just “artist”. I primarily work in mixed media (acrylic, collage and colored pencil) these days but I am a trained illustrator, and I work in other media as well.

DIM: What are your artistic influences?

DB: Anyone and everything that catches my interest influences me. I am really just visually inspired in general. I don’t have any one person that I emulate, just an amalgam of different lessons from different images.

Here are a few in no particular order:

Bosch, Sargent, Masami Teraoka, Grosz, Picasso, Juan Gris, Agrit Pop, Manuel Ocampo, Cezanne, Duchamp, Escher, Gaudi, Max Ernst, Severini, Dix, Arcimboldo, old maps, random spills and organic patterns…

DIM: How would you describe your artistic style and genre?

DB: That is a tough one to nail down. The primary aspects of my work are surrealistic and expressionist, but it is not that proscribed or specific.

DIM: How does surrealism come into play in your artwork?

DB: In the Harum Scarum images, I started from a random abstract base and let the imagery build from there. Beyond this, I have to make myself see the collage material something other than what it really is as I look for elements that I build the image with. As each image is used as a structural resource, I am still aware of the true nature of the elements that I am using. The relationship of those components also conceptually develops in a slowly unfurling, unconscious way.

David Ball Art Harum Scarum 111 Minna

DIM: How would you describe the characters or creatures that you incorporate into your artwork? And what do these characters represent?

DB: Fun (for me anyways). Sometimes they are beasts of burden, but generally the characters represent human beings in general and human emotion. They allow me a chance to strip away race and gender and look specifically to emotion.

DIM: What materials do you use in creating your art?

DB: Scissors, magazines, glue, matte medium, and colored pencils.

DIM: What is your artistic process from idea to finished piece?

DB: There is no initial idea. It starts abstractly (with acrylic generally) and then I go to collage. I go back and forth between these two media over and over until I feel I have structurally and conceptually developed it enough. Then I go to colored pencil and seal.

DIM: Where do you find inspiration?

DB: In chaos and life.

DIM: What in life motivates you to do what you do?

DB: That is a good question as it is lonely work. I enjoy the challenge and it feels good to explore your natural curiosities so it is easy to stay motivated in that way.

DIM: What publications have you been featured in and what was the focus?

Artist David Ball studio

DB: As an artist profile, in Germany’s Novum magazine and Taiwan’s X-Funs, but I illustrated for magazines such as Wired, Playstation, PC Gamer, Chicago Tribune, Village Voice, etc.

DIM: Where have you exhibited your work?

DB: WWA, 941 Geary, Varnish, Fabric 8, 111 Minna

DIM: What ideas do you explore within your artwork?

DB: Our relationship to our past, each other, and our environment and the cyclical nature that lies there in.

DIM: What is it that you love about making art?

DB: I love the moment when a piece flips from being the worst piece of shit you have ever made to suddenly being something that you are excited about.

DIM: What is it like working with director/photographer Shaun Roberts and in what capacity have you worked with him?

DB: Shaun is a genius and there are no shortage of people who would say that. Shaun is keenly observant of his documentary subjects and invests himself in trying to understand what they are about. His sincerity, his artists and the artistic process itself. In the most recent series of promotional teasers for the show Harum Scarum, Shaun put his focus on sharing a sense of the preparatory process of making collages for the show, providing viewers a more involved relationship to the final outcome of the show.

DIM: What is your goal as an artist?

DB: To develop into someone beyond what I have imagined that I have the courage to become.

DIM: What advice can you give aspiring artists?

DB: Do what you love, not what allows you the title of “artist”.

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Sundance Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as writer, vlogger, designer, digital, online & social media marketer. She possess a B.A from UC Davis in Cultural Studies and an M.A. in Mass Communications [Film and Marketing] and Popular Culture Studies from Cal State Fullerton.

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