TERRITORY MAGAZINE THE MOOD OF GOTH ISSUE....ANGIE MASON INTERVIEW
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1 Can you tell us more about your spooky old house in Northern New Jersey?
It’s an old colonial that was built in 1925 and seems as if it was almost untouched inside when we moved in. There was even an old fashion antique stove from the 20’s and an antique sewing machine that came with the house. The house makes so many noises that it took some getting used to. The attic creeps me out because when I first moved into the house I would have dreams of this old woman dressed in a 1930’s black fancy dress who would come down from the attic and try to show me things in the middle of the night and I would wake up sometimes sitting up with my arm out like it was being pulled. My husband Lyle and I had an alarm installed but one morning it just shut off – it went dead and then we heard footsteps in the basement which me with my trigger finger I dialed 911 and the cops came and found no sign of entry and an empty basement. Another time the alarm went off in the middle of the night and I again called 911 and the cops came and said there was again no sign of entry and nothing to be found. The alarm company said it was most likely set off by a spider hanging in front of the motion sensor. So now I am sure the cops think I am like the boy who cried wolf. Still to this day in the middle of the night I may hear something that sounds like someone is in my house but then I realize it’s probably just the pipes or the house settling… at least I hope it is.
2 Your work derives its inspiration mainly from the painful and ugly experiences you’ve had in life. Are there any other sources of inspiration that you have besides this? For example, a pet or a close friend.
I am inspired in my work by many different things in life. I do see my characters as extensions of myself but they are also others I know as well. I deal with situations that have been tragic in my life and create my playground so to speak where my characters can act out whatever emotions it is I am dealing with at that time. However my reasons are not always from a dark side I do like to incorporate lightness and humor into my work to create a balance or a tug of war between good and evil, hope and despair. We all have to face demons in our lives and in my paintings my characters are sometimes facing theirs or are in fact the demon themselves. I also like to incorporate playfulness and nonsense and will paint something simply because I drew this character from my head and fell in love with it. I believe paying attention to nonsense has its’ powers. Aside from personal life influences, my inspiration comes in many forms ranging from animals, imagination such as memories and dreams to fairy tales and folklore, music, design, surrealism and travel. I surround myself with obscure, fantastic information, odd objects and loads of imagery including Folk and Visionary art, the occult, old antique found-objects, pseudo-science, nature, mythology, carnival images, toys, art and comics. Having a wide scope of personal interests only deepens my artistic vision allowing me to utilize and personalize knowledge within my own work.
3 Tell us more about your experience studying at Parsons.
My time at school was one that had many ups and downs. I first entered into the fine arts department thinking this would be a place I would feel most free in but as it turned out not all but many were pretty narrow minded as to what they expected you to create and made me feel very isolated. I got frustrated with hearing my work was too illustrative constantly like it was a bad thing. Disappointed with that program and also coming from a poor family I decided to drop out of school. I worked at an art supply store (where I met my Husband) for a year or two then I went back to Parsons. This time I applied to the illustration department. I felt so welcomed in that department. At the time when I was there they really encouraged us to explore materials and personal concepts in our work; which was just the kind of nurturing environment I so needed to grow creatively.
4 How do you go about designing something? Do you follow a set of strict rules or is it the other way round?
Overall I would say I am very intuitive with my work although some rules may sneak in for some structure and balance. I do love the idea of automatic drawing and how the creative process takes on an almost alchemical mystery with images being conjured up from the depths of my mind. When I get into that place where things just come together you feel like you are on a different plane. As far as my process goes, I sketch a lot and then find a sketch that moves me and then I will take it to final. Sometimes I have a clear vision of what I want the work to look like and other times I am not fully sure what the outcome will be but I like to think of my work as more of a journey and process; learning and finding truths along the way whether that be conceptually or technically. It’s so much like the way I cook there is no real recipe I just keep on mixing things up to discover some great new taste. For me it really is that mystery within the creative process that keeps me creating to see what I end up with.
5 You seem to have a wide array of design disciplines – painting, sketches, 3D and drawing. Which is your most favorite discipline?
Painting is my first love although drawing is a close second. While creating I don’t allow myself to be held back by setting rules and boundaries of only focusing on one thing. I felt it would be more beneficial for me to explore all facets of creating to see where it led me and it would also be more exciting. That experience of not knowing fully what is going to come out in the end makes it exciting to me. A lot of my creative process is about discovery on many different levels whether it’s about technique or personal. I do feel through all that exploration it led me to realize my love of painting so these days my energies are focused on painting.
6 What makes a typical day to you?
Well, I do work as an illustrator/designer at a magazine during the week so a good portion of my time is devoted to that. I like having that security of income, especially as an artist I think it really helps me feel more balanced and clear minded to work on my personal work. After working I tend to come home spending time with my husband Lyle and our very bad kitty Nervil. Lyle and I like working on the house, garden or just running around our house chasing our cat. After an ample portion of playing I tend to paint at night time since I just feel more tapped into the parts of my brain that desire to create then.
7 What was the experience like to be uprooted so often during your younger years? Did it affect your development as a designer?
I think our experiences in life directly affect how we create and what kind of visions we see so yes absolutely. Being uprooted was very difficult especially for someone such as myself who was very shy and quite nervous in unknown situations. As a child and growing up I never felt in sync or in place with anyone always an outsider being the new kid. So I took solace in the creation of my own worlds. I found myself spending a lot of my time alone making stuff. During this time I really feel it was that creative exploration I did that led me to where I am today. Finding truth and honesty in my work that deals with raw emotions and the human experience; that I as an individual wish to express were really started back then. I worked on a lot of personal pieces, which I feel really laid the groundwork for my affinity to strange slightly off characters. Being more of an introverted person many times its hard to articulate what it is I want to say and just being able to express it visually seems the most honest way I can approach things. Bringing my visions to life has given my life meaning and has saved me many times.
8 Do you believe in the occult?
Growing up I lived with my parents who both had their own beliefs in things. My mother’s side was more superstitious and spooky to me. My mother had members of her family who owned a Botanica where I remember at a very young age visiting the shop and seeing all the amulets, herbs, Tarot cards and they had a magnificent crystal ball that put me in a trance with its shimmering round perfection. My father was overly religious and at times it could be pretty strange; say with him walking around our house speaking in tongues or taking me to see faith healers. This all seemed normal not knowing anything else. Though as a child I sensed the one sidedness of their beliefs and began questioning them at an early age. Although, I am very attracted to such things it’s merely more of an interest in the stories and mythology of different cults and religions; I never felt a need nor had a strong belief to follow or base my life off of one.
9 Do you have any upcoming projects that you wish to highlight or perhaps provide us with a sneak preview?
Actually a lot of the work in this issue is new work that I am unveiling on my website along with a new site design coming up soon. I have some solo shows coming up in 2006 and some group shows I am taking part in this year. So I am keeping busy and I am always on the look out for galleries to show my work at. I would love to have the chance to show my work in Japan. I went there back in 2002 and fell in love. The way characters are so infused throughout the culture is wonderful and the juxtaposition of old and new within the culture and architecture is just amazing and inspiring.