Ego is a Seattle based artist known for using classical painting techniques to conjure intricately crafted portraits of macabre yet whimsical characters. These seemingly dark creatures appear to dwell in the spaces somewhere between the natural and metaphysical worlds. Ego’s work has been seen in galleries around the world.
A self-taught painter, Ego’s distinctive style is informed by a lifelong fascination with pop culture (movies, music, comics, skateboarding, etc.), as well as the beneficial skills acquired over the course of his 25 year career as a professional tattooer. Through experimenting with different mediums, he ultimately developed a highly-detailed style that emulates the depth and richness of oil paintings using acrylic paint. He has recently set upon sharing these specialized techniques by teaching classes and workshops. Ego actively creates new work for gallery shows, and occasionally accepts commissions for his meticulously rendered paintings and select illustration projects.
What’s your preferred medium to paint, and why?
After many years of experimenting with different mediums (Graphite, Ink, Pastel, Gouache, Oil, etc...), I have chosen to focus on painting with acrylic. The fast dry time is ideal for my technique, which utilizes many thin layers of paint, and also helps me be able to complete and ship paintings out quickly under the pressure of deadlines. I like the look of oil paintings, but get frustrated not being able to paint multiple layers quickly. Because of this, I have made an effort to mimic the look of oil paintings using acrylic paint.
What do you do, to get out of an artist block?
I think I speak for a great many artists when I say getting the dreaded artist block is SO FRUSTRATING!!! I have learned many techniques for overcoming this from friends and colleagues. A good one for me is to just walk away for a bit. Not just step away from the project to go to another room...but, really walk away. A nice long walk in nature has done the trick for me more times than I can count. Studying the work of other artists has also been helpful sometimes, as well as trying something completely different. Working with a different medium can help to push that mental reset button.
At what age/what turning point led you to be an artist?
There has never really been another choice for me. From as far back as I can remember I have always wanted to be an artist. When the other children would talk about wanting to be Astronauts, Firefighters, Doctors, or Rock Stars, I always insisted that I would be an artist. I didn't know what that would mean when I got older, and it has taken me MANY years to find exactly where in the art world I fit. Through the constant challenges and hardships, there is still nothing I would rather do!
What do you listen to when you are painting/creating artwork?
I generally prefer to listen to an eclectic mix of music (mostly 80's new wave, punk, and metal). Podcasts can be a nice way to pass the time too. Not only can I learn things while painting, it can also feel like I have a human social connection when I am otherwise alone working into the long hours of the night. Art themed podcasts can be especially nice. To be able to relate immediately to the activity in which I'm engaged seems so fitting. The Dark Art Society Podcast, hosted by fellow "dark artist" Chet Zar is one of my favorites.
Do you feel it’s necessary to finish your painting prior to beginning another?
Historically, I prefer to work on, and complete one painting at a time...but, it seems that with increasing regularity I find myself working on multiple paintings in various stages of completion. This has mostly come with the recent increase of commissioned paintings to which I have committed myself. I hope to regulate the process a little better, and get back to completing them one at a time again soon, but I fear that with the addition of upcoming gallery shows for which I have to complete several paintings, this may just be the way I paint now. It seems to work well for many other artists. With a little mental adjustment, perhaps I too can be one of these successful multi-tasking artists...
When you receive unsolicited critiques or comments, how do you feel/how do you react?
Being an artist on any social media platform, I feel like it's inevitable to receive unsolicited critiques, and comments. It's sometimes difficult to not let critiques and comments sink in too deeply one way or the other. Negative feedback has the potential to ruin your day, if you give it that power. Inversely, having people say how "great" you are all the time can have a negative effect too. In either case, I really try to do my best to be gracious in my responses, and process the information to benefit the progress of my work. (Please, don't think this means I never succumb to feeling bad when a total stranger gives me negative feedback, or that I never get an inflated sense of importance when other strangers shower me with praise. I'm still a "sensitive artist type" after all...).
Ego's Favorite Trekell Products:
I love the variety of Trekell wood panels. The amount of tiny details that go into my paintings can easily get lost in the texture of canvas, while the smooth finish of the wood panels allows all my hard work to show. It's a nice bonus that the wood is extra durable. The extensive selection of Trekell synthetic brush options is great too!
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