On view in the CCBC Gallery April 5 to May 9, 2021
Gunnar Tarsa’s Mind Matter: Tales from the Scribble Warlock features 15 works of art from 2017 to 2021 that document the artist’s development of “Mind Matter,” a living universe populated with recurring characters and myths through the artist’s spontaneous creation drawing sessions.
This collection of work is for sale at Creature Comforts’ downtown Athens taproom through May 9, 2021. The artist is generously donating 20% of proceeds from this exhibition to Get Artistic grantmaking efforts. Get Artistic aims to foster place attachment—to help more Athenians love Athens—by investing in the local creative economy. Learn more about Get Artistic by clicking here.
How did you get started making art? Did you go to school for art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always been drawing. Spent my childhood copying characters from my favorite media like most kids. I wanted to be a comic book artist for a while so I drew my own heroes, items, and worlds. I lost touch with my art when I moved to Georgia at the age of 10. I spent the next 8 years thinking I was going to be an engineer or an architect. This idea stemmed from my desire to do something to help the world but still I wanted to pursue something creative. I ended up taking a leap of faith and studied drawing at UGA. I’ve been relentless pursuing that passion ever since.
What draws you to return to the same characters again and again?
I’m fascinated with storytelling and worldbuilding. Heroes, villains, titans, monsters, you name it. The worlds I’ve spent observing through all sorts of media and history have left an everlasting impression on my psyche. Naturally, because of this, characters often appear throughout my work. The ones that stick around embody some vital archetype that I would like to keep exploring. Take The Boy Who Sees Yellow for example: a small doodle silhouette of a figure holding something. This started out as a simple self portrait but has become the archetypal child that lives in my soul. They represent my drive to be optimistic and creative even when I can’t be. Another example, the large tendrils and monsters that appear are a representative of Chaos. I try to keep the world building elements as vast and as open as possible for folks to interpret as they see fit. Ultimately, Mind Matter is an interconnected universe existing from one piece to the next. Characters reappearing and gaining importance is as automatic as the drawings themselves.
In your experience, how does live drawing with an audience feel different than sitting alone in a studio? Do you sketch out your larger pieces or is it all free-flow?
Drawing for me is all about spontaneous flow. Whether spectators are involved or not doesn’t affect the flow. Whether eyes are on me or not, it always feels like a performance. I’m constantly discovering things and working in an improv manner so even I get to exist as a spectator at times. Every piece from start to finish is about play, exploration, and solving the composition from start to finish. While most drawings are completely free-flowing, sometimes I certain ideas, shapes, colors, or characters demand to be drawn so I move through those drawings with a little more planning. I like think of the process as a modular puzzle. I have a bunch of different puzzle pieces I’ve collected and can place anywhere at any time while relying heavily on my trained artistic fundamentals.
You have a very distinct and recognizable art style. Do you have any advice for less experienced artists who are looking to find their creative voice?
Trust yourself. Your art should be full of the things that you love. For some that’s a theme, for others its simply a color. Look to your interests and explore as much as possible. Have an ongoing conversation with yourself through your work and have fun. As my mentor, Joseph Norman, would always tell me, “Create as fast as you can imagine.” At the end of the day, art is a practice. Learn to discipline yourself and just keep making things. I’d rather see 1000 scribbles than 1 piece trying to achieve perfection.
Is there anything else you’d like the world to know about you?
I’m just some guy devoting my life to Scribbling. There’s a bunch of other folks just like me exploring their passions and hoping to make a living doing so. If you know anyone making art, chasing their dreams, or doing something cool, please take take your time, energy, and money to support them. The world needs creative people.
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