The way I stumbled upon ckirk’s work was through a collaboration piece he did with the artist, THH70. The piece had been created while they were both living in Dallas. THH70 now resides here and ckirk hopes to make the move to LA soon. When I was living in Texas this past year, I stopped through Dallas and hung out with ckirk. He’s down-to-earth, a family man, and always pushing himself to take his art to a new level. I did not leave empty handed upon leaving his studio.
He utilizes a combination of materials, a range of artist tools and a stark pallet. At times, he cuts out and pastes elements from different works into a mash-up type collage. There is a purposeful, unfinished quality to his work that makes it very recognizable. It’s like when you have a great idea and in that frenzied moment your chicken scratch communicates your excitement. I feel that same exuberant energy is channeled into ckirk’s work.
His imagery can be beautiful and horrifying at the same time. It can be untamed and unsentimentally honest. The imperfect nature of his work underscores the flawed nature of his subjects. Life is messy- I think sometimes artist make too great an effort to hide the process that created the final product with excessive polishing. Not everyone can get away with this approach, but ckirk embraces the identity of being a diamond in the rough.
Rick Galiher: Fights (What artistic battles have you been faced with?)
ckirk: I think there can be many battles an artist is forced to partake in. For me, funds can be a problem. It took a while for me to learn to put money away for slower financial times. Fortunately, I have survived some pretty rough years including the recent recession. Internal battles happen as well. Last year, I completely stopped making art for several months and planned to not release anything new for a year. During this time, I studied so much “High Art” that it was very easy to develop the mindset that I wasn’t good enough. The good news is that I learned many wonderful techniques from studying these masters of figurative art while lounging in my old recliner. The bad news is that I would’ve learned these things long ago if I hadn’t deprived myself of an education.
The last struggle, I have to say, would be dealing with rejection. My skin has become very tough over the years, but it still bothers me a bit now and then. Submitting to galleries can be frustrating at times but great when things work out. I’m comfortable and confident enough in my creative and technical ability that when rejection does come my way, I don’t doubt the work that I have presented. The work is great and I’m proud of the fruits of my labor. I also remind myself that I've made too much money selling art to start doubting my ability now.
RG: Fame (How do you feel about being a recognizable name?)
ckirk: Well, there’s certainly no harm in having a recognizable name among peers and collectors. I like that some people know my name and recognize my art. I read that the reason Johnny Carson stopped having artists on his show was because only about 20 or 30 people in the audience actually knew who they were. Artists don't have to worry about camera phones, poparrazi, or other celebrity issues, because the majority of the population couldn't give a shit what an artist gets up to.
RG: Favoritism (Do feel it is hard to break into the art world?)
ckirk: I think it can be. In my limited experience It has almost always required knowing someone on the inside to show in a legit gallery. It doesn't seem like having great art is enough with successful art dealers. Who can say for sure? That’s just been my experience. Small time galleries seem to be much more impressed with great art and much more willing to take chances. That being said, showing with small time galleries can be a pretty big risk on the artist's part as well. In my experience, dealing with these types of places usually brings nothing but disappointment, frustration, and headaches despite best intentions. I decided years ago after chalking up too many bad experiences to count that dealing with these types of places was not for me.
RG: Fortune (Are you in this for the money?)
ckirk: Well, kind of. Saying "no" wouldn’t be completely honest. I would create art no matter what. If I worked at Walmart, you can pretty much bet that I would daydream and doodle on whatever scrap piece of paper I could find. The fact is, I don't have the option to work at Walmart. I'm a two time felon due to a misspent youth. My "Misspent youth" had nothing to do with graffiti just in case you were curious. I lived for booze, drugs, women, adrenaline, and violence.
RG: Fate (Do you believe in it?)
ckirk: I would be lying if even attempted to answer that. I try not to waste my time figuring out the mysteries of the universe.
RG: Fans (How would you categorize your fans and collectors?)
ckirk: My collectors are cool. They’re mostly doctors, teachers, lawyers, and business people of some sort. I have some collectors who are artists . As far as fans, they seem to be mostly other artists; which is cool. Its nice for your work to be admired by your peers.
RG: Frontiers (How do you want to advance art?)
ckirk: Well, my goals in advancement would be: Continually push myself to develop better, higher skill levels, deeper emotion, and a stronger connection to the viewer. I’d also like to eventually have my work show up in museums and textbooks. I think it would be nice to belong to that league of artists but I'm not holding my breath. I would also really like to be represented by a successful gallery here in the United States...preferably on the west coast. I'm represented by Red Propeller Gallery & 5 Pieces Gallery in Europe which is great, but I live in America. Its time to have more of a presence here.
RG: Format (What art medium are you interested in trying?)
ckirk: I don’t know. I’ve probably tried most of them except outdated mediums such as fresco. I would however like to eventually work more with clay and have some bronze sculptures made. That would be really cool, but very expensive.
RG: Freedom (As a working artist, what do you enjoy most your freedom to create?)
ckirk: I pretty much get to make anything I want. I’ve noticed that folks admire the style of an artists work quite a bit….sometimes even more than the subject matter. It’s also nice to have an idea and move on it. You don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval, if you need help; you ask for it…and bring your idea into creation. That aspect of art is wonderful.
RG: Frustration (What about the art world do you find frustrating?)
ckirk: There's plenty, but I'll only focus on one aspect. Currently, there is so much work ranging from mediocre to bad being celebrated. This perpetuates bad art even more, because instead of developing their selves and work, a whole new generation of artists are imitating these very successful hacks. Like everything else from music to film to the quality of denim levi's....art has become deluded to lesser quality. It seems that if a person can use photoshop and a printer they are considered an artist. If they use photoshop, a printer, followed with wheat paste, or maybe even stencils and spray paint..they can become a star. Mr. Brainwash is a prime example of how little artist talent, bad art, and audacity can pay off. The blame can't be placed on Brainwash though, because he learned from the masters who have shown that you don't need talent to be a successful artist. You can just technology and the willingness to slap your work up in public space until enough people take notice and assume it must be great because its everywhere.
RG: Font (What font do you associate most with?)
ckirk: I don’t know. I use Ariel black a lot.
RG: Fudge (What is your preferred curse word?)
ckirk: Many: I use them all. “Cunt” has to be the best though. Unfortunately, I don't get to use it much.
RG: Firsts (What was the first piece of art you sold and how did it feel?)
ckirk: One of my South Dallas Recycle Projects. It felt great and almost addictive.
RG: Food (What do you crave?)
ckirk: Probably steak but its hard to say. Food is one of the great pleasures in my life.
RG: Fun (What do you do for fun and in your free time?)
ckirk: Smoke, carve tobacco pipes, read, hike, play and stream nature shows with my son. If he's not around, I try to screw my wife.
RG: Family (How much does family influence your work?)
ckirk: I would say tremendously. I use my son and wife as models quite a bit. I've noticed my work, which has often been called dark, has become more playful...even though the dark qualities are still there. I think it comes from all the children's books I've read. Also there is no doubt that my son’s interest in animals, evolution, and prehistoric life has infected my work.
RG: Faith (What is yours?)
ckirk: Pretty simple. Don't fuck with people and everything will be fine. I’m not so arrogant to believe that I can ever figure out the mysteries of the universe.
RG: Fantasy (How does your art feed your fantasies?)
ckirk: I think often times I get to express personal beliefs and my character defects in my work. I also have violent tendencies that (For good reason) I don't express in day-to-day life, but there is room for that violence in my art.
RG: Fashion (What do you wear?)
ckirk: Pretty simple casual. I shop at Walmart and generally only wear plain solid color shirts….unless it’s one that I made or was given to me by a friend.
RG: Friends (Do you hang out with other artists?)
ckirk: I did once, but now I only leave the house to hike or run errands. I’m either busy with my wife and son, or working downstairs in my studio.
RG: Fuck-ups (If you could do it over, would you have approached your craft differently?)
ckirk: I don’t think there was any other way for me to start.
RG: Future (What is on the horizon for you?)
ckirk: At this point, I'm just painting I have tons of ideas and reference material that I want to get onto canvas. I plan to return to Los Angeles sometime in 2013 to see my pal THH70 and hopefully meet some art dealers, but that’s about as far as I have things planned out at this time.
RG: Follow (Where can people track what you’re up to?)
ckirk: Folks can track what I’m up to from my website: http://www.ckirkart.com/