Creator Wave Vol 39: Larry Carlson
Larry Carlson is one of a kind. Utilizing a vast range of mediums and his larger-than-life creative plug, Larry’s completely surreal works of art will make you think twice about how you see the world. His work will simply take your breath away. Larry is a multimedia artist based in New York. He frequents and fuses various mediums such as digital art and photography, collage art, video art, flash movies, soundscapes, interesting scrolls and text art. Rooted with a delicious sense of wonder, Carlson creates worlds upon worlds of supreme magic and mind-blowing whimsicality for viewers to devour with their eyes. He inspires your imagination to take flight with his vision! Making the impossible come to life is a craft that Larry Carlson has brilliantly mastered. We had the pleasure of interviewing Larry and had quite a few curious questions!
Larry Carlson exclusive interview with SCV
Conducted by Michele Lin
ML: First off, when did you start making art?
LC: Very early on in life, around 7 or 8 years old, I was drawing my own little homemade comic books, then when I was a teenager I was keeping sketchbooks with drawings of real life and detailed observations of nature.
ML: Your art is mind-blowing. You’ve stated that your art is often influenced by your dreams and visions. In turn, you cultivate a mystical state of mind. Can you further elaborate on this particular refinement?
Through my artwork I aim to offer the viewer a new way of seeing the world, to describe life as magical, and rich with wonder, mystery and possibility. I aspire to be a channel for higher forces, and for my actual artwork to be like an oracle you can use to get a better view of your higher self. When I begin to work on my art, I start from within, trying to let myself be guided to the immediate awareness of what is not reached by either perception or conception, or generally by any knowledge. It’s a state of unknowing. That is the “mystical” mind state I try to cultivate. I let myself plummet down into unknown realms of surreal insanity as well as inner worlds full of creative abundance. The art is more powerful than me; it makes me do its work. I don’t usually know what I’m going to make, it just sort of flows through me, like I am just the doorway. There is a quote by artist and mystic William Blake that describes what the goal of my art making process is — “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, – infinite.“
ML: A large body of your work features surreal and whimsical mystical realms, archaic symbols, as well as geometric fractals. I eat these things up! I’m curious about your evolutionary journey as an artist…How did you come to make these other worldly images?
LC: By frequent visits to the other world.I went there so often I began to call it home. Whatever it takes to get lifted into that otherworldly place, that is what works for me. But any mind altering are only tools in my artistic process to extract the hidden gold from inside. Sometimes it’s just simple daydreaming, only my daydreams are vivid and I actively engage in them. I have always been very interested in ancient cultures of the world; their spirituality and art really speaks to me. I think that’s a part of what bleeds through in my artwork with all the archaic symbols. I find so much in this life so fascinating, I have a real sense of the wonder of it all. I think it’s this love for life, this “attitude of wonder”, that is what shines though in my art.
ML: You live and work in your studio in New York City. It seems like you are constantly creating and with a vast range of mediums at that! There’s this image of you swimming picture books, happily making collages on your website. How has living and working in NYC influenced you as an artist and being?
LC: I grew up outside the city in Jersey and moved to the city when I was 17 to attend the Cooper Union School of Art, and have been living in New York City on and off ever since. In a way, New York is all I have ever known; it’s always been the backdrop to the movie of my life. I don’t think I would be the artist I am today if I had not lived in New York for most of my life. The access to art and culture everywhere in the street, galleries, and museums; the exposure to the avant-garde experimental artistic attitude of the city has shaped who I am as an artist. The basic rawness of the streets with its loud noises, flashing lights and overwhelming chaotic energy, I think, has directly influenced some of my more crazy psychotropic movies. There is that same frenzied assault of the senses being expressed sometimes in my interactive movies and video art.
ML: Aside from making art, what do you do in your free time? Other specialties or talents you’ve got up your sleeve?
LC: When I’m not surfing the web I like to get out and enjoy outdoor actives like hiking and biking . One of my other talents is I am into natural food and healthy living. I enjoy studying alternative medicine.
ML: How did you get into making soundscapes?
LC: The inspiration for it started very young when I first started hearing all the early classic hip-hop music. The simple technique of collage sampling, scratching turntables and basic drum machines blew my mind. I loved it. It was something I could kind of do on my own at home. Originally I just started to experiment with collage-ing sound samples on the computer. I would get the sound samples from anywhere like the TV, the web or old phone message machines from thrift stores. Then I started adding layers with samples of messing up records on turntables, distorted vocals and adding some basic instruments. It was very experimental in the beginning, no real structured pieces. As I developed my interactive movie and video art, I needed to make soundtracks for the work, so my sound experiments organically grew into me creating longer complex soundtracks. No matter what medium I am working with, there is usually a collage process going on at the heart of it; that’s my style.
ML: And what are you currently listening to?
LC: I listen to a wide range of music. When I am in the studio actively working on collage and painting, I usually listen to loud hard music; a lot of hip-hop, rock, classic rock, etc. Latter in the day I usually listen to more mellow stuff like electronic, ambient, trip-hop, jazz, old American country, and folk.
Beside music, I’m also “listening” to real life. I make field recordings with a little portable recorder. Yesterday I was recording these amazing frogs by a pond in the woods that just hatched. I’ll record a crowd in pubic just to hear what it sounds like. Sometimes I use these recordings to mix it into my soundtracks.
ML: Some of your favorite artists?
LC: I love so many styles of art from so many different time periods, its hard to pick. But here is a sampling of some modern ones that I like: Romare Bearden, the biggest inspiration for my collage artwork; Virginia Beach art collective Dearraindrop creates fantastic psychedelic worlds; Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings are some of my all time favorite artwork and I absolutely love the drawings of Jack Kirby, a golden age comic book artist.
Phantasmagoria Slideshow, 2008
ML: Lastly…Any projects that we can look forward to from you in the near future?
LC: I have some new mind blowing video art that have been cooking in the lab for a while and should be ready to go online soon. I have new collage artwork and digital photography, and some new experiments with printing onto acrylic paintings that I will be showing soon. I update my tumblr blog ( http://larrycarlson.tumblr.com ) daily with new work, so be sure to check that out to see what’s new in the wonderful world of Larry Carlson.
Color in Motion feature: http://soundcolourvibration.com/2012/03/10/color-in-motion-vol-151-larry-carlson/
Creator Wave Volume 39 with Larry Carlson / larrycarlson.tumblr.com