How did you get started doing what you do?
My earliest memories of art-making involved my father’s paints and sculpting materials that he kept in the basement of my childhood home. That basement and the art activities I engaged in there thirty-plus years ago are at the nucleus of what I do.
What’s your inspiration?
The works I create are the product of a particular way of perceiving and interpreting memory, as well as dream and nightmare space in cohesion with the everyday world around me. I liken it to a personal mythology/cosmography built from life experiences rooted in the sublime. Film, literature, popular culture and urban legends sometimes seep into the visual/conceptual vocabulary of what I do, but always in relationship to that paradigm.
What does your typical day look like?
Besides being an artist, I’m also an art educator and a parent, so my days are typically busy.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
My surroundings have always had an impact on my work, but the internal/external environment I experienced throughout childhood and adolescence on Long Island continues to have the deepest influence. I consider that place and time to be my own personal corner of the universe that I can return to time and again for material.
How have others reacted to your work?
People often recount images from their own past when reacting to my work. There is a sense of being haunted that sometimes gets conveyed in conversations surrounding the images I make, particularly for those who grew up in the American suburbs during a specific time period. Otherwise, the reactions vary; some people find the images humorous, others have difficulty reading anything beyond something they might have seen in movies or television. In the end, I accept it all. People have a right to their reactions, even if they don’t coincide with my intentions.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
I don’t have any set expectations regarding what I think people should take away from my work. I leave that up to the individual viewer. I do, however, believe that my work is best viewed while the viewer is alone. These are images to be alone with.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
It’s often a good idea to withhold the internal critic while working. Get the work done, and judge what you’ve done after the fact.
What are your thoughts on art school?
It worked for me, but it’s certainly not for everyone. I came into my college art education with a fairly open mind and a prior history of constructive criticism. A solid art program should have a balance between a supportive, holistic environment and one that also obliges the student to re-evaluate themselves and their work through a sufficiently challenging critique.
What’s your process like?
I’m the kind of artist who doesn’t need to have a specific kind of environment to work in. It doesn’t matter if there’s noise or silence, lots of space or a small corner, people present or not. I’m very much self-contained when it comes to conjuring up images. In terms of both material usage and thematic content, my working process is very much like a long walk down paths in the dark that are only vaguely familiar. I might refer to an outside image for technical reference here and there, but the crux of my work formulates from a very intimate place in my mind. Working this way, there are pitfalls, places where I stumble, periods of doubt and trepidation, et cetera, but I believe this formulates what is best in my work.
Check out more work from John DiLorenzo here.