I first met David Aragon this past spring when he dropped off copies of a wonderful art book he had produced to have it displayed at a Young Space pop-up exhibition in Green Bay, WI. Through various platforms he has been pursuing photography, and more recently, a move into new media and digitally manipulated images that can be simultaneously calming and electrifying, always with an introspective turn, and an eye for the things that we place premiums on, such as beauty, love, and respect. Currently working on a one-print book entitled WATER, David chats with me a bit about his practice!
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So first, can you tell me a bit about yourself? You're based in Northeast Wisconsin currently; are you from there originally? What do you like about being there? What first attracted you to making art?
My name is David. I was born in Tennessee but grew up in Wisconsin.
I like being in Wisconsin because of all of the people that I know around here that fill up my heart just thinking about them.
I got a camcorder when I was 11 and have been making things since.
Specifically photography is an emphasis of yours, and this current project includes digitally manipulated elements and drawings as well -- how did you start experimenting with these different elements?
I'm interested with speed when it comes to making, so going all digital just makes sense. It's cheaper and quicker that way. It's always been really hard for me to make things that look nice or are beautiful, so in recent years, I've embraced that and augmented it to the point where most of things I make look like a piece of garbage.
What has your art education been like, whether formal or informal? Do you have any significant mentors?
It's been rather informal. I didn't go to college (unless YouTube and claymation forums count). There have been many mentors along the way. I think the greatest mentors are ourselves when we allow our desires to actualize without stomping them to the ground like a uncontrollable fire, or hitting the backspace button a million times.
You describe some of these images as having a soothing effect on you, and that they function perhaps as inadvertent love letters to yourself; can you elaborate on that?
I just want to hold people and stroke their hair and say "it's okay." I want to do that to myself too.
How do you find or choose your subjects?
This is something I am working on because I definitely want to be one of those street photographers that can just walk up to someone and ask to take their picture, but due to my tendency to make things weird, it usually doesn't end up that way.
A while back, a new model I hadn't worked with before met me and one of the first things I said to him was "I know I don't know you, but I want to make you look like a little girl." The look on his face is forever burned in my memory. True fear. I don't ever want to make anyone uncomfortable, ever, so that's why I often now stick to friends.
When there is a prior relationship there, and people hopefully feel safe - they can let me in.
What is your studio or workspace like?
Desk, chair, computer.
What do you find most challenging about pursuing the work you do? What do you need most as an artist?
There's nothing really challenging about making the work itself, that's the easy and fun part. At this current moment, I guess money to fund projects is probably the thing I need most.
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of pursuing your art?
Saying yes to something that makes me feel good.
Can you tell me a bit more about the book, WATER?
WATER is an art book. I have a concept for the wider release of this book, but due to the astronomical cost of printing a large small-run art book, I'm only going to get one copy printed.
Anything else you would like to add?
Find more of David's imagery at divinekindness.com!
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