Love the patterns and color juxtapositions in LA-based artist Joel Zuercher's collages! Excited to share this Q&A and be sure to check out more of his work below!
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First, can you introduce yourself? Where are you from, and where are you based now?
Hi! My name is Joel Zuercher. I was raised in Albuquerque, NM and currently live in Los Angeles, CA.
Can you remember the first moment you "discovered" art, either making or experiencing it?
I grew up on a steady diet of comic books, cartoons, movies, and video games; the combination of them all influenced me to start creating my own worlds and characters. I was always writing and drawing graphic novels or rounding up the neighborhood kids to shoot a movie with my dad's video camera. My dad had a wood shop in the garage where he would build custom furniture and I think being around that had an influence early on as well. I think it took me until college and all those art history classes to really discover what art has been and what it can be.
What has your art education been like, formally and/or informally?
I went to school for photography and film and some time afterward decided I missed drawing. I then went back to school to study illustration. When I had enough with drawing I moved towards collage/experimental work which is where I am now. Who knows where I'll end up next.
I think the learning never really stops; there's always new things to discover and to develop further.
You've been focusing on collage lately -- can you tell me more about your practice?
Sometimes I start sort of traditionally with an idea and a rough composition sketch and go from there...usually it changes a lot and becomes something else related but different. Lately, I find it more satisfying to use leftover shapes and colors from more solidified pieces I've been working on to create something new entirely without any kind of preconceived notions or ideas. Then I just follow it where it leads.
What do you like most about working with collage? What challenges you about it, or drives you to continue experimenting?
I like the element of surprise, happy accidents, throwing things at the wall and see what sticks. The experimental nature of combining and re-combining on top of an initial out of control action. The challenge with having so many options is making decisions about how a work is going to end up/ when a work is finished.
What is your studio like?
It's an old shed that was converted into an office space several years ago that gets really hot in the summer and the roof leaks and I'm pretty sure a family of raccoons lives in the walls.
What do you think is the most challenging or daunting part of pursuing an artistic practice, whether creatively or professionally? What do you do to get through it?
It's a very tough thing to pursue and to keep motivated. Plus there is so much art out there it's easy to get lost in the crowd. I think its easy to get stuck in a groove and not really challenge yourself. To get through it I guess just keep experimenting and continue to make the best work you possibly can.
How do you get through a creative standstill?
Do something else and forget about it for a while. Sponge up new surroundings -- go on a road trip or watch a film or go to a museum or on a hike or something. Then come back to it and just start working, then it either it works or doesn't. If it doesn't, move on to something new.
What do you want to learn more about, or challenge yourself to master, in regard to your practice?
I think I have different mindsets depending on what idea I am working on, and it would be nice to combine them all in a way it makes sense to my brain. I'm also interested in learning new ways of creating through VR and interactive installations.
What do you need most, or value most, as an artist?
What are you working on right now?
Some larger pieces incorporating more paint/transfers, and also some mixed media kinetic sculptures that have been on the shelf for years. Also learning 3-d modelling and hope to incorporate more of that someday soon. I'm all over the place.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the questions!
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