Austin and I work for Fairfax County Government. I’m a Media Producer for Channel 16 and he is an Information Officer for the Office of Public Affairs. Our jobs require ongoing collaboration, so I see him often. For the past year or so, whenever I would pass his cubicle, I would comment on the artwork he had displayed. Austin isn’t very talkative (unlike me). However, in my persistence to engage him in conversation, he eventually showed me more of his designs.
I was blown away when I saw his other work. Until this point, I had only seen Austin’s black and white drawings, which I found intriguing; sort of a blend of Graffiti and Cubism. (My BFA is good for some things)
“Beautiful” is the only word to describe his pattern work. The style and color remind me of the tile work found in Morocco and Egypt. Instead of asking him a thousand questions while at work, we did an interview after hours. During our talk, I found out Austin is not only a contemporary artist, but a musician.
Val: Austin, how would you describe your work? I’m interested in technique, process and the medium you use.
Austin: “Well I very rarely start a project with an idea or vision; it usually just flows out of me. It typically starts with a couple random lines or shapes and then just grows and grows. I might start to see something and run with it and that in turn sort of blossoms into some sort of weird design/figure/shape. But I’d like to think not knowing what I’m about to do fuels the creative process and keeps it fresh. I predominantly use just black pens and sharpies. I’ve been saving every doodle and drawing I’ve done (no matter how small) over the past 6 years and I’m planning some “mega collages” soon.”
“Over the past year though, I’ve been concentrating a lot more on digital art using a handful of iPhone apps and photoshop to generate effects to images and photographs. The outcome of those is kind of hard to describe…. Somewhere between symmetrical and psychedelic.”
Val: What influenced your love of art and the design?
Austin: “I’ve always had a huge love and passion for music and art, and I guess rather than constantly searching for new artists or songs that I like, I decided to give it a shot and try and create it myself. I really started drawing a lot more when I started working full time for the government. On my lunch breaks I’d usually get a coffee and just draw the whole time… so fast forward a couple years and my “catalogue” is what it is today.”
Val: Do you have favorite artists or a style/period in art history?
Austin: “I’ve always been a fan of Dali, so surrealism is definitely one of my favorite “genres/styles”. Artists I like now are typically urban-esq street artists/graffiti type turned art superstars like Basquiat, Banksy, KAWS, Retna, and countless others. With Instagram, tumblr, and art blogs I discover new guys all the time but it’s still hard to keep up.”
Val: I mentioned that I thought some of your work would look great in other mediums; such as textiles, fabrics and even as tattoos. . . Is this something you’ve thought about?
Austin: “Thought about….yes…..done anything to pursue them…not yet. I’ve done one off prints and wrapped canvases for friends and family and designed a handful of skateboard decks and tee-shirts but nothing on a mass scale. With some of the digital work I’ve been doing I have been thinking about the world of textiles and fabrics (given that they are very pattern heavy and symmetrical) I’ve always had an infatuation with tattoos as well (despite having none), but if I ever do get one, it would no doubt be one of my own designs.”
Val: I understand you also write and produce music. What do you produce?
Austin: “My studio has slowly been growing over the years so I have a room full of synthesizers, drum machines, and other musical goodies for me to jam out on. I’m definitely a hardware guy as opposed to using just the computer to produce tracks. I pretty much start with some drums or a melody and just hit record. The track much like my art, sort of just grows as I add different instrument tracks and layers until I feels it’s complete. I’ll typically record anywhere from 30-50 tracks for an album (the fun part)….and then spend the next two months editing the tracks (the tedious part), adding fades, effects, etc…so they become actual songs. Final steps are just naming the songs and organizing them on the album so it’s cohesive, which I think is pretty fun. After everything is produced, printed, and distributed I go back to step one and start recording again for the next album…. It’s the labor of love as they say, but it keeps me busy.”
Val: How long have you been a musician?
Austin: “Randomly started jamming with my roommates senior year of college with an old keyboard, guitar, and some turntables and I was just like damn, this sounds pretty good. So I gravitated towards the keyboard and started making beats and instrumentals on my own. I didn’t have any recording software nor could I (and still can’t) read or write music so for every track I would make, I created my own sort of music language pretty much drawing out what I was doing on the keyboard. (so I could replicate it later) I filled up a notebooks worth of music before I finally splurged and bought some recording hardware and software in late 2007. Since then I’ve been recording pretty much non-stop and just finished my 34th album.”
Val: How would you describe your style of music?
Austin: “Well given that I have SO much music it’s hard to really nail it down to one style. I have used a running theme of “gutter beats” (which I include ala a customized Parental Advisory Sticker on every album cover). But not everything is super aggressive as “gutter beats” would suggest. I think everything would fall under the “umbrella” of electronic music but I have tons of songs that could be classified as hip hop, drum and bass, house, dubstep, metal, or even ambient. Every album though I try to experiment with new sounds and styles to challenge myself and keep it fresh.”
Val: Do you post your music on public sites?
Austin: “All of my music you can stream or download for free on my website http://www.themarketace.com When I have time I put random songs on Youtube with an accompanying visual I think that matches up with the sound or theme of the song. https://www.youtube.com/user/themarketace/videos. The current favorite medium for musicians is Soundcloud so I’m in the process of putting a choice selection of tracks on their as well. “I’m also in the middle of switching distributors for digital distribution on sites like itunes, napster, amazon, rhapsody, Spotify, etc….so right now only my old stuff (up until 2010) is available on external sites. Everything should be available in the coming months. (Uploading 700 plus tracks one by one isn’t exactly fun…lol)”
Val: Where can people check out songs you’ve written and produced?
Val: Do you have a vision right now of what you would like to do with your design work and music down the road?
Austin: “I have a lot of ideas and potential concepts for both, but I’m also not naïve to the fact that both the music industry and art world are extremely difficult to “break” into and actually make a living off of. For the past x amount of years I’ve been living sort of a double life with respect to actual profession vs true passion and it’s not necessarily that I’m not “hungry”, I just know if I really want to do something with either I can’t half ass it, I’ve got to take the plunge and go all in. With that being said I’m extremely open minded to just about anything at this point in terms of where the music could be used; whether it be performed, used for other artists to sing/rap over, movies/television, video games, intro music, you name it. The art side I’ve been kicking around some ideas for a while now. One being a digital store and doing some sort of mini gallery/event in some small rental space in DC for the “launch”….but both still have a lot of details to hash out.”
More about Austin:
30 years old
Born in Newport Beach California, raised in Northern Virginia
BS in Cultural Communications JMU 2006
Other Hobbies include: 80’s and 90’s “classic” import autos, playing soccer and tennis, big D.C. sports fan (Skins,Wizards,United,Caps, Nats), rare sneakers, thrift shops, live music, amateur BBQ connoisseur)