Mid-Century Acquaintances. Artist Interview: Edwin Wade

Growing up, I was always captivated by art. When I started skating (skateboarding) at 6 years old, I was drawn to the sport by the way the skaters had the ability to move and carve. Plus, the boards had some cool graphics. As I continued to grow up in small Texas and Georgia towns, I came to appreciate the difference between artists and the rest ever more clearly. Don’t miss understand me. I’m not saying non artists are less valuable. I’m just say…artists view the world quite differently. While I haven’t skate in at least a year, I remember that feeling of expression and freedom as soon as I got on my board.

These days though, I still find those same feelings in a hand printed poster, painting, or even in a piece of furniture. Another place I find that same enjoyment is from doing digital art. So, when I saw Edwin Wades art on facebook for the first time, I knew that I wanted to interview him. To my surprise, it turns out he works in a number of cool mediums. Not only that though…he turns out some REALLY COOL art! You know, the kind that makes me want to go create something.

So, below, you’ll find an interview that was mainly for my own personal interest. However, you’ll like it just as much.

Questions: Eric McGrew (aka. Jem N Tonic) of Amidst Mod

Answers: Edwin Wade (artist)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town outside Youngstown Ohio called East Palestine. Its an idyllic town where everybody knows your name and didn’t even have a fast food joint until my senior year in high school.

When did you start creating art, and how do you feel your upbringing influenced your creativity?

That’s a great question. My mother was a gifted draftsman and supported my constant drawing as a young child. I would become very absorbed in creating my little worlds on paper. Later in grammar school and high school I had some remarkable teachers who were gifted artist themselves push my creativity and skills in new directions.

 

As your were continually encouraged to draw, what was your main inspirational source as a child, and what subjects did your focus on?

As a child I was inspired by WWII planes & tanks. I grew up with uncles and family friends that had served during the war, there was always photographs taken during the war about. Not the most glamorous subject matter but I was a young child and they fascinated me, a fascination that exits still today but greatly abstracted and mature. Later in my pre-teen years I moved towards portraits and won a few scholastic art awards

So, with these influences, and talents, how did you because involved with Mid-Century inspired abstract art?

A lot of mid-century art is the culmination of the horrific events of WWII. Most of the great furniture came out of the war years, Eames’ bent Plywood chairs, Risom’s parachute webbing lounge chairs etc. I became greatly fascinated with all things mid-century during college and was already painting in an abstract expressionist style, and then I bought my first Eames Armshell chair in Elephant hide grey. The shop was like a dream come true to me I’d finally found an aesthetic that matched my own.So I started making prints drawings, paintings and sculptures to go with these items.

With finding the right style to fit your thoughts and art, how did your view of art change, or did it? Did it jolt your art in some way?

I had studied all the 20th century art movements during college, but as a young artist I was eager to make my own style. Discovering the world of mid-century design was a jolt! I mean it wasn’t just art it was an entire universe of design. Art, literature, architecture, ceramics, industrial design, fashion, advertising all influenced by the tiny atom. Suddenly I had found my little universe I’d been drawing since I was a child, infinite and profound. It was all very exciting. Basically I found it startling that such an inward structure 9 (the atom) could have had such an outward influence on the entire world. I set out to continue this exploration and began to work as if I was alive and creating during this period.

 

Do you feel that your creative personality, and the inspiration of MCM design has influence your choice in mediums you use?

 I would think so, I generally use all of the great printmaking methods that were available during the MCM period, such as Monotype, serigraph, block, etching etc. the only odd man out are my digital work which is just another printmaking process to me. Digital or Giclee prints offer me a fast way of reproducing some of my art in a very economical way as far as time and labor are concerned which in turn makes these affordable to the public. I have an enormous amount of ideas and I find that the computer is a great tool to be used by the artist.

 

As a progressive artist, but with a style inspired and influenced by the past. Do you feel limited by the potential buyers of your art and what they expect?

No, I mainly create for myself. Its has to make me happy and live in my home. In addition the period is so rich with subject matter that the possibilities are endless. I feel a lot of mid century inspired artists are more about the homogenization of this style creating art that’s actually a pattern for wallpaper or curtains, a dumbed down unemotional response to Johnny come latelies to MCM, so there exists some pressure to create these types of works. However art is art and good art is good. Most pieces are not sold directly to MCM fanatics but fans of art in general. Don’t get me wrong, I rather enjoy some of the pieces and the artists are great at it, just not my bag.

 

I know that you work with digital prints a lot. So why do you think that people are more hesitant to buy them?

I believe its a perception issue mainly. People have a small desktop printer that they use at the office or home to print b/w documents with and believe that’s what they are purchasing on Etsy or other sites. The truth is that the printer that I use is very different in quality and performance with very precise rendering of curves and strict color profiles that utilize archival quality pigment based inks and fine art paper that is 100% cotton rag and cost well over $1000. Plus I think a lot of people think you just turn on the MAC and it creates the work for you!

 

What do you think could help people get over their misconceptions?

 We go on a world wide door to door campaign.(Ha Ha) The art world is changing and the digital medium is here to stay. All you need to do is watch a film or commercial to see digital art, its become accepted in these areas. Like I said before, my serigraph, mono-types, and block prints are way more expensive. Digital print allows art fans to have cool prints at the fraction of the cost.

 

Now, I know that you do other forms of art. So, what would you consider to be your favorite style, and why?

I would say my favorite medium is a mixed assortment of traditional printing techniques used to make a one off mono-type. I love the immediacy of it. I work great on the fly.

I noticed that recently you did some wood reliefs. Is this a medium that you plan to keep working with, and do you do any other woodworking?

 I love doing these wood reliefs I have sold countless pieces. I have drawings in the works for about 20 more and perhaps a contract to have these mass-produced. They are very cool and I keep a lot of them for myself.
I do a lot of restoration of MCM furniture but no other woodworking other than fixing my own atomic ranch.

My art takes a view of the world between 1919-1960, including the cataclysm of the two world wars, the splitting of the atom. I deconstruct the source material that drove the great mid-century artists and apply my own aesthetic, arriving at some of the same conclusions. These momentous themes are contrasted with whimsical objects, shapes and colors. This juxtaposition establishes a surrealist tone and suggests notions of inner-worlds and universes.
In the series of Biomorphic wood relief sculptures I explored the idea of Biomorphism (forms from nature that evoke a organic fluid line), atomic structure and anatomical models to create a sort of “Atomic Anatomy”. I chose Plywood for this interpretation due to its ability to convey the relief quality in flat planes.
I use little modeling of shapes in my pieces, allowing the importance of the line shines through. I make hundreds of sketches to find the correct line that will add flow, proportion and harmony to a piece. The lines are an integral part of the design and philosophy reflected in my work, furthering the connection between nature and man’s depravity.
While I use a variety of media and processes in each work, my methodology is consistent. Although there may not always be material similarities between the different pieces they are linked by recurring symbols and patterns. The subject matter of each body of work determines the medium used.

Edwin Wade
2011

 

So let’s talk about where the people can get your works. Where, or how, do people get your different offerings? Also, what all are you offering?

Currently on Etsy are numerous Giclee prints and Mono-types. http://www.etsy.com/people/ATOMICDUSTBIN. Other works are available from my own website http://www.atomdustbin.com/. Look for an exciting serigraph series entitled ” Atomic Propaganda coming soon. most of my Graphic design, illustration and serigraphs are commissioned by private organizations and collectors.

 

How can people get your wood reliefs or are they available?

oh yes they are on Etsy as well. of course custom work is always welcome.

 

Now, Who is your favorite Mcm designer/artist/architect?

Paul McCobb,/Arshile Gorky/Craig Ellwood. what did they all have in common? Underdogs who worked at their craft.

 

Do you have any particularly favorite pieces by them you would like people to look up?

Paul McCobb-Planner group furniture. Arshile Gorky-Enigmatic Combat. Craig Ellwood- case study house #17

 

Do you have any favorite websites that you regularly visit?

Besides yours that is. Amidst Mod! Atomic ranch, Retro renovation, Dwell

Do you have an favorite MCM musician that you listen too while designing?

Perez Prado

What is your favorite MCM movie?

The Sweet Smell of Success

Last question. If you could have any Mid-Century item (house, art, anything…) What would you pick?

A case study house.

Thanks so much for the interview I really appreciate it and had a great time doing it.

For myself here at Amidstmod.wordpress.com and for all my readers, I want to thank you Edwin for your time and patience with this interview.

To everyone else… stop by one of Edwin’s pages mentioned above and show your appreciation by supporting his artistic talents. In other words buy some of his SUPER COOL art!

Eric McGrew


Knoll

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