6 min read

art: an essential tool

the talented and comical creator speaks to influences across music, ethics, and the environment
art: an essential tool

meet phillip morris, an intricate and expressive fine artist. drawing inspiration from their origins within the diy music scene along with object-oriented ontology, ecology, environmental ethics, morris paints with a delicately expressive nature. 

where are you from? where are you now?

i was born and raised in phoenix, arizona. there was a short time when i lived in new york but i’ve pretty much lived in the phoenix area until i moved to winston-salem, north carolina this year. 

did you grow up in an artistic environment? what was your first experience in and around art?

i grew up to enjoy performance art. in high school, i did band, choir, theater, and even dance. it was very against the grain of what i grew up with. my family wasn’t as heavily involved in the arts as i was. my sister played the violin and danced but growing up, that was about it. a lot of the talent and taste i developed came on my own, through my friends and whatever i found on the internet. a lot of the music i was exposed to in early high school influenced my taste and has stayed with me ever since. death grips, aphex twin, david byrne. so much.  i went to a lot of college house shows as a teen. snuck out a lot. very arrogant kid. but it led me to see so much great music. some of the best music that has come out of arizona has been diners, proteens, instructions, dogbreth, and especially injury reserve. seeing so much d.i.y and seeing that community of artists build off each other gave me a good foundation for the ideology of creating.  even as a painter, i would say i get most of my artistic inspiration from music. 

although i liked doodling as a kid, i did not think of it as an avenue as i did with music. i was very convinced that i was going to pursue music in college but through a lot of thinking, i decided on something else. i didn’t even start seriously doing art until i was 20. i just remember doing a couple of drawings and showing my friend ashby. he said “those are cool, can i have those?” and i’ve been riding on that support for more than 5 years now. 

how would you describe your style? where did it come from?

i always like using the word “loose” a lot of what my art is, it’s just reflections. i am a big believer in communication beyond words. i’m really not that great with words. that’s what made me nervous for this interview. i wish i could just answer the questions with pictures of paintings. that’d be real easy for me. art is a great communicator and often exists beyond explanation. in that regard, it’s an essential tool.

what's your process from inspiration to execution?

lately, i’ve allowed the paintings to take their own form. allowing the painting to reveal themselves rather than force anything. usually, it takes longer than having a detailed plan, but i’ve been more satisfied with the process and the results. there is intention in everything i do. nothing goes unplanned, but since paint, canvas, and brushes all have their characteristics, you have to let those materials do their fair share of the work. sometimes a painting takes me less than an hour to finish. sometimes it takes years. sometimes i think a painting is finished but then i see it yearn to be something else. i relate to that. 

what do you love most about pursuing art?

somerset maugham said it best: “art is liberation for the soul”

do you find community in your art practice? does that matter to you?

it’s been an honest-to-god struggle to find a community. when i think of that question, i think of the collectives and the galleries and all these artists constantly collaborating. although i respect the hell out of those who can work effectively with others, i just found that it’s easier to ride solo.

but really, my community is my close friends. through their constant support, i am sufficiently influenced and inspired to keep creating. 

what are some themes you like to work around? or what sorts of things influence your work?

it seems like i’m looking everywhere for inspiration nowadays. i like to read a lot about object oriented ontology, ecology, and environmental ethics. it’s allowed me to incorporate a subtle.

connection to nature in my art, through a better understanding of my identity and my place as a human in nature. it’s allowed me to see my art in a greater narrative of things rather than something isolated. 

my other big influence seems to be music. i almost always listen to music while i paint. lately, i’ve been into bands from iceland. i’ve always listened to björk, but i’ve liked sigur rós, emilíana torrini, and the extensive audio and visual work of ragnar kjartansson. listening to stuff i like puts me in the right head space to create. it feels like i create with more intent. 

"Its Not How We Used To Do" by phillipmorrisart

what do you dislike about the art world? what would you like to see change?

i dislike that there even is an art world. i agree with the notion that everyone is an artist and that there is a space for everyone to create. i’ve never been a fan of exclusiveness, artists shilling for big corporations, and people taking pride in the lack of accessibility to their art. i like to see the process become more simple for people to interact with art. simple as that. 

what's your dream project or collaboration? how do you imagine it?

i’ve never really thought about this. i wouldn’t even know if it was my dream project until i was done with it. 

what is the biggest challenge of being an artist? how do you deal with that?

stealing art supplies from michaels. i’ve tried to remedy that by buying jackets with more pockets. (this is a joke). 

how did you find primitives? were we your first venture in web3 tech / art? how are you liking the platform?

i found primitives by pure chance. rarely do i like to go outside my circle when it comes to promoting my art. i can be very particular about how my art looks on a platform but primitives has been a rare exception for me. i enjoy the platform not only as an artist but just looking at and being able to interact with other art. the primitives team has been incredibly supportive and i am looking forward to seeing how it evolves and creates its own corner in the art world.

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