5 min read

in search of magic

the nyc-based artist talks juxtaposing the unexpected, comic books, and being inspired by everyday life
in search of magic

interview by: @sydneyia

art and imagery by: @graphikmagik

art carries a special type of magic, one that compels us to explore the realms of our own potential. it gives life to the intangible and makes the invisible visible. as we spoke to g (aka @graphikmagik) we learned about his practice that is shaped by openness to ways of viewing the world, various art practices, and merging historical and alternative works. with his ultimate goal of juxtaposing the mundane and obscure, he finds both simplicity and colorful, illustrative comic books sources of inspiration. and through his art we’re exposed to his vivid imagination that highlights different textures and mediums that beautifully make sense.

where are you from and how did you get started making art?

i'm originally from nowhere and my family is from everywhere. i’ve never not known what it's like to be a creator. i was born with a pencil in my hand, and have been making visual arts all my life. in terms of my practice, i started out just drawing using pencils, pens or office supplies. i would write stories and draw images for them. art has always been something that's been a part of my language.

art has always been something that's been a part of my language.

you're a professor right? what do you teach?

i've been teaching the visual arts in new york city for over 20 years. My teaching method isn’t just about dictating technique to students, i learn from everyone in my classes, and my students keep me on my toes and help my practice evolve. . i learn new techniques, tricks, or ways to view things outside of my vantage point from each of my classes. i think it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and see things from a variety of perspectives, and teaching does that for me.

was there anything in particular that made you start drawing?

comic books were my first love. they’re still a love of mine and i still collect them. graphic imagery and imagery of all things extreme, strange anatomy, futuristic landscapes, wild perspective, expressionstic lines, vibrant colors, all that crazy stuff really inspires me.

i grew up in the heyday of marvel and dc, but i was fortunate that i was somehow introduced to less mainstream work like european comics, manga and graphic novels. in that sense i was reading this more adult material but it showed me i could create profound visual stories. and i wasn't limited to just knowing mickey mouse . i do have a lot of respect for old school cartooning, fletcher hanks, fleischer cartoons, jack kirby etc but growing up being influenced by alternative comic books defined how my own work would shape out.

i'm just thinking about what european comic books look like?

they’re great! people like lorenzo mattotti, milo manara and moebius are huge influences. and i was introduced to some of them from a publication called heavy metal magazine.

"!!!!" ink, digital 2005

would you say that you're inspired by what some may consider alternative art and art forms?

absolutely. i went to an art magnet school back in the day so my love for one art form was married with learning all about art history, the renaissance, impressionism, contemporary masters, especially the dada and fluxus movements. all that started to infuse itself into my work. being able to see that there's multiple avenues to take and styles to adopt when it comes to imagery is really special and important. all of that ultimately led me to realize what inspires me is just life and the beauty i find in it. i love seeing and exploring mundane and mesmerizing things, whether it's rainfall, thunder clouds, lightning, seeing cats run, birds fly, just the observation of life itself and finding a moment i want to create.

although inspiration is subjective, i do feel that there's a commonality that it has to be something that not only moves you, but also helps you see things in a new way. i think the ability to stay open about your inspiration is a critical thing for any creator.

what does being a creator mean to you?

i believe it's the idea of making something out of nothing. to literally spin things together and weave something in such a way where you're making thoughts and ideas into something tangible. that's part of the magic and mystery of existence. and that ability to make anything, is what makes creators very important people in the world — visual artists, musicians, poets, novelists, even chefs and bakers, make incredible things that contribute to peoples’ lives. there's a certain magic to creation, and i think everyone ultimately wants to find that magic in life.

to me, creating is not just the concept of making something for oneself, but it’s about creating something that can be shared with others. you can make the best painting in the world, but if you don't share it, who's gonna see and appreciate it? i believe the point of creating is also to connect. i'm not here to make people think anything really. i would prefer to make them feel something. one of my favorite quotes is “art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.”

there's a certain magic to creation, and i think everyone ultimately wants to find that magic in life.
"HEYY" by graphikmagik

is there anything you want people to feel when they see your work?

i think most artists want people to enjoy what they're feasting on visually. i think that's a good way of seeing it, like the way when you taste delicious food. I want people to think “ this guy. he’s making crazy stuff.” i strive to make my work be as unique as possible, but at the same time, i don't take myself so seriously to the point where i'm not able to experiment a bit. my work involves play and experimentation through juxtaposing things unexpectedly. and i want people to look at my work and think “wow, this guy's really having a good time.” i'm sure people might look at my work and be disturbed and confused. that's great too, i love that!

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