ARTIST OF THE WEEK: CAHILL WESSELJuly 6, 2017
We find out more about the artist behind the multicoloured and psychedelic pencil drawings. Cahill Wesell lets us know his creative process, inspirations and most importantly his key motivation to stay creative.
Have you always had an interest in art?
Always! Some of my earliest childhood memories are of drawing. I grew up drawing my favorite superheroes, monsters, and action movie characters. I’ve always been obsessed with dinosaurs and sharks, so that was another major theme of my earliest work. Around the age of 9, I started writing and illustrating short stories based on my experiences. My favorite of the stories, “Ghost Boat”, centered around the abandoned row boat that would drift aimlessly around the tidal lagoon in front of my house in Vallejo, CA.
Can you describe your creative process from idea to final piece?
I work in a variety of styles and mediums, so it varies. I mainly work with colored pencil, which is a very labor-intensive medium. Ideas for pencil drawings pop into my head at the most unexpected moments, so I write notes in my phone while out and about. I then draw up small sketches of the ideas that aren’t stupid, select the arrangements that inspire me the most, and will then translate the sketch into a larger piece. I lightly map out the imagery in graphite, and then begin the tiresome process of building up layers upon layers of colored pencil.
I also make smaller black and white ink drawings that serve as a quick release from the time-consuming pencil pieces and are designed using an entirely different approach. This ongoing body of work is done without any planning and each piece is essentially one free-flowing doodle. My pencil work is a bit more “reserved” and refined, while my black and white drawings are much more provocative, disturbing, and sexy.
How do you stay creatively motivated?
A lot of your work features pop culture from icons to emojis. Is this a personal interest of yours or is it something more?
I use emojis frequently, but they weird me out. I’m a 90’s kid, so I didn’t grow up in a world in which the internet dominated one’s day-to-day life. When my family first installed the Internet, we had to call it. Like, we had to call the internet. Sometimes she would answer, sometimes she wouldn’t.
Nowadays, we are so accustomed to consuming huge amounts of content in an insane amount of time through the various social media platforms. Emojis and icons have become an extension of the human language used to comment on this new facet of social interaction. My series “STACKS” pairs various emojis with natural and man-made objects to subtly track the progression of mankind.
Outside of that series, popular culture always finds its way into my work. I want my work to reflect and embody the time in which I’m alive, so I often pick and pull imagery from the hottest trending topics.
How long does it take you to finish a coloured piece of work?
Given the manner in which I utilize the medium, working with colored pencil is a rather long process. I try to achieve a finished product that looks more like a painting than a drawing, so much of my time is spent blending layers upon layers of colored pencil to attain the silky consistency. My smaller drawings can take anywhere between 10-30 hours, while my bigger work can take up to 200 hours.
Where and how do you find inspiration for your work?
I try to make work that can be aesthetically pleasing to a wide variety of people. I’m inspired by the aspects of life that are inherently beautiful, yet I also am drawn to topics that are controversial and thought provoking. I strive to make work that occupies a middle ground between that spectrum, so I aim to derive inspiration equally from both these sources.
How have you seen your work progress and develop in the last few years?
To be honest, I haven’t seen it progress that much in the last few years. I’m more or less set in my approach this moment, and want to explore what my current process has to offer. I feel like my method provides a lot of exploration, and I’ve been trying to push it to the limit until I feel like its time to move on.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not drawing, I spend most of my time surfing, skating around Oakland, exploring the various nooks and crannies of California, going for long walks, riding my bike, and drawing.
What do you love most about drawing?
I love using colored pencil because it’s a perfect middle ground between painting and drawing. It’s a waxed based medium, so it’s very easy to mix pigment in a smooth fashion. I also love the fact that when you spill a jar of pencils, it doesn’t stain your floor.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently working on a few commissions that I’m pretty excited about. I’m also releasing a limited edition lapel pin based off one of my favorite drawings “No Boys, Just Pizza”. For the last year or so I haven’t been showing my work in galleries, as it allows me to keep my prices lower and I find it easier to deal with collectors directly. I definitely miss debuting a new body of work, so, I’m starting a new series of still life drawings and hope to find a good gallery in California to showcase this upcoming body of work. A few months ago, I started working on a coloring book based on my country’s new president, but it’s proven to be a pretty depressing project, so it has been a slow moving project. Other than that, I’m trying to enjoy the Californian summer.
See more of Cahill’s work here
Follow Cahill’s most recent work on Instagram here