Artist of The Week: Alic Daniel

Alic Daniel is an American artist known for his calligraphic lines that he calls “scribbles”. His lines are meditations of form and composition, typically made with tradition graffiti writing materials and fine bristle brushes. Within each composition, he finds harmony in balance and expression.

His work is not dependent on the surface it is exhibited, which allows the meditative lines to continue for as long as possible. He works on public and private walls, textiles, sculptures, and digital work while continuing to show his trademark style. We caught up with the LA-based artist for more of his craft, his vision, and his upcoming Art Basel project in Wynwood Miami; check the full interview below.

How long have you been artist? Can you discuss your first medium of art and how it has evolved over the years?

I’ve made art for as long as I can remember. My father was an artist and he pushed me to make art as a child. Professionally I’ve been an artist for around three years. I started with the typical drawing and painting, and later found video which I focused on for a few years in college. For a long time I never felt comfortable with my paintings, I think art education dictated how I made art and felt about art, but once let go of the idea of “good” art, I was able to find my own touch. Learning the fundamentals of design and craft of art gave me a good handle on pushing paint on a canvas, then with much self exploration I decide to make paintings that break all the rules that formal art education told me.

How did the scribble technique originate?

One night when I kind of lost my mind at the Cincinnati Zoo I decide to draw to calm my mind, but couldn’t figure out how to draw anything, so I let go. I think the muscle memory of years of drawing and tagging I was able to make lines that made sense to me but didn’t mean anything. After that I was sick of making art that looked like something, so I kept developing this meditative dance style way of making.

Discuss your creative process when you are working on a piece. Do you have something in mind beforehand or do you just go with the flow? What is your environment like when you are working..Do you listen to music? Do you prefer the silence? Do you complete a project start to finish or is it an on going process? 

If a collector wants a couple certain colors I might include those colors, but most of the time I kinda just blindly make some marks and keep layering and layering until the first notion that the piece might be done. I try to not overthink, every time I overthink a piece I end up hating the piece and paint over it.

My environment right now is working on most pieces outside, since I a lot of spray paint and that stuff will make me crazy if I don’t have ventilation. I don’t sit for long periods of time to make the pieces. I’ll make a couple layers then go walk my dog, read a book, answer emails, do some push ups, etc. I try to go back and fourth to different pieces so that the work stays honest and direct. When I used to make oil paintings I would sit for hours and hours at a time, now I don’t have the attention span and can only work for small periods of time. I do this back and fourth thing all day everyday, so somehow the pieces get finished. I mostly listen to audiobooks, so that I can feel more intelligent while I make these childlike scribbles.

I’ve made art for as long as I can remember.

Elaborate on what inspires you. Who is your favorite artist?

I’m mostly inspired by the landscape I’m around at the time. Moving to the west coast has changed my use of color and shape.

Right now I’m super into Elliot Routledge, Nina Chanel, and Laura Owens.

How would you personally describe your artwork? What do you want the audience to take away? 

I think I’d call it process abstraction, basically just expressive mark making and layer on colors and shapes. I’d like my audience to feel the emotion in the composition. I try to keep things messy so that the audience can see that I was there making the work, not just a robot making a perfect painting.

What is your preferred medium? Can you describe your technique?

Acrylic and spray paint on canvas or wood panel. I use a lot of painters tape, razor blades, spray paint, KRINK markers, and oil pigment bars. Sometimes if I’m not sure about the next layer, I’ll take it in to photoshop and mess around with different ideas.

My simple work is easily made into patterns and vectors, so it can work on almost anything (one of the reasons for doing these scribbles).

Your career was launched by doing murals in Nashville—would you describe yourself as a street artist? 

I don’t do many public murals, so I don’t think I’m allowed to call myself a street artist. I’m a big dude, so hiding from police is kinda hard nowadays.

How did Nashville and your move to Los Angeles effect your work? 

The different architecture and cultures of Los Angeles changed everything. You can drive down Sunset Blvd and see a lot of different colors in a few miles. Nashville has its look and it was time for a change.

What are your upcoming projects? Next gallery moment?

My next big project is showing with Urban Art Group in Wynwood during Basel in Miami.

What would you suggest for artist on the rise? Any advise you would give?

Decide if you want to be a living artist or a dead artist. Keep making stuff, you can’t just make one thing and hope that it will go viral. Also, don’t be an asshole, that stuff never lasts.

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