This was bound to happen, but it took quite some time.
For those of you who aren't aware, Zach Hoskin and I spend a large amount of our lives around each other, topics like these are often a large part of our conversations. They are subjects we both wrestle with and explore on a daily basis. So as you can imagine, it was quite the challenge to find some questions I haven't previously asked at some point or another.
But thankfully, personal experience and relation to art and creative path is no less than a vast subject.
I originally knew him as a Photographer. We met through Harcourt House, where he was employed and I was modeling/running yoga classes. After we had gone on a few photo walks and he had graciously captured a yoga event I was co-instructing, we decided to trade free yoga classes for shared time at the studio he was renting. It was there that I reconnected with painting after a year and a half of letting it slip (which I am eternally grateful for). It was also there that I was lucky enough to bare witness to the spectrum of imagination that his mind contains, as we would often spend hours together, headphones on, lost in our own little worlds while mixing colours and splattering paint.
I find it ever so interesting to talk of Zach an his work, as I am not only an Artist myself but I am an intimate observer, admirer and subject. As a live model it has been an honor to be showcased in the exploration of his creativity and I take a lot of pride in seeing my face and body speckled throughout his work.
Zach Hoskin is a creative force. He is a Maker, an annalist and an appreciator of the societal underbelly.
Watching this man doing what he loves to do is a visual delight. There is a loose fluidity to his body movements and an intensity to his facial expressions, his eyes scan constantly, always analyzing, searching, absorbing. He pours over the details, coming in close, eyes darting back and forth, stepping back, head cocked to one side, always observing, always trying to see more.
The studio is usually a mess of placed papers, sample buckets of house paint, brushes, found objects and recently completed work. Yolandi, our cat, is usually putzing around and making herself comfortable on any small canvas within reach. There are boxes of paper for the prints he sells at the market stacked under the desk, a few scattered reference pictures and a cutting mat atop a drafting table he uses for prep and illustrations. There has been many a night where I have seen him hunched over with the clip on desk lamp flooding the corner of the studio with light as he pours over his latest idea. The closet is a slew of art books, tools, clothes, wire, sandpaper and rulers. His guitar sits by the window offering a welcome melodic distraction for when music beckons and art is overwhelming. On the top level of a tall metal shelf sits a mannequin head donning black tumor like goggles and dangling black cancerous earrings. This is the environment that holds gadgets he uses to aid in his flitting attention. Generally the room resembles a beautiful wreckage. Organized chaos. Just the way he likes it and what I see as a morsel of insight into his meandering mind.
One of the biggest things I admire is his dedication to preparation. He will painstakingly take hours to lay down the initial sketch, or mix his desired colors, find the right frame, or scrape miscellaneous crust off of a wood board. The dedication he puts into his pieces shows what I see as a distilled effort towards quality and personal truth. Obviously, this exercise in patience doesn't just stop at preparation, it is the life blood that flows throughout the pumping heart of his process.
Of all the mediums he uses, I find the most entertainment in watching him paint. His long arms swing, branch like, as he hovers over his creation which is usually placed on the picnic table-cloth thrown down as a protector for the wooden studio floor, among a tangling of mediums and tools. Brush strokes ranging from broad and sweeping to intricate and frantic with eyes wide as he devours the image that forms in front of him. Pacing from one angle to the other, he moves with the image, as the image requires.
Zach seems to possess an insatiable compulsion for growth, a demand for something more than what was previously done. It seems as though the bewitching mixture of curiosity and boredom gives him an intense focus and primal appetite for forming something new.
Watching his creativity evolve has been profoundly inspiring. He has given me an immeasurable appreciation for the creative life, the value of art and of course, many new perspectives. I know this is extremely biased but I foresee a beautifully bizarre and bright future for him and his creative output. With his strength of drive and comforting humility, his work will only become more delightfully strange.
And now, I'll let his words do the rest of the talking.
Describe your perfect day.
Oh, that’s impossible! That’s like asking to pick a favourite song, it all changes with a breeze… My “perfect” can be filled up with all sorts of different things, i.e. aimless walking, painting, hanging with Momma Ocean, great coffee (but I’ll take mediocre), aimed walking, sex, thinking, real conversations, staring out a window, cooking, psychedelics in nature, changing things, playing with my cat, writing. But for a perfect day, scheduled activities should be kept to a minimum. I tend to get overwhelmed easily, and I get weird if I have to stick to a strict time-line. So, I guess to answer your question… my perfect day would involve doing whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it, depending on what I’m feeling, and if I feel like doing it.
How do you see your creative process changing in the next year?
I have no idea, that’s part of the appeal of the process. Expectations seem to ruin everything, so trying to predict what direction that process will take is probably pointless at best, and self-defeating at worst. Hopefully I stumble upon something that I didn't see before, it grabs hold of my attention for awhile and we'll see where it goes from there.
When do you experience the most fluid mind/body connection?
When I’m walking. I can get into this really great grounded disconnect between thought and mental consequence. Ideas come and go freely with no weight or baggage attached to them. Sanity in motion. Each thought tends to get the proper amount of time. There’s something about rhythmic movement that creates a soft, safe playpen for the brain to jump and roll around in.
How do you nurture your creativity?
I try to put my focused thought on everything but creativity. Lots of things require dedicated focus, but I'm not sure creativity is one of them. It’s in there somewhere, and it wants to come out and smear it’s greasy mitts all over everything, it just gets scared by all of the other shit that gets in the way sometimes. So I guess the nurturing comes with consistent attempts to stay engaged and interested and curious in hopes of knocking the clutter down so there is space for the creativity to hang. Try to make him feel welcome, wanted, and loved.
What is the smallest (or a small) change that you would like to make to your creative process?
Oh, that’s a great question... It seems like once I can identify changes I want to make, they seem really big… But in fear of avoiding and/or sidetracking all of your questions entirely, I’ll say working on taking things from an “almost finished” state, to an “actually finished” state. It’s small because I feel that the act of starting something is still the most important and enjoyable thing for me. But I have a tendency to take work to the 90% completion stage, where I have most of the problems solved and know how the finished product will look. Then I get bored and seem to turn into a magpie and abandon the project completely due to the bright, possibly shiny things I think I might see just down the way.
What music/band is guaranteed to cheer you up?
Emotional guarantees are never a sure thing, but Aesop Rock has consistently provided me with that juice to feel connected and motivated. His cadence strings together moments and ideas and complex concepts, and spins them into a feeling. He's got a uniquely jaded social awareness, an ability to connect, and a healthy dose of introspective “fuck you”. In 3 minutes, he paints a beautifully intimate, surrealist world of words that you can only almost comprehend, but still make perfect sense out of. Abstract expression at it’s finest!
How much trust do you place in your inner compass?
On good days, the proper amount. On bad days, either too much or not enough.
To be honest, I don’t know if I have much faith in the idea of an inner compass, or I’m still learning how to define what that actually is. By definition, the inner compass concept means that there is a spiritual, guiding constant; a “True North” of sorts. I don’t really believe that’s the case. I think that on the most basic level, we’re motivated and directed by a series of wants and needs. The needs are just that; necessity. And we don’t get to determine what those are, we are only required to pursue and fulfill them. The wants are defined by a whole bunch of human elements that make-up the wonderfully beautiful, and staggeringly heartbreaking components of human existence, i.e. emotional baggage, ego, logic and rationale, Doritos, jealousy, lust, love, bio-chemical turbulence, bad TV shows, and new leather purses. I think I’m getting better at identifying and defining the needs vs. the wants when making decisions, but to pretend that I’ve figured out everything that makes that little compass needle spin and swirl seems knowingly foolish… To wrap that mess up, I wouldn’t move to the woods armed only with a hatchet and my inner compass.
Describe the art you are most drawn to?
Controlled chaos. I tend to like art that has a genuine rawness and reflection of reality to it. I like weird, dark shit. I like feeling uncomfortable and curious. I love seeing the imperfections of the human hand. I think there is heaps of confidence in letting that exist, and I deeply respect that. I like when there is room for accidents to happen and to become a piece of the story. I like seeing layers and visual process. I like seeing the evolution of a piece. I like art that feels like it came from a conversation between the artist, the medium, and the idea. They each have their own language, and they are sort of grunting and pointing and playing charades with each other, making a mess, shaping their thoughts, communicating, trying to get their message heard, but still listening. I like art that looks like that.
What is one piece of work that your most proud of?
I feel more pride in the process and progressions of doing work, rather than individual pieces. In the little improvements, the problem solving, new secrets, losing track of time, staying curious, staying fed. Pride isn’t something that I really experience with an individual piece. By the time a it's done, I’ve spent so much critical time with it that I’m all objective and analytical and fairly removed from the whole thing. It’s just done, and I get tunnel vision on the weak spots, focusing on the places I need to work my chops up. There is very little mystery or abstraction or interpretation left for me in my own work, and that’s where the beauty of art is experienced, and beauty is something to be proud of.
What is the essential message you are putting out with your creativity?
I don't know. I’m in no place to be telling people what they should or shouldn’t be paying attention to. I’m a curious human that is far too sensitive and likes to poke at things. Creativity lets me explore and release more. I like doing it, and the philosophy of it makes sense to me. So I do it. Whatever message people take from that is the proper one.
If you would like to view or purchase any of Zach's work or contact him for a commission, his website is www.zachhoskin.com
You can also connect with him over Facebook and instagram
He really is a lovely person and won't bite, so if you're interested in a commission or to order something specific, send him a line.
I promise you will be glad you did.