Spotlight: Rick Daddario

Visual Artist Rick Daddario joins the spotlight today. Currently, he lives in Hawaii but his studies and travels have taken him across North and South America, Europe, Australia and Indonesia. Many of his works are influenced by the people and places he’s been, and he often experiments with contrasting dimensions, combining media and text.

Q) Your style is unique, and extraordinarily expansive. How do you describe yourself and what projects are you currently working on?

A) Funny. I do not think of myself as having a style. I’m not sure what that style is even if I do have one. People sometimes say I have a style or that they can recognize me in my work.  May be that is my style? May be my style is simply me?  I don’t particularly try to have a style so much as I try to create an image in a way that appeals to me the way I can visualize doing it.  Sometimes I find a process or technique I like and I will reuse it to some degree or use it as a starting point – sometimes even an image; however I try to take what I do into a new place and explore in at least some new ways with everything I do each time.  I figure my style will take care of itself if I just try to be me.  The more I work in my own way, the more unique I believe my work will become and the more “me” I will become too – that is what I’d like . . . to become me in and through my work.

Describing myself is complex and simple.  Simple being I am a human being first.  Just like everyone else.  I believe we are all artists – or creators.  We all create. We create in many different ways.  Complex – yeah, I’m complex as well. I think most human beings are complex although some human beings are able to live in simple ways.

Describing myself. I ramble. I’m inquisitive. I like to interact with human beings and plants and animals – creatures (including insects), the planet and the universe.  I like exploring this world. Is that describing me? My art – may be that is about describing me too.

Projects I am working on – everything that is not finished to the point where I like it as it is, is a project I’m working on.  I say that because sometimes I go back to things to rework it, or to pick back up where I left off when it was left to go on to something else.  Projects – another challenging term for me to define – I have lists of things I want to do and in some ways I am working on all of these things to some degree all of the time.  These are my projects. I’m learning on one thing but it applies to everything else I want to do as well – that is my project. 

Some of the things (not in any particular order) I’m working on:

1 – Books – I’ve always wanted to create books although I have very little knowledge about doing that. I’m learning about the structural properties of books – the ways they may be put together visually and physically.  I’ve found I often have to do things myself to understand it.  So I’ve literally attempted making one book – a number of times.  Not a typical book necessarily but still I think these would be considered books.  One is an ABC book in fact – an Artist’s ABC book, although in it I included haiku.  I say that because since that time (2007/2008) my understanding around haiku has shifted and grown considerably to the point where now I feel I should redo all of the haiku I did in that book. I probably wont redo it because that’s where I was with my haiku at the time.  I just think I can do better now.  Other books I think about: Mail Art envelopes, Haiku, Haiga, Replies to comments, Short Flash Fiction, Chapbooks.  Yeah, the list goes on – I believe I will get to some of these when the time is right. I have a chapbook possibility near completion (I followed one of the Chapbook prompt-a-day parties in November 2011).  That could almost be done now by going through a printing on demand site.  Then there are the Altered Books I’m working on too.  Several of these are in the works – at various stages, to date none are complete – yet. This is one of those on-going projects where I’m collecting material and information over extended periods of time.  Each time I think I know how I’m going to do it I learn more and decide to redo my thinking.  Eventually I expect this work to come to fruition in some way.  At some point I’ll just have to do my first book and learn from that too.

May be learning is an on-going project as well.  I may have to think about that.

2 – On my dotcom I’m working toward an Access Gallery (as well as revamping the site).  By Access Gallery I mean a way people can purchase my work that can be accessed through my dotcom.  That is in the works and it too will happen (soon is my hope – but when it happens will be soon enough too).

3 – Collaborations – I like collaborating with people. This can take many forms.  It might be on individual works or it might be where I contribute the image and someone else contributes words for instance in a series or again as a book.  I’m open to other suggestions.  Right now I’m not doing this kind of collaboration – other than a few single works occasionally.  I’m open to this if the right project comes up – one that will work for all collaborators.  I have done a number of “collaborations” in Mail Art areas.  That was fun, enough so that more would be fine.

4 – I’ve been doing a lot of digital work recently – Digital Drawing and Painting, as well as working with photographs – I’d like to continue that however I want to get back into my more traditional studio work with paper and canvas etc. I’m excited to do some things in that area along the lines of mixed media possibly. When will that happen? – This year if possible. 

Most of my work for some time now has been on a relatively small scale.  At some point I’d like to get back into some larger works.  I have a roll of canvas that is five feet wide; it would be fun to get back to using that in varying lengths. That may be a little further off than right now.

5 – There are other possibilities with the net – sites I’d like to be part of or building.  That too is an on-going project – and most likely a collaboration project.

6 – I’ve gotten away from a lot of Mail Art work – I’d like to get back into that to some degree because it’s fun – probably with a more limited format range than I was exploring at one time.  At this time that’s open and if an interesting project came along, who knows where I might be off to in this area as a project.  I can see this possibly happening this year as well.

7 – I’ve not really considered myself a writer; however there is no doubt that I like to write.  Through some friend-encouragement I’m now occasionally submitting works in this area to a variety of publishing formats.  I’ll have to see where this may go. Right now I like working on this too.

My philosophy for a long time has been to work where my interest is each day.  I’m not recommending that necessarily, I just know it works for me to keep working where I am excited to work.  I’ve learned to allow myself to do this even when it means stopping at some point on one project before it is completed so that I can go to a different project and work there.  As a result of doing this over time I’ve found that I have a number of projects that are in this on-going state all the time.  These projects are not all at the same stage however; some are just beginning, some are in the middle stages and some are nearing completion.  After a while I began to realize that there is always a project that is appealing to me that I can go to and start.  Or I can pick a project back up because I know where the next step is on that particular project because now I understand how to continue in that excited-to-be-doing-this stage on that project.  And I have projects that are ready to come to a completion with a final step or two that will complete that particular project.  This means I always have projects being completed as well as projects just starting and of course projects that are in middle stages too.  I like that.

Q) What are your favorite places of inspiration, what have you created because of them, and where would you like to visit that you haven’t already?

A) Favorite places of inspiration – that can shift for me.  I work well when there is a dialog going on in my skull. It can be with myself or with someone else or between the work and myself.  That dialog is incite-full as well as insightful and often inspiring.  I like that place as inspiration.  Sometimes a favorite place of inspiration is people.  People I interact with or come into contact with can inspire me.  Sometimes it can be a physical space – my yard for instance.  I like working in my yard, growing things, watching them grow day to day.  For this reason bonsai and yard plants – often food plants – in my yard inspire me.  New places can inspire me.  There is only one first time when I see a place.  It’s fun to respond to that initial time in some way. It’s the only first time I’ll ever get for that place – actually each moment is that way – in this case I am talking about place and I like that initial way of seeing things and working from my response to it – the first time.  Every thing is new then.  Of course subsequent explorations also have a great value because I get to know my subject that way.  I like a variety of kinds of places – peaceful, calming, and natural as in countryside or seashore and I can also like hectic complexity as with activity in cityscapes and events. 

More and more I’m finding that wherever I am, what ever I am doing all has the potential to inspire.  I take a walk to the grocery store and I carry my camera, photographing along the way and creating haiku in my skull – the sky, the sidewalk, plants along the way, wires, mailboxes, trash bins – anything I see along the way that has interest for me such as texture, line, color, pattern or shape or is significant in some other way such as in a juxtaposition of objects related or unrelated or as in symbolic as “a sign of our time”.  Anything that catches my eye – I’ll photograph that just as it caught my eye.  When I return if I offload the images immediately and jot down the haiku material that came on strong in the moments as I walked, there are at that time a number of haiga I can work on that were inspired by that walk.  Life, all around me, is inspiring.  I pull a desk drawer open and the pencils there – yes, inspire me.  It’s fun to look at life this way – everything as potential.  I like the idea of using what I see or what goes on in my skull right now in any given moment as my point of inspiration – my point of departure – wow, it all becomes exciting that way … and in this way my work reflects my time and place.  I like that, my time and place become my work and my work if I do it my way, becomes more and more – me.

I like my work reflecting our time and place on this planet (both universal and individual “our time”) – the time of now, this moment, is this.  That now can even be a reflection upon a memory.  I find I like exploring (my) memory – which to me is a combination of my past and my present becoming a new moment in the present. My best work is very individually me (I hope) however I’d also like it to connect with others in the way that we are all human beings too.

Travel… there was a time when I traveled quite a bit – across the county (the USA) and across the planet (North America, South America and points in between, Europe, Indonesia, India and a number of other countries for varying amounts of time from a few weeks to a few years).  I’m not a constantly-really-traveled-a-lot traveler now.  I’ve traveled enough to understand that there is a lot more – a large amount of a lot more – that I haven’t seen, than that I have seen – or visited.  I’ve also come to understand that I can travel for years within my own yard and not see it all.  I’m not as excited to travel great distances as I once was.  What I find is that when I do travel every place is amazing – whether I have been there at other times or whether it is a first time visit.  No place is like any other place – and that includes repeated visits to a place – it’s really never the same.  I just don’t make the great effort to put myself into that travel-a-distance mode like I once did.  There are a few places I’ve been too that I’d like to go back to – okay probably a lot of places – and there are endless numbers of places I have not visited that I’m sure would be awesome to visit.  I’ve been to Australia and going back there would be exciting.  I’ve never been to New Zealand – going there would be awesome – Japan would be stunning too.  That can be said for a lot of places.  Once I go I know every journey has an amazing effect on me. When I look at it, that’s true whether I take five steps from where I am sitting right now or a journey to the other side of the planet or another hemisphere.

Q) You mention on your blog that you almost hibernate in the months of October through January. What happens to your creative juices then, and what months would you consider your most productive? What materials have been significant for you to work with during these periods, and why do you consider them so?

A) My “hibernation” time – it’s more that there is so much going on that I can’t keep up with what I usually do on a consistent basis.  Between Thanks Giving (late November) and the end of January there are some significant holidays in the USA.  Add 5 more such significant days (and all that goes around them) to those. That’s why I can’t keep up (usually).  I can keep up to some degree in some areas.  This past year I decided to focus on creating during that time.  I let other aspects of what I usually do go – like comment replies and blog visiting.  I’m still not caught up quite on that even now in late February.  I become overwhelmed and simply let go of trying to keep up.  I tend to forget that this happens to me by the time the next year comes around – or I think, “this year, I’ll keep up”.  Then suddenly I’m in that not-keeping-up mode and I realize I should have said something or I say something at that time – hibernation . . . although of course I’m not really hibernating, I’m just not getting to everything I’d like to be getting to during that time.

My creative juices – for me, I need to keep flowing them out of me. That is, if I don’t work in this creative way that I call “my art” I find I don’t feel very good after a couple of days.  So I need to keep working – in some way.  It doesn’t have to always be finished work, but it needs to be contributing toward finished work in some way – even if it is simply sketching.  Once I understood this and began responding to it appropriately – by working – I liked what happened.  I felt reasonably good.  So my creative juices simple need to be explored and let loose – even during the “hibernation time”.

Most productive months … probably just after the hibernation time, those months February through May, may be June – but also just before the hibernation time too – September through October/November.  It shifts from year to year depending on what I’m doing of course.

The materials I work with follow the “what am I excited about now” philosophy.  When I’m excited about something that’s when I’ll focus on it – even materials.  There are materials I return to frequently – paper, watercolor, ink, acrylic and of course digital technology.  There are new materials I discover or former materials that I haven’t used in a while that I rediscover too. New techniques or new ways to use techniques and processes I’m familiar with can also trigger focused work.  The way I see it, everything is potential creative material when used appropriately. 

When I’m excited to use it or do it – try it – that to me is the right time to work with a material.  When I find new or different ways to work or to use materials that appeal to me along aesthetic lines that is often when I become excited to work.  When I can see along these lines in my skull I begin to explore.  That exploration leads to knowledge and understanding in ways that I can work out on paper or canvas or in some other material.  New insight, new perspective, a different way of thinking that may lead a viewer into new areas or ways of being in their (our) life – I like that.  Basically I think all human beings can relate to creativity – no matter what material is used.  When creativity touches and alters our life – that is special, significant and often fun.  I like that too.

Discover Rick’s Art at 19 Planets and on his website

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