Artist interview: Happy D artist
Hi happy thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! First could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me! I’m a pop surrealist painter from Oakland, CA specializing in romantic portraits of emotive females with a psychedelic touch. I’ve been doing art all my life, but I’ve only been a full time artist for about 1.5 years. I used to work 9-5 at an office job, but now I paint all day in my home studio that I share with four furry companions. Also, I am insanely fast at cracking sunflower seeds.
Your girls are beautiful! You have a very distinctive style can you tell us a bit about how you found your art style?
Thank you! Honestly, hearing that I have a distinctive style is the best compliment I could ever receive! Despite coming a long way, it’s an aspect of my art career that I don’t feel like I have completely figured out yet. In the beginning, I was frustrated with not having a distinct style because I played it safe. I was just focusing on subjects that made the painting process enjoyable, subjects that were widely accepted and embraced by all demographics — beautiful women in beautiful settings. Later, as I began to evolve, I grew bored of only portraying “beauty” as a broad generality, and started testing my limits by adding elements of darkness and intrigue. My girls grew in congruence with my confidence, and eventually became highly spiritual, enigmatic beings.
I recently saw a very interesting post of your regarding nudity in art. What does nudity in art mean to you as an artist?
To me, incorporating nudity in art is the same as incorporating any other element in art… Flowers, the color blue, moths, nudity, Batman, etc… These are all decisions the artist has made in order to create the artwork and tell a story. Art is inherently subjective, so some of these elements may not agree with the tastes of some people, and that’s fine.
The plight of artists who enjoy painting a common element in the art world (nudity), but share their work on a social media platform in the regular world (i.e. Instagram), is that there’s a very small intersection between what is common in the art world, and what is common in the real world – and that intersection does not embrace nudity. It’s baffling and almost hilarious to me how provocative seminude photos of celebrities/singers (who are often teens) for the purpose of self promotion are not removed by Instagram, but an elegant painting of a made up female character who has her nipples showing is the subject of debate.
There’s a stigma against nudity in art even if the subject is not posed in a sexual or pornographic way, because the audience is not used to seeing NIPPLES, due to the way the media has conditioned the female image. You can be as sexual and pornographic as you want in your lyrics, dance moves, or thong bikinis, but please, no oil painted nipples. I feel like this type of unnecessary censorship is reductive and misaimed, and it’s a cause I’m more than willing to fight for.
Have you always been a creative soul?
I think so. I believe with dedication and practice, we can train ourselves to be relatively good at anything. But we can never train ourselves to enjoy everything. I’ve always just loved creating art. It’s something I was born to do. It truly is my calling.
Roughly how long does one of your girls take to complete? Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
Oh gosh, if everything is going well and I’m on a roll of inspiration and drive and sheer luck, I could probably crank out a huge painting in a few days. If things aren’t going well, or I lose the motivation or vision to finish a piece, it could collect dust for several months before I decide to finish it.
My creative process starts with an art journal where I quickly sketch down (and I mean REALLY quickly – sometimes 30 seconds) concepts that randomly pop up in my head throughout the day. I also write down phrases, song lyrics, quotes from podcasts, or just pretty word combinations that I magically happen to think up that can help me describe the mood for a possible painting. Then, I look through my art journal, find a messy sketch or sentence, and develop the idea more fully in a larger sketch. Sometimes if I’m feeling confident, I’ll skip this middle stage and go directly from messy sketch to painting. The painting stage is where both the magic and tragedy happen. Monochromatic pencil sketches can give the illusion that an idea is fully fleshed out, but when it’s time to hit the easel, I become faced with the challenge of thoroughly rendering something I had previously depicted with a simple scribble or dot in the sketch. Add in colors, values, and a 500% larger canvas, and there is now a whole other dimension of unfinished details left to conquer. It can be daunting, but that’s part of the exhilaration of creating your own universe with a paint brush.
I love the fantasy elements you have in your work, what would you say inspires you the most?
I’m insanely inspired by artists who have propelled the pop surrealist movement – James Jean, Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki, etc. I love the dark, meticulously rendered, and almost uncomfortably beautiful worlds they create, and I have similar aspirations for my own work. I almost want every character I have ever painted to be able to fit into one overarching and never ending dark fairytale. I’m most inspired when I’m consuming art — listening to music, reading art books, browsing artists’ work online, going to galleries and museums… A certain feeling, sound, or visual can spark a small idea in my mind that gestates into visions for future paintings. This is the reason why I have to be constantly stimulated, and why I’m never idle!
Your work is so vibrant and stunning. do you spend time selecting your colour palette or do the colours just come as your working ?
A little bit of both. The process of finding a fitting color palette involves a lot of trial and error. At first I would be carefully selecting color combinations and hoping they would work, and many times they didn’t. Failures and mistakes in previous paintings will teach me what to avoid in future paintings. Through this tedious elimination process, I eventually developed a natural instinct for picking the right colors. It’s kind of like driving… At first you have to really pay attention to staying in the lanes, checking your rear view mirror, maintaining your speed, etc. And then with enough practice, it becomes second nature.
Do you have any tips for aspiring creators?
My biggest tip is to find the joy in creating art. It sounds simple, but allowing yourself to completely indulge in the process of creating is not something that just happens naturally. You have to embrace the entire spectrum of being a creator. Yes, sitting in a spacious studio all day and painting a beautiful painting while listening to your favorite music does sound like a lot of fun… But that’s not the only thing you’ll be doing as a creator. You have to sometimes do boring things like go to Home Depot to buy hanging wire, or sand your painting surface, or answer 100 emails from 10 buyers who end up all flaking out.
The genuine love you have for your craft is what will help turn even the most mundane of tasks into fulfilling enjoyable events. Whether it’s editing painting time lapses, cleaning my brushes, or sticking postage labels on my print packages, I thoroughly enjoy every part of the creation process. The rush of endorphins to the brain caused by my day to day work is unparallelable to me. Find that genuine love for the craft, and it will carry you through any ups and downs you will encounter on your journey, and that is what makes all your time and energy worthwhile.
Do you have any exciting projects coming up in the future?
Oh yes, definitely. I have some gallery shows this summer that I’m super pumped to participate in. I’ve only been doing art full time for 1.5 years, so I’m still relatively new to the gallery scene, and having the honor of exhibiting alongside some of my favorite artists is so humbling and surreal. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing my art in more publications this year. Holding your own artwork printed by a book or magazine is quite validating. Honestly, I’m so excited to just wake up and start each day!
Thank you so much for this awesome interview happy! If you guys would like to see more of happy’s work you can do so at the following links