Featured Artist #6 - Interview with David Faulkner aka Mr. Crystalface
I recently had the privilege of chatting with Sydney based artist Mr. Crystalface about the art he creates, what inspires his work, and uncovered some of the backstories behind some of his recent and past artworks.
I met David briefly while exhibiting together at the Esoteric festival in Melbourne, Victoria at the beginning of this year (2020). After seeing David's work for the first time I was drawn into the mystical intricacies of his art, and how when you take the time to look it can take you on a visual journey through his creations. As an artist, I can appreciate the countless hours that have been invested in his artworks and the deeper meaning behind them.
I have personally invested in the work of Mr. Crystalface and have a wall tapestry of the 'The Magician' hanging in my studio.
David creates detailed windows into abstract worlds filled with mysterious entities using pen, paper, aerosol, watercolor, and digital mediums.
We hope you enjoy the interview, - let's dive in!!
How did you initially become drawn to art?
Mr. Crystalface: "I’ve been drawn to art since I was little. I’m lucky to have parents who always reinforced the idea that art is something worth doing. As someone who often struggles to express myself vocally, I’ve always been attracted to alternative modes of expression. I used to play the piano when I was younger but eventually put that aside to fully dedicate my time to visual art, which is my favourite form of expression.
I believe that every art form has its own unique ability to express a side of the artist’s self which can’t be experienced any other way"
Ayjay: "It's great to have a network of people in our life that support our demonstrated talents. As a new father, I am determined to nurture any talents my son demonstrates.
I think it's safe to say there is no shortage of expression in your work visually! The level of detail and organic composition in your artworks is mindblowing. We are blessed to have your art here with us"
Tell us about your recently completed piece 'Self Portrait'
Mr. Crystalface: "I started the self-portrait back in 2016 and finished it a few months ago (May 2020) It's 160cm tall, 115cm wide, made with pens and gouache paint on watercolour paper.
I’d been meaning to do a self-portrait for a while, I wanted to put myself inside the world I draw. I wasn’t motivated to create this picture until after I had just come out of a long depressive period. I wanted to create something that could serve as a reminder of the realisation I had come to which pulled me out of that dark time.
It was a pretty simple realisation that had a profound impact on me: I am the only one who can truly create change in my life and if I remain in my comfort zone I’ll never improve.
Escaping my depressive hole was a long process of amending unhealthy behaviours and instilling a healthy routine. In the end, I came out of it and started the self-portrait.
In the picture I’m emerging from a void, and I’m creating the world I inhabit. In the centre of my chest there is a window that looks out at a man inside a tower that is falling, it symbolises factors outside of our control that we perceive as negative, (like the end of a positive phase in life). At the bottom of the picture is a group of people seated by a fire, they are surrounded by the ruins of an old, dilapidated structure. This represents the idea that when one thing ends, it leaves space for another to begin.
I believe that in order for someone to go through a transformation, they often need some kind of tragedy or friction to spark that change, it’s not meant to be comfortable, and its a long journey that never really ends. The self-portrait a sort of mantra for me, a reminder that I am the creator of my own personal world, and although I feel better than before I shouldn’t remain stationary.
This picture took me four years to complete, and I’ve changed a lot since starting it. I enjoy looking back and seeing how I’ve improved both artistically and as a person.
There’s a lot more going on in the picture, but this was the main motivation behind it. I thought I’d be relieved once I finished but I felt a bit lost. I was sad to have to stop, so I’m now adding colour to it digitally."
Ayjay: "I am pleased you have made use of your dark times, they can make or break you. I love the idea of using art as a tool for personal growth and reminding us of a message or insight into ourselves or our life. The more we invest ourselves in the artworks we create the more potent that teacher becomes. I too have almost had my life slip away and although it felt rough at the time, that scrubbing is what removed some of my most stubborn and destructive habits."
Your artworks have a very organic and earthy tone to them, can you expand on this?
Mr. Crystalface: "Nature is my biggest inspiration; it's a living, breathing thing that is constantly changing just like us, and we wouldn’t be here without it. I’ve always loved climbing trees and going for nature walks. The patterns that occur in nature are in our very being and we’ve been replicating it ever since we first started making art.
I will often refer to nature when choosing my colour schemes. I like how no tree is ever truly the same. I love the way organic structures follow imperfect patterns and asymmetrical formations. Nature is never truly perfect (at least not in the way that some might define perfection). The same can be said for every aspect of existence, including people. I believe that life would be boring if it was free from imperfections. We are all products of nature."
Ayjay: "There is something truly special about nature, I can see why it would serve as a great inspiration for you. It almost seems backward that as humans, we continue to build by destroying the very resource that automatically builds itself. Our efforts to evolve could be better spent learning how to aline with nature and harness its organic attributes through a symbiotic relationship. Less building, more growing."
After years of operating as an artist, what are some lessons you have learned along the way?
Mr. Crystalface: "Something I’ve learned is that it’s important to leave your comfort zone in order to reach your goals. And it’s often possible to expand that comfort zone so that it encompasses the actions required to get to where you want to be. If you do something consistently it will become a habit."
Ayjay: "I couldn't agree more mate. The true ingredient for growth sits outside our comfort zones. Like up and down, hot and cold, and near and far, there is an equal opposite to all things. This means to give birth to growth, something must die in its place. I wish you all the strength for any goal you may working towards."
What inspires the artwork you create and why?
Mr. Crystalface: "I am inspired by making reason out of chaos.
I recently learned the word ‘pareidolia’. It explains our tendency to create meaning out of things that are abstract and without reason. Like when you see a face on the bark of a tree, or hear hidden messages in music. As humans we are constantly analysing our environment, searching for meaning and ‘Pareidolia’ is the perfect word for what I do when trying to find inspiration.
Back when I first started drawing in the style I do now, I would look at my paper and see recognisable shapes in the textured grain of the paper. I then would trace over what I saw to create something unique that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. This then progressed to scribbling in pencil and tracing over what I see within the scribbles. It’s a fun way to work and it allows you to bring things out of your subconscious that you didn’t know were there.
A lot of the characters I create are made in this way. I like to give these characters a backstory. An example would be ‘The Noman’. Nomen have a smokey, undulating tendril in place of an actual face, they have no sense of self and are often immobilised by indecisiveness, to combat this they will often just go with the flow of things and make decisions out of intuition rather than reason. I’m currently working on a picture book about this character.
Ayjay: "Pareidolia!! Luke Brown (SpectralEyes) introduced this word to me and it has changed the way I look at nature/things. I will eventually create an artwork that is based completely of this finding."
How do you go about creating your artworks?
Mr. Crystalface: I start most of my art with rough pencil sketches, giving myself a vague outline to follow. I like to let my intuition guide me, there’s always a mixture of logical reasoning and illogical creativity involved. I then add pen, the pen doesn't have to conform to the pencil lines, there is no specific rule in place, it’s very much a go with the flow kind of thing (like the Noman). While adding pen I will continue to add pencil, I repeat this process until the only blank space left is the space that I want to be there. I’ll then get it scanned and maybe add colour to it on photoshop or with watercolour and gouache.
My art helps me make sense of things. I’ll start a piece with a question or a problem and as I work on it that problem slowly resolves itself. An example would be ‘Duality’. I started it in 2011 and finished it in 2013. It’s a giant 3 eyed face, approximately 2.5m tall x 1.8m wide. One side of the face represents the good, the other side represents the bad and the middle is neutral. At the time I was struggling with the fact that there is so much suffering in the world and this picture was a way for me to channel those thoughts. Once I finished it I had come to the conclusion that without the bad we wouldn’t appreciate the good, and a calm, neutral middle ground can be achieved through meditation and other practices such as art.
I never know how a piece will look until it’s finished, I like not knowing, it keeps me excited for the final thing. Most of my artworks take at least a month to finish and I don’t think I could work on them for that long if I knew how it was going to look.
Ayjay: "I love the idea of working through problems or receiving answers to your questions through the practice of art. I will often work on draft sketches and it's almost like I am watching them come together as if they are not drawn by me. I guess in a way they aren't; we are a channel for the creative spirit, the ones that open ourselves up to that possibility. Art is a gift for anyone with an outstretched hand and willingness to learn, fail, and grow."
Do you have any goals or aspirations for your art career? What are they and how are you working to see them become a reality for you?
Mr. Crystalface: My goal has always been to create one big world filled with characters and stories that communicate subjective messages through allegory and symbols.
Ayjay: "I enjoy exploring your worlds"
Other than art, what brings you joy?
Mr. Crystalface: Something that brings me joy is entering different worlds that other people have created, I’ve recently been enjoying sci-fi and fantasy novels. At the moment I’m reading a book called ‘Helliconia’ it’s set on another planet inhabited by two dominant races that battle for superiority. The planet experiences extremely long years and seasons. The story follows a number of different characters who are trying to make sense of the world they live in. It’s a great book, would highly recommend.
Other things that bring me joy are friends, family, music, bouldering, nature walks, and exercise.
Ayjay: "Sounds like an interesting read. I picked up a book about a year ago (2019) called 'Codex Seraphinianus' an encyclopedia of an imaginary world, illustrated by an Italian artist, architect, and industrial designer Luigi Serafini. It's no certainty when the book was pieced together, they say somewhere between 1976 to 1978. The book is written in some sort of alien language and people are still to this day trying to make sense of it. I think you would appreciate what the artist was trying to convey."
Can you tell us a little about the Tarot Deck you are currently working on?
I started working on my tarot beck back in 2014. I remember feeling inspired by the tarot after reading some books by Paul Foster Case. His writing is very dry, but the things he explained really resonated with me. He spoke about the tarot as a book of symbols used for self-growth. Each card represents an archetype that has its own symbolic story and meaning behind it.
The first card I started was the high priestess, as I was working on her I was contacted by someone called Draven Grey who studies the tarot, after talking we agreed to work together on a deck called ‘the book of the after’, I’m doing the art, and he’s doing the writing. It’s the longest project I’ve ever worked on, each of the 22 major arcana cards are A1 size. it’s been 6 years so far and we hope to have it complete within the next 5-6 years.
Ayjay: "Well put me down for a preorder brother! I am only just stepping into the Tarot world but it's something that has always surfaced in my life in subtle ways. It's only in the last few years I have begun to see it. My first reading was so on point, I'm still integrating what was revealed to me."
Anything else you would like to add?
Mr. Crystalface: I’d like to add something people often ask me about, which is ‘where did my name come from?’. I chose the name ‘Crystalface’ back in 2011 when I was first starting out as an artist. The name was kind of a weird symbolic joke. The name is supposed to sound whimsical and magical, but it’s juxtaposed by the image of a face in pain with crystals literally growing out of his orifices. The symbolism behind it is that a transformative moment in life is often seen as being a beautiful thing, when most of the time it’s an uncomfortable process inspired by tragedy and friction.
Ayjay: "This is the very reason I open up the last question. Thank you so much for taking the time to share a piece of your artistic journey with myself and our readers. I wish you all the best in your endeavors as an artist and I look forward to crossing paths with you again in the near future"
Connect with Mr. Crystalface.
Below are a series of links that will take you to Mr. Crystalface's social media channels and online art store to further support him and the artworks he creates.
Instagram // @mrcrystalface
Facebook // Mr. Crystalface
Website // MrCrystalface.com
Ticktock // @mrcrystalface
Art Store // MrCrystalface.com/store
I appreciate you investing the time to read my interview with Mr. Crystalface. Art is my life's work and piecing together these interviews only affirms the positive change that art continues to permeate through our world.
If you have a moment, please take a look at the rest of my website, or to further support me and my work visit my online art store by clicking the link below. A portion of every sale is donated towards psychedelic research.
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