Featured Artist #3 - Interview with Steven Willis aka Light Wizard
We are back with yet another featured artist this week where together, we will be peering behind the scenes of both the art and processes of established visionary artist Steven Willis aka Light Wizard.
I had the privilege of connecting with Steve towards the end of 2019 and later was encouraged by him to apply as both a muralist and exhibiting artist at the Esoteric Festival held on the outskirts of Melbourne in 2020. This festival later became the birthing place of both my love for the Australian bush doof scene and a friendship with Steve I know will last us both a lifetime. I know a big heart when I see one and this guy is all love. It was great to open up a conversation with such a calculated artist and learn more about what drives his art form.
Steve Willis is a rare breed of human on a fantastical voyage to redefine the framework of possibility. He is a Mayan Kiwi born in Wellington 1981 to a father from New Zealand and a mother from Guatemala. He is a global citizen and having lived between the nations of Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.
Steve began uncovering his aesthetic potential in high school before going on to study photography at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. He continued his education in the Master of Fine Arts program until 2005 before moving to Australia to further cultivate his original and unusual style of art creation.
He began his career as an independent artist in 2010 focusing firstly on his still life photography; later adding sculpture, installation, and performance to the imaginative repertoire that established him as a leader in the Australian Visionary Art scene. Steve repurposes and up-cycles different materials through his very unique process of creative reuse that transforms and elevates objects from ordinary to extraordinary.
He is a determined dreamer that is known for astonishing people into states of playful fascination and puzzled interest while delivering potent messages of positivity, harmony, and authenticity. He considers creativity to be a sacred practice; his artwork is his chosen service to humanity, and he is on a mission to support our spiritual evolution.
He has exhibited his work alongside creative heavyweights such as Android Jones, Amanda Sage, Chris Dyer, and Luke Brown and consistently enchants worldwide audiences with his ingenuity and uncommon approach. The Light Wizard continues to marvel viewers, intrigue imaginations, capture curiosities, and offer an unexpected perspective with his fresh and distinct form of visual alchemy.
If that is not one of the best artistic intros, I don't know what is!
Light Wizard lives and breathes art, and together we are going to dig deeper into the mechanics that function behind this passionate visionary.
With that being said, let's jump in to our chat together!
How did your journey as an artist eventuate?
Light Wizard: "I have always valued originality and authenticity and I have consistently had an affinity for the unusual.
I started uncovering my unique point of view from an early age and I regularly explored life through a different lens and with a distinct perspective.
The photography darkroom was my saving grace as a teenager and it was a defining moment on my artistic journey.
It allowed me temporary respite from monotonous school life and the worries of adolescence, while giving me a gateway into this new and unfamiliar territory that was in line with my own inner world and my own inner work.
This excited me and captivated my curiosity and I became infatuated with creating images that were highly abstract and completely unexpected.
I enjoyed playing with peoples perceptions and delivering pictures that seem to exist outside of our spectrum of ordinary waking life. As the years passed it became clear that there was a sense of awe; intrigue, and child like wonderment felt by those who received my work.
So I worked on developing different ways of expressing myself and telling my story while also astonishing people into playful states of fascination and disbelief.
This has evolved into me uncovering as many talents, and skills that I can and using those gifts to create the most moving and enchanting symbols possible while working in service of something greater than myself."
Ayjay: "I must admit, the first time I came across your artwork I was sure it was pieced together with high end software like adobe photoshop. You mentioned the enjoyment you get from playing with peoples perspective and this is exactly what I experienced first hand.
Once I understood what I was looking at I set out to show people your work and ask them to have a guess at how it was composed... not one person picked it as visionary art captured through a lens of a camera. Your work is original to the highest degree. I believe the abstract nature of your expressions, stretches far beyond the art itself and redefines the very act of creating."
What mediums are your go-to and why?
Light Wizard: "I use light as my medium and I consider art creation to be my scared practice.
It is a fusion of sculpture and photography. I collect hard rubbish, recycled material, and found objects and I up-cycle and repurpose them through my very unique process of alchemy that elevates from one state of being to another.
I create temporary sculptures and situations that are captured in a single photograph using a very particular process that I have pioneered without any digitally compositing or manipulation.
I speak with a very peculiar visual language and my design process is highly defined and aligned.
The end product reveals a highly structured, balanced, wonder-filled world, oozing with intent.
I capture curiosities; marvelling audiences with a peak into a fascinating world of fantastical ingenuity that pushes boundaries of possibility.
My primary medium is photography but I have evolved into doing sculpture, installation, and performance.
Ayjay: "Light is my medium... I love that! As I have said previously, your work is unlike anything I have ever seen before and inspires the growing possibilities for art and its creation. Indeed you speak a peculiar visual language, but it is one you have and continue to articulate well."
What inspires you as a visionary artist?
Light Wizard: "My biggest inspiration is Death. I am intimately aware that my time on this Earth is fleeting and temporary.
My experience on this plane of existence is limited. It is an incredibly powerful tool to stay motivated, driven, passionate, and focused. Also a potent reminder of what is important. It helps me stay on an authentic path that is true to me.
Death fuels my insatiable desire to create; it helps me stand up in the face of fear, and find the courage to step into uncertainty.
Our lives are pure magic; more mysterious than any of us could ever comprehend; so to do anything other than wake up every morning and actualise my dreams…. is insanity.
Some other influences are Ancient Cultures, Ancestral Wisdom, Sacred Geometry, Entheogen's, Surrealism, Nature, my personal conversation with creation… and Love.
Ayjay: "I feel a strong connection to these words mate. My greatest gift in this lifetime is what I can offer others and this earth and with death looming around the corner this is an ever present driving force to live with passion and purpose."
How do you go about creating your artworks?
Light Wizard: "My process requires inanimate objects so I am always on the hunt for new treasures. I collect hard rubbish, browse op shops, visit garage sales, people give me stuff now too which is very exciting. My eyes are always open and searching for new and interesting pieces to add to my collection.
I have a workshop where I organise and store all of my findings and this is where I start building my projects before they come into the studio. I am always playing and finding relationships that exist between unrelated objects and exploring unique vantage points. I study texture, shape, colour, repetition, form, pattern, and how light interacts with each piece.
My process is very hands on in the early stages and requires lots of assembling and disassembling along with painting, trimming, cutting, or altering objects to fit the situation.
It is trial and error at its best; moving, grooving, flowing… and allowing myself to be guided in the right direction. It is a practice in abundance, patience, trust, and letting go."
Ayjay: "Thankfully, I had the privilege of seeing you create live at the Esoteric festival and It was mind blowing to see how you put all your objects together. I loved how when you snapped a photo the image would take a few moments to hit your projector screen. I felt like that built the suspense and anticipation of the completed artwork."
What is the meaning behind your creation Imaginationland?
Light Wizard: "In this world of make believe… the Imagination is the golden pathway to everywhere. It can be the most miraculous thing I have ever known or the altar of my greatest pain. I can explore the boundless nature of my true self or rot away in the dungeon of my own mind.
This land of 'what if’ shows me worlds that never were; opens windows into realities not yet present, and allows me the infinite multiplicity of choices in this daydream called life. So while I am alive... trying to make sense of this nonsensical world that rewards conformity over curiosity.
I choose to set sail through realms of the unimaginable; embracing the inexplicable while exploring the vast expanse of the inconceivable.
I am a dreamer of the day and my fantasy is my sanity against normality.
My artistry is my chosen weapon in this never-ending battle with the ordinary.
There is no life I know to compare with the limitless wilderness of pure imagination.
So I act with open eyes…. on a magic carpet ride…. because there are no rules in my castle in the sky.
Ayjay: "This is one of my favourite pieces of yours, I have this artwork on display in my sons bedroom. As a kid I always loved collecting things, I felt like this artwork honoured that"
You're standing at the end of your artistic road, what would you like to have accomplished?
Light Wizard: "The most valuable gift I can give this world is living a meaningful life that affects others in a positive way. My invitation is for people to step into authenticity and stretch the limits of their possibilities; surrendering to the dream, and living in the highest and truest expression of themselves.
While I am here experiencing this mystery called Life, I will be on an inspired mission of self mastery; leading from the heart, creating unique expressions of the soul, living with purpose, and blazing a trail with my truth.
I am here to shine as bright as I can; illuminate our inner worlds, light up the human spirit, and reveal the magic within.
Ayjay: "If it is possible to give an answer to that question that is more heartfelt I would like to see it. What a beautiful way of living. The very act of being ourselves gives others the freedom to do so. We have one body, mind and spirit and by expressing this without limitations creates a divine fusion with all other living and non living beings"
If you had once piece of advice for a budding artist what would it be?
Light Wizard: "You will never know the limits of your possibilities until you charter the waters of the impossible. Remember who you are… Remember your true identity… Remember your true purpose… and what it means to live an extraordinary life.
Remember to be your most authentic self, and act as fully as you can as often as you can.There is no one like you in the entirety of the universe… so be yourself, and liberate yourself into the dance of yourself. The power is within as it always has been… so bring your own knowing forward.
You are a masterpiece…. you have magnificence inside of you… and you are filled with infinite potential… so tune in to the peaceful rhythmic beat of your own true heart.
On the last day of your life you are going to ask yourself if you did everything you could with everything you were given. Remember that the world will perform its magic… when you step into yours.
You are a miracle made out of particles; so remember your training… and open your ancient eyes.
Ayjay: "This is all inspiring brother, a message for all of us not just for the artists"
Anything else you would like to add?
Light Wizard: Sometimes you just need to change perspective to find those new eyes that can see the world in a fresh way. When we suspend our beliefs about the way things are; and look anew, more deeply, and more curiously…. we create the opportunity for different ways of seeing to emerge.
There is unimaginable wonder that is present all around us, hidden only by our incapacity to notice it. Like a rainbow that only reveals itself under the right light, in the right place, at the right time. With a unique approach, you can glimpse the impossible, and anything can become extraordinary.
Perception is key… it’s what you place in focus that matters.
Ayjay: "What an absolute banger to finish on! Your words of wisdom are a true gift to us all. It has been a pleasure chatting with you and further uncovering your unique expression."
Connect with Light Wizard.
Below are a series of links that will take you to Steve's social media channels and online art store to further support him and the artworks he creates.
Instagram // @lightwizardart
Facebook // Lightwizard
Website // lightwizard.com.au
YouTube // Lightwizard
Etsy // Lightwizardart
Email // email@example.com
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