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Home FEATURES Nick Mann aka Doodles Interview

Nick Mann aka Doodles Interview
Written by Ryan De La Hoz   
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 10:09
Ryan De La Hoz interviews Nick Mann aka Doodles. His show Astral Rise is running now at Gallery Heist here in San Francisco through July 23rd. Travel, train hoping, spiritualism, murals, paintings, and this summer he'll be traveling across the US on an artistic and spiritual project under the title Crystal Eyes.
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Ryan De La Hoz: Introduce yourself, name,age, location.

I'm Nick Mann, I live and work in Oakland, CA when I'm not traveling. I'm currently 23 years old.

RD: Can you describe your path to being an artist? When did you really get into it?

I got into visual art through playing music and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I've been playing guitars since I was 10. Painting has channeled some of the same creative visions/moods that I previously expressed through music. After I had slowed down my post-high school musical output, I wanted to change my creative process. Painting and drawing both indoors and outdoors gave me room to breathe artistically. I really got into making visual artwork probably around the age of 19.

RD: Describe your ideals and how they manifest in your work.

My ideals are to live a balanced, well-traveled life in harmony with our universe and mother earth. I think that it's important to let our creative visions grow and be open to change. When we put a block on these visions or translate them into symbols of what's hip and safe, problems arise within our souls. My work is made through a process of intuition and mistakes. Through this intuitive process, each piece has potential to develop and grow on its own. Once I finish a piece, I look at it as a manifested symbol of my subconciousness at any specific moment or phase in my life. Upon the completion of a piece, I am also able to rationalize its meaning and relevance to our universe. The best art speaks a universal language that communicates to beings of every culture in and out of this world. A balanced, holistic life is contingent on listening to our subconscious side while coupling it with rational insight. This dichotomy is illustrated universally with Lunar (female) and Solar (male) energies.

RD: Is music a part of your studio time? What do you listen to?

Recently: Big Blood, Michael Gira, Thou, John Fahey, Michael Hurley, Des Ark, Godspeed, Diane Cluck, Sun Ra, Blind Blake, American primitivist guitar music, world music. I play guitar on breaks from painting.

RD: I love keeping up with the murals that you produce all over the world. Can you talk about the last couple of places that you visited before Mexico? (your latest trip)

In this past year, I traveled all around the United States from Washington to Maine. New Orleans was my favorite city that I visited and painted in. In Atlanta I painted some huge walls for The Living Walls Conference on Street Art and Urbanism. Atlanta has many wonderful, creative people. There are so many amazing, hospitable beautiful people in this country. It's unfortunate that the United States' external image to the world is so barbaric, gluttonous and nasty. My generation has a lot of cleaning up to do.

RD: Does traveling make you feel disjointed as far as not having a regular studio to produce work?

Sometimes it does. While traveling, I work in a sketchbook, take photos and paint outside. I bring a few brushes that I like to use on walls but other than that I keep my traveling pack small and light. I try to adapt creatively to whichever environment I am in. I love drawing on trains when I'm hopping trains, and I also love sketching in the car if I'm on the road. It's been nice having a studio space to come back to this year. I'm trying to solidify a permanent studio space that be used as a home base for traveling.

RD: Now let's talk about your recent trip to Mexico. Where did you go? What did you work on while you were there?

I rode trains and hitchhiked down the west coast of Mexico, painting walls the whole way down. In Guaymas, I painted a tribute piece para los vagabundos Mexicanos (For the Mexican hobos). In Sinaloa my work on walls was mostly inspired by qabalic imagery, occult symbolism and tarot. The subject matter of these pieces is situational, based on where I was and the people I interacted with. After the west coast, I shot down to DF (Mexico City) to catch a flight to the University of Wisconsin In Milwaukee where I was giving a lecture/ installing an exhibition. I took a bunch of photos during this trip that will be in a book called "Wild Hearts" with my friends Eric Loundy and Lawrence Martinez.

RD: How did the lecture go and what did you discuss? Was it informal or rehearsed?

The lecture went well. I finished installing in the gallery right as doors opened and had maybe 10 minutes to prepare the lecture. I used some notes that i had jotted down in Guadalajara as the backbone of the lecture. The lecture was about removing fear from our lives and the magic that comes with such a removal.

RD: Which of these travels have had the biggest affect on your process?

Probably this Mexico trip because it challenged my communication skills, which prompted me to learn Spanish. I came to view these initial limitations or communicative barriers as exercises in patience that then became meditative. This gave me the opportunity to truly speak through imagery more than with words. The results of this phenomenon were cathartic and raw. I felt more appreciated as an artist in Mexico. This is probably due to the friendly, generous nature of so many folks down south.

RD: Now let's talk about your upcoming show at Gallery Heist on June 25th what was your reasoning for calling the show Astral Rise?

The show is called Astral Rise, after the name of the first painting completed for the show. The work in this show is based on astral experiences and non-ordinary magical realities. Much of my vision for this show came to me throughout my travels in Mexico. In Mexico I lived on an island with occult scientists/healers who practiced astral projection and temazcal rituals. Coming back to the USA after some of these experiences was difficult because I initially had trouble bouncing back and forth between these different realities. I felt like I was losing the humanness inside of me by constantly focusing on the esoteric work and nothing else. Making these paintings was a very therapeutic/healing process for me because it bridged the gap between these realities and revitalized my creative vision.

RD: How did you learn of this islands existence?

I saw a hand painted sign leading to the boat that took passengers to the island. I was exhausted from hopping freight trains down the west coast and needed a place to rest. The island became that place. Synchronicity lead me there.

RD: What do you have planned for the space?

Large paintings, a full sized human sculpture, wall paintings, installations, candles, magic, etc.

RD: Any upcoming projects/ shows?

This summer I am journeying across the country for a project called CRYSTAL EYES. On the road I will be collecting 12 sacred gems and minerals that correspond to the western zodiac. Field recordings of Winds, Fire, Rivers, and Animals will be taken as well. Each recording will contain a healing frequency that corresponds to the seven sacred planets and seven chakras. Once we gather all of these components, we will be building a geodesic healing dome at a space in Atlanta. The dome will be open to the public on August 12th, 2011. We have a Kickstarter Video that will make this all possible. If you donate, gifts include crystals from our journey, original paintings and drawings, zines, songs etc! After CRYSTAL EYES I intend on returning to Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Maybe India or Greece. We'll see with time.

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