Inside the Studio

Charles Wilkin

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

I honestly don’t feel my work is about one specific theme or themes really. It’s more of a collection of thoughts and observations in many ways. I see it as being a reflection of the world we live in, with all its ugliness and cruelty. But from that, I strive to extract the beauty and empathy hidden underneath and within us all, revealing the unknown, the unspoken and intangible things that make us truly human.

For me, collage as a medium replicates this frenetic and inherent collision of people, culture, and emotions we all experience. I believe the true meaning of my work is derived directly from the intertwining of these associations, and the spontaneity of my creative process. This gives my work the freedom to live creatively in the moment, and the ability to respond to current events, despite my imagery being derived primarily from vintage magazines.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

I feel that the best advice I’ve ever received wasn’t necessarily something anyone said, but simply the support and encouragement of my family and friends. This is certainly the one thing that has helped me flourish as an artist more than anything else.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Music is always on in my studio–usually something easy or soulful. I love sad songs and good lyrics. I also have a guitar in the studio, which can become a great source of inspiration, especially when I’m stuck creatively.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

Settling for just one piece of art would honestly be impossible, but if I had no other option, then it would be Robert Rauschenberg’s First Landing Jump. That piece embodies so many of the same things that inspire and inform my own work, everything from its subversive context to its graphic aesthetic. I never get tired of looking at that piece, even after looking at it a dozen times. I always discover something new; it is truly an inspirational piece.

Who are your favorite writers?

Honestly I’m not much of a reader, and I often never finish the novels that I start. Most of the books I have in my studio have cut or missing pages, so they’re not really readable anyway. I prefer to read headlines and captions, so I guess my favorite writers are the anonymous ones.