Inside the Studio

Carlson Hatton

Favorite material to work with?
I predominately work on paper. I love the fragility, the flatness, the lightness, the way that watery color sinks into it, and the fact that you only have so many chances to get it right before you’ve gone too far. There’s no re-gessoing or sanding back down for me.

How many years as an artist?
I grew up in a ceramics studio because that’s my parents’ profession. While watching cartoons I was encouraged to try to draw the cartoons. I knew that making things was what I wanted to do. I went to art school directly out of high school and continued from there.

Where is your studio?
I have 2 rooms dedicated to studio work. I start works in one of them and finish works/try things out in the cleaner of the two rooms. I live in the Silver Lake part of Los Angeles. I don’t like to separate where I live from where I work; there’s a lot of crossover between the two, and for me they need to be in close proximity.

Best advice given to you as an artist?
“Figure it out what you want to do, trust this and continue to do it with an effort to get closer to the source. Try not to get caught up in what everyone else seems to be doing.”

Art school or self taught?
Art school. The Cooper Union (New York City), de Ateliers (Amsterdam, NL), and the Jan van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).

Music or Silence?
Both, but I do listen to a lot of music. Music that enables me to find a rhythmic level of peace. I’m into all kinds of music, but I have a special love for reggae, dub, and rocksteady.

Where can we find you outside your studio?
Running my dogs. They need it and probably I need it, too.

If you weren’t an artist what would you do?
I used to work as a fabricator. I’m good at making things and love to make furniture. I make pieces for my own environment, because I often can’t find what I think should be out there.

Day Job?
I teach Drawing at Santa Monica College.

What do you collect?
Within my own environment I lean towards minimalism. I enjoy throwing things away; my artwork however is the exact opposite. I come from a long line of hoarders and this tendency shines through within my works: maximalist qualities and the absolute mess of a state my studio is usually in. I collect images from magazines, news papers, Johava’s Witness catalogues, department store catalogues, etc.

If you could have one piece of art…?
There are so many, but I would like to have a print from Utagawa Kuniyoshi like “Taira Ghost”. I like the impossible perspective and the absolute complexity of his work. There are so many bizarre moments within scale, patterns of natural and man-made objects, color, and ideas of portraying opaque and transparent. So incredibly contemporary for the mid 1800’s.

Use anything other than paint?
In addition to paint I use graphite, silkscreen, xerox transfer, and airbrush

Is painting dead?
It guess it probably should be. I think the category of painting has expanded. There are so many things and so much technology that should render it useless and of course the insistence that it died many deaths over the last several decades. Perhaps all the enemies of painting push it along and enhance its mysterious lifeline. Nothing can imitate a painting.

Favorite Brush?
I use a lot of different brushes but I’m quite dependent on the cheap hardware store variety and silk-screen squeegees.

Monet or Manet?
I like Monet for the light, atmosphere, and suggested form that I’d like to use more of, but I’m much more drawn to the darker colors and sense of social commentary in Manet’s work.