April 6, 2010
Alix McAlpine is a French-Texan chick who has written for Converse.com a bunch this year. Today, she gives us a glimpse into the life of Austin based artist/designer Maseman.
Maseman is a 28-year-old artist and designer residing in Austin, TX who creates colorful characters and geometric landscapes using found wood, canvas and digital tools, among other things. A few days after this year’s typically chaotic and fun-filled week in Austin, I caught up with him to ask him about life as an artist in the lone star state.
When did you start painting/drawing?
I started drawing and painting when I was a kid and haven’t stopped since.
Can you tell me about how the “Maseman” identity came about?
Maseman came about somewhere between a nickname and hearing others say phrases like “Hey, Mase, man, how you doing…” and “Yo, Mase, man, what’s up?” Turns out Maseman, is a pretty common last name and I wasn’t so original in the first place.
It seems reminiscent of a graffiti/tagger handle, and you seem to favor keeping your real identity hidden – I’m curious to know if you to see if you have any sort of tie-in to that world.
I wouldn’t say that I’m any kind of street artist or tagger, but I do carry markers in my pocket and sometimes end up putting my work in places other than a canvas or piece of paper. It’s just an old habit that hasn’t died off completely. I’ll throw up some handmade stickers from time to time, too.
What materials do you use? It looks like you’ve been experimenting a bit more with different surfaces. Tell me about the challenges of working with different materials.
I’ll pretty much use whatever I find lying around, but lately I’ve been working with old and found wood and building sculptural elements. Every time I branch out and try something new, it influences other aspects of my work so I enjoy working in different mediums and materials. The challenge is the fun part of it.
How much time do you typically spend working in your studio?
During the day, I work full-time as an art director at The Screamer Company, a small creative shop here in Austin. It’s at night and on the weekends that I get the opportunity to work on my art. I’d say I spend anywhere from 10 to 15 (sometimes more) hours outside of my normal 40 hour work week dedicated to making stuff. At some point in my career I’d like to switch the ratio to 40 hours working on art and 10 to 15 hours at a job of some sort, but I haven’t made that jump yet and I’ve heard from many people that it is a scary one. Don’t know if I’m totally ready for that yet, but hopefully one day soon.
Can we talk a little bit about the art scene in Austin and its challenges in regards to your goals? Why Austin over cities that seem to have more prominent art scenes like SF and NYC?
I can’t really speak for the Austin art scene too much. I’ve participated in events here and there, but have never really had a solo gallery show. I think it’s because I’m content just making art for me and my friends, but at some point I think I’d like to enter that arena. I’m not sure when that will be, but it’s up there in my head. Austin seemed like the place for me. It was familiar, laid-back and close to home. There is a lot of opportunity here and an open-minded attitude towards life in general, but I’ve toyed with the idea of living in an art hotspot like LA or SF or NYC. I just like the pace of life down here right now.
Tell me about your upcoming projects and where we can find them. What can we expect from you next?
I’ve got a show coming up at Thunderbird Coffee in May and I’ll be producing our next book, FOUR, at The Screamer Company this summer. I’ve got some plans to open an online store to sell some goods. Other than that, you can expect me to be swimming in the lake when it gets warmer and messing around in my studio. Come by and visit if you’d like!
All photos by Chad Edler