David Carmo: The Surreal and the Sublime
By Joel Anderson (Art and Poetry Editor)
When the topic of Modern Art pops up in casual conversation, the conversation is bound to turn to Andy Warhol and many of the artists who followed him. It seems like a rare thing to find any new artists doing something different. Enter Florida native and local artist David Carmo. Whose style is so striking and surreal it’s bound to make an impression. I interviewed him this month, bellow is our conversation.
Who are your biggest influences for your art?
My biggest influences mostly stem from my musical tastes, analysis of personal inadequacies and from the more turbulent experiences and feelings I’ve plucked from my own life as I live it. Of course I have peers or artists that I hold in high regard but I think it’s important to be able to distill your own experiences, particularly the negative, and find the reason why you did things or felt things, embrace those things with brutal honesty, have the struggle, and then hopefully communicate that experience with someone else. Any art, musical, visual, etc. that inspires that kind of dialogue to me personally is definitely an influence in that way, and like life and myself, it is changing as I change. Equally important in influence have been the people that I’ve come to know throughout my life as well as trying to get to the more hidden parts of them or the things that we shared or experienced together.
How did you develop your style?
I’ve always had an innate need to be direct, but not obvious, if that makes sense. When I was younger I loved band posters and crappy band t-shirts, album artwork and the like. Particularly the kind produced in the genres of more abrasive musical styles. There was an immediacy there that I always wanted to tap int, as well as the aesthetic and lifestyle that those things brought to the table. It was direct but also harsh, which always struck me as being quite honest in its roughness. I related to those things and feelings because, like most people, I found that life reveals itself after a while to be a sort of constant struggle that shapes us into something great or breaks us down. The struggle is part of being a human, and so on. It’s not a novel idea but I feel it is an important one in relation to my style.
How many artists are drawing in the same style as you?
I think every artist on some level thinks about, or observes on some level the harsh realities of life and uses their craft to cope, examine or show us something. But more specifically to what I do, there are a lot of great illustrators out there grinding away at the technicality of being abrasive or being abstract or making ‘heavy’ graphic designs and images or whatever. I’m definitely not alone in my style, which is intimidating but also empowering somehow at the same time.
What are your plans to do with your art now?
I have plans or things I’d like to happen but I’ guess we’ll see how it actually pans out. I’d like to be able to mass produce prints and sell shirts. I do enjoy designing things as well so to become a part of or found my own sort of art collective, studio, or establishment with like- minded artists and people would be great. Like the music that inspires me I am attached to those communities and attitudes that inspire a ‘friends/artists-as-family’ vibe. Or at the very least just be able to live off of my own work and do freelance on my own time, full time. But getting to that point in any persons art career is not easily earned. I have my work cut out for me.
How’s the t-shirt design coming along?
I’ve designed plenty; I’m just waiting on the money, a website/store, etc. and then when I have all my ducks in a row I plan on setting up that business and making an earnest endeavor into it.
When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
I was one of those kids always drawing little doodles and things from a young age. It was, and still is, the one and only thing that I’m good at that I knew I wanted to pursue because it was so natural to me, in that it felt great even when I was little and had no real idea what I was doing. But I knew I wanted to keep doing it because of that feeling.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Some of my favorite artists and peers are Jacob Bannon, Ralph Steadman, Franklin Booth, N.C. Wyeth, James Jean, Nathan Fox, a slew of comic and printmaking artists, and Tom Waits (laughs).
Do you still have a website?
I have a website but it’s more of just a placeholder cache of images until my ‘official’ website is done.
What projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on finishing pieces for a more updated body of work to use in galleries and the like, as well as numerous graphic design and more commercial or illustrative concepts.