Artist Profile: Derrick Adams / by Helen Grant

Interviewer: Helen Grant
Interviewee: Derrick Adams

Derrick Adams jingles the keys for us as we enter the mysterious shadow realm during Resonator's 2nd Friday Art Walk on August 10th at 325 E. Main St, Norman, OK. Additional details can be found on our event page. What is transcribed below is the "kinda, sorta" nailing down of the "nebulous." Enjoy.




Q: What kind of archetypes would you say you're drawn to most or would you say you're inventing your own blends of archetypes as you go? 

A: I think I’m drawn the most towards the shadow archetype. It predates modern psychology, but Carl Jung described it as the hidden, negative aspects of one’s personality beneath the surface. It is the part of ourselves that we reject. I think we all have our own ways of confronting and integrating the shadow into our true self. A unique journey for everyone. I remember at one time including a lot of spiders in my art as a way of curving my arachnophobia. It’s a work in progress. I think primarily what interests me the most when mentioning archetypes is that while the narratives may change from culture to culture, there are some big ones that are undeniably said to be etched right there in our DNA. This gives one hope in the overlaps between our hidden worlds, I think.

Q: Archetypes usually hint at the presence of a narrative. In visual art where an audience comes to a show with little to no context for what they are viewing, and perhaps may not have a lot of art education in their background, are you hoping they pick up on a lexicon of motifs within each work? Or feel a distinct mood with each character? 

A: What usually ends up being the case is that I lean towards the latter. I appreciate the interpretations that viewers bring to the table, often pointing out things I didn’t realize I was doing. If there is a deep catalog of meanings behind my work, I feel I mostly understand them through these interpretations. This may go back to my process of stream-of-consciousness drawing. I’m not saying there isn’t deep meaning behind what I draw, but I find my work just isn’t justified when starting with deep concepts consciously present.

Q: For those people who don't need a lot of context to slip into another's daydream, can you talk a little bit about the process of creating those lovely, lovely lines? Is it intuitive or do you find yourself editing as you go? 

A: The way I do my linework now is the result of my evolution as an artist. I’ve wanted to maintain the intuitive method I developed when I taught myself to draw, originally. However, I wanted to attempt to placate the ego I saw in my method by trying to find ways to remove the “artist’s hand” in the work. Not completely, of course. I like the way the varying line thickness and hatching, cross-hatching creates an effect that isn't trying too hard to not be “flat”.

Q: Random: do you have a favorite nebula? 

A: Yes, there’s one that looks like we are being flipped off by a cosmic giant. We nicknamed it God’s Birdie.


 "God's Birdie"

Q: I like the idea of "keyhole" as "lens." There's an element that references "Alice in Wonderland"/"Secret Garden"/ "Étant donnés" in the word association for me.  Are there artists (visual, film, music, writers, etc.) who triangulate their esoteric explorations in ways that you enjoy and find insightful? 

A: I’m currently gravitating towards the book "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. There’s also a Netflix adaptation that will really hit you in the feels. The main character crashes his plane in the middle of the Sahara Desert where he meets the young prince, who is a traveler of the stars. While stranded, he recounts his travels from his home asteroid to Earth, and his meeting with different characters - one of which is a snake that claimed to give him the power to return home. It’s a classic.

Q: For the people who surf interviews hoping to find recommendations on things they've been searching for but didn't know what to call it, or that it was even missing in their lives: what have you been listening to, reading, and/or watching right now?

A: I have a tendency to fixate on an album that I like, refusing to move on. While working on this show I listened to a lot of Toro Y Moi’s latest album, "Boo Boo". If you aren’t familiar with him and enjoy Chillwave stuff that picks up and gets funky, I highly recommend it. I’ve about ran it into the ground at this point. I did the same with Sweet Valley’s "Eternal Champ".

Q: If you could name a nebula, knowing that's what everyone has to call it forever and ever because it's on NASA maps, in college textbooks, mentioned in random books about space that you pick up at Barnes and Noble in the generic, bargain book section, and can never officially be changed to something super science-y, so anyone who disapproves will always be sour about it, what would you name it and what does it look like? 

A: It’s hard to top what nature (and our particular location) has given us with God’s Birdie. I’m picturing several yellow gaseous clouds, all resembling lemons. There’s a lot of potential, there. We could call it the Lemon Party Cluster.




Artist Statement:

My work for "Keyhole Nebula" explores the esoteric via the subjective lens of self, with a hint of heretical humor. Otherworldly characters represent various archetypes in geometric and cosmic settings, playing with scale and dimension. My goal as an artist is embracing change and ultimately arriving at some sort of truth, subjective or otherwise. I try to work in a stream-of-consciousness mode when creating the sketch, in order to coerce the hidden to reveal itself. 

Artist Bio:

Derrick Adams crafts illustrations that draw from the surreal and the mystical. The Norman-based artist uses ink and acrylic to create his otherworldly characters. Since starting art from an early age, his work draws heavy inspiration from 90's cartoonists and comic book artists. From learning to draw while watching shows like Rocko's Modern Life, his work has evolved alongside popular culture. Derrick works as a screen printer and graphic designer at Bigfoot Creative. He received his Bachelor's of Fine Art with an emphasis in printmaking and drawing from The University of Oklahoma. He also enjoys making street art paste-ups of his characters in his free time.