Featured Artist: Cole Willsea, Connoisseur of Collage

Cole Willsea

Cole Willsea is a visual artist featured in Artlarking’s upcoming show “Neon Nature and New Currency.” Here’s a sneak peak of his work and what he’s all about.

When did you realize your artistic talent? What that the same time you realized you wanted to be an artist?

When I was a kid and we had to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up I always picked graphic designer even though I didn’t really know what that meant and it ended up sticking with me in some form.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Inspiration comes and goes, I tend to work in quick bursts of activity amid long periods of idleness. Art blogs and Flickr are both good places to discover new techniques and styles, but the direct inspiration for any work usually comes from the images being manipulated.

Are there any artists in particular who have inspired you?

Marcel Duchamp and Kanye West.

What do you want people to take away from seeing your work at the Box Factory?

The distinction between nature and culture is cultural, not natural, and is thus subject to change.

Would you say you’re more of a visual artist or a musician these days?

I’m definitely more of a visual artist at the moment. About a year ago I felt like I hit a wall with music where all I could do was repeat myself, and around the same time the music scene in Santa Cruz was falling apart due to everyone moving to Oakland. It’s nice to be able to switch between creative pursuits, and what I learn from one often teaches me something about the other.

Has collaboration ever played a role in your work?

Only in the sense that I’m basically collaborating with the people who created the books and magazines I’m using, though I’d like to work more directly with photographers.

If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would have Werner Herzog narrate a series of collages with an absurd amount of the Ken Burns effect applied.

Dodge, collage 2011

Do you have any works in progress you’re excited about?

I’m working on collages of beer cans and whiskey bottles for an eventual party-themed art show.

Why collage? How did you get in to that and where do you find your best materials?

To be perfectly honest, I’m terrible at drawing and painting.  I’ve been making collages for as long as I can remember, but it probably started in grade school art classes. Santa Cruz has a large “free-pile” culture going on and I’ve been lucky enough to find multiple collections of magazines on the street. My most recent works come from a box of National Geographic magazines that were inexplicably found in my recycling bin.

Intrigued by Cole’s work? Come see it in person and have a chat with him yourself at Artlarking’s “Neon Nature and New Currency” show Saturday, June 4 at the Box Factory.

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