Artist Spotlight: Axi-Ohm

Tacoma Strong’s “Artist Spotlight” is a way of providing our local art community with a platform to tell part of their story.  Tacoma is full of innovative, creative, hardworking artists all with unique voices and experiences. We hope to connect them with you to further strengthen our creative community.

Note: We aren’t interested in sugar coating or watering down their voice, so venture forth with this warning– swear words ahead.

Axi-Ohm

How Long have you been making art?

Well I’ve been doing visual art ever since I can remember honestly. As a kid I used to paste things on the wall and call it my gallery—like I called the hallway my gallery and I tried to sell little pencil drawings to my dad and grandma. They’d be $.5, but if it was a REAL good scribble it’s $.25. I was hustling back then. (laughter)

I really started getting into art in high school, I let it fade for a while then picked it back up again a couple years back. When I lived in Florida I started painting because I was really lonely and didn’t have much else to do. So I decided, “I’ll make something.” Music wise, I’ve always played music. I’ve always played piano, but didn’t really think about making or recording anything until last year. Last October is when I started producing music. It’s been a pretty short run, but a really good one. I just released my first album a couple weeks back. It’s been a lot of fun.

How would you describe the kind of visual art you do?

Definitely abstract. I don’t like to paint many realistic things. If I do, they’re usually warped in some way because I feel like the way I see things is a bit abstract. If I do draw faces they’re usually pieces of faces. I’ll draw the shapes that make them (faces) up instead of the whole face. They’re colorful interpretations of the environment around me, or concepts I think up.

I don’t use a lot of muted colors. I like really vibrant things. Things that when you see them it’s gonna make you happy. If I am working on a darker piece, like I’m working on right now, it’s still going to have a lot of bursting color.

Did you go to school for art?

I took ‘advanced painting” in high school, but that was it. I thought about going to a college called SCAD, but never got around to making portfolio. But I’m kind of glad I didn’t because then I’d be in debt. So I just kind of watch a lot of You tube videos and Bob Ross. (hell yeah) He’s still the king.

Hannah-Clarke: (laughter) you always seem to be making something, so just doing it is the key? You don’t have to pay someone else to make something yourself.

Yeah if I want something done I can figure out how to do it, and that just adds to my skill set, which I’m happily snowballing.

How would youd escribe your music?

Um…(laughter)

H.C.G- I mean as best as you can (laughter)

It’s complicated. God, I made a kind of satirical Facebook post that described it as: “http404videogameatmosphericambient”

(laughter)

Or I’ve liked describing it as well as– if Daft Punk and Aphex Twins had a love child, then the love child played video games and recorded itself playing video games.

(laughter)

I was like yeah, that’s pretty Axi-Ohm. I like to throw a lot of bleeps & bloops in there and make it sound a bit childish. I don’t want it to be super sophisticated or well mixed, I want it be kind of jarring.

What is it about that style of music that you feel connects with you?

It’s informal. It’s really not pretentious at all, it’s just like “Ay I’m going to have fun.” I love to tinker around and see where it takes me. But it has evolved into a sort of alchemical thing with me and my emotions. If I’m in a bad place I’ll use all those bleeps and bloops to get it all out. So that kind of happened on accident, but I’m happy it happened. I was just making arcade game music at first. My second song is called “Waiting Room Arcade” and I don’t really like it but apparently other people do. (laughter) According to Soundcloud. I’m always wondering—“why are you listening to this one when there’s so much better.” Yeah so, bleeps and bloops.

Does your visual art and music cross over? How do you use the two to create?

Sometimes I listen to my own music and paint, and I think that really helps me, because—well I term it “synesthesia” it honestly might not be, but I feel that is. When I close my eyes, or even when I’m day dreaming and painting, the musical colors come out and I’m able to paint those. So when I listen to my own music, I really like my own colors. I’m able to paint those more easily then other songs, but it’s still fun to paint other songs. I think the sort of glitch aspect of my music also intersects with my paintings a lot since sometimes I’m like “Nope they’re not going to have a mouth they’re going to have a line going through here.” I don’t like things that make sense. That’s a similarity, they’re a bit nonsensical.

Have you always created art that was nonsensical or was it something you came into?

I really tried back in art class to do realistic drawings and I was good at them—but they bored me to tears. So I’m like, “I’m drawing the thing that’s right there! Why am I drawing something that’s already there when I could create something new.” I remember I did portraits a lot, they’d start off realistically then gradually morphed into – I’d draw myself as some Egyptian god or I’d draw myself as a skeleton.

I remembered my childhood best friend asked me to draw a portrait of her, and I said, “Okay,  I will… but realize you’re probably going to turn into a tree.” (laughter) And she did, she had a tree growing out her nose.

What has it been like in the Tacoma Art scene?

It’s weird. (laughter)

‘Cause I never thought I’d be in an art scene. I always thought I’d be a closet painter. It’s very unexpected. I was painting by myself then all of the sudden Art on the Ave happened where I have this big column to paint on all to myself. People would walk past saying “oh that’s really beautiful” and I’m like “Oh my god thank you.” I feel like there are certain expectations that some people in the community —- I feel like there are expectations projected on me that I definitely don’t follow through with, and kind of do it on purpose because I want to make them angry.

Can you elaborate?

I know that someone doesn’t like me painting on cardboard, I love painting on cardboard, because it’s not professional. I would go out and rummage recycle bins to find something to paint on, because I don’t see the point in paying for so much canvas when I have a “canvas” right here. It’s kind of part of my mission, is to show people you don’t need expensive supplies to create meaningful art. Just do your thing on whatever you can find. People buy Prisma color pencils, which are so expensive, because they think it’ll make them a better artist but you can buy Crayola crayons and still make beautiful art. It’s more about the skill and practice. Also, I wear a mask. People expect me to claim or take a lot of ownership—like the face of Lucien made this art. But I’m like “no you’re not going to see me”. You can see a mask. I don’t really care for that sort of of  notoriety.

I also like when people make their own interpretations. For example one time I sold a cardboard painting (ha! Take that) and she asked me, “Which way does it go”, well, whatever way you want it to go. It’s yours to interpret, I’ve already put my half of the work in. (laughter) You can take this and say “oh this means happiness to me” even if I painted it with ‘Full On Sadness’, ya know. It’s all in everyone’s own perception, people do that with songs all the time.

What inspired the use of the mask?

I had a very meaningful experience and I wanted to create a mask of what the universe would look like if it were embodied in a human or alien. So that was it. When I put on the mask I obliterate my ego, so to speak, and just be and do my thing.

What would you like to see or improve in the Tacoma Artist community?

Oh, inclusion. I’d love to see more people working together. Because there are some niches in the Tacoma Arts Community where everyone is combining their resources and super happy to help each other. Then there are people who don’t do that so much. I’d like to see these hidden talents to come out of the nooks and crannies and be unafraid to work with others. So I always let people know that I have an open door, you can have access to any art supplies in my art cart. If you use up a paint just buy me a new one, or buy me coffee and I’ll go buy a new one myself. I want to see it even more active. I want to see the art walk take off. And I feel like not enough people know about it. I want to see more businesses putting art up instead of the same shots of Tacoma. It’s very overplayed, you have so much wall space I’d love to cover it in original art that fits the place. That’s what I want to see, is more people out there supporting each other unpretentiously, in a little happy union. Also more art shows, way more art shows. Feast is doing a an excellent job at that actually.

So I know you have interest in physics, do you feel like your interest in science has any influence in your work?

Yes, quantum physics especially. That intersects with my metaphysical view of the universe. And—yeah– wow how did I not mention that before.

I don’t really talk about it that openly unless people ask about it, but it’s basically the whole reason why I do anything. I take that view of the world, of, ‘here’s an infinite number of possibilities’. Here’s an immense amount of particles in an idea, in a person, in a situation, and then the way you observe those particles or the way you observe the collapse and that wave then makes it form something. Everybody has a unique way of forming their own reality and this is my way. I think it’s my duty as a human to translate that into art.

I have this great bubbling up inside of me that I’m like “MAN, everything is really really fucking beautiful”, excuse my language. Everything is so damn beautiful, I want to, I have to, I feel like I have fire in my hands I just gotta make shit with it. I’m still learning a lot about quantum physics, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning about it. No one will. The further you go into it, the further scientists go into it, the more there is to discover. They (scientists) keep saying “gravitational waves don’t exist” then like a year or two ago, “oh those exist guys…” Like what’s the next thing that didn’t exist that’s suddenly going to pop up? The further you go into it, it just keeps blowing out new stuff. I just have a fascination with it, that nothing Is solid, it’s almost holographic. The non-solidity of everything is really comforting to me.

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By | 2018-04-05T19:07:55+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Art, Artist Spotlight, Community, Locals|0 Comments

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