My passion for the natural world has inspired my art since I first put pencil to paper as child. I grew up on the northern coast of California, between the cold Pacific ocean and the redwood forests. It was there that my love for nature and wilderness flourished. As I have grown I have combined my love for animals with my interest in both wildlife biology and mythology to create artwork that speaks to the current biological mythos that constructs the barrier between what is considered Human, and what is considered Animal.
Mirroring ancient myths of transformation in often grotesque ways, we find in contemporary times that animals are being transformed biologically due to interactions with human pollutants; there are frogs with triplicate legs and blind eyes, cows with shriveled sets of legs growing out of their backs, two faced piglets being born on factory farms and radioactive fish rotting from the inside in poisoned seas, the list goes on. I am interested in the power of these mutations both for their mythological allusions as well as their dire environmental implications. I hope to remind those who view my artwork that we too are animals, embedded in this fragile world even as we poison it.
My work alludes to the boundaries that separate humans from animals both physically and metaphysically, and the way in which these boundaries are warped by science, mythology, and religion alike.
Like the gods of so many myths Humanity has warped the world into our own image, and it is this often frightening image I hope to reflect in my work.
for more information here are a few interviews I’ve done:
the Hidden People: http://thehiddenpeople.com/interviews/caitlin-hackett/
Planet Shifter: http://www.planetshifter.com/node/1694
Modern Eden interview: http://www.moderneden.com/blogs/artist-interviews/11314945-artist-interview-caitlin-hackett
the Flying Fruit Bowl: http://theflyingfruitbowl.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/an-interview-with-caitlin-hackett/
Where did you go to school?
I was a fine art major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY, with a specialty in Drawing. I graduated from there with my BFA in 2009.
Are you influenced by any painters or illustrators in particular?
I have always loved animals, biology, and mythology, so ever since I was child I have been attracted to natural science and fairy tale illustrations alike. However it was only after seeing Walton Ford’s show at the Brooklyn Museum while I was a student at Pratt Institute that I realized that as an artist I could create work pertaining to what I was passionate about, the tumultuous human-animal relationship. To this day Walton Ford’s work is an inspiration to me. I am also inspired by the works of Martin Wittfooth, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Albrecht Durer, Allison Sommers, James Audubon, Christina Mrozik, Jeremy Hush, Arthur Rackham, and many more.
How long have you been drawing for/When did you become interested in art?
I have been drawing all my life, for as long as I can recall. I used to draw side by side with my twin sister as a child, for hours we would sit and tell the stories of our drawings out loud to one another, filling up page after page of printer paper.
I actually did not intend to become a professional artist though, when I was young I always thought I would become a wildlife biologist. It was not until I attended a pre college program at Cal Arts in high school that I started to seriously consider going into the arts.
What medium do you use?
I primarily create my art with a ballpoint pen, though I also use micron pen and graphite from time to time. Most of my pieces are multi media, using ballpoint, colored pencil and watercolor on paper.
Do you sell your artwork? /Do you have prints for sale?/Do you take commissions?
Most of the artwork I create is available for sale, usually through various galleries, but I do also take commissions. My rates vary based on the project. I sell small originals and post cards in my Storenvy shop at www.caitlinhackett.storenvy.com, and I have many different prints for sale on Society6 at www.society6.com/caitlinhackettart. If you see a piece you’re interested in that says it’s “Available” on my website you can email me for pricing info. Hackett.firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I use your art work for a tattoo design/will you draw me a tattoo?
I don’t necessarily mind people using my artwork for tattoos, but I ask that I am credited for the original imagery if the tattoo is shown online or elsewhere. Also please keep this in mind, if you are willing to pay a tattoo artist, you should be willing to pay the original artist for their work. Please consider purchasing the artwork that you want tattooed, or at buying least a print of it. I am a self employed artist and while I love that my work inspires people to get tattoos, I depend on getting paid for my work in order to keep creating.
I do take commissions for custom tattoo designs, although I treat them as painting commissions, and I charge based on the size of the piece typically. I do often have a wait list for designs so I can’t do rush commissions typically. You can email me for rates and more info on that. Hackett.email@example.com
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I have been enchanted by the natural world all of my life, I am obsessed with its forms and creatures and have since early childhood personified all the elements of the natural world, plant and animal alike. I grew up on the northern coast of California, between the rolling hills of redwood forests and the stormy grey Pacific Ocean. As a child I wanted nothing more than to be a wild creature, and along with my twin sister I spent my days galloping and howling through the forest around our home. This desire for the animal form lingers with me, I am obsessed with the detail of fur, the ripple of muscle beneath skin, the pull of bones into a form similar and yet alien to my own. There is a lost kinship between man and beast, and I have long been drawn to this shifting boundary between us.
I am often inspired by current environmental issues; pollution, deforestation, species extinction, oil spills, poaching and over hunting, the use of animals as test subjects in medical and cosmetic labs, etc. I combine my passion for animal rights and nature with my love of mythology to create pieces that speak to dark side of human nature, all with a hope that people will see them and recognize in themselves both their capacity to help and harm the natural world.
I am at times inspired by my dreams as well and will draw from memories of them. I have very unusual and twisting dreamscapes populated with unusual creatures, and most often I can remember my dreams with great clarity.
What size do you tend to work at? Do you have a preferred scale?
I prefer to work life sized, or larger. Obviously for illustration work and concept design projects I have to make smaller pieces, and many of the group shows that I take part in have size limits. However when given the chance I like to make my creatures life sized or as close to it as I can.
Your pieces feature meticulous lines and detail that also seem very flowing. Is your work mostly preconceived or do let a more natural and less structured process take course?
I have a fairly simple process for my work, it’s more of a free flow than a plan. While I do have a preconcieved concept for my pieces before I start them I don’t tend to do any preliminary sketching, I usually just go right to the paper and start working, I start by doing a loose sketch layer in pencil, then I ink it in, it’s with the ink that I fill in all of the detail work, and then I watercolor on top of the ink layer. I do a few layers of watercolor and then usually go back into it with more ink work and colored pencils.
I sometimes think I should do more sketches to start, but I have a difficult time working on something that is too planned out, I also have a hard time not finishing something, so if I start a sketch I am liable to simply keep working on it until it’s a finished piece instead!
Do you have any advice for someone looking to become a visual artist such as yourself?
Be prepared to work hard, and be prepared to be rejected regardless of your hard work, and be prepared to keep on creating despite that rejection. It is not an easy path in life to take, very few artstis achieve over night success, it can be a very long road to actually make a living from you work, and even then it can be easy to get burned out. Still it’s something worth fighting for.
I recommend using social media to your advantage, as well as submitting to various art magazines, you never know what could happen or who might see your work, it’s a great way to reach wider audiences.
Also, and most importantly really, make sure you don’t let people take advantage of you, artwork is work, and many people demand that you give them work either for free, or so cheap it might as well be free, but don’t fall for it, no amount of “exposure” is worth giving away your livelihood, there seems to be a prevailing idea in our society that artwork shouldn’t cost money, or if it does it should be cheap, there is this idea that art isn’t really work somehow. Be wary of that, and make sure that you acknowledge that your art is worth something, that to create artwork is an act of labor as well as love.