by Mark Hosford
As an artist, I often re-evaluate where my biggest influences and inspirations come from. Truth be told, it is often hard to tell which interests end up shaping my art and which don't. Some influences may manifest themselves in a very physical way, where others tend to be more subliminal or unconscious in nature.
One of my greatest passions is collecting old music, specifically 78s. I am interested in the fact that some of these songs will die out as soon as the last remaining copies break apart. Someone could use a record for target practice without realizing that this song could be lost forever if destroyed. When I have free time, I sit around playing old-timey tunes and recording them onto my computer, cataloging the collection so it can always live on. There is something about the pacing and lyrical structure of early music that fascinates me, and I love thinking about all the different people that played a record in its sometimes 80-year lifespan. I am particularly interested in music from 1910s and ’20s. That was a time before recorded music was ubiquitous. Each artist was more unique because he or she might not have had access to records — meaning they did not imitate anybody else. Voices were less polished because there was not a music industry at that point.
I am really into brimmed hats and fedoras. We really strayed as a civilization when we ditched brimmed hats. Not only do they cover balding patches of hair, but they really look fantastic. What else can I say, they are classic. Down with hair products! Up with hats!
Nothing gets me more amped to draw or make a print than a visionary artist. I am inspired whenever I see an artist who makes work, regardless of what the conventions of the art world are. There is something so beautiful about carrying out a vision to the best of your abilities and trusting your own fascinations and instincts. Some of my favorites are are The Garden of Eden, Rock City, Ava Maria Grotto, Billy Tripp’s Minefield, Babyland General. What a wonderful and amazing world it would be if everyone allowed themselves to create whatever strange and wonderful idea was in their head, regardless of what their friends and neighbors might think about it.
As far as visual art goes, I always like going back to the works of artists that inspired me early in my developing career. Two artists that were influential in getting me into printmaking were the Japanese woodcut artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Both have a stylized figurative style that was a good transition for me in getting out of comics and into the fine art world.