Getting Clever with Trevor
Trevor Foster is a Seattle-born artist, who currently lives and works in Thailand. His art spans various mediums (ceramics, bronze, painting and printmaking) and has an inherent philosophical focus. Dives caught up with him to chat about is art.
Hey Trevor, you really are an eclectic artist. On your Instagram feed we’re treated to an array of mediums that you’ve worked on... handmade paper, porcelain and even some sculpture work. Do you have a preferred medium? Or your artistic focus or style really just transcend that?
I jump around from medium to medium between nearly every project. I find that I am forced to react to mediums in different ways. For example, if I work with metal I have to be hard minded and methodical, but if I work with clay I have to be intuitive and malleable. By doing clay one day and lithography the next it keeps my artist practice fresh, open and challenging.
Your octopus work is mesmerizing. Could you explain your fascination with octopi?
A lot of people ask me why I paint and sculpt so many octopuses. I think it has something to do with their difficult to define intelligence. Studies suggest that they have a learning ability similar to a dog. Yet, octopuses have multiple brains and operate with a completely incomparable anatomy to mammals. I think that it is this disjointed, non-centralized and chaotic intelligence that draws me in.
Where would you place your artistic style in terms of genre? And what schools of art have inspired you?
I don't really think of myself aligning with a specific genre. I try to make well-crafted things. Primarily I am inspired by art made more than 60 years ago when craft and beauty were central to concept of art.
You seem to travel around the world for your work and collaborations. Where have you been recently/what have you been working on?
Originally I’m from Seattle but after working there for a few years I decided to spread my wings and get out of my comfort-zone, so I moved to Asia. I have a studio in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I am working at the moment. In the same way that an artist has to conform to a material, they also have to conform to the place they are living. Thailand has a history of printmaking and painting on handmade paper, I never did either of these things in Seattle – now I do them nearly full-time. I have made some amazing connections here and have become part of an international artist community. I have always supplement my income by making things for other people. I have made everything from furniture to ashtrays over the last 10 years. Living in Southeast Asia has lower overheads and frees up more time for me to focus on my own work. Three months ago I was working with a 150-year-old kiln in Arita, Japan. I was completely blow away by the craftsmanship and history there. I’m planning to go back to Japan to make tons of new ceramic work this summer.
Would you associate your art with any particular type of music? Is there any music that inspires your visual work?
I don't associate my art with music. Unlike most artists I don't usually listen to music while I work, rather I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, debates and lectures. Andy Warhol once said, “Art is just something to do while you listen to good music.” I would agree to this sentiment but with information-audio instead of music. I have worked 40-60 hours a week for the last 10 years listening to something the majority of the time. The content that I have listened to during this time is an endless source of inspiration for my work. Major influences have been; Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, Yukio Mishima, Arthur Schopenhauer, Oswald Spangler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Jung, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Roger Scruton and Umberto Eco.
Lastly, do you have any words of wisdom for young, aspiring creatives out there?
My advise to young and inspiring artist is to keep your head down and work. Ultimately art is like most other fields, it requires persistence and practice. If you draw the same thing 10 times and you work diligently, consciously and doggedly to improve it each time you would be amazed at how much you will improve.
Interview by Josh Pearson