12 Questions: Dave Watkins

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1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life?

Listed in no particular order: Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video.


2. What are you currently working on?

Just finished moving into a new art studio in the Walker's Point neighborhood of Milwaukee. Hoping to get a more regular practice going and create a whole new body of work. Stay tuned.





3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

Years ago I tried to get a little trendy with my work and changed it up a bit for a certain venue. It was a disaster. I think it helped me realize to stick to my shit and eventually I would find my way.  


4. What is your most unusual habit?

Hmmm... I have this thing where anytime I drive anywhere I have to crash into 5 cars. Even if I'm at my destination and only hit 4 I will keep driving till I find another parked car to side-swipe. It's really involved. ( I couldn't think of a weird habit, please point them out to me when you see me. )


5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

I wouldn't really want to look at a realistic portrait of myself so i'd say Francis Bacon. It could get a little dark but it would be fun to see my face twisted up like many of his portrait triptychs.


6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

I would say I couldn't paint without my palette, just wouldn't feel the same. I've made well over 400 pieces with it, so it's kind of special to me.

After working from home studios for the last 16 years or so, I now have a new studio in Walker's Point. I wasn't painting as much lately so i had to switch it up. Excited about the change and ready to get back to work. Will be nice to be part of a space with other artists to push me instead of being on my own.








7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

Go for a run. The runners high is a real thing. If I’m too lazy for that, usually some music will get me going and loosen me up if there's no creativity flowing. No matter what, sometimes you just need a break. I am learning that actual rest and space from your art practice is ok. I used to feel pressure to paint everyday but life doesn't always work like that with the balance of a day job and an amazing kid to party with.


8. Who/What influences your work?

 I've always been influenced by graffiti since my days growing up writing on things that didn't belong to me. Urban decay, graffiti buffs, color fields and of course the line itself is very important to me.


9. Do you collect anything?

Lately I have been starting to buy artwork and prints from artists I admire, hope to continue to do more of that.

10.  What words of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would say don't get discouraged about your work. Eventually you will figure this painting shit out. It takes a long time to find yourself, I finally feel like my work is my own and it's in a good place.


11.  In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice? 

I think bringing charcoal and underwriting into my work really opened up a lot of depth it was missing. Exploring things like collage and loosening up a bit could take my paintings to another new level I'm excited about.


12.  Share an inspiring image.

This image from the Milwaukee Bucks Art Collection reception means a lot to me. What a special day to share with my son, I will always cherish that day. Being 1 of 32 artists chosen out of over 1,200 submissions is not lost on me.




Work can be purchased though ARTSY