Artist of the Week: Alex DeSpain
Where did you grow up?
Oklahoma is my home state but I’ve also spent some time in Ohio and Texas in my younger days. Moving out to Oregon has been my favorite move though. I pretty much fell in love with the landscape immediately. My wife and I drove out west over a three-day trip and decided to move to Portland in 2010. We had never visited before so it was a big unknown. Driving into the Pacific Northwest was almost culture shock. I couldn’t believe we were still in the States because of all the tall trees and mountains. Portland has it’s own flavor to it and I find myself missing this place whenever I travel outside of it.
So why art?
It’s something I’ve done since a kid because I genuinely enjoy drawing. My mom bought me a V-Tech Master Video Painter when I was six years old and I spent a lot of time making drawings on the TV screen. In high school, I really got into my art classes and took as many as I could. There were these misfits who all found a place in the art class and we would share our music and art experiment with each other.
I was attending Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech studying Electronic Desktop Publishing at the same time I was getting really into acrylic painting. It lead me to studying graphic design at the Art Institute of Dallas, then later at Portland State University. All the while, I was showing in exhibits with my friends. It’s just something that has always been part of my life and it hasn’t become boring yet.
What would you say are some big influences to your creative process?
Reading books when I can on ideas that challenge me — I find to be helpful. College was a big influence on me and the conversations I have with people are inspiring. In the past few years, I’ve really begun to refine my work and find it a fun challenge to express an idea fast and with clarity. Working within limits and repeating a process has pushed both my personal and commercial work. On the weekends, we like to go hiking and exploring in the forests. Being out there makes me feel like a small part of something big. I like to bring my own experiences to the drawing table.
How do you take your coffee?
Anyway I can get it! I’m not that particular on coffee. As long as it tastes good and keeps me awake, I’m good.
Walk us through a day in the life of Alex DeSpain.
I’m up at 6:30 AM to take care of our cat and dog. I drive Vanessa to work then head to the studio by 9:00 AM. I’m checking emails and planning my schedule for the day. I work until 5:00 PM typically; unless I’m working on a tight deadline then I stay later. I’m bouncing between client work, personal work, phone calls, meetings, and emails. I pick up Vanessa from work then go home to relax with our pets. We just got these summer passes to the bowling alley, so we’ve been going there twice a week.
Any future projects in the works?
I’ve got some new Stay Positive buttons and magnets through Badge Bomb that will be available in July. I’m collaborating with my friends at Saint Helen for some limited edition quilts. July 15th, at the Portland Art Museum, I’ll be participating in the Monster Drawing Rally but I won’t be drawing monsters. It’s just called that because it’s a big event, monster-sized!
Chris Lael Larson and I collaborated on a series of photographs that we’ll be releasing soon. Keeping busy!
what do you seek to express with your work?
A person only looks at an image for a moment, then it is up to their memory to carry it with them. My work is something you can take with you, partially because of it’s simplicity. I draw all of my own lines to keep it’s human quality. I don’t want that to get lost.
Thanks for taking the time to read, but most importantly thanks for appreciating the process. You can check out more of Alex's work on his Instagram.